Ordinances dominate meeting

By Mary Hood
Fairhope Courier Intern
Posted 6/26/07

FAIRHOPE — A Public Hearing to amend Zoning Ordinance 1253 took up a lot of Monday’s City Council meeting and raised some controversies, too.

The first amendment concerned the storage and parking of trailers and commercial vehicles. This …

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Ordinances dominate meeting


FAIRHOPE — A Public Hearing to amend Zoning Ordinance 1253 took up a lot of Monday’s City Council meeting and raised some controversies, too.

The first amendment concerned the storage and parking of trailers and commercial vehicles. This ordinance limits the length of a trailer or commercial vehicle, such as an RV, to 28 feet and it must, if at all possible, be parked in the owner’s backyard. The amendment stipulates that the yard in which the vehicle is parked must be a hard surface yard.

Gregg Mims, city planning department director, recommended denial of this amendment.

A few citizens showed concern, initially about being forced to park an RV or trailer in their backyard while people can park four or five cars in their driveway. These citizens called for there not to be a double standard.

Other citizens and Councilwoman Debbie Quinn, showed concern about the requirement of a hard-top surface. Quinn suggested it be changed to a permeable surface to avoid fueling a runoff problem.

Councilman Mike Ford said the planning board thought the amendment needed to be tweaked a little bit.

This ordinance was laid over to the next council meeting.

The amendment dealing with short-term rentals also drew attention.

Currently, short-term rentals — anything less than 30 days — are not allowed in residential zones. The new amendment would permit short-term rentals in residential areas.

Mims recommended this amendment also be denied in order to continue to protect residential areas.

Quinn said she has received complaints from residents about short-term rentals in which people come in for the weekend and party. Though there are rules against this, Quinn asked how it’s possible to enforce the regulations.

“There are some major problems going on,” Quinn said.

People who live in residential areas enjoy their quiet lifestyles and don’t want to live next to a revolving door that brings in noise, vandalism and trash.

Councilman Dan Stankoski said it is the city’s primary duty to protect the residents.

“We ought to protect the neighborhoods first,” Stankoski said. “That’s what we’re about.”

Ford, who as a real estate agent, deals with short-term rentals, said he hasn’t received any complaints about his rentals. He said this situation needs to be handled delicately.

“We’ve got to be very careful about what we do,” Ford said. “When you limit these types of rentals, I would think it would draw some criticisms.”

Councilman Cecil Christenberry also said they need to “do the right thing for the neighborhoods.”

The ordinance was laid over until the next council meeting.

The amendment to clarify the definition of “family” was unanimously approved by the council.

This is to protect single-family homes, Mims said, which have the potential to be overtaken by groups that move in and cram in 15 other people.

The current ordinance states that a family is one or more persons that occupy a dwelling and are all related by blood, adoption or marriage. The last part of this ordinance contains the verbiage that has caused some problems. It states that gratuitous guests and/or servants can also live in the dwelling.

Mims said they wanted to take this last part off to keep people from overloading a single-family house by using this as a loophole.

The council adopted a $7.9 million General Obligation Warrant, dated June 1, 2007.

Nancy Wilson, city treasurer, said there are several components of this warrant.

She said about $4.2 million is going toward the recreation department. It will pay for a new tennis facility, a new youth football facility, the new outdoor swimming pool and all the lighting and paving that goes with those. It will also pay off $1.5 million of the total $3 million the city borrowed to pay for the library and $1.2 million in repairs to the pier.

It also includes the $700,000 the city will contribute to the new Fairhope Historical Museum.

“That leaves $300,000 that is for capital projects in the general fund as needed,” Wilson said. “That will be voted on by the City Council.”

She said the capital improvements haven’t been specified yet.

The council laid over the request to repeal Ordinance 1267, the false alarm ordinance, until the next regular meeting.

In other council business, the council:

• Recognized the service of Rosemary Bellinger, who has been a volunteer at the Welcome Center for the past 13 years. Because of health issues, she will no longer be able to volunteer. Bellinger was presented with a plaque by Sherry Sullivan.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time working there,” Bellinger said. “I’m sorry I have to leave.”

• Voted unanimously to support the Alabama Scenic River Trail, the longest river trail in the United States. Quinn presented this item and said it would be nice for the city to support it as it is nice for tourism.

• Voted unanimously to update the volunteer police reserve roster by deleting C.H. “Buddy” Hardy.

• Approved the request of the Eastern Shore Art Association to block the streets for their annual Outdoor Art Show scheduled for March 15-17, 2008.

• Unanimously approved a request from Greg and Geta Sayler for a permit to place a doublewide manufactured home on their property.

• Suggested that Levern Hayer take his request for an ordinance that permits the use of golf carts and utility vehicles to operate on the city streets to the street committee.

• Laid over two requests — one for a business called Fairhope Excursions and one for a lemonade stand — to the next council meeting as both requesters were not present.

• Heard a presentation from Councilwoman Quinn involving lightning suppression for the library and also an update on the library’s insurance. A subcommittee will be formed to discuss the lightning suppression. The library insurance coverage was increased several weeks ago from $500,000 to $2 million.