Residents ask city to preserve integrity of neighborhood

By Traci DiPietro
Staff Writer
Posted 4/9/07

Debra Green lives on Maple Street, a quiet residential neighborhood near the intersection of Gayfer Avenue and Greeno Road. She and her husband, Bobby, own Green Nurseries, a wholesale nursery operation.

Monday evening, for more than 30 minutes, …

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Residents ask city to preserve integrity of neighborhood


Debra Green lives on Maple Street, a quiet residential neighborhood near the intersection of Gayfer Avenue and Greeno Road. She and her husband, Bobby, own Green Nurseries, a wholesale nursery operation.

Monday evening, for more than 30 minutes, City Council members listened quietly as Green, speaking on behalf of Maple Street and Live Oak property owners, asked council members to consider creating a cul-de-sac at Live Oak and Maple to prevent drive-thru traffic by people attempting to avoid traffic lights.

She asked council members to take action to preserve a neighborhood that she said is in jeopardy of commercial encroachment as a result of a recent change in zoning, which facilitated the construction of a medical center at the southwest corner of the intersection of Greeno and Gayfer. The construction, she said, would lead to her street becoming a service road to a commercial district.

In a telephone conversation that took place before the meeting, Green expressed disappointment with the city for not addressing traffic and drainage issues before approving zoning changes; issues which she says will worsen with development.

“We brought a number of issues to the attention of the city,” said Green. “We live here, and we know how the water drains and how the traffic flows.”

The project has been at the center of controversy for months now, as residents claim their opposition has been ignored and environmental concerns have not been addressed. Green said residents acknowledge concessions made by the developers to accommodate their concerns, and she said fault lies with the city, not with the developers.

Allegations of impropriety by city officials have cast a dark cloud over the project since its beginning, when a recommendation to approve a zoning change from R-1 to planned-unit development was granted by the Planning and Zoning Commission despite heated protests from more than 20 residents.

The controversy stems partially from assertions of deals made behind closed doors; the latest of which is that a council member and a city official privately told a resident, prior to voting, that the zoning change would be approved. This is the third allegation of zoning assurances related to this project; all three allegations have been made by private residents and have involved separate incidents. Mayor Tim Kant, City Council members and developers have repeatedly denied the allegations of wrongdoing.

Council Chairman Bob Gentle said a traffic study has been completed, and council members have met with Green and visited the neighborhood on a number of occasions. Their next step, he said, is to host an informational meeting at the James P. Nix Center to address residents’ questions. Decisions related to additional traffic assessments have been delegated to Councilman Dan Stankoski, who serves as chairman of the traffic committee.

Green also requested that a letter, written by Mike Perkins, president of the Woodlands Homeowners Association, and introduced at a council meeting last September, be reintroduced into the minutes of the meeting. In the letter, Perkins requested additions be made to the Alabama Open Meeting Law. One of his requests was that city officials not be allowed to meet privately with developers to discuss zoning and development prior to voting. The issues related to the Alabama Open Meeting Law have been directed to the city attorney.

Green said residents of the Maple Street community also plan to ask council members to work to preserve a gully in their neighborhood before the medical facility development begins.

In other business, the City Council:

• Approved a moratorium on building permits to properties abutting U.S. Highway 181 (within the city’s corporate limits and its police jurisdiction) until the city receives an access management plan from the Alabama Department of Transportation.

• Authorized the mayor to sign the Municipal Water Pollution Prevention Program (MWPP) report, a self-assessment.

• Approved hiring Hutchinson Moore and Rauch LLC to provide engineering, surveying and design services for South Beach Trail in the park located just south of the municipal pier.

• Approved a site plan for Fairhope Yacht Club, which included a 5-foot landscape buffer along the west side.

• Approved a request from Market by the Bay for a restaurant liquor license.

• Approved a request by Don Gordon, of Bay Village Stone Custom Surfaces, for a permit to build a storage building behind his existing facility. Because of the moratorium, a waiver was needed to allow the building to be built.

• A request for the sale of surplus property was held-over.

• Approved a change-order request of $23,004.38 from J.F. Pate & Associates Contractors Inc. for work at the Fairhope Public Library.

• Approved a bid for a fairway mower for the golf course.

A public hearing will be held on Monday, April 30, to provide residents with an opportunity to speak up and learn about about impending improvements to Greeno Road. Members of the city planning department will be available to answer questions. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in City Council chambers.

The next council meeting is rescheduled and will be held Thursday, April 26.