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Proposed Dollar General

By John Mullen

 

July 19, 2017 –  Orange Beach, AL (OBA) – A redesigned exterior for a more “coastal” look was not enough to sway a majority of Orange Beach Council members to give the go ahead for a Dollar General on Alabama 161.

“I applaud those changes,” Councilmember Annette Mitchell said. “I think that’s very attractive and I think it would look very, very nice anywhere in Orange Beach. Except there.”

“There” is just north of the city’s medical arts building on the west side of Alabama 161, also known as Orange Beach Boulevard. The site is about a half mile south of the Canal Road intersection.

In the end the council voted to table the issue until a later date so the developer can study changes to the current location to make it more palatable. Or, find another piece of property in town more acceptable to the council.

This new store will replace the old one in the Walmart shopping center on beach road. The lease there is running out and will not be renewed.

On the Dollar General, Mitchell, with agreement from Council member Joni Blalock, said the store is too close to the small neighborhood to the project’s southwest.

“We are very committed to preserving the neighborhoods we have remaining and I think the intrusion of this very, very busy store, the increased traffic, the difficulty getting in and out will be detrimental to the area,” Mitchell said.

Zoning for the proposed site is Neighborhood Business and Bob Broadway of Broadway Group said a Dollar General is just that.

“To me this is the definition of what a neighborhood business is: it serves the neighborhood,” Broadway said.

Several members expressed concerns about adding traffic to an already busy Alabama 161.

“Traffic is the No. 1 issue with me,” Councilman Jeff Silvers said. “I appreciate the rendering, the looks, the architectural features, but I have reservations about the traffic.”

 

Mayor Tony Kennon said projects asking for a conditional use within the ordinance are treated differently than those who build "by right" meaning the project is following the letter of the law in the zoning ordinance. 

Dollar General wanted to place a retail store in an area zoned Neighborhood Business. Under those zoning parameters a retail store is not a by-right usage, but a conditional usage 

Because Dollar General is seeking a conditional usage by placing a retail store in a Neighborhood Business zone the city asked for the coastal redesign.

“If someone is building by right, we have certain design characteristics built into ordinances,” Kennon said. “We don’t get into the architectural designs. However, if it’s a PUD or conditional use it’s more of a negotiation and we do attempt to create a building that’s more in line with our cultural look.”

Councilman Jeff Boyd said a “by right” issue changed his view on the project.

“I was actually against this at first,” Boyd said. “What changed my mind is that by right if you sell prescriptions you can come and build there. So Rite Aid or CVS can build there without a conditional use permit. It’s allowed under in our ordinance under that pretext.”

 

In other business at the regular meeting, the council:

  • Also during regular and work sessions on July 18, the council also voted to grant a franchise to Lyft, a ride-sharing transportation company. Orange Beach also voted to accept a bid of more than $610,000 to upgrade fields at the Sportsplex.

  • Voted in an ordinance to prohibit the use of drones in the city.
  • Approved a retail beer and wine liquor license for Red or White, a new tenant at The Wharf. The business will be located between Our Cigar Bar and the Intracoastal.
  • Failed to act on a resolution appropriating funds to cover the cost of a one-time lump sum payment to eligible retirees and beneficiaries through the State of Alabama Employees’ Retirement System at a cost of more than $16,000. There was a motion for a vote but it died for a lack of a second.
  • Reappointed Suzanne Laurier to the Library Board for a four-year term through June 30, 2021. Other board members are Karen Clark, term ending Jan. 31, 2018: Patricia Underwood, term ending Dec. 31, 2019; Joni Blalock, term ending Oct. 31, 2020; and Sharon Ramirez, ending Dec. 31, 2020. 
  • Authorized execution of a Purchasing Program Agreement to give the City the added benefit of using the South Alabama Purchasing Association's aggregate buying power to determine its annual rebate rate from Staples.
  • The council declared a 1995 Simon D8400 fire truck surplus and signed an agreement with Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus to sell it at auction.

 

During the work session the council:

  • Discussed a resolution awarding the bid for Art Center site Improvements. Bids are scheduled to be opened on July 27. 
  • Discussed a resolution declaring two properties as public nuisances so the city can move to have them cleaned up or removed. They are located at 23015 Perdido Beach Blvd. across from Sugar Beach condos and at 5636 Louisiana Street in Bear Point. It was noted the property on Louisiana Street had been cleaned up and was no longer considered a nuisance.
  • Discussed hiring SpyGlass Group to explore possible savings through an audit of it’s the city’s telecommunications billing.
  • Discussed setting a public hearing date for Brett Robinson’s Phoenix Orange Beach II 120-unit condominium, which got a 9-0 favorable recommendation from the Planning Commission on July 10. The suggested date was Aug. 15.
  • Discussed setting a date for a public hearing on the preliminary planned unit development for Greenway Apartments. A developer seeks to build micro efficiency apartments east of the Baldwin EMC building on the beach express. The location is University Lane and Roscoe Road. The Planning Commission gave the project a 9-0 negative recommendation saying there weren’t enough parking spaces to support the 216 units planned. Again, the suggested hearing date was Aug. 15.