By John Mullen
February 8, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA) – Hammock Dunes, a proposed nine-home development on the Gulf on the western end of Orange Beach is drawing scrutiny from at least one councilmember.
“I don’t think it’s safe,” Councilmember Annette Mitchell said. “The bottom line for me is this is too dense of a project for that small piece of land. There is one street down the center.”
Mitchell said although the plans meet requirements for the number of parking spaces, she believes the single road would become clogged by on-street parking and hinder first responders in an emergency.
Feb. 6 was the first reading of an ordinance to establish a planned unit development for the site. Ordinances must have at least two readings before being voted on by the council unless the panel agrees by unanimous consent to suspend the rules and consider it immediately.
Councilmember Jeff Silvers asked for the unanimous consent vote, but Mitchell voted no pushing the final vote on the project to the Feb. 20 council meeting.
“In the very real case of an event going on on this property there will be cars everywhere, like a wedding,” she said. “There is no street parking but there will be cars parked on the street. I don’t believe that signs or painting the ground are going to prevent someone from parking there. I really, really have grave concerns over this property.”
Her fellow council members didn’t share her concerns.
“By right you could build a 14-story with 48-plus bedrooms, but with this, he’s going to have 34 bedrooms adding nine new houses,” Councilmember Jeff Silvers said. “That would be less intrusive on traffic than the 14-story building that he could have out there. It looks like what they are building blends in with the area is trending to. I would much prefer this type with nine new buildings than a 14-story building out there. I have no problem with it.”
Councilmember Jerry Johnson and Mayor Tony Kennon expressed similar views.
“This is the proper use of a (planned use development,” Kennon said. “Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils."
Developer Greg Kennedy and partner Jim Owen want to take the 1.47-acre parcel with two homes already on the south end of the property and build the nine homes in a cottage-like project similar to many underway and recently completed in Gulf Shores. The lot is just west of Phoenix West condominiums.
Kennedy said it is written into the covenants and restrictions for the development that there will be no on-street parking allowed and it will be monitored.
“If there is someone parked where there is striping that says no parking or signage that says no parking we will have the vehicle moved voluntarily or tow,” he said. “We understand the fire chief’s issue and his concerns about getting in and out and the police chief. This is not going to be unattended.”
Fire chief Justin Pearce said he understands the concerns about parking but believes the issues have been addressed.
“They did meet all of our concerns and requirements,” Pearce said. “There is still the concern that Miss Mitchell was saying about the vehicles parking in the turnaround. I believe the developer has come up with some suggestions on ways to try and prevent that.”
City Planner Griffin Powell’s presentation pointed out city zoning could allow the developers to have 42 units per acre or more than 60 on this parcel. Hammock Dunes would add nine with the two existing two for a total of 11.
In other business during the work session, the council also discussed:
• A resolution agreeing to rent a modular office from Williams Scotsman, for $46,000 for a term of 24 months for the police department.
• A resolution authorizing the purchase of permitting software from CitizenServe, in the amount of $46,500 for the building department.
• A resolution appointing Justin Pearce as Fire Chief for the City of Orange Beach, Alabama.
• A resolution authorizing execution of a learning partnership agreement with Columbia Southern University to host the Company Officer Academy for fire rescue personnel.
• A resolution adopting amended Standard Operating Procedures for the Orange Beach Fire Department.
• A resolution signing an agreement with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department and Orange Beach Police for mutual aid between the agencies.
• A resolution awarding Sgt. David McClain his duty weapon and badge as part of his retirement benefits.
• A resolution to update the list of volunteer firefighters and reserve police officers covered under workers' compensation insurance.
• Bid openings on Feb. 15 for a message board for public works, an SUV for the police department and scoreboards for the recreation department. Bids will be opened on Feb. 8 for athletic uniforms for city recreational leagues for 2018.
• A resolution authorizing a franchise for Pelican Pete Party Rentals to operate a limousine service within the city limits and police jurisdiction of the City of Orange Beach.
• Issuing a liquor license for Cetacean Cruises operating out of The Wharf Marina.
• A resolution authorizing a franchise for T.D. West, Inc., to remove and dispose of commercial solid waste and to remove and transport construction and demolition debris.
• Setting a meeting for the flood damage prevention ordinance board of adjustment tentatively for Feb. 20 at 4:45 p.m.