Congratulations to Jeanne Fitzgibbons for earning the city’s “Above & Beyond Award” for her tireless work each year in helping organize the Orange Beach Seafood Festival and Car Show.

By John Mullen

March 21, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – The chances of bringing fiber technology to Orange Beach households may seem dire, but Councilman Jerry Johnson still has hope.

“We’re going to have the numbers and I’m confident we’re going to have the numbers by the end of this year putting in fiber,” Johnson said.
 
In August, the city announced a plan to partner with Centurylink to bring fiber internet to the city if a threshold of signups were met. The number was 1,000 but as of March 20, less than 300 residents had put up a $25 deposit to signup for fiber if it comes to town.
 
Also, during the March 20 work session, the council set a hearing date for a rezoning request for a new Zaxby’s restaurant which would be on the west side of Alabama 161 north of the city’s Finance Department building.
 
Johnson said he will bring a new effort before the council on April 3 to try and jumpstart the fiber optic signups so Centurylink can move forward with the project.
 
“We have got to reach the people,” Johnson said. “We have got to get out and get people signed up. We are taking the pathway of hiring a project manager and that person will be responsible for doing a campaign in every neighborhood to reach our 1,000-signup minimum and the 33 percent in each area.”
 
Centurylink divided the city into seven zones and there must be a total of 1,000 signed up and 33 percent signed up in at least one of the zones before Centurylink will begin work. The project manager Johnson hopes the city will contract will be responsible for drumming up support. Johnson and Centurylink representatives will meet with the prospective manager on March 28 and Johnson invited other councilmembers to attend.
 
Jerry Johnson
“We’re going to hammer out what the scope of the project is, how it’s going to happen and ideas on how to make it happen,” Johnson said. “Boots on the ground, working this project every day.”
 
And even though he’s confident he thinks he’ll know before summer starts whether or not the campaign is working.
 
“We’re going to evaluate it on a weekly basis and if it comes to Memorial Day and we are at 500 signups or 400 it’s not working,” Johnson said. “If we have 750, we’re moving and we have momentum then I say we move forward. If we get this thing kicked off and we’re not seeing any more participation say by after Memorial Day then we’ll pull the plug on it.”
 
In a specially called meeting in August, the city council voted 6-0 to put up $1 million in an effort aimed at spurring the development of a system to bring in the high-speed internet network.
 
“It’s not putting $1 million into the project, it’s just a good-faith initiative to say the city is with them for the entire project,” Councilman Jerry Johnson said.
 
August is the deadline for meeting the signup threshold.
 
“It’s worth the initiative for the city to try and make this happen because the benefits of having this are long term,” Johnson said. “We talk about a vision for the city this could set us apart significantly.”
 
Zaxby’s coming to Orange Beach?

Sandefur Properties on behalf of property owner Wallace T. Mullis wants to rezone four lots on the corner of Alabama 161and Benita from neighborhood business to retail office. According to Community Development Director Kit Alexander, the rezoning is requested so the restaurant can have a drive-thru window. Zaxby’s will also offer dine-in service.
 
During the regular session the council also:
 
• Appointed Councilman Jeff Boyd as the voting delegate for the Alabama League of Municipalities Annual Convention and the Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation Annual Membership Meeting in Birmingham, May 19-22.
 
• Postponed transferring land on Canal Road to the Baldwin County Board of Education until the March 20 council meeting. The transfer was first proposed in the Dec. 12 council regular session and has been postponed in every meeting since. Baldwin County wants to build a seventh-through-12th-grade school at the site of the former sewage plant.
 
• At the request of the applicant postponed a request for a change in the Amber Isle planned unit development on the north side of beach road at the far west of the city limits. Owners of Big Wave Dave’s restaurant want to build a covered deck for outside seating.
 
• Hired Sawgrass Consulting for $23,000 to provide design and permitting services for shoreline improvements on Wolf Bay near the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach.
 
• Hired Sawgrass Consulting for $13,850 to provide survey and design services for the widening of Lee Avenue.
 
• Authorized the Mayor to execute a change order with McElhenney Construction Company for Art Center Site Improvements for about $5,700
 
• Authorized the purchase of a 15-passenger van for the Adult Activity Center for $35,668.
 
• Awarded a bid for a turnout gear washer and dryer for the fire department to Laundry South Systems & Repair for about $15,800.
 
• Authorized the execution of a grant award agreement with the Birmingham Audubon Society for the Alabama Coastal Bird Stewardship Program.

• Approved settlement of the SE Property Holdings, LLC et al. V. City of Orange Beach lawsuit and authorizing the mayor to execute settlement documents.
During the work session the council:
 
• Set a public hearing date of April 17 for Sandy Shores Village Leasing Office, Remax Paradise for a parking expansion and The Blackburn Family PUD which are all seeking amendments to existing planned unit developments.
 
• Discussed declaring certain personal property owned by the City of Orange Beach as surplus the mayor and city clerk to dispose of such property. If approved on April 3 the items will be up for auction at govdeals.com.
 
• Discussed a resolution authorizing $77,900 for a new control systems software upgrade for the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Computer hardware and software haven’t been upgraded since the plant opened seven years ago.
 
• Discussed a memorandum of agreement with Gulf State Park for lifeguard services.
 
• Discussed authorizing accepting a utility easement from Trustmark National Bank on the property located northwest of the State Highway 161 and Rose Lane intersection. It’s the site of the future Dollar General.
 
• Discussed authorizing the mayor to execute a lease agreement with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency for office space, training space and boat slips on the west side of the Perdido Pass Bridge.