Author: Dale Liesch

Authority gives consent to city on recycling plans

Mobile’s Solid Waste Disposal Authority (SWDA) voted to permit the city to enter into two contracts making recycling easier for residents. As a result, the board has also agreed to work out some of its legal issues stemming from a 2015 lawsuit with Waste Management Mobile Bay Environmental Center (WM). The sides will now meet before the issue returns to the City Council agenda June 20 to discuss it and the city’s continued diversion of yard waste away from the WM-managed Chastang Landfill, for which the company already received a multimillion-dollar judgment against SWDA. The judgment stems from a 1993 contract SWDA entered into with TransAmerican for management of the city’s Chastang Landfill. The contract gave TransAmerican, which later became Waste Management, control over the city’s entire waste stream, including yard debris. In addition to yard debris, the contract also mentions recyclables as being part of the waste stream. SWDA was concerned that if the city entered into new recycling contracts, WM would sue them again for breach of contract. The city currently sends yard waste to Dirt Inc. because it would be more expensive to haul yard debris to the Chastang Landfill, City Attorney Ricardo Woods said. As an alternative, Woods offered a solution proposed by acting Chief of Staff Paul Wesch that could work through some of the many contractual issues, including the disposal of yard waste...

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Councilmen voice concerns to transportation committee

Two Mobile City councilors representing areas east of Interstate 65 presented advisers to the Metropolitan Planning Organization May 17 with their concerns over a disparity of the number of projects the group has planned over the next 20 years. Councilmen Fred Richardson and Levon Manzie told members of the Technical Coordinating Citizens’ Committee of the MPO they had concerns over fairness in the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission’s 2040 Long-Range Transportation Plan. “There are 200,000 people in this city,” Richardson said. “There are 100,000 each east and west of Interstate 65. Those east of I-65 are just as deserving as those west.” At issue is a big disparity in MPO spending on either side of I-65. As Manzie pointed out using MPO numbers, since 1993 some 81 projects have been planned west of I-65, using roughly $107 million, while only five projects east of I-65 were planned, using roughly $5 million. Similarly, Richardson told TCC members that highways 98, 90 and 31 — west of I-65 — had all been expanded to four lanes, while Highway 45 — east of I-65 — remains two lanes. The councilors suggested the board change the parameters for federal funding and open up more projects for those roads and streets east of I-65. Manzie said the standards the board uses to determine what roads and streets should be updated were put in place...

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Planning Commission approves land use map

The Mobile Planning Commission voted to approve the city’s new Future Land Use Map (FLUM) and major streets plan, despite the vast majority of speakers at a long public hearing asking the board to delay its decision. The city promotes the new map as a way to move forward with the vision set forth in the Map for Mobile comprehensive plan, which the Planning Commission has already approved. While it will work in conjunction with the comprehensive plan, the FLUM will not replace the city’s zoning ordinance, Shayla Beaco, Build Mobile director, told the board. “It’s the first step in rewriting the zoning ordinance,” Beaco said. “The goal is to come back to you on a very regular basis. It’s a living document.” The FLUM breaks the city into areas where planners and citizens believe certain uses are appropriate. There is a mix of both traditional uses — such as heavy industrial, residential and commercial corridors — and more specific, contemporary uses, including mixed use, mixed density and others. Additionally, the plan includes water-specific uses in areas like Dog River, the delta and Mobile Bay, as well as areas with more public water access, like the downtown waterfront. Water access was the biggest reason for opposition to the plan, uniting industry and community group leaders at the public hearing. Steve Gordon, president of the industry advocacy group Keep Mobile...

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City officials break ground on new Crichton fire station

The City of Mobile broke ground on the new fire station on Springhill Avenue on Thursday to better serve citizens in that area during times of emergency. “We must address the condition and age of our fire stations,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said. “Instead of continuing to throw good money after bad on these facilities, we are investing in new facilities. Our citizens can have the assurance that this top notch facility will aid our firefighters to respond to emergencies swiftly and safely. We will continue to provide our first responders with the tools and resources they need to protect our citizens’ lives.” The new fire station will replace the Gus Rehm Fire Station that closed down three years ago, due to safety reasons. The 60-year-old facility has since been demolished. “This station is essential to ensuring prompt response times for the communities of Toulminville, Midtown, Moffett Road and Trinity Gardens,” Councilman Fred Richardson, who represents Crichton, said. “It’s also important to our first responders because it will provide better coverage of these areas.” The groundbreaking comes on the heels of the City Council’s unanimous decision to approve Mark Sealy as the new fire chief. Stimpson appointed Sealy on Friday and the City Council voted on the appointment during Tuesday’s regular City Council...

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City Council confirms new leader for Mobile Fire-Rescue Department

After more than three years without a permanent leader, Mayor Sandy Stimpson has a fire chief in place. With municipal elections looming, the Mobile City Council unanimously confirmed Mark Sealy as Mobile Fire-Rescue chief at Tuesday’s regular meeting. Councilors had only positive things to say about the MFRD veteran with more than 25 years of experience. “I am really pleased to see this item on our agenda,” Councilwoman Bess Rich said. “The men and women of the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department deserve a chief who is a visionary, but who also understands the system because they’ve come from the system....

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