Author: John Mullen

Norma Lynch appointed to Baldwin school board seat

Norma Lynch is going back to school. And she can’t wait. “It will be fun to be back in the schools again with the kids laughing in the halls and the cafeteria smells,” Lynch said. Lynch is the newest member of the Baldwin County Board of Education after her appointment on Jan. 4 representing District 5, the coastal area of the county. Her district includes Orange Beach, Elberta, Fort Morgan and Ono Island. Lynch, a real estate agent with RE/MAX, will complete the term of Angie Swiger, who resigned her seat on Dec. 5 in the wake of Gulf Shores voting to form an independent city system. Swiger resides in Gulf Shores. Lynch was one of three candidates for the position interviewed on Jan. 4. The others were Charity Hudson of Elberta and Fort Morgan resident Steve Martin. All three were nominated at some point during the meeting but failed to get the required four votes. On the fifth nomination, her second, Lynch garnered the votes needed from board members David Tarwater, Tony Myrick, David Cox and board President Cecil Christenberry. “We very much welcome Mrs. Lynch and look forward to the outstanding leadership qualities and wealth of expertise that she brings to the table,” Christenberry said. “We had three highly qualified individuals to interview, which speaks very highly to the county in which we live.” Lynch started her...

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Orange Beach moves to limit residential vacation rentals

Orange Beach says it’s getting serious about limiting short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. “It’s getting to the boiling point,” Mayor Tony Kennon said. Council members expressed concerns about the noise, trash, loutish behavior and overcrowding units with people, which brings an overflow of cars. On Dec. 5 the City Council voted in a moratorium on issuing short-term rental licenses and is taking the time to craft an ordinance that would restrict vacation rentals in neighborhoods. Part of the proposed ordinance includes creating a new category for vacation rentals in neighborhoods for 14 days or less with a $1,000-a-year fee. The current short-term license, which will remain in place for all other vacation licenses, is for rentals of six months or less and cost $132 a year. “The reason for the $1,000 is we’re stepping up enforcement because of the problems that we’ve had in the neighborhoods,” Community Development Director Kit Alexander said. “This $1,000 fee would help cover the cost of increased enforcement associated with vacation rentals.” And enforcement is coming, Councilman Jerry Johnson assured an overflow audience. The council has already planned a hearing for one home that neighbors say has been a nuisance for years. During the meeting, Kennon encouraged residents to make repeated calls to police to document offenders so others can be brought in for a hearing with the possibility of having the license revoked....

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Lawsuit alleges Fairhope Council President denied citizen’s free speech

From Jack Burrell’s view, Francis Paul Ripp has had plenty of opportunity to speak before the Fairhope City Council. “There’s been numerous times that I’ve let him go over the three-minute limit even if he was sitting up there wailing away on me,” Burrell said. “I’ve let him go. Numerous, numerous times.” But not this time. On Aug. 28 Burrell, the Fairhope City Council president, asked if there were any public comments before the meeting was adjourned. Ripp, an active resident, blogger and political activist, stood up to come to the podium. “Mr. Ripp, I’m not going to allow...

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