Developer Craig Dyas believes the adjustments he’s made in a nearly year-long battle are enough to get Daphne city approval for a planned unit development (PUD) on land that abuts an Old Towne neighborhood.
“We believe we have done everything that we have been pressed to do by the neighbors,” Dyas told the City Council in a recent meeting. “In fact, from my chair, it’s kind of pushed us to a better development, in my opinion.”
Not many of the residents who have been protesting the development share that opinion. The second reading of the ordinance change to allow the PUD could happen unless Dyas withdraws his project. Dyas withdrew his proposal in a February council meeting when it appeared it would be rejected.
During the accompanying public hearing portion of the meeting, it’s likely residents of the historic area will turn out in force as they have every time it has come up before the Planning Commission or City Council since February.
Dyas is seeking a PUD for a parcel of land he wants to build on from U.S. Route 98 on the east to the end of Daphne Court on the west. On the eastern portion or 4.3 acres, he wants to put in 38 townhomes and retail in the area behind Popeye’s Chicken.
Downtown residents are most concerned with the westernmost 1.8 acres abutting the quaint Daphne Court neighborhood and connecting with Main Street and the rest of downtown.
Under current zoning, six houses could be built on the parcel. But Dyas is looking to increase the density to bring in eight houses. Daphne Court would be extended east onto the parcel as the road serving as the way into the new homes.
Initially, residents were concerned Daphne Court would be extended all the way to U.S. 98 and be used as a thoroughfare to the quiet part of Old Towne. Dyas withdrew plans for that and has offered other concessions but residents say that’s still not enough for them to favor the development.
“I want to make clear there is no consensus,” resident Sandy Robinson said. “It wasn’t as if he said ‘I hear you and now I’m doing everything the neighbors are concerned about.’ There have been changes, but as far as we are concerned it’s not fixed. And I think you can see the Planning Commission doesn’t think it’s fixed either.”
In its July meeting, the Daphne Planning Commission gave an unfavorable recommendation to the council in a 6-1 vote with Councilman Ron Scott casting the only favorable vote.
“As a commission, we didn’t reach that outcome easily,” Planning Commission President Marybeth Bergin said. “It took several attempts to get to a motion and a second to even have a vote. From the original applications several months ago to what we finally had in front of us to review, there was still uncertainty amongst the commission about whether or not it was appropriate.”
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