A resolution to allow residents of a Mobile subdivision to close off one of two entrances to their community failed Tuesday to gain five votes of support in the Mobile City Council.
Last month Eaton Barnard, president of the Airmont Property Owners Association, spoke to the council about the neighborhood’s concern over an increase in traffic and crime in the community near the intersection of Azalea and Cottage Hill roads.
Their solution was to ask the city to vacate property at the intersection of Montclaire Way and Airmont Drive to close off one of two entrances to the neighborhood to stop drivers from cutting through the community to avoid a traffic signal at the busy intersection.
In the council pre-conference meeting Tuesday, Barnard told councilors that the resolution had the support of all 26 households and 50 homeowners within the Airmont subdivision, even though it inconvenienced them. He added that the residents had also agreed to pay for the cost associated with closing the street.
“We don’t want this,” he said. “It’s a matter of inconvenience, but it’s also a matter of safety for us.”
For example, he said since the request last month, his 84-year-old neighbor’s house was broken into and items were stolen from the house.
“We’re asking you to make our city safer,” Barnard said. “We’re asking you to grant this and let us pay for this.”
At the regular council meeting held this week at the History Museum of Mobile, residents of adjacent communities and abutting properties complained about traffic concerns of their own.
Dr, Janice Morton-Hunte, who lives on Airmont Drive in the Montcliff community, said closing the entrance would negatively impact access to her property. She said emergency vehicles would also be encumbered by the move.
“To have no other way out of the neighborhood will present even more traffic and congestion,” she said. “It will decrease our property values and increase our insurance.”
Two other residents, including the daughter of an Airmont resident, spoke in opposition to the move. Vivian Chateau told the Council the move would damage her quality of life.
WIlliam Lyon, an attorney representing the Airmont Property Owners Association, said closing the entrance would decrease traffic and shouldn’t negatively impact “Dr. Hunte, or anyone.”
He added that emergency vehicles, garbage and city trucks could enter and exit the community through a larger entrance at Cottage Hill Road.
Councilman Fred Richardson said during the pre-conference meeting that he had issues with denying citizen access to public streets. He proposed making Airmont Drive a one-way street, which didn’t seem to have support of other councilors.
At the meeting, he proposed tabling the resolution and having Council President Gina Gregory assign it to a committee for further discussion. That proposal failed, but Gregory said the Airmont residents could bring the issue back and she’d have “no problem” assigning it to committee.
In other business, the council approved spending a maximum of $514,570 to Booth Research Group for promotional testing for the Mobile Police and Mobile Fire-Rescue departments. The assessments are designed to help make promotions within those departments more diverse, Executive Director of Public Safety Richard Landolt told councilors.
The council also approved a $146,000 performance contract with the Mobile Sports Authority. About $60,000 of that will go to pay for overtime of police and fire medics at events next year, including the Azalea Trail Run, First Light Marathon, Biggest Loser Run/Walk and the Tour de Bay bicycle race. Of the remaining $86,000, about $73,000 will make up about a $40,000 deficit in the authority’s budget and pay for a third position, while $13,000 will go toward marketing, Executive Director Danny Corte said.
The next council meeting will take place in the Government Plaza auditorium at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 30.
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