Up until 2009 builders and developers in Baldwin County Zoning District 25 in Fort Morgan could not build homes of more than two-and-a-half stories.
Baldwin County Planner Vince Jackson said it’s likely those zoning regulations will be changed again to reflect the 2009 limits beginning with the planned residential development (PRD) of Seaglade by St. Andrews Bay in Fort Morgan. The 27-lot subdivision has been under scrutiny since February, the subject of public hearings in March and a workshop commission meeting in April.
“Looking back at it 10 years later, we are probably going to reinstate that requirement,” Jackson told the Baldwin County Commission at a May 7 meeting. “Having said that, if you are inclined to approve this development, you include as an additional condition that the height in terms of number of stories be limited to two and a half.”
This particular requirement seems to address concerns expressed in a 700-word email from nearby residents Jamie and Greg Strategier. The Strategiers said the top floors of some three-story mega duplexes could not be reached by the Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department.
This is only one concern the commission looks to address in Fort Morgan, Jackson told the commission. He and other staffers are making plans to amend some zoning ordinances, some specific to District 25, to allay some other concerns raised by citizens during the Seaglade process.
“We are planning to go back to the Fort Morgan zoning committee next month to begin to have some discussions with the committee and the residents,” Jackson said. “We’re working on some things that I think will address some of these concerns and I think the residents will be pleased with the planning efforts that we’ll have going forward.”
Addressing the concerns raised over the subdivision, Jackson said he felt confident due diligence was done in examining and regulating the development.
“We completely understand and appreciate the concerns that have been expressed to us,” Jackson said. “We understand Fort Morgan is a unique area and the various environmental concerns, the safety concerns, the traffic, access. All of those things need to be considered very carefully. I feel very comfortable with what’s been submitted to us. We stand by our recommendation. We feel like with this development there should be no adverse impacts.”
Commissioner Billie Jo Underwood expressed concerns in March that commissioners were given just a few days to digest all the information about the development and suggested the workshop session.
“When we were bombarded from residents from the community, I felt like it was very important to take this additional time to look over this and help understand it,” Underwood said. “I’m very comfortable now with understanding what we’re actually doing here, which is approving a site plan.”
The commission voted 4-0 to approve the PRD including staff’s recommendation to limit height to two-and-a-half stories. Additionally, staff said to meet a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service beach mouse requirement that the access drive must be made of asphalt or concrete. Jackson said the approval process with the wildlife service would take six months to a year.
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