Ron Scott looked at the size of the crowd in Daphne City Council chambers on Feb. 20, then looked at the fire chief to see if they had surpassed the legal limit.
“That’s the most people I’ve ever seen in a council meeting and I’ve been on the council over 13 years,” Scott said. “There was standing room only. I wasn’t sure what the legal limit in the room was, but fortunately we didn’t exceed that.”
The packed house came to hear about a rezoning request in Olde Towne Daphne but many came away disappointed the council didn’t vote on the ordinance. Developer Craig Dyas withdrew it at the last minute.
“We’re going to have to be ever vigilant because of the way the City Council punted after they had the votes to defeat it,” resident Sandy Robinson said. “Instead of defeating it they told him what to do to save it. We’re still not happy with the council.”
And one target of Robinson’s ire was Councilman Scott. Scott told Dyas if the council voted he would lose and it would be a year before it could be considered again. But if he withdrew the request he could amend it and resubmit right away. He missed the deadline for the March Planning Commission meeting but has until March 26 to get on the April agenda.
“In other words, they just saved him,” Robinson said. “They went out of their way. We feel very betrayed by what the City Council did. We were all there, they were getting ready to vote it down and instead, they threw him a lifeline and advised him.
“So here we are and nothing’s been accomplished because he’s been given another chance. It has to go all the way back to the Planning Commission and then to the City Council.”
At issue was the expansion of Daphne Court east to make a connection with a 10-unit townhouse development, another 38-unit townhouse and mixed-use development and ultimately on to U.S. 98. Downtown residents and residents from all over Daphne made a strong showing against having a new thoroughfare bringing traffic to the old downtown.
Dyas, Scott said, is looking for a compromise with an amended application asking for limited access to Daphne Court.
“He would put a gate there that would only allow pedestrians, golf carts and bicycles to go through,” Scott said. “It would have the ability to open with emergency vehicles and be siren activated.”
Robinson said she and her neighbors will be back when the issue comes up again in April.
“The citizens came in and talked but the council didn’t listen,” Robinson said. “That’s just how I felt about it. We’re ready to stir this crowd back into action if need be.”