According to property records, Daphne Mayor Dane Haygood earned a 98 percent return on his investment after he bought a historic property in Olde Towne Daphne two years ago — the “Texas House” at 306 Dryer Ave. — then recently sold it to the Bayside Foundation for nearly twice what he paid.
But what has some neighbors upset isn’t the mayor’s profit, but what Bayside would like to do with the property.
According to Baldwin County probate records, Haygood and his wife, Robyn, paid $129,500 for the property two years ago and recently sold it to the Bayside Foundation for $257,000. Bayside Foundation provides financial support for Bayside Academy, a private school on the north side of Dryer Avenue.
“Quite frankly I feel we bought it at the right price and I think we could have gotten more for it,” Haygood said.
The school also owns the property immediately to the west, which is currently a wooded lot. It is currently zoned residential (R-2), but Bayside will be asking for a special exemption to build a parking lot. The request is for both properties, city documents say.
According to a plat sent to Lagniappe by Bayside Headmaster Michael Papa’s office, this would include removal of the 1835-era home previously owned by Haygood. The home was originally built by William L. Howard as a hotel. William Dryer bought the property in 1894 and in December 1988 it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
“Bayside Foundation has submitted an application to the [board of zoning and adjustments (BZA)] for a special exception to construct a parking lot on property zoned R-2,” Daphne Planning Director Adrienne Jones said. The next meeting of the board is scheduled for Oct. 3.
A special exemption does not require approval from the Daphne City Council like a zoning change would. Haygood is not a voting member of the council but does have the power to veto any council actions. Any challenges to a BZA ruling would be heard in court, Jones said.
“The BZA is not appointed by the mayor it is appointed by the City Council,” Haygood said.
Bayside had previously applied for an exemption to build a parking lot next to the Texas House when it was still owned by Haygood, but the application was pulled in April 2018. The sale of that property to Bayside had been contingent upon passage of the exemption, but the school foundation went through with the purchase without it. Haygood said one of the reasons he sold the property was because of that earlier effort.
“I was opposed when we were looking at an adjacent property for there being a parking lot next to what we wanted to be our master bedroom,” Haygood said. “It would have been literally 15 feet away.”
Haygood said another setback came when his application for tax breaks to make improvements were denied by a state board.
“It’s one of the oldest structures in Daphne and we really wanted to renovate it,” Haygood said. “When it became clear we weren’t going to be able to receive funding to do that, we had to make a hard decision even though we liked the lot and went in a different direction for our family’s home.”
After renovations, Haygood estimated it would have been worth about $550,000, but he would have had to invest nearly $200,000 to bring it up to that level. The parking lot proposal was also a factor.
“That made it extraordinarily difficult to look into investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into renovation of that property,” Haygood said. “It was not a good decision.”
The property was also offered to neighbors, Haygood said, many of whom have concerns about the parking lot proposal. Eventually, Bayside was the final buyer.
“Even as we received an offer and some discussions were pursued off and on with Bayside Foundation, we made every effort to make sure if neighbors wanted to buy that property they could,” Haygood said. “I was very forthright and they were aware of what was happening and had opportunities if they had chosen to buy the property.”
Those same residents need to be consulted and their concerns heard before the BZA makes its decision, Haygood said.
“If they have not satisfied the residents in the area then it’s not something I would be in favor of,” Haygood said. “I hope that they have done their homework and gotten the neighbors on board with whatever their concepts are. I have not seen any plans.”
Haygood said he told Bayside if the decision was made to remove the structure, he’d like an opportunity to look into moving it instead of destroying it.
“I certainly don’t want to see anything happen to the structure,” he said. “It’s a historically significant home.”
On Oct. 1, 2018, the county estimated the value of the home at about $231,000 and assessed a property tax of just under $1,000.
Three members of the Brunell family owned the home from 2009 until Haygood bought it in 2017. During that time the county appraised the home at $287,500 in 2009 and by 2017 its appraised value was set at $314,300. The lowest appraisal during the time the Brunells owned the home was $256,100 in 2013.
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