Nearly six months after winning a second four-year term in office during a contested municipal election, Place 4 City Councilman Robert Brown resigned suddenly at Monday’s Fairhope City Council meeting, stating he has “a one-time opportunity” to move his family outside city limits. Brown thanked his fellow council members, city staff and those who supported him in the election, saying while he will no longer be on the council, he will look for ways to continue to serve the community of Fairhope going forward.
By law, the City Council has 60 days to nominate a candidate to fulfill Brown’s term. If not, they may submit nominations to the governor’s office and the state will make the appointment. The city has 60 days to fill the vacancy, but Council President Jack Burrell said they could make a recommendation in as early as two weeks.
Brown suggested the council consider appointing former City Councilman Jay Robinson in his place. Burrell said every council member made the same suggestion, but the council is welcome to consider other candidates before ultimately voting on a recommendation. Last August, Brown defeated challenger Howell Gibbens by a margin of 59 percent to 36 percent.
In other news, the council voted to submit an application to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for a grant to construct a multi-use recreational trail on the northern parcel of the “triangle” property. The $500,000 project envisions a 1.5-mile trail with a trailhead, parking area and bathroom facilities. The city is required to chip in $150,000.
In the council work session Monday, Mayor Sherry Sullivan said there was a collective meeting of city staff and community members to come up with a vision for the property, and grant funding for the trail emerged as a feasible priority. Burrell said he was in favor of the grant, but wants to define and protect the property’s use as greenspace or parkland. Sullivan said a grant to put the property in a conservation easement is still on the table.
The council also approved a rezoning application for The Reserve at Fairhope, a 168-unit assisted living and memory care facility proposed on the southwest corner of Greeno Road and Volanta Avenue. Preliminary designs call for a three-story, 225,000-square-foot main building on one half of the property while the other half will contain 20 independent living units. Staff approved the application with special conditions for landscape, traffic and drainage. The applicant is Seaman Capital LLC/Dominion Partners.
The council laid over a resolution to raise garbage and trash collection rates. The rates will rise from $15.80 per month to $20 per month for most residential services and from $20.26 per month to $25 per month for base rate commercial customers. The council noted the sanitation department is operating with a $900,000 deficit and the increases remain in line with rates charged by similar-sized communities. With twice a week service, Fairhope also offers more frequent collection than most municipalities.
The council awarded $231,000 to various nonprofit organizations for citizen services and opportunities and $405,818 in equipment purchases for the utilities and public works departments.
The city approved a memorandum of understanding to host the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival April 30 through May 2, but it reserves the right to withdraw the application depending on pandemic conditions. Similarly, the Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre reserved the right to use Henry George Park April 29 through May 9 for its production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
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