Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson Tuesday vetoed the extension given the property owner and developer of the Fly Creek apartment project. The City Council had voted 4-1 to grant an extension April 10.
Wilson announced the veto on her Facebook page, “Mayor Karin Wilson of Fairhope, Alabama.” The council may vote to override the veto at its next meeting, Monday, April 24, but it will take four votes.
Wilson said in part: “When this ordinance originally passed on April 11, 2016 the great majority of our citizens opposed the zoning change allowing the construction of this large apartment complex in an environmentally sensitive area. The developer of this project, to induce the prior Council to approve the change, agreed to a more environmentally sensitive storm water drainage plan as well as a one-year sunset provision.”
Instead, she said, the developer used “a more conventional drainage system,” that “already failed and damaged Fly Creek and is unacceptable.”
In fact, the project has not begun. The Planning Commission denied site plan approval last fall. The extension gave property owner Arthur Corte and the Leaf River Group more time to submit a new site plan before the sunset provision expired last week.
A majority of council members said the city needed to be fair to the developers because of a moratorium on new subdivision lots issued after Fly Creek was given a year to get its project underway. The moratorium reduced that time by four months.
“The Planning Commission rightly denied approval of this plan and it is the developer who is at fault, not the city, if the sunset provision causes this apartment project to fail,” Wilson wrote.
Wilson’s Facebook veto set off a flurry of research into procedure since no one could immediately recall the last time it had happened. According to state statute, Wilson had until Thursday to officially veto the relevant ordinance. The city clerk reports the veto to the full council at its next regular meeting, which would be Monday. At that time the council can decide whether it wants to try to override the veto, which would take a two-thirds vote. Because Fairhope has five council members, four votes would be needed.