Residents opposing a four-story, 206-unit apartment complex in their Gulf Shores neighborhood won a small victory during Monday’s City Council meeting.
“It will go back to the planning commission at the earliest convenience on a special meeting to review,” Mayor Robert Craft said. “Nowhere are we or the attorney saying that the planning commission decision was wrong. We’re just saying that the details of the technical requirements were not met, and go back and revisit those and make sure all that is done.”
The next planning commission meeting is Aug. 28, but it was uncertain whether the Regency Place apartments’ site plan re-application would be on the agenda.
Also during the meeting, the overflow audience heard from the architect for the project on specifics about the planned development.
Craft promised residents he would huddle with attorneys to see if any relief could be found for concerns about the project. Neighboring property owners expressed concerns about short-term vacation rentals, drainage and ecological impact and a traffic study they insist is flawed.
The result was a finding in the city’s zoning ordinance that calls for a more extensive review of site plans.
“There are about 10 items in there that they must concur they have looked at and agree that the site plan meets all of those,” City Planning Director Andy Bauer said. “The city attorney said the resolution specifically must state that a site plan meets those items. The resolution did not read specifically how that site plan meets those items.”
Because the project met every “by right” zoning requirement, the planning commission wasn’t even required to have a public hearing. Craft, in response, read bullet points put together in his meetings with attorneys and said the resubmittal process should include a public hearing.
“Given the active public discussion of this project a public hearing by the planning commission would very probably be beneficial,” Craft said.
Concerns over short-term rentals seem to have been addressed with Stuart Povall, representing the developer, saying there have never been plans to rent to vacationers.
“All of our leases are one- and two-year leases,” Povall said. He made a presentation to the council on the project but audience members weren’t allowed to ask him questions. The council had no questions for Povall.
Povall said it would be a “high-end, Class A apartment community” with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and ceramic tile. Other amenities would include a clubhouse with kitchen, a pool with two hot tubs, sauna and interior access with air-conditioned halls for all units.
Resident Ron Glaus said none of what he heard from Povall addressed the increased traffic on Regency Road. He and other residents said drivers use the road as a cut-through from Clubhouse Drive on State Route 59 to Regency to Fort Morgan Road.
“How are you going to fix the street so we don’t get all the traffic?” Glaus asked. “It’s mind-boggling. Every place around there is full. And then you’re going to put another 500 cars in there?”