A resident of the Enclave at Oak Hill Condominium in Gulf Shores has filed suit against the city, a developer and a company proposing a 206-unit apartment complex next to the condos.
Nan Hedgspeth, who has been a vocal part of a social media group formed to fight the complex on Regency Road is named as the plaintiff in the suit filed on May 21 and she is represented by Adam Matthew Milam.
Residents began protesting in July showing up en masse to city meetings — several called specifically to address their concerns about the apartments — before the city council voted to approve the site plan.
“As far as the way it was processed through the Planning Commission, the Regency Place apartments followed all the rules and regulations of our zoning ordinance and was approved by the Planning Commission,” City Planner Andy Bauer said at the time.
Hedgspeth’s lawsuit claims the sale of the property from Gulf Sands to Regency in December 2017 violated city subdivision regulations. It also says the city went against its own land-use development plan by allowing a density of 20 units per acre instead of six to 10 as suggested in the plan. Both these factors, the suit says, make the council’s approval of the site plan void.
“The violations are clear and therefore the site plan’s approval was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable; and not in compliance with governing laws, ordinances and regulations,” the suit claims.
City leaders say the land-use plan it is not law but just a guideline to follow when considering rezonings.
“The zoning ordinance regulations take legal precedent over the general guidelines of the land use plan,” a memo for a work session addressing residents’ concerns stated.
Regency Place’s owners’ plan is being built “by right” or under the zoning regulations on the property when it was purchased. In October, the city council voted 6-0 to approve the site plan for the apartments saying it could not stop an owner from a “by right” project.
“We cannot change zoning on a property and take away a property owner’s rights,” Councilman Jason Dyken said at the time.
Hedgspeth’s lawsuit said that purchase was illegal because the 10-acre parcel was never subdivided from the original 17-acre Enclave at Oak Hill project. It called for 342 units on the current Enclave property and the proposed site for Regency. The first plan called for 29 three- and four-story buildings with a density of almost 20 units per acre. Only 10 buildings and 125 units were built leaving the 10 acres north of those empty.
The suit says subdivision of the property from the original Enclave project never occurred as required by city regulations and therefore was illegal. The suit says a sale can’t occur “before such plat has been approved by the planning commission and recorded with or filed with the probate judge of Baldwin County.”
Because this procedure wasn’t followed the sale must be rescinded, the lawsuit says.
“The plaintiffs hereby petition this court pursuant to Alabama law for a declaratory judgment that the sale from (Gulf) Sands to Regency … was an illegal sale and therefore void.”
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