The Baldwin County Commission planned to vote on a zoning request in the historic Point Clear district at its Tuesday meeting, but the applicant withdraw the request before a vote could take place.
George and Amy Spottswood had asked the Commission to consider rezoning a portion of their property at the northeast corner of Scenic U.S. 98 and Old Marlow Road from residential single family to a commercial zoning designation to allow the family to operate a neighborhood grocery store.
At its Dec. 3, 2015 meeting, the Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of the application, which sought a change from residential single family to B-2 commercial. At its March 1 meeting, the Baldwin County Commission approved a new zoning, called the Limited Business District, that is more restrictive than the previously requested B-2 neighborhood business district but allows more than the county’s B-1 professional business district.
“We knew from the outset that B-2 was not appropriate because it allows uses that are not in keeping with what people want in the Point Clear community,” the Spottswood family attorney Randall Caldwell said. “With that in mind, we really wanted a B-2 with restrictions.”
Caldwell said the L-B designation would work for the property as it would be more in line with a small, neighborhood grocery store the Spottswoods planned to use the property for.
“If L-B zoning isn’t appropriate for the Spottswood property, what is it appropriate for? This is the exact area that L-B was created for,” Caldwell said.
George Spottswood told the Commission the business would “have the charm of something that would have been opened 50 to 100 years ago.” Amy Spottswood said the rezoning request has been “blown out of proportion” and that the Point Clear community should be progressive in welcoming change.
“We need to be progressive in a smart way to keep the quaintness of the Point Clear area,” she said. “If progress continues to be stymied, big box will be here before we know it. That’s a repeated fact. In order for things to remain the same, they have to change. If we want to hold on to what we have and love about Point Clear, we have to adapt and change.”
Planning Director Vince Jackson said the county planning department received an unusually large amount of letters – for and against – about the rezone request.
While the Spottswoods insisted their property would be used for something that would be beneficial to their Point Clear neighbors, some of the those neighbors said they did not want the change, citing the potential for additional traffic, lowered property values and the future of the property if the Spottswood business fails.
“There’s been some talk about people who don’t want change or progress, and that’s exactly what we want at Point Clear: no change and no progress,” Elizabeth Schramm said. “We want the area to remain residential.”
Because the request was withdrawn without a vote, the applicants are free to resubmit the request at a later date. Had the commissioners voted to reject the request, it could not be submitted again for one year.
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