For a special-called meeting focusing only on the development of the Greeno Road corridor in Fairhope, Mobile’s Airport Boulevard sure got a lot of discussion.
In his six-minute intro at the Sept. 10 Planning Commission special meeting on an ordinance for an overlay district along the six miles of road, Planning Commission Chairman Lee Turner mentioned it six times, including in his first sentence.
“The purpose of this ordinance is to try not to have Greeno Road end up looking like Airport Boulevard,” Turner said. “We’ve gotten together with what everybody says what do we need to do the most for Fairhope. Number one was always, unanimously, protect the central business district because that’s what makes Fairhope, Fairhope. Number two is don’t have Greeno Road end up looking like Airport Boulevard because we don’t want Airport Boulevard in Fairhope.”
Turner spoke to kick off the one-hour, 26-minute meeting and discussion over what has become a controversial plan to many residents and business owners along the way. It would include a six-mile stretch of the road and 400 feet on either side from the centerline of the road. If just a piece of a parcel is touched in the total 800 feet across the corridor, the whole parcel is considered in the district. If it gets City Council approval.
The commission first addressed 12 questions submitted by residents and then had a moderator go through the audience with a microphone for questions. All questions, Turner said, must be about what was in the ordinance itself, not the how it was crafted.
“We’re not here to talk about the process,” Turner said. “We’re just here to talk about the ordinance. The commission up here does not have any authority whatsoever to pass an ordinance. We simply make a recommendation to the City Council.”
Old Tyme Feed & Garden Supply business owner Cecil Christenberry, who is also the president of the Baldwin County School Board, is in a group that decided to hire a lawyer to speak to the concerns of a large group of citizens from the area.
“We decided instead of having 40 different people speaking that we wanted to kind of concentrate into one voice,” Christenberry said. “We retained Danny Blackburn to actually speak for us. He was able to speak to some of the concerns the entire group had.”
Blackburn is the law partner of county attorney David Conner.
After the meeting, Christenberry said he was left with more questions than answers.
“It’s like a moving target at this point,” Christenberry said. “Didn’t learn a lot. It’s just seemed this will be tweaked and that will be tweaked. Until [Planning and Zoning] has something that they are going to present to the City Council, I don’t think there’s any sense in getting too far into it because we really don’t know what we’re dealing with yet. We’re kind of on standby on what it is that will be the final tweaked document.”
Planning and Zoning Manager Hunter Simmons, who joined the city from Mountain Brook last month, said a total of 523 parcels fall in the district’s five zones and 325 are within the city limits. When the residential parcels and the planned unit developments are excluded from that number, about 105 parcels will be affected by the proposed rules.
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