Despite a last-minute curveball thrown by Mayor Karin Wilson, the Fairhope City Council voted Monday to override her veto of an extension of time given to the property owner and developer of the Fly Creek apartment project.
No one changed positions on the extension. Council members Jay Anderson, Jack Burrell, Robert Brown and Kevin Boone voted to override the mayor’s veto, while Jimmy Conyers voted against the override.
Councilors did not seem affected by a presentation Wilson made before the vote in which she suggested something was amiss with the donation last fall of a piece of future apartment land to the city.
The land was approximately four acres, of which about just over two were wetlands. The previous City Council accepted the land, but Wilson said the land was recorded as a gift to the city three days before the council’s vote. Meanwhile, she also said she could not find a copy of an attachment which may have been discussed that night.
Wilson said the move would put the city at risk of liability for flooding in the area. But City Attorney Marion “Tut” Wynne said he didn’t think it affected the agreement between the city and developers to proceed with required items before construction could begin.
Wilson said she would have the matter investigated and Burrell agreed it should be.
On the Oct. 24, 2016, agenda there was an agreement to accept the lift station from Arthur Corte, routinely. Another agenda involved in that was said to have been uploaded afterwards had an Exhibit A that didn’t exist. A deed of a gift was recorded on Oct. 21 2016.
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 stormwater 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 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.