Fairhope cancels Planning Commission meeting

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FAIRHOPE – Citing concerns over potential crowds for public hearings, the Fairhope City Council voted March 23 to cancel the April 6 meeting of the Planning Commission.

Items scheduled to be heard at the meeting will be moved to the May Planning Commission session.

At the March 23 Fairhope City Council meeting, Hunter Simmons, Fairhope planning and zoning manager, said the crowds for public hearings before the commission often exceed the limit of 10 people ordered by Gov. Kay Ivey during efforts to slow the spread of COVID 19. The law does not allow the public to be excluded from Planning Commission meetings or make any provision to conduct business by phone.

“We have an issue where I think the governor has allowed some meetings such as this where essential activities can be handled with phone, but they haven’t made that allowance, based on our interpretation for public hearings, which would be a part of the Planning Commission,” Simmons said. “I’ve looked at bylaws, our city code, state code and, like many things we’re dealing with right now, this is just not addressed.”

He said the mayor and council do have the authority to cancel the meeting.

Council members voted to cancel the meeting. Unless changed, the next Fairhope Planning Commission meeting would be May 4.