Embattled apartment complex goes back to planning commission

By: Crystal Cole/ Islander Editor
Posted 8/17/18

After weeks of hearing from many concerned and agitated citizens, the Gulf Shores City Council and Mayor Robert Craft sent a highly-debated apartment complex back to planning commission for site …

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Embattled apartment complex goes back to planning commission

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After weeks of hearing from many concerned and agitated citizens, the Gulf Shores City Council and Mayor Robert Craft sent a highly-debated apartment complex back to planning commission for site review.

Regency Place apartments has received push back from the community since its approval at planning commission. The proposed development would bring a 206-apartment complex near the downtown area.

Craft, in a statement prepared for the meeting, said on advice from the city attorney, he sent a letter to the chairman of the planning commission asking the body to revisit Regency Place’s application.

“I have also noted that, while under the zoning ordinance a public hearing is not required during the site plan review process, given the active public discussion of this project a public hearing by the planning commission would very probably be beneficial,” Craft said. “Without expressing any view that the approval given by the planning commission was or was not in error, the city attorney has observed that the written planning commission approval resolution failed to set out the express findings and conclusions on the suitability of the project as specifically required by Section 3-3.E. of the zoning ordinance.”

That section of the zoning ordinance states: The granting or denial of approval by written resolution of the reviewing authority shall include not only conclusions but also finding of fact related to the specific proposal and shall set forth the reasons for the grant, with or without changes and/or special conditions or for disapproval, and said resolution shall set forth with particularity in what respects the plan would or would not be in the public interest including but not limited to findings of fact and conclusions on the following:

1. In what respects the plan is or is not consistent with the comprehensive plan and the purpose and intent of the applicable district.

2. In what respects the plan is or is not in conformance with all applicable regulations of the applicable district.

3. In what respects the plan is or is not in conformance with the city's subdivision regulations and all other applicable city requirements including design, adequacy and construction of streets, drainage, utilities and other essential services or facilities.

4. In what respects the plan is or is not consistent with good design standards in respect to all external relationships, including but not limited to:

a. Relationship to adjacent properties;

b. Internal circulation, both vehicular and pedestrian;

c. Design of access and egress and impact on adjacent thoroughfares;

d. Disposition and use of open space, provision of screening and/or buffering, and preservation of existing natural features including trees, wetlands and dunes;

e. Size and apparent bulk of structures;

f. Building arrangements both between buildings in the proposed development and those on abutting sites.

5. In what respects the plan is or is not in conformance with City policy in respect to sufficiency of ownership, guarantees for completion of all required Improvements and, if private, the guarantees for continued maintenance.

“Citizens have strongly expressed their concern that the planning commission did not properly evaluate the external impact of the project in the process of giving its approval,” Craft said. “Pending receipt of a planning commission resolution satisfying Section 3-3.E., the city will be unable to issue any building or land disturbance permits to the applicant.”