Controversial store gets nod from planning commission

By Crystal Cole/Islander Editor
Posted 5/15/17

Orange Beach Planning Commission members passed through a proposal that could grant developers the ability to build another Dollar General in the city’s limits if the city council approves.

The …

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Controversial store gets nod from planning commission

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Orange Beach Planning Commission members passed through a proposal that could grant developers the ability to build another Dollar General in the city’s limits if the city council approves.

The proposed site for the new store would be at the corner of Alabama Highway 161 and Rose Lane in an area zoned Neighborhood Business.

Staff said the proposal before the commission was to allow conditional use approval for a 10,640 square-foot commercial retail store and to make associated improvements to Rose Lane.

The store would replace the existing store next to the Walmart Neighborhood Market.

Councilwoman Annette Mitchell told the commission about concerns from the city council during the work session.

“It was initially felt this project was too dense for the placement, that it would only have a right in, right out and could not have a left out,” Mitchell said. “Current plans are to have some kind of bypass to speed traffic on Canal coming from the west, and this property would be right about where that happens.”

Mitchell said there were several concerns about how allowing left turns into the property could cause traffic issues, but that the public hearing for the plan before the city council had been set for May 16.

Some members of the public spoke out against the possible new store site during public comments.

Margaret Lauder said she and her husband own property in the subdivision behind the lot in question and said they were not notified regarding the parking variance that was previously approved.

“We reject the Broadway Group putting what they call a neighborhood business there,” Lauder said. “I don’t know what you consider a neighborhood business, but I don’t consider Dollar General a neighborhood business.”

Lauder said it would impact access to her family’s property and the surrounding area.

“We hope you will not approve every last inch of Orange Beach being paved over,” Lauder said.

Lauder’s husband Thurston also raised an issue with the fact the Dollar General on Canal Road is located only 1.2 miles from the newly proposed site.

Developer Bob Broadway with the Broadway Group said the site plan for the new store would follow the same standards as previous stores built in the area and reminded the public his team had made $175,000 in public improvements to Avalon Road with one of those previous stores.

Broadway said this new site was necessitated because Walmart conditioned that Dollar General could not renew its lease in its current location in that shopping center.

“I am very, very appreciative of your desire to further invest in Orange Beach,” Mitchell said. “All of us stand in gratitude because we need people to invest, but I will tell you I serve on city council and this council has worked very, very hard to protect neighborhoods from the encroachment of high density businesses, and that is what I see this as.”

The commission voted 6-3 to send a positive recommendation on the proposal to the city council, who will have the ultimate say on the matter.

The commission also:

- Unanimously approved final major subdivision approval for Cypress Village Courtyard Cottages. The subdivision plan would divide the 6.9-acre Canal Road property into a 73 lot PUD.

- Approved a PUD modification to the Pandion Ridge PUD at the intersection of Canal Road and Pandion Boulevard. The change was asked for to potentially allow the construction of a gas station and drug store on 1.91 acres.