Tied commission votes deny zoning changes

By Cliff McCollum
Posted 4/11/17

Following two 2-2 tie votes during Tuesday’s Baldwin County Commission meeting, a zoning change for a parcel of land along Highway 181 and Bellgrove Avenue is on hold for at least a …

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Tied commission votes deny zoning changes


Following two 2-2 tie votes during Tuesday’s Baldwin County Commission meeting, a zoning change for a parcel of land along Highway 181 and Bellgrove Avenue is on hold for at least a year.

Planning Director Vince Jackson brought the proposal before the commission to rezone the 1.36 acre site from RSF-2 to B-2, a neighborhood business zoning.

Jackson told commissioners the request had generated considerable opposition from the neighboring property owners and the county’s planning commission had recommended denying the request.

“However, staff does not have an issue because this is an area in transition,” Jackson said. “There have been multiple zoning changes in this area that have all involved rezoning from residential to commercial. This area is changing, and there are already properties under construction that will hasten this transition.”

Donna Nicholson, who lives in the nearby Bellpointe subdivision, said she and other nearby property owners thought adding a commercial component to the front of that neighborhood was absurd.

“Lot One is 46 percent of that subdivision,” Nicholson said. “Making that change will increase and traffic and make it difficult to get in and out. Also, that parcel has never been marketed for residential use. I understand commercial is going up around 181, but there are no subdivisions that have commercial at the front of them.”

Commission Chairman Chris Elliott told Nicholson there were several residential subdivisions that had commercial components at their front, including TimberCreek, where he lives.

Larry Chason, who represents the property’s owner Citizens Bank, said he felt the zoning request was warranted given the area’s continued changes.

“What we all know today is Highway 181 is an area in transition, and these requested changes are within the character of this site,” Chason said.

Commissioner Frank Burt said he shared concerns of nearby residents.

“I can understand concerns of families who bought properties and raised their families there,” Burt said.

Elliott said given the prevalence of commercial components near other residential developments in the area, the request made sense.

“Almost all of these other subdivisions have a commercial aspect at the front of them,” Elliott said. “The likelihood of this area being developed further commercially is pretty high.”

Commissioner Tucker Dorsey offered the property owners a chance to withdraw the request before the commission’s vote, which they chose not to accept.

The commission first voted on a motion to deny the zoning change request, splitting 2-2. Burt and Dorsey voted to deny the request, while Elliott and Commissioner Skip Gruber voted not to deny.

The next motion, which would amend the zoning request from B-2 to the newly created and more restrictive Limited Business (LB) zoning also fell in a 2-2 vote. Dorsey and Elliott voted for the LB zoning swap, while Burt and Gruber voted against.

Because the votes failed, the property owners will now be unable to make further zoning change requests for one year.