Turquoise Place moves forward with parking fix

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

A proposed new parking lot for Turquoise Place Condominiums in Orange Beach garnered questions and concerns from the city’s Planning Commission members during its May 8 meeting.

The proposed …

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Turquoise Place moves forward with parking fix

Posted

A proposed new parking lot for Turquoise Place Condominiums in Orange Beach garnered questions and concerns from the city’s Planning Commission members during its May 8 meeting.

The proposed parking lot site, in the form of a planned unit development (PUD) is 625 feet east of Turquoise Place and would consist of 132 spaces for overflow parking with a gated entrance for owners and guests.

Staff said the applicants informed them a shuttle service would be provided to help get guests from the lot to Turquoise Place.

Orange Beach Engineering and Environmental Services Director Kit Alexander told the commission city staff had been working with Turquoise Place for three years on this issue that was a public safety concern.

“Turquoise has been struggling with parking deficiencies for quite some time,” Alexander said. “We have had and observed life safety issues with people crossing Perdido Beach Boulevard at all times of the day and night. It is a very real problem and it needs to be addressed.”

Alexander said the space in question is leased property consisting of four single family residential lots with a three-year lease with the ability to be renewed yearly after that.

“This is a temporary solution to their problem,” Alexander said. “They’re trying to find a more permanent solution to their problem.”

Alexander added that city staff would like to see the PUD have a condition that once the property was no longer needed for use by Turquoise Place that the property would be restored to its original condition and rezoned back to single family residential.

“This is a parking lot that would not normally be approved,” Alexander said. “This is a surface parking lot on the beach. This is not something that our zoning ordinance would normally allow, but this is a extraordinary circumstance where we’re trying to address this serious parking deficiency on the beach.”

Tony Marzulo, the general manager of Turquoise Place, said the condominiums could actually pick up some parking spaces in their existing structure by utilizing the new lot for parking for contractors and staff members.

“So of those 130 or so spaces, 60 of them will be pretty stable, arriving in the morning and leaving around late afternoon,” Marzulo said. “That’s going to minimize the amount of traffic that’s going back and forth to that lot.”

Vince Lucido with Lucido Engineering said they would be working on the lot if it was approved and that they planned to restore the sand dunes at the location.

“For one thing, the dune will prevent beachgoers from seeing the parking lot,” Lucido said.

Planning Commissioner Christina McInnis said she understands the parking issue faced by owners, but she had concerns about the temporary nature of this proposal.

“My concern is this is a temporary fix and not a permanent fix,” McInnis said. “After you make these changes and after three years it doesn’t continue, what that does to the renter’s mentality and if they think they can still go there? It’s very difficult.”

McInnis added she was concerned about the distance to the lot and the availability of the shuttle service.

“I’m afraid that if we have the surface lot so far away, and you have the families with four or six kids walking down the beach highway - that is a dangerous and temporary fix to something that needs a permanent solution for you guys,” McInnis said.

Commissioner Bill Jefferies questioned if there was a plan for a longer lease, but was told property owners did not seem amenable to any agreement longer than that currently.

Commissioner Jeff Boyd asked how long it would take for the lot to be able to be in use following full approval from the city, and was told by staff that the lot could be operational as soon as July.

The commission voted 5-4 to give a favorable recommendation to the PUD, which sends it on to the city council for final approval.