Controversial Daphne development passes council, vetoed by mayor

Fate of project hinges on Oct. 15 council meeting


After a process that has involved petitions, complaints from residents and an unfavorable recommendation from the city’s planning commission, the Daphne City Council narrowly approved a rezoning for a proposed development in Olde Towne Daphne - only to have Mayor Dane Haygood veto the decision less than 24 hours later.

The development in question, a collection of townhouses called Jacob’s Well, has been met with heavy criticism for months from neighboring property members and other residents from throughout the city who question how the potential development could add additional traffic to Daphne’s Main Street area.

The developer had looked for a rezoning and PUD approval that would have allowed the construction of six new townhomes near Olde Towne Daphne and U.S. 98, though nearby residents feared the development would also link up with a connector road between this proposed development and a nearby established neighborhood.

Council chambers were standing room only for the Oct. 1 meeting, with a majority of those in attendance against the proposed zoning changes for the development.

“We need to require developers to do exactly what is required under our current rules,” one resident said. “We need development that fits into the context of what is already there.”

Daniel Dyas, who represented developer Dyas LLC, advised against the council following what he called “mob rule.”

“It’s important that everyone’s rights be respected,” Dyas said. “And we’re entitled to build six units on the property on the west side.”

Days said the company had made concessions to try to assuage neighbors’ concerns, including forgoing vehicular access to the nearby neighborhood, but residents said they still wanted the council to deny the rezoning.

Councilman Ron Scott motioned for the vote that would approve the rezoning, but added in some restrictions that were asked for by nearby residents, including the denial of vehicular access and a 104-foot buffer green space area that would shield the development from Olde Towne Daphne.

Even with the restrictions, Scott said he doubted residents would be pleased.

“I’m not sure anything other than a total no would have made everyone happy here tonight, but I appreciate your input and appreciate your passion,” Scott said.

The council split 4-3 on the decision, with Scott, Doug Goodlin, Joel Coleman and Joe Davis voting yes and Council President Tommie Conaway, Pat Rudicell and Robin LeJeune voting against.

On Oct. 2, Haygood announced he would be exercising his veto power on the decision, citing several reasons for wanting to strike the project down in a letter to the council.

“I am concerned about several of the aspects of this ordinance, including but not limited to, the passing of the ordinance to rezone is not consistent with the will of the community as evidenced by the concern expressed by neighboring property owners and a large contingent of the Olde Towne Daphne community; the fundamental tenant that the City may not unilaterally alter the PUD documents submitted with the rezoning request, notwithstanding the applicant’s right to amend the documents or otherwise agree to Planning Commission or City Council requested changes in furtherance of the approval sought, and must vote on the rezoning based on the submission was not observed as the motion to adopt prescribed changes to the PUD without consent by the applicant; the ordinance as published is flawed as it did not include the definitive PUD documents for the project which are necessary and proper to be included as part of the ordinance; and there was not an opportunity to hear from the public as to whether or not the proposed PUD modification which was included as part of the motion lessened the overwhelming objection of the community on this rezoning effort.”

A supermajority of 5 council members could override Haywood’s veto at the Oct. 15 council meeting, though city officials said that such a vote “looked unlikely.”