Point Clear residents object to zoning vote

By Guy Busby
Posted 2/5/21

BAY MINETTE – Point Clear residents and property owners said that the recent referendum to create a new zoning district in their area was an attempt to exclude them from having a voice in development.

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Point Clear residents object to zoning vote

Posted

BAY MINETTE – Point Clear residents and property owners said that the recent referendum to create a new zoning district in their area was an attempt to exclude them from having a voice in development.

Members of the delegation told Baldwin County commissioners Tuesday that the process created a gerrymandered district that excluded Black residents of the area.

“This is blatant discrimination against our community,” Willie Williams told commissioners.

Williams said many African-Americans in the area who have owned property there for generations were not included in the district or allowed to have a voice in plans for the proposal.

“This is our home. This is our grandparents’ homes,” Williams said. “Your county staff did a poor job with this.”

He said earlier zoning proposals were opposed by many of the residents who were excluded from the new district.

Williams also said the petition requesting the election filed with Probate Court did not include enough signatures to meet the requirements of the law.

Brad Hicks, county attorney, said the County Commission does not set up the district map or other aspects of the referendum for a zoning district vote and does not have authority over how the process is carried out. He said the Probate Judge’s Office oversees the vote.

Hicks said anyone who believes the process did not follow the law or that they were discriminated against should file a civil lawsuit in Baldwin County Circuit Court.

Planning District 19 was established after a group of citizens filed a petition to set up the district. Under state law, new zoning districts for areas outside city limits should have the same boundaries as voting precincts if possible. Part of Precinct 10, which takes in much of the proposed site, was already in another zoning district. Another portion was in the Fairhope city limits, according to a county statement.

The lines for Planning District 19 were drawn up to accommodate the changes, Hicks said.

Baldwin County Probate Judge Harry D’Olive scheduled an election for Dec. 29, 2020. The zoning referendum passed by a vote of 298 to 28.

Under the law, the commission, Baldwin County Planning Commission and Planning Department will work with property owners to determine what zoning is appropriate for parcels in District 19. Five district residents will be named to an advisory committee to work on the zoning process.

The committee and county officials will create a zoning map that will be presented to the Planning Commission. After the Planning Commission makes recommendations, the County Commission will hold a public hearing on zoning in the district.