Gulf Shores looks at potential water access change

By: Crystal Cole/ Islander Editor
Posted 9/24/18

The City of Gulf Shores is considering amending Article 6-9 Water Access to allow multi-family developments and subdivisions, with 20 units or fewer, to provide a minimum 100 feet beach access …

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Gulf Shores looks at potential water access change

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The City of Gulf Shores is considering amending Article 6-9 Water Access to allow multi-family developments and subdivisions, with 20 units or fewer, to provide a minimum 100 feet beach access easement for developments located north side of Beach Boulevard through the Conditional Use Permit process.

Andy Bauer, Director of Planning and Zoning, brought the issue before the city council citing continuing problems with beach access.

“The city originally adopted the beach access regulations in 2005,” Bauer said. “The regulations restricted beach access from multi-family zoned property located on the north side of Beach Boulevard through single family/ duplex zoned property along the Gulf of Mexico. Although regulations have been adopted and are in place the primary issues still exist. People living or vacationing on the north side of Beach Boulevard continue to walk across the road to the beach and quite often this results in trespassing through private property abutting the Gulf. The city lacks public and private beach accesses for the dwelling units on the north side of Beach Boulevard.”

The Planning Commission recommended approval (9-0) for this zoning text amendment at their August 2018 meeting.

Since January 2006 the city has had numerous discussions on the subject of water access and

how to allow beach access without negatively impacting the neighboring properties. In 2006,

2008 and 2016 amendments were proposed to the zoning regulations but either failed or was

withdrawn.

Richard David, a representative of the applicants of the zoning text amendment (Little Lagoon Cottages, Hercules Investments and West Beach) indicates in his narrative that water access by area residents and visitors is central to the city’s values. He said beach access is not readily available to many people and can lead to illegal parking, trespassing and destruction of the dunes.

Mayor Robert Craft said the city is trying to solve the problem of people walking next to and around someone else’s house and spreading out over private property.

“They’d have 100 feet where they could go to, and, theoretically, that’s where they would stay,” Craft said. “We’re trying to solve the problem as much as possible. We’re not trying to sell more lots on the north side. We’re not trying to rezone anything. We’re just trying to solve issues of people trying to get to the beach and going through private property to get there.”