Orange Beach approves new development, red light


Despite a considerable amount of discussion and debate among the Orange Beach City Council, a new development passed through at a recent meeting.

Broken Sound PUD, located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Lauder Lane and Pelican Place, was approved as a single-family residential subdivision with 40 lots.

Mayor Tony Kennon said there were a lot of factors and discussion about this project before it was brought forth for consideration.

“We thought about taking the light and moving it to try and create some sort of service road,” Kennon said. “Because of the alignment of East Street and Lauder Lane being offset, it was almost impossible to make that work with the light.”

Kennon went on to say that in talking with the state, officials assured him they could control the sequence of the new light near the development so as not to interfere with current traffic flow patterns.

A main point of concern raised about the subdivision itself was in reference to the small setbacks proposed for the development. For RS zoning, front setbacks are a minimum of 30 feet, rear setbacks at least 20 feet and side setbacks require 10 feet. For Broken Sound, the setbacks are set at 18 feet in the front, 8 feet in the rear and 5 feet on the sides.

“I think it goes back to a pragmatic look at the property, what it’s zoned, what could be there, what it takes to make residential work,” Kennon said. “They’re going to have to have X number of units to financially make that work, and it’s going to have to be close. In my opinion, even though these are extremely small setbacks and we all have our problems with that, the alternative project of apartments or more townhomes to me was a greater evil.”

Councilman Jerry Johnson voiced his favor for the project, particularly the variety in home type.

“The houses look good,” Johnson said. “They’ve got three different varieties, so it’s not going to be a cookie-cutter type thing.”

Johnson said most of the comments he read in opposition or concern about the project were about traffic and getting out of the road. He said his worries were taken care of with the addition of the traffic light.

Councilman Jeff Boyd wasn’t as concerned with traffic flow so much as the precedent set by approval of the planned unit development.

“Everything that’s coming to us is going to be exactly the same,” Boyd said. “They’re going to want 5-foot setbacks. Do we keep approving it? Do we change the ordinance to how we handle apartments and townhouses?”

Kennon brought up the fact that the property is in a zoning that allows much greater density, so the cost per square foot is higher than other residential zonings.

“That’s why, in my mind, in the cost per square foot this was the best product that we could get next to a neighborhood and continue residential growth,” Kennon said.

Councilwoman Annette Mitchell, who sits on the planning commission, said there was nothing inferior about these homes.

“These are not just thrown up homes with one looking just like the next,” Mitchell said. “They truly are almost custom, and the demand is great for these products.”

Approved during the regular meeting were:

-A bid award for the Art Center Shoreline Stabilization and Boardwalk project. Bids were received and opened Feb. 14, and the lowest conforming bidder was MD Thomas Construction with a bid of $64,727.

-A task order with Sawgrass Consulting for construction management services for the Art Center Shoreline Stabilization and Boardwalk project in an amount not to exceed $10,000. Sawgrass will provide personnel to observe the construction including plan compliance, field adjustments, material quantity tracking and review of monthly contractor estimates.

-Purchasing a backhoe for the utilities department through the National Joint Purchasing Alliance. Thompson Tractor Co. will be paid $109,008.16 for one new Caterpillar 420F2 Backhoe Loader with cab.

-A task order with Sawgrass Consulting for professional survey and design services. Sawgrass will be providing services for the proposed force main connection and road crossing at the Canal Road and Foley Beach Express intersection. Services will include locating utilizes for the project area, a centerline profile of Canal Road, cross sections along the project limits, locating property corners of parcels adjacent to the project site and completing all necessary ALDOT permits.