DAPHNE – By a split vote, the Daphne City Council imposed a six-month moratorium on rezoning property for apartments and some other multifamily housing.
The council voted 5-2 Tuesday, Sept. 7 to restrict changes in zoning for apartments, mid-rise condominiums, townhomes and planned unit developments, or PUDs, that include those types of multifamily residences. Councilmen Ron Scott and Benjamin Hughes voted against the resolution.
Most council members said the resolution will help the city plan for growth.
“With the moratorium limited to new requests for rezoning or prezoning that it’s in the best interests of the city of Daphne to impose this limited time moratorium in order to better get a handle on the rapid growth in multifamily units in the city of Daphne,” Councilman Steve Olen said.
Councilwoman Angie Phillips said the moratorium does not affect property that is already zoned for multifamily use.
“This is not limited development,” she said. “Property owners who already have property within the city of Daphne that by right it is zoned, if it’s already zoned for those types of development, they can still do that. This does not limit them in doing that.”
The resolution will also not affect property where the owners had applied for rezoning before the change went into effect.
Scott said he supported efforts to control growth but felt that the market should determine how property is used.
“When this first came up, I felt like it was very appropriate and then the more I looked at it and talked to certain people, while I think the concept of us wanting to get control as far as the ratio of multifamily to single-family, I think that is a legitimate concern and goal for any municipality. We can decide how we want to develop our city,” Scott said.
He said the resolution could also limit annexations if the owners of land outside Daphne want to rezone that property.
Hughes said he did not think the council should set how property can be used.
“At first I was very concerned about what’s going on and I still am, but I just feel that our government should let the market dictate what is built as opposed to us saying what can and can’t be built,” Hughes said. “With that and infringing on property rights, I also agree on Councilman Scott on this issue.”
Phillips said the resolution does not take away any existing rights to develop property in the way that it is now zoned
“What this resolution is for is not to infringe on the property rights of existing owners that already have that zoning, it is to simply get a handle on the growth of our city,” she said. “We have had tremendous growth, particularly in our police jurisdiction, of apartment complexes.”
She said development is straining infrastructure in the area and the moratorium will allow Daphne officials to plan how to prepare for growth.
“There’s some strategic planning that we need to do that’s also in the works in our city and we want to see what the outcome on that is,” Phillips said. “It’s not that we don’t want to grow, and we welcome these types of units. It’s just that we’ve seen quite a few of them come very quickly and the impact to our infrastructure, our city services, our schools, all that needs to be considered.”