Tatumville Subdivision Still Being Discussed: We Must Protect Our Valuable Gully Watershed

The City of Fairhope is comprised of a complex gully system that manages our storm water drainage, safeguards our watersheds, provides refuge to plants and wildlife and contributes to the health of Mobile Bay. Our gullies have been negatively affected by uncontrolled development and it has been a challenge to put safeguards in place in perpetuity.  The comprehensive land-use plan will certainly address this. Perhaps that’s why this subdivision has been resurrected?

Unfortunately, we still need a way to protect our sensitive gullies from special interests.

We must protect our watersheds and I believe most agree.  When the proposed Tatumville Subdivision was made public, over 2000 citizens spoke up in February 2018 killed it.

Ironically, Council believed the Triangle property (which the City was forced to purchase as settlement from an unfair planning decision a result of an unfair planning decision) suddenly needed extra protection.  They almost approved granting a conservation easement on your land to a private entity without your input.  The intention for the property was defined in the settlement “to use as a parkland and to preserve the greenspace for the purpose of protecting the Fly Creek Watershed.”  If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Luckily, this was killed too.  Because parkland cannot be sold or granted without a citizen vote.

Along our watersheds are our most vulnerable locations for development and a 2003 letter from FSTC agreed (below)!  It would open the City up to great liability from expensive drainage damage in addition to liability to neighboring residents over time. I asked back in early 2017, what sort of irresponsible precedent would an approval like this set?

Here is the timeline of a saga that just won’t end.

2/2/2003

The FSTC letter claiming the land it owned alongside Tatumville Gully is unbuildable and needed to be protected.

2/13/2017

The Tatumville Subdivision was brought to the Planning Commission almost three years ago and denied because FSTC didn’t own the land where it planned to build the detention pond. A year later FSTC asked Council to declare it as surplus in order to donate it to them to proceed with their housing project

6/26/2017

In an effort to start better managing our watersheds, we sought grant funds for the Tatumville Gully study.

9/5/2017

Announced the City was awarded the grant to study Tatumville Gully.  Posted about the grant on 10/27/2017

9/25/17

Only a few weeks after announcing the study, Council added the following ordinance for approving to dispense of the City-owned retention pond.

1/22/2018

During my Mayor Report, I appealed to Council to consider City Director’s input on this decision.

The decision would be considered later as this ordinance had to be advertised first.

1/30/2018

Posted to make citizens aware of the proposed development of 12 housing lots with my concerns.  Advised that FSTC was asking the City to allow use of your property for its detention pond in an area already deemed unbuildable.  Future rain events would be the responsibility of the City, not the 12 lessees. I feared expensive future damages would be placed on the backs of Fairhope taxpayers.

2/8/2018

Video explaining the importance of Tatumville Gully, the largest gully in Fairhope’s watershed.

Citizen also started a petition “Save the Gully” and 2,414 people signed.

2/23/18

My letter to FSTC to please reconsider this development:

2/26/18

FSTC, not Council, removed the project from the Council agenda for approval.

3/27/2018

Blog post Taumville Gully: Preserve & Protect this Vital Natural Resource  

4/11/2018

Went to the FSTC’s monthly meeting to speak to the board members about the importance of protecting Tatumville watershed and the need to prevent future development or the sale of the property.  I advised citizens want to be assured and their voices heard.

5/17/2018

Followed up with FSTC to let me know what was decided so I could update citizens with the following response from Lee Turner, “The directors do not wish to do anything with the Tatumville subdivision at this time.  Due to the controversy they just want to let things settle for a while.”

FSTC is, once again, entertaining the idea of building a subdivision by our most sensitive watershed. Against its own advice from 2003. Against what Fairhope citizens want.  Someone is benefiting from this no doubt.  But it won’t be you.

Holding off until things quiet down is not the answer.  We need to protect this area in its natural state in perpetuity.  How to move forward?  FSTC should find out what their lessee’s think.  Shouldn’t its lessees and members be notified in the same manner as in 2003 advising that the property was unbuildable? Sign the petition.

Contact FSTC​ Directors and Officers and ask them to protect the Tatumville Gulley either by using a restrictive covenant on the property or donating the property to the City of Fairhope in order to prevent any future land disturbance.

Transfers@FairhopeSingleTax.Com

Secretary secretary@fairhopesingletax.com

FSTC Directors:

Cliff Pitman cliffpitman@bellsouth.net

Carol Saltz csaltz04@bellsouth.net

Geoffrey Kennedy geoff@kennedyadvisory.com

Fred Watkins florit2@bellsouth.net

Jim Reid bevjam@bellsouth.net

​FSTC Officers:

Lee Turner lee@pitmaninsurance.com

Charles Lake Charles.Lake@coastalalabama.edu

Ed Davidson, III

Michael Upchurch meu@frazergreene.com

Feel free to cc me Karin.Wilson@FairhopeAL.gov  and I’ll save them all.

Sincerely,

Mayor Karin Wilson

 

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