O.B. again looks at request for PUD modification at Amber Isle
“This project, since day one, has been a thorn in that area’s side.”
By John Mullen, OBA Community Website
For a quiet strip of land on beach road surrounded by a verdant state park and steps away from the turquoise waters of the Gulf, the Amber Isle planned unit development sure has made some noise over the years.
“I’m sorry to have to come before you again,” resident Linda Bradley told the Orange Beach City Council on Feb. 20. “This project has been going on for 10 years. The previous approval and what is currently there was all in agreements with Mr. Goldstein at the time and it included no outdoor dining, no outdoor music.”
There was a first reading of the ordinance and public hearing on the request to allow both outdoor activities at Big Wave Dave’s in Amber Isle. It will have a second reading and a vote on March 6 unless deferred by the applicant.
Big Wave Dave’s is the fourth attempt to establish a restaurant on the property and wants to add about 2,220 square feet of covered decking on the west side of the restaurant for outdoor dining. Jason Barje, one of the managers at the restaurant, said the decking is vital to the eatery’s success.
“It’s just not a viable space without outdoor seating,” Barje said. “We just could not compete at all without an area to sit outside. People want to sit outside and we have a gorgeous state park next to us and the Gulf of Mexico in front of us.
“I understand the neighbor’s concerns and we don’t want to make waves.”
Bradley has seen plan after plan come before the city for projects on the piece of property just northwest of her beachfront home. At one time a 14-story, 110-unit condo project was approved for the parcel.
But year after year the plans changed directions until it finally came to fruition with the current project owned by Mark Goldstein. It has Big Wave Dave’s on the west, a Ron Jon’s Surf Shop in the middle and a 60-plus room Indigo Hotel on the east. The Southern Grind Coffee Shop is in the Indigo lobby and a real estate office is on the far east corner of the building. There is empty space between Ron Jon’s and Indigo that is already approved for a 36-room hotel that in the past was called White Sands.
At one point, a Bob Marley-themed restaurant with an outdoor stage was proposed but eventually withdrawn because of neighbor’s concern over noise.
With the deck addition, the owners also asked to modify the PUD to allow for the deck for outdoor eating and music under the city’s new permitting for outdoor venues.
“We can have this outdoor venue permit application come before you and you can place certain conditions on that permit,” Community Development Director Kit Alexander told the council. “If they violate the police can then come back before you and ask you to pull their permit. We can just shut it down whereas before we didn’t really have the ability to shut it down because there was no permit required.”
Councilman Jerry Johnson said he didn’t want the onus for keeping quiet at the site to fall on the city.
“The thing that bothered me was they wanted the music prohibition removed and they would adhere to the sound ordinance of the city,” Johnson said. “I am very much opposed to this. That puts all the enforcement on the city and that’s not going to happen.”
Barje said the restaurant doesn’t want live music outside and would even nix ambient music for the right to build the deck and outdoor seating. Architect Forrest Daniell said the roof over the deck would keep in any noise from people eating outside.
Councilman Jeff Boyd lent a sympathetic ear to the restaurant’s plight, but the precedent of the battles already waged over this PUD would sway his decision.
“This project, since day one, has been a thorn in that area’s side,” Boyd said. “And there’s been hearing after hearing. The problem I have here is this PUD was approved with a big fight and a lot of work to get where it was. This is not about you this is about the history of the project. I’m having trouble changing the PUD knowing the history of what we fought over in this room.”
During the regular the council:
• Voted 5-1 for the planned unit development Hammock Dunes on the Gulf on the west side of town. There will be a total of 11 houses on the parcel when work is complete. Councilwoman Annette Mitchell cast the lone dissenting vote.
• Voted to spend $15,000 for the summer program at the Sea, Sand and Stars museum at Orange Beach Elementary. This is the third year the city has helped fund the museum’s summer program.
During the work session the council also discussed:
• Setting a public hearing date for an ordinance amending business licenses to include a vacation rental category for residential homes. The ordinance would also limit further vacation rentals in areas zoned residential. March 20 was the recommended date.
• Setting a public hearing date for an ordinance amending the PUD for Orange Beach Villas Vacation Rentals. March 20 was the recommended date.
• A resolution to have Harbor Communications connect fiber to the Orange Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant for $25,001.
• A resolution awarding the bid for pest control services for the city.