Townhomes on North Dean? Remains to be seen

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PHOTO BY JOSH FISHER / FOR THE OPELIKA OBSERVER

By Hannah Lester
hlester@opelikaobserver.com 

The Auburn City Council on Tuesday voted against the conditional use approval of a property on North Dean Road that the developer hopes to turn into townhomes.

After several local business owners voiced their disproval, and the unanimous disproval of the Auburn Planning Commission, the city council voted, 6-2-1 against conditional use approval. 

The property, located at 687 North Dean Road is located in the comprehensive development district (CDD) and is surrounded by businesses including two orthodontics offices and the Craftsmaster building. 

“The proposed residential use is not in keeping with the surrounding uses of office and commercial support namely, the Craftmaster Printers commercial support use,” the planning commission said. “Expected nuisances generated by commercial support uses may include noise, light and semi-truck traffic now or in the future.”

The council debated the issue, because, as the developer pointed out, the residential use is permitted by right for the land. 

“We’re not requesting any rezoning,” said David Slocumb, civil engineer for the development and applicant for the property. “This property is zoned CDD. Townhomes are allowed by right in CDD zoning. What we’re essentially trying to decide here tonight is the method of how the end result will be obtained … The developer really believes in the site. He really has a vision for it and believes it’s a good location for what he’s wanting to do and since it’s allowed by right, it’s just a matter of how we will get to that point.”

However, City Manager Megan Crouch said that it is possible that the developer may not be able to put townhomes in that space, given it would require the business to install road frontage for the townhomes, which would require a city-maintained right of way.

“We are not necessarily compelled to accept a right of way,” Crouch said. “And this is not one the staff has had the opportunity to evaluate.”

That, however, will come before the council in the future and was not voted on Tuesday night.

Several surrounding business owners voiced their displeasure with the situation and the potential for townhomes on the property. 


Ward 3 Council Member Beth Witten encouraged the business owners to figure out how to organize better within the property owner’s association and create a unified voice.

Ward 4 Council Member Brett Smith abstained from the vote as he works out of the Craftsmaster building. 

Wire and Cox Roundabout:

Crouch brought new information to the council before the meeting during the committee of the whole regarding the roundabout located at the intersection of Wire and Cox Roads.

The council approved a contract with JLD Enterprises, LLC, during the meeting for intersection improvements for the roundabout project which was set to cost over $1.8 million. However, that amount went up by $450,000.

The city found out Tuesday afternoon that should they approve the bidder during the meeting, ALDOT would be revoking a funding offer of $450,000 for the roundabout. 

“The city engineer came to me at 4 o’clock this afternoon and said ‘guess what, ALDOT called and said ‘you bid the project, we haven’t approved this yet and if you award the project at tonight’s council meeting, you lose the $450,000 of grant funding that we told you we would give you,’’” Crouch said. 

She urged the council to go ahead and approve the project nonetheless and take the money from the general fund instead. 

“This is an important intersection and we’ve been delayed a while on getting this roundabout,” she said. 

The council did go ahead and approve the contract, despite the $450,000 loss.

Short-Term Rentals:

The City Council was expected to review an amendment to the short-term rental zoning policy Tuesday night, but Smith denied unanimous consent, moving the item to the next council meeting. 

Essentially, the council was asked to review amendments that would define “transient occupancy” and “lodging”.

The new text amendments, if passed, would read as follows:

  • Lodging: A building, or portion of a building (including, without limitation, any guest room) that is used or advertised for transient occupancy
  • Occupancy, Transient: The use of any building or structure, or portion thereof, as overnight accommodations for any individual(s) for any period(s) of thirty (30) or fewer consecutive days, in return for a fee or charge. No transient occupancy shall be deemed or construed as being a residential use of any dwelling, or portion thereof.

Additionally, language had been left out of the prior draft, which specified that homestays do not have to copy with the “the maximum floor area of a dwelling unit allowance where a home occupation might operate.” There is also clarification on parking.

“These are just kind of some boo-boos that we had, some things that they had incorporated that were supposed to be incorporated when we first passed the ordinance or that first presented to the council,” Smith said.

Smith said he denied the unanimous consent because he still has unanswered questions regarding the amendments. 

“I have a concern that we’re going to affect our sublet community,” Smith said. “I know that there’s a good amount of property management companies and students who go, ‘I’m leaving for the summer and instead of defaulting on my lease or I’m not going to paying my rent, I can find someone that can rent it for 30 days or less to finish it out.’ The way that language kind of talks, it may affect that.”

Other Business:

  • The council approved an alcohol beverage license for Rash 2021, LLC for Tiger Food mart. 
  • The council approved an alcohol beverage license for Ithaka Hospital Partners Auburn Beverage, LLC for The Hotel at Auburn University. 
  • The council approved a tax abatement for Nashville Wire products Manufacturing Company, LLC for the Auburn Industrial Park.
  • The council approved a tax abatement for Third Generation Auburn, LLC for the AUburn Industrial Park. 
  • The council subdivided a city-owned property at 1499 Shug Jordan Parkway. 
  • The council approved a contract with Barge Design Solutions for the design fo the Wire Road Soccer Complex Roundabout for over $179,000.
  • The council approved a contract with the Auburn Game Day Law Enforcement Corporation and Area Law Enforcement Agencies for law enforcement during AU sporting events from Aug. 1, 2021 to July 31, 2022.
  • The council approved a contract with Auburn University for the additional law enforcement help during sporting events from Aug. 1, 2021 to July 31, 2022.
  • The council approved a contract with MHW, LLC to amend the commercial development agreement with The Collegiate Hotel. 
  • The council approved an easement for Donahue Land, LLC for property a the eastern terminus of Sutherland Land. 
  • The council approved an easement for SMB Land, LLC for property south of Camden Ridge, along Scarsboro Lane. 
  • The council approved an ordinance for the disposition and sale of a right of way and on Miracle Road to Clayton Properties Group, Inc. 
  • The council approved the sale of surplus property, 1499 Shug Jordan Parkway, to Alabama Power Company for $400,000. 
  • The council approved the annexation of 5 acres at 7200 Lee Road 54. 
  • The council approved the annexation of 271 acres on Lee Road 81. 
  • The council rezoned over 8 acres from Rural to Developmental District Housing as part of the Links Crossing Phase 4. 

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