By Chris Warner
Special to the Ripp Report/Baldwin County Legal Eagle
Backstory Podcast Media
Preserving Quality of Life and Livability Through Planning and Growth Management
Quality of life has been best defined as the gap between what you want and what you have. The lofty goal of government is to close that gap, so citizens can enjoy an enhanced living environment; one in keeping with their stated goals for growing. Planning is the prudent managing of physical and human growth; and particularly—density, as there are direct, positive correlations between quality of life and the number of people living in a place, in favor of smaller, less dense towns. Slower-paced communities sought for their schools, low property taxes and cultural amenities can be overwhelmed by crowded schools, sprawl and the loss of a valued former sense of belonging unfettered growth can bring. Villages, towns and cities are made of people—and like people—they change over time, as they are allowed to. Managing how quickly a place grows helps maintain its cherished quality of life, and gives it a chance to grow into a healthy, older place still in keeping with the tenets of its founding and early development.
Baldwin County – Alabama’s Fastest-Growing Coastal Community
Baldwin has Four of Alabama’s Eight Fastest Growing Cities
A perceived quality of life conducive to raising a family and/or retiring is doubly attractive, as it is what most young and old people want. However, it is not what most people can afford—and that’s the rub. Developers, bankers, real estate investors and brokers make money off of a booming housing industry—particularly one fueled by the retiring Midwestern baby boomer generation bent on lower taxes and snow-free winters. Little foresight is given, however, by these vast, relocating herds, to the level of professional growth management, land use planning and zoning provided by Deep South local and county governments. But in their defense—when you’re fleeing the unforgiving taxing capacities and service delivery failures of Chicago, Detroit or Minneapolis, lower taxes and snow-free winters are an admitted sizable improvement over the dismal status quo.
Fairhope and Orange Beach – Past Getaways Far off the Beaten Path, Present BabyBoomer Towns
One was once the summer respite on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, the posh, postage stamp getaway. The other, a similar seasonal destination for ancient Indians bent on exploiting its bountiful fish and game scores…long before it was the favored party destination of the “Redneck Riviera.” Today, both Fairhope and Orange Beach are far cries from their original townships, the end result of word of mouth, mass Midwestern outmigration, poor planning and of course, pure, unadulterated greed. Fairhope and Orange Beach are coastal towns with similarly limited infrastructure sets. Water is a buffer but it is also an impediment to growth and a transportation problem as it prevents traffic diffusion capable within a gridded pattern. As each community continues to add bodies and wheels with the approval of still more development, it does so at its impending peril, as the law of diminishing returns holds true—even in real estate boom-towns. That is because you can only pour so much water out of a boot. Everything has its limits—even Paradise.
Empowering Local Planning Departments to Lead the Way
One problem inherent with providing effective planning for Baldwin County is that new developments, like neighborhoods and subdivisions, built outside the city limits of towns and cities, are not subject to the authority of the local planning departments engaged in managing growth. Since they are located outside city lines, developers need only adhere to county building codes and restrictions, which are limited, given the County’s traditional, agrarian past, and its pro-business, laissez-faire approach to planning, land use, zoning and growth management. For pragmatic purposes, local planning jurisdictions should be given authority over new developments contiguous with their planning district within a reasonable sphere of influence ranging up to a few miles, as the city is still charged with the responsibility of providing law enforcement, education, health care and other services under its normal provided, taxpayer-funded umbrella.
Redefining Community Goals, Objectives and Strategies for Managing Growth
As Baldwin County heads into another summer election season, it does so grappling with a huge planning and growth management problem. The City of Fairhope has recently been sued by the State of Alabama for failing to properly manage its sewerage system, resulting in numerous costly spills. Orange Beach is approaching its physical limits in terms of new development, as the city has little if any remaining developable property; and a road system already encumbered. Citizens must come together, take inventory, voice their concerns and chart new expectations for managing future growth in Baldwin County. If current building trends continue to pace growing demand without planning considerations, and needed restraint, then the coastal area once known for its charm, relaxation and recreation could well become a bedroom and vacation nightmare, typified by a waning quality of life everyone moved to Baldwin County to escape.
Chris Warner is a concerned citizen, speaker, author and publisher. A former professor and urban planning consultant, he holds a doctorate in urban planning. A previous ten-year resident of Baldwin County, he lives in Perdido Key, Florida.
Visit his web page: chriswarnerauthor.com
https://rippreport.com/2018/06/07/paradise-lost/ This article was published June 7 2018, This was the original article.
Join Chris this Saturday June 6th at Page and Palett:
Warner to Sign Copies of New “Tailgater’s Guide to SEC Football” at Page & Palette June 6th
“This is the book that will get SEC Football fans through the lockdowns! I call it the ‘Bible of SEC Football,’” said Dr. Warner, the “Professor of Tailgating,” and author of more than twenty tomes. “That’s because Southerner’s don’t think—they feel—and there’s nothing they feel more passionate about than SEC Football on Saturdays in the fall!”
Chris Warner will be signing his newest book on SEC Football (Father’s Day) along with several others he’s written…in Fairhope on Saturday June 6, 2020 in Fairhope, 1 to 4.
“Tailgating and traveling the nation’s toughest conference supporting their team is the pinnacle of the fall cultural phenomenon for SEC football fans. And what exactly is tailgating?
It’s a confluence of the reunion of friendships and family, good food, and of course, football: In the South, tailgating, in terms of seeing and being seen—is the sizzle that sells the steak.”
Building on previous successful versions, completely updated, this brand new book contains:
-A fascinating history of college football in the South, with links to the Civil War
-A history of the Southeastern Conference and its predecessors, the Southern Conference, SIAA
-Chapters on each member school (14) Western Division, Eastern Division:
c) great players and coaches
d) where to shop and golf
e) where to eat and drink so you can take over when you get there
f) famous/noteworthy alumni
g) acquisition of mascots, colors and nicknames
h) bail bondsmen and hospitals
-A history of the cultural phenomenon, tailgating
-14 Cajun tailgating recipes, including “Crimson Tide Seafood Gumbo,” “Jordan-Hare Shrimp and Okra Stew,” “Starkville Shrimp and Corn Soup,” and “Death Valley Crawfish Etouffee’…’
Warner’s first version of the now, Volume 5, 320-page book ($15.95, paperback) landed him on the History Channel documentary, “Tailgating” with actors Tom Arnold and Jenny McCarthy, where he echoed the fascinating history of College Football in the South, its inextricable links to the Civil War and pontificated on the ever-growing, modern, cultural penchant: tailgating!
“This is the first book I wrote, back in 2000. It remains my most successful, to date as a practical guide to history, tradition, legacy and lore.” Warner said, having authored over 20 titles, including “The Wagon to Disaster,” the untold story of HealthSouth, (American Greed/Sixty Minutes) with the former CFO, Aaron Beam, and “Bushwhacked at the Flora-Bama” with the founder of the iconic beach haunt on the Alabama-Florida Line, Joe Gilchrist. The Professor of Tailgating has appeared on “CBS Sports Saturday,” “James Carville’s 60-20 with Luke Russert” and the “Paul Finebaum Radio Show.” A former radio and television host, high school teacher and college professor, Warner lives on the narrow, white sandy island strip known as Perdido Key, Florida. -30-