Tatumville Gulley: Preserve and Protect this Vital Natural Resource

Dear Fairhope Citizens,

I have sent the following letter to the Fairhope Single Tax Corp (FSTC) and I’ve been added to their agenda to speak on April 11th, 6:30pm.  Over 2,300 concerned citizens were instrumental in their reconsideration of the proposed subdivision with this petition. However, this will not prevent this from future considerations to develop or sale the property as suggested by FSTC president, Lee Turner.

The City would very much like to partner with FSTC in a more meaningful ways to plan and collaborate funding to better serve our citizens.

Letter to FSTC:

The citizens of Fairhope recognize the critical function that the Tatumville Gulley serves in protecting our coastal waterways, Bay and groundwater. Over 2000 citizens signed a petition asking FSTC to preserve the Gulley and not to permit a proposed development which would have destroyed this vital resource.

Due to the heavy rainfalls Fairhope frequently receives, our City struggles with controlling stormwater runoff which runs off our roadways, buildings and other impervious surfaces. As Fairhope continues to build out additional infrastructure, the challenge of managing stormwater runoff and its resulting damage has become even more acute. Fairhope has been blessed to have several gulleys, including Tatumville, which serve as a natural drainage way for stormwater runoff. Due to its size Tatumville Gulley is able to handle a large volume of runoff by conveying it off our City surfaces to the Bay. Without it, Fairhope’s stormwater runoff issues will only increase.

For this reason I am seeking FSTC’s cooperation in preserving and protecting this vital resource. On behalf of Fairhope citizens I am requesting that FSTC protect the Tatumville Gulley by using a restrictive covenant to be placed on the property that will prevent any future land disturbance on the property or by placing it into a conservation easement which will similarly require that the property be left in its natural state. If FSTC is of mind to donate the property to Fairhope in order to avoid property taxes on this land I will work as Mayor with you and the Council to make this happen. The most important objective that I hope we can all agree on is to preserve and protect the vital natural resources Fairhope is blessed to have and that have paid us back many times over by rewarding us with a wonderful quality of life and continued economic prosperity.

On Oct 27, 2017, I announced the grant awarded to study the Tatumville Gully, our most sensitive watershed, on a FaceBook post

“I am thrilled to announce the City of Fairhope has been awarded a Coastal Resilience grant from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. The award, totaling $45,000, is made possible through funding from the NOAA Office for Coastal Management and supports a Stormwater Study for the Tatumville Gully watershed. We received one of the last two competitively selected community grants.

The Tatumville Gully is threatened by erosion, flooding/fast moving water and invasive species. Many older homes on low lying parcels of land are potentially impacted by the degraded watershed. We plan to utilize data collected from a citywide stormwater study in 2012 by adding it to the city’s GIS system. We will generate hydrologic/hydraulic models necessary to evaluate and predict stormwater flows and levels, using current conditions as a baseline. With this modeling complete, we can then identify and implement mitigation measures.”
Phillip Hinesley, Coastal Section Chief, ADCNR, delivers the news to Sherry-Lea, Richard and me.

On Jan 30, 2018, I made the following FaceBook post to inform citizens about the proposed development which was tabled due to Planning Commission concerns.

“The Fairhope Single Tax Corporation (FSTC) is asking the Fairhope City Council to approve the purchase of a section of public land located in Fairhope’s most endangered watershed, the so-called Tatumville Gulley also known as Big Head Gulley located south of Fig Street. The stated purpose is so that FSTC can build a detention pond for its proposed development of 12 housing lots to be leased out to members. However, the very same area has already been deemed “unbuildable” by FSTC as shown in the enclosed 2003 letter to members.

One of my concerns with the proposal by FSTC is that 12 lessees cannot sustain the maintenance costs of a detention pond over time. When the next major rain event happens, who will be (financially) responsible? My fear is that the costs of any resulting damage to the detention pond will be placed on the backs of Fairhope taxpayers when the property is not even public land anymore!

Another concern is the stability of the gulley which currently allows for natural drainage of rain water into Mobile Bay. Trees and shrubs would have to be cut down to prepare the site for both the building lots and the detention pond. Trees and shrubs are the only protection in stabilizing the loose sandy soil. Again, what happens when a major rain event happens and the walls of the gulley start caving in because there are no brush and tree roots to keep the soil in place? Who will pay for the resulting damage to our watershed and surrounding homes when that happens?

Growth in Fairhope is inevitable. One of the main reasons I ran for mayor is to ensure that this growth is channeled by new and consistent policy. The purpose for the new and consistent policy is so that all developers are treated equally but also to ensure that taxpayers are no longer burdened by developers externalizing their costs of irresponsible development. If the city council approves the sale of this sensitive public land to FSTC for the stated purpose, I’m afraid it will expose the city taxpayers to a financial burden in the future and will set a precedent for reckless development by other developers. I encourage you to contact your city council members and let your voices be heard.” jimmy.conyers@fairhopeal.gov, jay.robinson@fairhopeal.gov, kevin.boone@cofairhope.gov, jack.burrell@cofairhope.gov and
robert.brown@fairhopeal.gov.

On Feb 9, 2018, I posted the following video on FaceBook.

I will keep you posted.

Sincerely,

Mayor Karin Wilson

More about Mayor Karin Wilson

One thought on “Tatumville Gulley: Preserve and Protect this Vital Natural Resource

  1. Julie Bower

    I concur with you.

    Reply

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