FOLEY — The Foley City Council has approved a second amendment to the 1999 agreement with the Baldwin County Bridge Company while also making the city's medical district overlay official.

The bridge agreement was changed to allow the construction of a northbound left turn lane on Foley Beach Express south of the intersection of County Road 20. Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the lane is needed for a new, big box development coming to the area. According to public records, the development is a Publix grocery store.

"They haven't announced they are coming, but this is a large retail business," he said. "It's not Sam's or Costco, but it's large."

"This is an exciting thing for the city," said City administrator Michael Thompson. "It is going to create a grocer on the east side of the city."

Thompson said it would also allow vacationers to get groceries on their way to the beach ad provide for job creation. There will be a grocer anchor store and other smaller retailers within the development.

"This has been about a two-year effort. Mr. Thompson has been working with the developers for about two years," Hellmich added. "Economically, it will provide a lot of taxes that we use to support our population. It is necessary for us to address growth."

The project is expected to begin in the early fall. The BCBC has already approved the changes, and the matter will now be sent to the Baldwin County Commission for its approval.

The city council also unanimously approved making the medical district official. The area surrounding the South Baldwin Regional Medical Center is already full of medical offices and clinics. However, Hellmich said it is important for the district overlay to become official to plan for the future.

"It expands not restricts the rights of property owners in regard to medical in the area," Hellmich added.

The ordinance did not change the current zoning in the area.

The South Baldwin Regional Medical Center is undergoing a $200 million expansion that will bring the total capacity of beds to 142.

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