City Council meeting, March 23, 2015

Efforts to have this sign relocated from unincorporated Jefferson County along Homewood's Lakeshore Drive is prompting a city overhaul of its own sign ordinance.

The City Council approved changes to the sign code tonight that would allow this digital billboard to be relocated Lakeshore Drive, near Homewood residences, to a location nearer I-65 and Oxmoor Road in the city’s Green Springs Urban Renewal District. In the same measure, new pole signs and pylon signs are to be banned in commercial areas.

Councilmen tonight said “pending litigation” has kept them mum about the likely relocation of the controversial digital billboard installed over a recent weekend on Lakeshore Drive, in unincorporated Jefferson County. But changes finalized tonight in the city’s sign ordinance point to a site within the Green Springs Renewal District, which was newly rewritten to allow interstate billboards, under certain conditions.

Ward 5 representative Peter Wright was an outspoken critic of the digital billboard installation on Lakeshore Drive. The sign is being relocated to a site in Homewood, but nearer I-65.

 

The sign must be within 75 feet of the Interstate right-of-way and at least 600 feet from any residential building, among other conditions. The distance required between same-facing billboards on the highway was reduced from 750 feet to 600 feet. Asked after the meeting why the city wasn’t more forthcoming with its own plans, Britt Thames and Patrick McClusky said it was the threat of legal action coupled with their idea that the new location is superior and in the best interests of Homewood. Peter Wright, who stood out with protesters earlier this month, echoed the same sentiment. The sign — wherever it is to be located — has not yet received final approval from the state Department of Transportation.

Also tonight, the Islamic Academy property was finally rezoned, to be cleared for a parking lot and expanded playground. The council dropped a beer and wine license request from Neighborhood Hops and Vine.  See below.

Approved minutes of the Feb. 9, 2015 meeting.

Appointed a BZA member and opened a Board of Education vacancy: On the recommendation of Ward 3 representatives, the council appointed Ty Cole to the Ward 3 seat of the Board of Zoning Adjustments. Mr. Wright announced the opening of the Ward 5 Board of Education seat; applications will be taken during the month of April.

OLD BUSINESS AGENDA

Postponed action on a laundry list of changes to the city’s zoning book: Instead of voting on the changes, which were detailed at the February Planning Commission, the vote was postponed until after the April 24 retreat involving the council and members of the Board of Zoning Adjustments and Planning Commission. The idea came from Mr. Thames, who thought the various issues would be good fodder for discussion.

Pole signs like these and hundreds of others across the city would be banned under proposed amendments to the sign ordinance.

Sign ordinance changes banned future pole signs like these and hundreds of others across the city, along with shopping center pylon signs.

Approved billboard and sign amendments:  Saying there were certain grammatical errors and other minor adjustments to the ordinance read at the last meeting, the city attorney re-read the ordinance, which the council gave  unanimous consent to vote on tonight, approving it unanimously. The ordinance bans pole signs (on-premise signs held aloft on a pole) and pylon signs (tall business identification signs at the gateway to shopping centers).

It also makes very specific changes to the sign code allowing billboards in the Green Springs Urban Renewal District, setting a 600-foot minimum clearance between billboards and residential buildings, and decreasing the allowed distance between two such billboards from 750 feet to 600 feet. These changes point to the likely site of the relocation of the digital billboard from Lakeshore Drive following boycotts and other protests earlier in the month. The measure also repealed the pole sign moratorium currently in effect.

The Islamic Academy must remove unsuitable fill dirt and repair damage to the public right-of-way when it attempted to build an unauthorized parking lot.

The Islamic Academy won rezoning of 4 acres adjacent to the school, but must remove unsuitable fill dirt from its prior, unauthorized attempt to carve a parking lot into the slope. The rezoning is conditioned on the school not removing any of the underlying rock from the slope along 18th Street.

Approved two measures rezoning Islamic Academy property and surrendering an unused city right-of-way within it: The city has delayed action for months on the Islamic Academy’s request to rezone 4 acres it purchased last year on a steep slope adjacent to its Rosedale location. The hold up involves questions over whether the school is responsible for damaging the  rock slope along 18th Street South when it attempted unauthorized work to build a parking lot on the site, cutting into the ground and filling it with unsuitable bill dirt. Geotechnical engineers later reported the school’s work didn’t cause the damage. The council passed the rezoning request on condition that there would be no permit issued for any rock removal that would destabilize the slope. The city also vacated the right-of-way in exchange for $5,000.

Voted in support of a state liquor license application for a Brookwood mall restaurant: The license is for the sports grill chain restaurant Hickory Tavern.

The Homewood location will be a second one. This picture taken in Crestline.

The Homewood location will be a second one. This picture taken in Crestline.

Dropped a request for a beer and wine license for a new business, Neighborhood Hops and Vine: The matter was dropped because the business proposed at 1712 28th Avenue South is in a C-2 zoning district, which allows restaurants but not restaurants whose business is primarily as a bar or tavern. Mr. Wyatt explained that the property would have to be rezoned first. The business is “months away from being ready to apply for a liquor license,” he said.

Approved an appraisal for property due to be purchased for the Greenway, Phase II. The measure authorizes payment of $4,250 to Pless Appraisals for appraising property, and if acceptable, writing a letter of intent to purchase it for the western access point of the Greenway Trail.

Declared two large trucks surplus, to be sold, and approved purchase of two rebuilt trucks for $77,000.

Asked the state DOT to place No Jake Brakes signs on I-65: The city outlawed loud “jake braking” by trucks in city limits. Due to complaints from residents on Berry Road near the highway, the mayor will ask ALDOT to also place signs nearby on the Interstate.

Set an April 13 hearing about a West Homewood District review committee: The review committee will look over any proposed new buildings or modifications in the West Homewood District, where any new or modified structures must now conform to an appearance-based code that replaced traditional zoning. The committee membership is alreadyd determined by the ordinance establishing the district, including two council members, certain Planning Commission members, and mayor. The measure was brought up because the Econo Lodge, in the new district, has plans for a major building modification.

COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA

To Finance – Request to consider 1) Authorizing a Personnel Study; 2) Amendments to FY 2014 and FY2015 budgets for General, Capital and Special Revenue Funds; 3) Purchasing from Alabama Power Co. 21 decorative acorn-type street lamps for the West Homewood district; and 4) Accepting a $8,972 Homeland Security grant (for something).

To Public Safety – To consider traffic calming measures on Lancaster Road.

To Planning and Development – To consider a Bike Share program.

OTHER NEW BUSINESS

Pam Clark has closed her business near the corner of Green Springs Highway and Oxmoor Road. The council has delayed action on a measure allowing the transfer of city-owned parking to a new buyer.

Pam Clark has closed her business near the corner of Green Springs Highway and Oxmoor Road. The council has delayed action on a measure allowing the transfer of city-owned parking to a new buyer.

Carried over a measure involving the sale of a business involving city property:  Great confusion followed the council president’s decision to carry over a request from the Garden Shop of Homewood to sell its building at 309 Oxmoor Road. The property owner said she leases an adjacent parking lot from the city, which is why the matter is before the council. which must be part of the transaction. Lamar Advertising, whose general manager was present for the proceedings, has a billboard erected on the adjacent property, next to the building. Before postponing the matter, Mr. Limbaugh had said he was not clear about the city’s/business owner’s relationship with Lamar Advertising. [contains corrections from a previous post.]

Paid the bills: Invoices for the period March 16-20, 2015, were approved to be paid.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Barry Smith, Heather Reid, Peter Wright, and Bruce Limbaurh, council president. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent: Vance Moody

Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Jim Wyatt, head of the city’s Inspections Department, and Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, Building, Engineering and Zoning Department.

Special topics, sign and billboard amendments.

GROUNDSIGNWILDWOOD

This Wildwood sign, with its entire base anchored to the ground and surrounded by landscaping, is an example of the city’s proposed new requirement for monument-style freestanding signs.

Homewood is poised to make changes to its sign regulations that, as expected, would eliminate “pole signs” throughout the city, but which also would ban shopping center pylon signs in favor of monument-style signs, and spell out where interstate billboards may go, including the city’s Green Springs Urban Renewal District (GURD), but at least 600 feet from residential buildings. Pole signs are defined as “on-premises” signs advertising the business at the location. A billboard is defined as an “off-premises” sign.

The amendments were given a first reading Monday, March 16, with a second and final reading slated for the upcoming meeting this Monday.

This Wildwood pylon sign, held aloft by two pillars, would not meet the new requirements for freestanding shopping center signs.

The city’s sign amendments, if passed, would do away with towering pylon signs and replace them with low-profile monument signs.

If the measure passes, no new pole signs will be allowed, while their cousins, pylon signs–the stacked tower of business names at the gateways to shopping centers–will in the future be replaced with “ground” or monument signs. For the most part, the amendments simply eliminate the tall signs in favor of the lower-profile monument signs, without imposing on them any new restrictions or metrics.

However, there are a couple of exceptions, noted in light of the recent protests over the digital billboard erected on Lakeshore Drive in unincorporated Jefferson County and successful campaign to relocate it away from neighborhoods and in Homewood’s jurisdiction:

Efforts to have this sign relocated from unincorporated Jefferson County along Homewood's Lakeshore Drive is prompting a city overhaul of its own sign ordinance.

Word has it that this electronic billboard in unincorporated Jefferson County along Homewood’s Lakeshore Drive, will be relocated in Homewood near I-65, and under some newly proposed billboard regulations.

Changes proposed in Section 5-184 of the sign code, “Limitations on billboards and other off-premises signs,” adds the GURD to the areas that allow billboards and other off-premises signs, “as long as the sign is within an area that is no more than 75 feet from the right-of-way of the Interstate Highway 65.” (The  section is already worded to allow billboards, under certain conditions, in Sign District II within commercial zoning designations C-3, C-5 and M-1 “on lots adjoining the right-of-way of Interstate Highway 65, and within 3,000 feet of the center point of intersection of I-65 with Oxmoor Road.” The amendment would remove the C-5 zoning classification. )

Finally, an added clause would reduce the minimum distance required between two such billboards facing the same direction from 750 feet to 600 feet, and set a new minimum 600-foot clearance between any billboard and the nearest residential building.

Tubular lights outlining a roof, building structure, or storefront, are already outlawed in the city's sign ordinance.

Interesting distinction:  These bright tubular lights outlining a storefront window (or other “architectural features”) are specifically allowed in the city’s sign ordinance. Strings of lights are NOT allowed to outline property lines, sales areas, roof or building lines, however.

Click here to read the current sign regulations of the city’s code.  The following is a recap of the amendments proposed last week:

  • Pole signs, which are literally signs on top of poles, would be  prohibited throughout the city.
  • Pylon signs, those stacked signs at gateways to multi-tenant buildings such as shopping centers, would be prohibited in favor of monument signs.
  • Monument signs are redefined as signs attached directly to the ground by their entire base, not held up on pillars, braces or posts.
  • Amendments would apply to special planned districts, such as Brookwood Mall and Wildwood Center, which have their own signage rules.
  • Interstate-facing billboards would be allowed in GURD if no more than 75 feet from I-65 right-of-way.
  • Billboards and other off-premises signs would not be allowed within 600 feet of residential property.

City Council meeting, March 16, 2015

Efforts to have this sign relocated from unincorporated Jefferson County along Homewood's Lakeshore Drive is prompting a city overhaul of its own sign ordinance.

Efforts to have this sign relocated from unincorporated Jefferson County along Homewood’s Lakeshore Drive is prompting a city overhaul of its own sign ordinance.

The council opened by voting to go into an executive, or private, session to hear attorney’s advice about potential litigation, which is one of the several lawful exemptions to the state’s Open Meetings Act. The exemption doesn’t allow a council to deliberate or decide on a course of action, all which must be done in public. An executive session typically does not include anyone except the council and the city attorney, but in an exercise of some “gray area” Homewood’s private sessions have included the mayor, his chief of staff, and the city clerk. The council returned 30+ minutes later and took no action.

The city is in the process of updating regulations on all types of signs. Pole signs, such as the Auto Title sign, are being outlawed.

The city is in the process of updating regulations on all types of signs. Pole signs, such as the Auto Title sign, are being outlawed.

An expected ordinance outlawing pole signs was introduced tonight along with an unexpected and lengthy set of amendments addressing billboards and other sign types. Details will be provided directly from the ordinance, which was only summarized in a first reading tonight.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Barry Smith, Heather Reid, and Peter Wright, sitting in for president Bruce Limbaugh. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent: Vance Moody and Bruce Limbaugh.

Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, and mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff.

Audience attendance: 20

Approved minutes of the Jan. 5, Jan. 12 and Jan. 26 meetings.

OLD BUSINESS AGENDA

Will present a FY2014 audit, heard in committee, when complete: The audit was presented except for the Management Discussion and Analysis, which makes the report complete. Representatives from Carr, Riggs & Ingram auditing firm presented a summary of their findings at an earlier Finance Committee meeting, which when complete will be posted in its entirety on the city’s website. The only findings  not meeting the city’s Fiscal Policy was the capital fund. More information will be provided here shortly.

Creative Montessori School board president Brooke Coleman shows off a rendering of the new campus--to face a newly named street, Montessori Way.

Creative Montessori School board president Brooke Coleman shows off a rendering of the new campus–to face a newly named street, Montessori Way.

Changed the name of First Avenue West to Montessori Way: Board members and executives of the usually low-profile Creative Montessori School were on hand to applaud the council’s renaming of First Avenue West to Montessori Way. The school, which was founded in 1968, is rebuilding and expanding its building, including turning the front to face the newly named street, where it is the only business. The school’s plans received lots of praise from Mr. Jones and Mr. Thames. 

Gave stamp of approval on a state liquor license for Hart & Soul cafe: The council voted its support of a state retail liquor license application for SOHO Sweets, Inc. dba Hart and Soul Coffee Company, 1014 Oxmoor Road.

Approved a “no parking” sign by an alley on East Edgewood Drive.

Set a March 23 hearing before voting on miscellaneous changes to the city’s zoning book. The changes were discussed in a previous Planning Commission meeting.

Awarded a contract for Fire Department uniforms: The sole bidder, Municipal and Commercial Uniforms was approved to provide uniforms after submitting a per-item price of $1,500 for an undetermined number of people, but keeping within a $40,000 budget, according to the fire chief. The bid opening occurred at a March 2, 2015, Finance Committee meeting. 

Declared old fire equipment surplus, to be replaced by new equipment: A number of so-called Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBAs) were declared surplus property in order to use a grant award to purchase new ones.

Approved a new commercial lease with Hamilton Mortgage at city hall. The vote authorizes Mayor McBrayer to execute a four-year lease extension on a portion of the third floor at $112,284 annually–the same rate the business already pays.

Added a street light on Devon Drive:  A street light was approved at or near 505 Devon Drive at a cost of $73.54 annually, to be paid from the city’s gasoline tax.

New sign types keep ahead of city ordinances to regulate them.

New sign types keep ahead of city ordinances to regulate them.

Heard a first reading on sign ordinance changes outlawing pole signs and other changes: The city attorney read through summaries of 19 separate changes to the city’s zoning ordinance relating to signs. The council will vote following a second reading at the next regularly scheduled meeting next week, March 23. As a preamble, the city and its Special Issues Committee have been grappling for years with the need to update  the city’s sign regulations, but were stymied by the complexity as well as cost for professional consultation from planning firms. 

After calling (at least) three moratoriums on “pole signs,” council members two weeks ago seemed in agreement to at least outlaw this category of signs. Two days later, the appearance of a digital billboard on Lakeshore Drive made it clear that regulating billboards (large off-premise signs) was at least as important as banishing certain types of street signs. The result is a 15-page document making height, square-footage, and other changes to a range of sign types, including billboards, and in each of the city’s various zoning districts, including Brookwood Village and Wildwood. The current pole sign moratorium is set to expire in April.

More details are to be added from the actual ordinance.

Approved a stop sign at Venetian Way: The council approved a stop sign at Venetian Way/Parkside Circle/Parkside Court following a traffic review.

Added three street lights on Forest Brook Drive: The council approved paying $28.50 total per month from the city’s gasoline tax for three street lights on Forest Brook Drive. 

Approved, then referred to committee a street-paving management system: The council approved a $40,000 consultation fee from Volkert Engineers to test and grade 125 miles of city-maintained streets and to make recommendations for a scheduled maintenance plan involving a mix of repaving, remilling, resurfacing and treatment with sealants to prolong the life of city streets. The matter is being referred to the Finance Committee to find the funds.

COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA

To Finance – To consider costs for the 1) Street Pavement contract with Volkert Engineers; and 2) a contract with Pless Appraisals to appraise property considered for access to the West end of the Greenway Trail (Phase II, recommended by Goodwin, Mills and Cawood).

To Public Safety – To consider 1) Supporting a restaurant retail liquor license application to the state ABC board by T B Concepts of Brookwood Village LLC, dba Hickory Tavern, 595 Brookwood Village; 2) Supporting a retail beer and retail table wine state ABC board license for Champagne Cascade LLC dba Neighborhood Hops and Vine, 1712 28th Avenue South; 3) Traffic-calming efforts on East Edgewood Drive; 4) Erecting “No Jake Brake” signs on Interstate 65; and 5) A downtown Edgewood pedestrian barrier.

To Planning and Development – To consider 1) Establishing, as required by city ordinance, a Homewood Community Development Review Committee to oversee form-based codes in the West Homewood District, and set its operating procedures, and a Warrant Request Form; and 2) Measures to alleviate standing water on Edgewood Boulevard.

OTHER NEW BUSINESS

Consider a lease situation at the former Garden Shop of Homewood: A situation not explained but described as somewhat of an emergency involving a strip of land the city owns adjacent to the garden shop at 309 Oxmoor Road was added to the agenda.

Transferred the city’s employee assistance service contract: Due to circumstances that weren’t explained, the former contractor, EAP, was unable to fulfill its contract, which was then awarded to American Behavioral Services, pending approval of the city attorney. The vote approves the service agreement, for which no price was disclosed, and an acknowledgement that certain private employee information would necessarily be made available.

Paid the bills: Invoices for the period Feb. 23-March 13, 2015, were approved to be paid.

In the "Elephant in the Room" category, councilman Peter Wright's final remarks tonight thanked the community for working together to relocate an electronic billboard at the Circle K property on Lakeshore and Columbiana Road.

In the “Elephant in the Room” category, councilman Peter Wright’s final remarks tonight thanked the community for working together to relocate an electronic billboard at the Circle K property on Lakeshore and Columbiana Road. The effort was ongoing for much of the last two weeks.

In announcements, Mr. Wright thanked all who came together to help resolve a digital billboard permitted on unincorporated Jefferson County property along Lakeshore Drive. Mr. Jones added that he had auditioned to sing the National Anthem at a future Barons came, partly to satisfy his two children and partly because he has a good voice, having minored in Voice at the University of Alabama. The date of his performance will be announced.

Board of Zoning Adjustments, March 10, 2015

BZAThis meeting was rescheduled from the previous week, when snow threatened. A case at 102 Edgeview Boulevard has since been withdrawn.

Members present: Lauren Gwaltney, Brian Jarmon, Beverly LeBoeuf, and Ross McCain. Hope Cannon arrived after the evening’s cases were decided.

Members absent: Jeffrey Foster (S), vice chairman, Valerie Askew (S), Hope Cannon (absent during votes).

Staff present: Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, Building, Engineering, and Zoning Department, Donna Bridges, board secretary.

Audience attendance: 5

*Note on procedure: By state law, zoning variances granted by the 5-member board require a super majority of 4 members voting in the affirmative. To keep business moving in case of absences, the law also allows two substitutes (S) to sit in and vote if needed. All decisions are made following a public hearing. Variances expire in 180 days if a building permit isn’t obtained.

Approved minutes of Dec. 4, 2014 meeting.

3108WHITEHALL

3108 Whitehall Road

Approved a variance for an addition on Whitehall Road: The board allowed a 1.8-foot variance for the right side of the building, and a .8-foot variance on the left side for an extension that will go straight back from the rear of the house. The current house already occupies the side setback areas for which variances were requested.

917 Irving Road

917 Irving Road

Approved a variance for an addition on Irving Road:  The variance allows the owner to build 4 feet into the right side setback line at 917 Irving Road for an addition. The house already occupied most of the setback area; tonight’s variance extended the building area by 5 inches.

1422 Ardsley Place

1422 Ardsley Place

Approved a variance for an addition on Ardsley Place:  A variance of .6 feet was approved at 1422 Ardsley Place for a bathroom addition. The variance added 3 inches to the amount of setback the house already occupied.

 

The meeting adjourned at 6:20 p.m.

Park Board, March 9, 2015

This 2003 AP photo was the only Internet available image of the Homewood Patriot Youth program. It came with this caption: Malik Abrams, 8, of Homewood, Ala., left, performs a headstand while his teammate, Chris Castor, 8, of Homewood, watches their Homewood 75-pound peewee Patriots football team practice. The boys were at a practice Monday night in preparation for their homecoming game Tuesday.

This 2003 AP photo was the only Internet available image of the Homewood Patriot Youth program. It came with this caption: Malik Abrams, 8, of Homewood, Ala., left, performs a headstand while his teammate, Chris Castor, 8, of Homewood, watches their Homewood 75-pound peewee Patriots football team practice. The boys were at a practice Monday night in preparation for their homecoming game Tuesday.

In spite of an unheard of “no” vote, the board tonight passed a tough shared-use agreement to minimize parking conflicts with the Exceptional Foundation. Becky Morton thought the wording was too severe, even after tweaks, and voiced the first negative vote on a park board in recent memory. Earlier, a resident pitched a pilot program to heighten lifeguard awareness of special needs children during pool season. And, the flagging youth football program may be looking at flag football to increase enrollments. The board welcomed new member Jody Brandt.

Members present: Jody Brandt, new at-large member replacing Tom Walker, Chris Meeks, chairman, Becky Morton, Keith Stansell, Marjorie Trimm, Michael Murray, Tyler Vail.

Members absent: Tom Blake and Paula Smalley, who is recovering from serious injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident. (Ms. Smalley was re-appointed as Ward 3 representative over applicant Fred Azbik, who serves on the Planning Commission, although her duties as Programs Chairman were given to Michael Murray.) Also absent was council liaison Richard Laws.

Staff present: Berkley Squires, public service director, Rusty Holley, Rec Center Supervisor, Jakob Stephens, athletic director, Angie Montgomery and Heddy Fitts, taking minutes.

Audience attendance: 1

Approved minutes of the Feb. 5 meeting.

Homewood Patriot Youth Football report: John Reynolds delivered the Homewood Patriot Youth Football program’s annual report, which showed the third straight year of declining enrollments, although it remains financially sound. The 2014 enrollment totaled 74 players compared to 96 last year and 109 the year before that. Most of the players (29) were in the 80-lb. category, which is the highest enrollment in this category in the last 7 years, he said. The league logged 10 wins and 14 losses. Click here to see last year’s report.

Enrollments are off due to the popularity of soccer and lacrosse and concerns over concussions. There was one concussion reported in the 2014 season. The board is open to offering flag football for younger players, he said.

Financially, the program brought in $14,593, which was also down from last year, against expenses of $31,089, primarily for new helmets ($15,000), plus equipment, uniforms and merchandise. The program started with a positive carry-over balance for the year and has $15,683 in cash in the bank. Six scholarships were awarded to financially needy residents.

Reynolds said this is the first year that a league-wide rule was applied prohibiting players from joining teams outside their home communities. Homewood and other small communities have also suffered in competition with cities such as Hoover, which “runs amok” with so many players, he said. For that reason this coming season, the league has split each program’s age/weight group into divisions based on the park program’s corresponding high school classification. Mr. Reynolds said this should even up the field.

For the upcoming season, registration for 80-90-lb. teams have been dropped from $225 to $99.

Heard a resident pitch a pilot program for pool supervision of special needs children:  Jen Breeding, whose son has a genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome, presented an idea for a pilot program in which children with disabilities can wear colored wristbands in the pool to be more noticeable to lifeguards. Ms. Breeding said her son’s disability caused him not to respond when hearing a whistle or other prompts by lifeguards. The wristband–which she calls a Lucas Band– would heighten the lifeguards’ awareness of a special needs child. Lifeguards would receive special training and certification.

There were questions from the board about liability and if the wristband program would raise parents’ expectations about their children’s safety, or require lifeguards to offer service above that offered other children. Mr. Squires said the Programs Committee would discuss it at the next meeting.

shareduse

Click image to open 3-page draft agreement.

Approved 6-1, with minor changes and a major discussion, a final parking agreement to present to the Exceptional Foundation: Ms. Morton objected to several punitive phrases written into the latest draft of the shared-use parking agreement for the Exceptional Foundation, saying it would be like tossing a “fireball” at the nonprofit. Among her objections were automatic towing for vehicles parked in violation of the agreement during basketball season and other high-traffic times, and instant termination of any parking privileges if the Foundation failed to give required notice.

Ms. Morton said violations should trigger only a discussion and “possible” severe penalties. However, Dr. Stansell, backed by Mr. Squires and Mr. Vail, who composed the final draft, felt the ongoing problems and parking conflicts justified the tough wording. Mr. Stansell then relented by relaxing the wording to say the board “reserves the right to” have vehicles towed or terminate the agreement for noncompliance.

The draft now goes to the city attorney for review before being presented for signing to the Foundation board.

Voting no: Ms. Morton, saying the board hasn’t decided on a procedure for enforcing the agreement and the current wording was too adversarial.

The meeting adjourned at about 7 p.m.

City Council special meeting, March 6, 2015, electronic sign resolution

Councilman Peter Wright expresses disappointment and outrage that Jefferson County staff permitted an electronic billboard facing Homewood without any advance notice. None is required by law or policy.

Councilman Peter Wright expresses disappointment and outrage that Jefferson County staff permitted an electronic billboard facing Homewood without any advance notice. None is required by law or policy.

With 35 people in attendance the City Council passed a resolution this afternoon “deploring” the construction of an enormous electronic interstate sign at the BP station on Lakeshore Drive. Earlier in the 45-minute meeting, council members, with Vance Moody absent, voted to enter executive session to hear in private advice from the city attorney any legal options the city may exercise to delay or halt the sign’s construction. The brightly illuminated “interstate sign,–touted by its owner as the only sign of such proportions sitting in a city intersection– is due to be lit up in a week or  so.

The sign property, owned by Circle K, Inc. and leased to local business owner David Dubose of New Point Digital, is in unincorporated Jefferson County, which followed the county’s regulations before issuing the permit.

Before passing the resolution, the council invited Homewood’s Jefferson County representative, Commissioner David Carrington, to address the sign issue. Carrington, who the day before issued a statement about the property’s legal and zoning history,  (C-1 in Jefferson County by court order), recommended that the residents of Homewood boycott the businesses involved, i.e. stop buying snacks and gas at BP and Circle K–or refrain from buying advertising from New Point Digital. This would bring “economic pressure” to bear, he said.

[Asked after the meeting if this course of action would bring BP Oil to its knees, Mr. Carrington said no, but it might adversely affect the local franchisee. Asked if the local franchisee’s response would be to uproot the sign, he said that was also unlikely.]

To Carrington’s remarks, Mr. Hawkins said the council would follow up with an investigation of the safety of such a sign at that intersection. However, it was Mr. Wright who expressed the most outrage that the county and its staff would approve such a massive project on the border with another jurisdiction, without any notice.

“There needs to be some cognizant thought that, ‘Hey there’s a giant billboard going in 300 feet and several inches from a residential area,’ he said, referencing the minimal distance the sign sits outside the 300 feet required by county ordinance. ‘I’d like you to pass that on. Something as dramatic as this– I would really have liked to think good communication would have helped.”

SIGNGOINGINThat said, neither the council nor Mr. Carrington announced any initiative to assure better communication in the future. Mr. Jones then made public the phone number for Mr. DuBose: 205-224-5815 [THIS NUMBER HAS BEEN CORRECTED]  221-5815 (cell), and email address, at ddubose@newpointoutdoor.com.

Ms. Reid added her remarks, noting that the sign sits at the city’s only signal-protected pedestrian and bicycle crossing to the Greenway trail.

The council and residents were blindsided by the development until construction of the massive sign support came out of the ground earlier this week. Mr. Carrington said he learned about it when Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer called him Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. The council drew up a first-draft resolution censuring the county for permitting the sign, but later toned down the language while the county representative seemed to be helping, council president Bruce Limbaugh said.

Some residents attending were frustrated by the lack of specific response either from Carrington, or council members. A man stood up after adjournment asking why the council wasn’t filing a request for a temporary restraining order to halt construction.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Barry Smith, Heather Reid, Peter Wright and Bruce Limbaugh, council president. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent: Vance Moody; Walter Jones arrived during the executive session.

Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Building, Engineering and Zoning staff Greg Cobb.

Audience attendance: 35

Passed a resolution “deploring” the electronic billboard sign being built at the BP on Lakeshore Drive. The measure passed unanimously, with Vance Moody absent.

Planning Commission, March 3, 2015

The commission dealt with the first of several tasks related to Samford's acquisition of Southern Progress property.

The commission tonight dealt with the first of several tasks related to Samford’s acquisition and planned rezoning of Southern Progress property.

Tonight’s two cases involve two resurveys, one involving Samford University’s acquisition of Southern Progress’ 28-acre campus, and one involving a small but complex land swap and extension of Grace Street near the Middle School.

Members present: Fred Azbik, Billy Higginbotham, chairman, Mike Brandt, vice-chairman, Jeffery Foster, Fred Hawkins, Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill, James Riddle, and Mark Woods.

Members absent: James Ponseti.

Staff attendance: Donna Bridges, commission secretary; Greg Cobb, manager, Engineering, Planning & Zoning Department; and Vanessa McGrath, engineer, Engineering, Planning and Zoning Department.

Audience attendance:  5

All votes unanimous, unless noted otherwise. For rezoning cases, the Planning Commission’s votes are advisory only; the City Council has the final say after conducting its own public hearing on each case.

Announcement: Ms. McGrath announced that a public hearing was set for the city council on Monday, March 23, at 6 p.m. before considering proposed changes to zoning book. The matters were heard by the Planning and Development Committee yesterday, and will likely go back for further discussion following the hearing.

Carried over approving the minutes of the Feb. 3, 2015 meeting due to late distribution.

The Grace Street plan.

The Grace Street plan. Click to enlarge.

Allowed homeowners to redraw the lines on two lots on Grace Street: In a complicated maneuver, the commission allowed the boundary line to be moved between two lots lying the western end of Grace Street. The applicant had originally purchased the lot at 1006, which is sandwiched between her neighbor’s house to the west, and a narrower vacant lot to the east, also owned by the neighbor. The Planning Commission in January had waived city street regulations to allow a rudimentary extension of Grace Street to access the property.

Tonight, the applicant was back before the commission, explaining that she intended to trade lots with her neighbor in order to build on the one farthest east, which would create a wider buffer space between the two houses — when hers is built–and also required a shorter extension of Grace Street to access the property. The resurvey will move the property line on her new lot 30 feet to the west to give her more street frontage.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Allowed Samford University to redraw one parcel into four on the Southern Progress property:

Samford University has recently completed the purchase of the Southern Progress campus at 4100 Old Montgomery Highway and tonight asked to divide the single parcel into four separate parcels. Two parcels are for a new School of Nursing and College of Health Sciences, and one will be leased to Time, Inc., with access from Old Montgomery Highway. The fourth parcel is to remain green space for use by Samford students and Time, Inc. employees.

The resurvey will simplify sewer issues and pave the way for a planned rezoning of the university buildings from the current PCD-1 (Planned Office District) to I-3 (institutional district). In connection with the rezoning, Samford will need to seek variances so that the buildings’ current heights and setbacks will be permitted under I-3.

[For more information on plans for the Southern Progress site, the following is excerpted from Samford University’s website: 

“Samford University has completed the purchase of property adjacent to the campus that has served as the headquarters for Southern Progress Corp. The $58 million sale was finalized Dec. 31.

The 28-acre tract includes nearly 400,000-square-feet of space in three buildings and more than 1,000 parking spaces.

Samford will renovate two buildings to house its College of Health Sciences, which includes the schools of health professions, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Some CHS administrative offices will relocate to the new space in early February, but Samford will not move full operations and classes until sometime in 2016, according to Harry B. Brock III, Samford’s vice president for business and financial affairs.

Under the purchase agreement, Time Inc., the parent company for Southern Progress, will have a long-term lease on one building to house its Birmingham operations, which include Southern Living and Cooking Light magazines. Time, Inc. has until December 2016 to renovate that space and move its operations.

Brock said the main entrance to College of Health Sciences will be what is now the main entrance to the Southern Progress property on Lakeshore Drive. Once relocated,  the entrance to Time Inc.’s building will be on Old Montgomery Highway.

SPC purchased the then-undeveloped property from Samford in 1987 to relocate and consolidate its operations from other Birmingham locations. Time Inc. had announced plans early in 2014 to seek a buyer for the property that would allow Southern Progress to remain in Birmingham.

…]

The meeting adjourned at 6:15 p.m.