City Council, Aug. 8, 2016

The 2007 Master Plan calls for neighborhoods to be anchored by destination points, or focal areas. The council on Monday voted to commission a full revision of that plan. Cost unknown but to be presented in the mayor's budget Aug. 29.

The 2007 Master Plan calls for neighborhoods to be anchored by destination points, or focal areas. The council on Monday voted to commission a full revision of that plan. Cost unknown but to be presented in the mayor’s budget Aug. 29.

The council on Monday moved the next meeting from Aug. 22 to Aug. 29 to give incumbents and new candidates a chance to campaign before the Aug. 23 election. Some were skeptical the real reason was to move the mayor’s budget presentation–by policy presented by the last meeting in August–to safely after the election and perhaps preserve incumbents’ seats in office. Monday’s meeting also included a vote to approve a full Master Plan revision of the 2007 plan–cost unknown–which will be included in the mayor’s presentation. The vote was a significant departure from the Planning Commission’s recommendation April 5 to spend $60,000 toward an update of the downtown section only.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Barry Smith, Alex Wyatt, Rich Laws, Peter Wright and Bruce Limbaugh. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Absent: Vance Moody

Staff present: Mike Kendrick, city attorney, Melody Salter, finance director and city clerk, J.J. Bischoff, mayor’s chief of staff, Greg Cobb, Building, Engineering and Zoning Department, Scott Cook, code enforcer.

Audience attendance: 18

Approved minutes of July 11 and July 25, 2016.

Filled an arts council seat and opened or continued the application period for two Ward BZA seats. Carolyn Warren was named to fill the Ward 1 Arts Advisory Council seat; In Ward 5, the open BZA seat has not attracted any formal applicants and will remain open; meanwhile, a BZA supernumerary spot  (which votes in cases of absences) was opened.  

CONSENT AGENDA

This agenda is used to drop items from consideration with a single council vote: Dropped were 1) A request for a walkway to the back parking lot of Publix from the Columbiana Road sidewalk. (Mr. Jones said in dropping the item he hoped the mayor or someone could prevail on the grocery store give necessary permissions, etc., to make the walkway happen); and 2) Permission granted for a resident to work in an unimproved city alley behind 1627 Sunset Drive. The item was dropped because the city withdrew its permission at the last meeting due to neighbor complaints.

Efforts to contain height of houses on certain lots to 1 1/2 stories is being met with opposition. Some residents think uncontrolled building is endangering the quaint charm of some Homewood neighborhoods. Council members, builders and other residents consider the limits anti-growth.

Efforts to contain height of houses on certain single-family lots to no more than 1 1/2 stories is being met with opposition. Some residents think uncontrolled building is endangering the quaint charm of  Homewood neighborhoods. Council members, builders and other residents consider the limits anti-growth.

Agreed to move the next meeting from Aug. 22 to Aug. 29: Mr. Limbaugh announced the move, which passed 10-1, giving an explanation perhaps to those who thought the change was made to move the mayor’s budget presentation to after the Aug. 23 election. Mr. Limbaugh, however, said the move was to honor requests for a second public hearing on the housing height issue because so many changes have been suggested by the council since the July hearing; and that incumbents and office-holders alike wanted to be free to campaign the night before the municipal election. The city attorney later said the city was under no obligation to hold a second hearing or meet any kind of advance notice, because the hearing on the zoning ordinance change had already been heard. That said, Mr. Limbaugh called the meeting a “public commentary” period.

Voting no: Mr. Hallman objected that the date should remain because hearings were previously set for Aug. 22, but was outvoted.

Approved Closing a Brookwood Village street for events in September: Brookwood Village Street will be closed September 22 and September 29 from 3-10 p.m., for Brookwood Live music series.

Renewed a federal Economic Development grant to benefit at-risk student athletes: A schools athletic administrator thanked the council for accepting the renewed $50,000 grant, administered by the state economic development agency, to identify and help athletes at-risk for getting into trouble with police stay connected to the school through various intervention programs. The grant was accepted last year for the first time. This is a renewal.

Carried over acceptance of a $353,000+ FEMA SAFER grant for extra firefighters: There was some concern that the federal grant could be completed on time and an extension was being sought. Fire chief John Bresnan told the council he thought the next meeting, now moved to Aug. 29, would be timely enough for the council vote and to meet the deadline.

Overgrown trees, congested parking are two issues to be addressed in a downtown master plan..

Overgrown trees, congested parking are two issues to be addressed in a downtown master plan..

Approved funding, pricetag not announced, for a full updated city Master Plan: The Planning Commission earlier this year heard a pitch from the Regional Planning Commission and recommended the city budget $60,000 toward a $280,000 partial Master Plan update, focusing on the downtown area, limited to the area from Rosedale to Oxmoor Road and from U.S. 31 to Central Avenue. Ms. McGrath in April said the area has accumulated 12 different zoning categories and three different sign districts–ruling on sign variances has become a regular feature of each council meeting and the city has very limited zoning to handle mixed use. At this meeting, however, the council approved a full city-wide update, also with the RPC, and with details of the funding to be presented in the Mayor’s Budget, scheduled for the next meeting, now set for Aug. 29. Click here for details of the RPC’s original update focusing on downtown and parts of Rosedale. Click here for a pdf image of the cost breakdown presented in April. 

Set an Aug. 29 public “commentary” before voting on housing height and other zoning changes: The proposed new changes affect the method of measuring the height of new single-family houses, a change in the number of recognized lot sizes from three to two (55 feet and under and over 55 feet), new height limits for each of these two lot widths, setback changes, and minimum size house allowed on the smaller lot. These original changes were presented to the Planning Commission by the zoning staff  on April 5 and unanimously recommended, but were carried over when the builders complained about the restrictions at a council public hearing later. The 25-foot restriction on the smaller lot would have resulted in most two-level houses being limited to a story and a half, i.e., preventing full two-story houses (see picture above). Council members then raised the limits from 25 to 29 for houses on the smaller lots in a July 29 public forum and raised them from 29 to 32 and from 35 to 36 respectively at an Aug. 1 committee meeting. Complaints from certain residents demanding a second public hearing on the changed amendments prompted Mr. Limbaugh’s decision, although the city attorney said the city had already met its public hearing obligation, whether the amendments were changed or not.  

The condominiums would look something like this, according to the architect.

The condominiums would look something like this, according to the architect.

Moved a rezoning public hearing from Aug. 22 to Aug. 29: The hearing for rezoning Columbiana Road property from C-1 to R-7 for a condominium development was moved because of the meeting date change, above. The matter is the expansion of a six-unit condo development into a 10-unit development after an additional parcel was added at 822 Columbiana. Work has already begun. For the Planning Commission presentation on this addition, click here.

Set an Aug. 29 before changing a section of Rumson to one-way: The hearing was set before considering whether to change the 500 block of Rumson to one-way.

Set an August 29 public hearing on a sign variance on Citation Court: 

Approved a signal on a cross walk at Oak Grove Road and Oxmoor Road.

Transferred $5000 from one fund to another for police department tuition.

Approved a $1000 expenditure for a Birmingham Bowl sponsorship.

COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA

To Finance – To consider 1) A fiber optic franchise agreement with Southern Light LLC and permission to work in the right-of-way; 2) A utility agreement with Mobilities to install a pole in the right-of-way; 3) Making amendments to the current budgets; 4) Paying for paint striping on Valley Avenue; and 5) Paying for a street light.

Red Hills Brewing Company interior. Photo by al.com

Red Hills Brewing Company interior. Photo by al.com

To Public Safety – To consider 1) Posting a directional sign to the middle school; 2) Requesting a mid-year report from the police department; 3) Installing a street light; 4) Addressing parking problems on Shades Road; 5) Striping on Valley Avenue; and 6) Supporting an ABC board license at Red Hills Brewing Co. The approvals process for the development by Little Donkey off Central Avenue was protracted, beginning with zoning mistakes made in the Planning Commission and extending to vigorous objections by neighborhood businesses because of the forecast parking nightmares, over which the council passed the required zoning, although on a split vote. Mr. Pilleteri then ran into financial troubles, recovered, and is set to open the area’s first Over the Mountain brewery and taproom shortly.

To Special Issues – To consider 1) Allowing a variance to a sign ordinance at 800 Green Springs Highway; and 2) A sign variance at 2921 18th Street South.

OTHER NEW BUSINESS

Set Aug. 29 hearings for two sign variances: See Special Issues items, above.

Paid the bills: The council approved bills be paid for the period July 25-Aug. 7, 2016. 

Declared, in separate votes, that the following properties be declared public nuisances: The declarations on the following properties mean the owners either refused to clean up overgrowth and litter or couldn’t be reached to do so and the city will clear the properties into compliance and charge the bill against the property as a lien. Declared nuisances were 1602 Ridge Road, 2516 Mamie L. Foster, 2522 Mamie L. Foster, 110 Acton Avenue, and 1624 Mountain Gap Circle.

Approved a measure to fill poll worker vacancies in all wards for the upcoming elections: Vacancies have opened in every ward since the last measure was passed. 

*Park Board, Aug. 4, 2016

2015 Witches Ride. The board approved a 2016 event for Oct. 30.

2015 Witches Ride. The board approved a 2016 event for Oct. 30.

The board met briefly and approved two events, denying parking permission for the International Civitans event scheduled at the Exceptional Foundation later in August, see below. (Events scheduled by the foundation are subject to prior board approval because of limited parking in the shared lot.)

Interestingly, a Facilities Committee met Tuesday with landscape architect Chuck Kelly to look over three “Gateway Project” plans Kelly had sketched out two years ago to mark the front Central Park. The project, which originally was estimated to cost $200,000, was nixed during the city budget process and the board advised to raise its own funds. New board members on Tuesday looked at the plans and will have copies of each emailed to them, presumably to share with the rest of the board. The plan is to get updated costs, then share the general designs with the public before trying again for city funding or other funding sources.

Members present: Chris Meeks, chair, Gary Isenhower, Keith Stansell, Tyler Vail, Jody Brant and Michael Murray.

Members absent: Paula Smalley and Becky Morton.

Vacancy: Marjorie Trimm, former Ward 2 representative, is moving from the city.

Staff present: Berkley Squires, public service superintendent, Stephen Jakobson, athletic director, and board secretary.

Audience attendance: 0

Approved the July 2016 meeting minutes.

The board is dusting off a three entryway designs submitted by landscape architect Chuck Kelly a few years ago. Those designs will be made public to get resident reaction and input before the board takes further steps to fund/install it.

The board is dusting off three entryway designs submitted by landscape architect Chuck Kelly a few years ago for the Central Park corner. The city turned down the board’s request for a $200,000 city appropriate to build an installation marking the park’s focal point on Oxmoor and Central. Those designs were revisited by a board committee and will be made public at some point before any further action is taken.

Discussed dusting off designs for the Entry Project: None of the new members had ever seen the drawings Chuck Kelly did in 2014 for the so-called Gateway Project to mark the park and rec center property. They got their first look in committee on Tuesday and on Thursday made no motion to go further except to report they asked to receive email copies of the drawings.

Denied an Aug. 27 Civitans International Meeting at the Exceptional Foundation:  Requests are supposed to be presented to the board in time for its meeting the previous month. The request for the Aug. 27 Civitans event came on July 27, three weeks after the July board meeting, and the board denied it because of parking demands from the pool and Back to School Bash.

Approved an Epilepsy Foundation walk/run fundraiser for November: The event will be held at Central Park on Saturday, November 12, from 7 a.m.-1 p.m., and include children’s activities.

2015 Witches Ride. The group plans a ride on Oct. 30 this year.

2015 Witches Ride. The group plans a ride on Oct. 30 this year.

Approved the annual Oct. 30 Witches Ride event benefiting the American Cancer Society: The event is a police-escorted bike ride through Homewood at dusk by women dressed in witch costumes on decorated bikes, throwing candy to kids lining the street. The ride starts and finishes at Central Park, where other fundraising activities and kids’ attractions are planned. Last year’s ride attracted 350 riders. 

*From staff and member reports.

Board of Zoning Adjustments, Aug. 4, 2016

A spec house planned on Broadway was carried over to September

A spec house planned on a tight Broadway lot was carried over to September rather than risk a full denial

A two-hour meeting with 11 cases included four on Broadway requesting variances to the setback regulations. Willow Homes was the loser on its bid to squeeze a 1 1/2 story house on a difficult, triangular lot by pulling it too close to the sidewalk, out of line with neighboring houses. That case was carried over to September. No denials were posted, but two other cases had one dissenting vote, from Brian Jarmon. Members present: Brian Jarmon, arriving too late to vote on the first case, Hope Cannon, Jeffrey Foster, vice chair, presiding for chair Lauren Gwaltney, who arrived in time to abstain from the last case, Ty Cole,  Beverly LeBoeuf, and Stuart Roberts (S)* Members absent:  Lauren Gwaltney, chair, was absent for 9 of the 11 cases. Note: Hope Cannon’s term has expired but she continues to serve until the council appoints another member from Ward 5. Staff present: Greg Cobb, Vanessa McGrath, and Fred Goodwin of the Building, Engineering and Zoning Department; Planning and zoning clerk Donna Bridges. Audience attendance:  21 *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 supernumerary members (substitutes (S)) to sit in and vote if needed. Tonight, in the absence of one regular member, the supernumerary members took turns voting.  Variances expire in 180 days if a building permit isn’t obtained.

NEW BUSINESS

1119 Crest Avenue

1119 Crest Avenue

Approved a right side variance for a Crest house addition and waived a 2-space parking requirement:  David Siegel of Twin Construction explained that although he will strive to find parking in an adjacent alley or in the back if the septic tank field lines are abandoned for a sewer connection, the house at 1119 Crest Avenue does not currently have a driveway for off-street parking. The additional variance of 3.3 feet into the right setback, which is already in use, will be continued for the planned addition.

108 Windhaven

108 Windhaven

Approved a right building setback variance for an addition on Windhaven: A 2.6-foot variance was allowed on the right side of the house at 108 Windhaven Road, for a one story addition.

402 Broadway

402 Broadway

 

 

Carried over multiple variance requests for a new Broadway house to expand footprint and bring a 1 1/2 story house closer to the street: Willow Homes builder Jason Hale was interested in building a new two-level spec house at 402 Broadway but drew opposition from a neighbor on the left for the overall size, and particularly a front setback that was inconsistent with other houses on the street. Mr. Hale was unprepared for specific questions about the measurements and the effect of bringing the front up to 20 feet from the sidewalk. (Front setback is determined in part by the setbacks of neighboring houses, which hadn’t been taken into consideration.) The questions prompted Mr. Cobb to go measure the property while the case was moved to the end of the meeting. When he returned, Mr. Cobb said neighboring houses lined up almost exactly, at about 33 feet from the sidewalk. The Willow design would therefore be jutting out 10 feet or more from those houses — and not likely to be approved. He was advised, after long discussion, to get an extension on his purchase contract and carry the matter over until September which he could re-figure a design for the house on that lot. Mr. Hale asked the board to consider each of the four other variance requests in separate votes so he could get a preview the board’s thinking on each one. Two members explained that variances couldn’t be granted in the absence of a design. Mr. Cole added it made no sense to present the design as the smallest house possible on the lot, then to come back 10 minutes later and say it could be made even smaller. Carried over until September are the front setback request, which is not likely to pass unchanged, and four others: a 3.7-foot right building variance for the first floor, a 1-foot right setback variance for the 2nd floor, a 2-foot left first floor building setback variance and a 5.5-foot left 2nd floor setback variance.

1410 Manhattan Street

1410 Manhattan Street

Approved 3 variances for an addition on a Manhattan house: Jason Hale of Willow Homes was more successful with his request for three variances for a rear addition on a two-level house at 1410 Manhattan Street, along with support from two neighbors who were present. Granted were  1-foot left first floor setback variance, a 2-foot left 2nd floor setback variance (2-feet already existing) and a 4-foot right building setback (already existing) on the second floor. In questions, it was asked if the rear extension would use the same siding material, or limestone. The homeowners said they would like to, but didn’t know if they could afford it.

854 Forest Drive

854 Forest Drive

Variance allowed for an addition on a Forest Drive House: The homeowner asked for a 2.5-foot right building setback variance (already existing) at 854 Forest Drive to add a den in the rear and build a 15-foot covered porch going straight back from the rear of the house.

5 Ventura Street

5 Ventura Street

 

Variance to allow a new house on Ventura Avenue:  The homeowners at 5 Ventura Avenue were granted a 7.6-foot right building setback variance for their plan to raze the current house and freestanding garage and rebuild a new house and attached garage in its place. They had originally planned to build on the same foundation, but three corners were in such bad shape a foundation repair service would have charged $30,000 but without warrantying the work.

604 Morris, side view

604 Morris, right side view

Variance passed with one dissent to allow a detached garage  closer to lot line on Morris:  The board allowed the homeowner at 604 Morris Boulevard to build an additional 4.1-feet into the required setback for an accessory structure on the right side. The building is being used for storage now, but will be renovated into a mother-in-law’s suite, an addition that will expand the building from 20 X 28 feet to 20 X 42 feet.

Voting no: Jarmon

313 Broadway

313 Broadway

Variance granted for work already completed on a covered deck on Broadway: The homeowner at 313 Broadway tore down and replaced a rotting deck in his back yard, extending the roof to cover it, but without getting a permit or prior approval for a setback variance. The 1.9-foot right building variance was granted retroactively with the proffer that the deck never be enclosed.

822 Columbiana Road

822 Columbiana Road

More variances for Columbiana Road condominium expansion: This expansion of a condominium development already rezoned and approved for six units and a private drive at 818 Columbiana Road, will add four more units at  822 Columbiana Road, with the additional units facing the first six across the planned drive. (This case has been heard multiple times in other venues. For the most recent with links to earlier cases, click here.) Granted were several variances allowing the building on shallower lots (64 feet deep) and closer to property lines, as follows: A 3-foot front building variance and a 30-foot rear building setback variance for all four units. Lots 8 and 9 will also have a much smaller lot area, by 1,000 feet each, according to the variance granted. The vote is conditioned on the added parcel being rezoned from commercial to residential (R-7) by the City Council.

316 Broadway

316 Broadway

Variance approved to convert a one-car garage to living space and extend a roof over an adjacent carport on Broadway:  The board allowed the homeowner at 316 Broadway to build 10 feet into a right side accessory structure setback, and 1-foot 7 inches into the rear setback to convert a one-car detached garage into living space with a full bath and extend a “lean-to” roof over an adjacent one-car carport to be built in the back.

310 Broadway

310 Broadway

Approved, with one dissenting vote, a new two-story garage on Broadway: Brice Elliott plans to build a two-story, 25 X 21-foot garage at 310 Broadway, near Edgewood Elementary, but asked for a 5-foot left accessory building setback variance to move the garage so cars could avoid an Alabama Power pole across the alley. Some discussion followed on whether the pole was really a hardship, since it  is on the other side of a 10 foot alley, with the garage placed another 10 feet inside the rear property line. The owner didn’t want to move the garage toward the house for aesthetic reasons, either, and because it would take up backyard space.

Voting no: Brian Jarmon Abstaining from the vote: Lauren Gwaltney and Ty Cole, for business associations with the applicant.

Planning Commission, Aug. 2, 2016

planning & zoning(1)The Planning Commission approved a preliminary drawings of the Columbiana condominium plan and gave an update on the fate of building height, lot width and minimum square footage and other zoning changes they recommended in April.

Members present: Billy Higginbotham, chair, Fred Azbik, Mike Brandt, Jeffrey Foster, James Riddle,

Members absent: Fred Hawkins, Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill, and Mark Woods.

Vacancy: Jamie Ponseti resigned following the November meeting. Mr. Ponseti filled the “mayor’s designee” spot on the commission. The mayor or a new designee can be named to fill the vacancy.

Staff attendance: Donna Bridges, commission secretary, Vanessa McGrath and Greg Cobb, city Building, Engineering and Zoning Department.

Audience attendance:  5

Approved minutes of June and July, 2016 meetings.

The condominiums would look something like this, according to the architect.

The condominiums would look something like this, according to the architect.

Approved the Preliminary Plat for the Columbiana Condo development, pending rezoning approval by the council: Developer Eric Rogers presented the preliminary site and construction drawings for the 10-unit condominium project at 818 and 822 Columbiana Road. The plan was originally rezoned from commercial to residential for 6 units; A second lot was purchased and is in the process of being rezoned for a building with four additional units. The two buildings will face each other across a private drive that will come off Columbiana Road.

822 Columbiana Road The property fits inside the irregular shape of 818 Columbiana and adds four more units facing the original six that have been approved earlier.

822 Columbiana Road
The additional four condominium units will be built on this parcel, which was purchased later and fits inside the irregular shape of 818 Columbiana, marked in red.

The road is closed to through traffic now while Jefferson County repairs a collapsed sewer main that crosses the property. The developers explained before the meeting that the collapse happened behind the convenience center, just upstream from the condo site. The county found other problems and has been diverting sewage past the break and into another manhole. Construction on the condominiums will begin when the county’s work is complete.

Building regulations update: Following this case, Ms. McGrath gave a report on the status of the building and lot width and area amendments approved by the commission on April 5. Those recommendations were substantially relaxed as a result of discussion in a July 19 planning commission sub-committee meeting and public forum, which was held because builders and others disliked the proposed limits. Those limits were relaxed again in a council Planning and Development Committee meeting on Monday, with a 25-foot height for lots 55 feet and under raised to 32 feet and the height for larger lots raised from 35 feet to 36 feet. A resident (myself) asked if the matter shouldn’t now come back to the Planning Commission for review, since it had been so significantly changed. The commissioners said no, because their vote is outweighed by the council anyway.

The meeting was adjourned.

Absences and dissents, all boards, Jan-July, 2016

A sparse crowd.

A sparse crowd.

ABSENCES AND DISSENTS 2016

ABSENCES AND DISSENTS, all boards, Jan.-July, 2016

 

 

 

The Excel and PDF files contain charts of all board and council meetings held in 2016 through July, with absences noted and any issue drawing dissenting or split votes, and who cast them. More details are available in the actual blog posts.

 

City Council, July 25, 2016

Homewood City CouncilThe council yanked back its permission, granted in May, to allow a resident in Lakewood Estates to clear an alley behind his house to make it easier to roll his garbage cans to the street. Neighbors have complained bitterly that “clearing” meant removing trees and vegetation they valued as a buffer between houses. Also on the housing front, the council–apparently reacting to pressure from real estate interests–has once again carried over zoning amendments passed by the Planning Commission in April that would moderate the height of houses on lots 55 feet and under, keeping them in most cases to 1 and 1/2 stories. Elsewhere in the meeting the police chief was granted a $50,000 expenditure for undisclosed emergency equipment to protect officers in the wake of the Dallas and Baton Rouge police shootings. The equipment may include personal protection and weaponry, the chief said.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames (arriving mid-meeting), Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Barry Smith, and Alex Wyatt. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Absent: Council president Bruce Limbaugh and Barry Smith.

Staff present: Mike Kendrick, city attorney, Melody Salter, finance director and city clerk, J.J. Bischoff, mayor’s chief of staff, Greg Cobb, Building, Engineering and Zoning Department.

Audience attendance: 17

CONSENT AGENDA

Dropped the following items from committee agendas:  In one vote the council dropped 1) A proposal to conduct a Central Business Revitalization and Zoning Study; and 2) A bid opening for the multi-million-dollar paving project, because the opening has already been set for Sept. 19.

OLD BUSINESS AGENDA

Voted to carry over once again changes in the zoning regulations affecting housing height and other changes: The changes that were once again carried over for discussion involve a simplification of the method used to determine allowed height in new housing (by measuring from the front door threshold to the highest roof point instead of taking an average from all four sides) together with setting a 29-foot limit for houses on lots 55 feet and narrower. The simplified method/limit would make it difficulty to build a full two-stories on the narrower lots, which are mostly in Edgewood, and at the same time address growing complaints from residents about oversized houses being built on small lots. Also to be changed, but not attracting as much attention, is setting a new minimum area for lots 55-feet and under (800 square feet was proposed at the July 29 forum; the council president had suggested increasing it to 1,200 square feet), and dropping the requirement to “step-in” second stories an additional 10 feet from the first floor for fire safety reasons, unless the second floor was sprinkled. The zoning amendments also consolidated three recognized city lot widths into two, “55 feet and under” and “over 55 feet.”

The proposed changes had already been heard and approved by the Planning Commission in April  but drew complaints from builders during a council hearing June 27 before the changes were set to be ratified. The council president then set a July 19 forum for residents and builders to discuss the changes with the zoning staff, where it was decided to raise the height restriction from 25 feet on lots 55 feet and under to 29 feet. Although all present seemed satisfied, the council on Monday voted again to send the matter back to the council’s Planning and Development Committee for more discussion.

An ice cream shop is planned next to Jersey Mike's.

An ice cream shop is planned next to Jersey Mike’s. The business is asking to level out the public sidewalk in front for handicap access.

Carried over a Right-of-Way Easement request on 18th Street: The request from a business at 2908 18th Street South is to create a level area in the sidewalk for handicap entry to the business. Mr. Wright said the request needed more discussion in committee.

The company was allowed two six-foot illuminated signs to post at either end of a circular drive off of U.S. 31. The code only allows one such sign.

The company was allowed two six-foot illuminated signs to post at either end of a circular drive off of U.S. 31. The code only allows one such sign.

Allowed a second illuminated sign for a new apartment complex on U.S. 31:  The request granted was to allow a second sign, or one more than allowed by the ordinance, to place one at each end of a circular drive at 3450 Manor Drive.   Each sign will be six feet.

Approved a fence:  A fence variance was granted on a corner lot at 1717 Shades Park Drive, pending staff approval that the fence won’t block traffic visibility at the corner.

Approved two stop signs on Saulter and Lakewood Drive intersection:  The signs cost $5,400 apiece.

Approved a change to employees’ retirement plan to allow borrowing: The council approved making a change to the 457 plan with Nationwide.

Set an Aug. 15, 2016, bid opening to purchase license plate readers for police department. No further details.

Approved an amendment to increase the current parks budget to buy more pool chemicals: The price increase was not discussed.

Approved spending $38,160 for a contractor’s second phase investigation to identify the source of bad smells from the Barber/Mayfield dairy plants and/or the Buffalo Rock plants in West Homewood:  The first phase, which identified some compounds but no source, cost in the $20,000 range. Council members made clear in a prior committee meeting that the investigative process couldn’t go on indefinitely without results. Following tonight’s meeting the city attorney announced that the consultants had asked for help (?) compiling public state and federal environmental air quality records as well as access to several other facilities, not the dairy or Buffalo Rock, outside of the immediate area.

Approved a copier contract renewal: The matter was held over at the last meeting when the city IT director asked the name on the lease be changed from Konica Minolta to Ameritech, an affiliate. The 3-year renewal was passed tonight with the original name on the agenda.

COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA

To Finance – To consider 1) Transferring $5,000 from “contracts” to “tuition/schools” for the police department; 2) Purchasing a sponsorship for the Birmingham Bowl; 3) Offering an incentive package to attract businesses to Wildwood South; and 4) Accepting of a $353,052 FEMA SAFER grant award to fund three firefighter positions for two years.

822 Columbiana Road The property fits inside the irregular shape of 818 Columbiana and adds four more units facing the original six that have been approved earlier.

822 Columbiana Road
The property fits inside the irregular shape of 818 Columbiana and adds four more units facing the original six that have been approved earlier.

To Planning and Development – To consider 1) The rezoning request from commercial to residential from developer Progressive Columbiana LLC (Eric Rogers) to add four more condominiums at 822 Columbiana Road, and set a public hearing before the full council; and 2) Restricting traffic on Rumson Road to one-way.

To Public Safety – To consider 1) Supporting a state ABC board On- or Off-Premises retail beer and table wine license for Mi Pueblo grocery store on Green Springs Highway; 2) Addressing traffic concerns on Hambaugh Avenue; and 3) Addressing continued parking problems on Broadway.

To Special Issues – To consider 1) Sign ordinance variances at 103 Citation Court and 1831 28th Avenue South, Suite 160; 2) A request for a fence variance at 612 Hambaugh Avenue; 3) Creating a modified access path to the rear of Publix; and 4) Rethinking the adoption of the Home Energy section of the International Building Code.

OTHER NEW BUSINESS

Set an Aug. 22, 2016, public hearing for rezoning Columbiana Road property for more condominiums: The additional four condominiums would face six condos already planned and approved at 818 Columbiana Road, as discussed in the Planning Commission. See committee referral item, above.

Settled an ongoing lawsuit with Alabama Furniture Market:
Homewood was one of a list of virtually all in the metro Birmingham area named by Alabama Furniture Market to recover excess sales tax it paid those cities for furniture delivered there rather than the tax charged at the point of sale. For Homewood, the settled amount was $998.96, which was agreed to be paid rather than continue litigating. Since the suit was filed the Alabama legislature has passed a law supporting the cities’ claims to collect tax they levied where furniture was delivered, not sold.

Approved up to $50,000 “emergency” capital purchases for the police department: Given the assaults on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the police chief asked for the funds to equip the city’s 77 officers with “additional protections,” the details of which he would not disclose except to say defensive equipment and some weapons.

Approved administrative changes to an ordinance for repairing streets after utility work: An ordinance that gave the city more power over the standard of repair to city streets following utility excavation named the Public Services Director, Berkley Squires, as the entity to handle the exchange of funds, such as security bonds. This amendment names the city clerk, who is also the Finance Director, instead.

Metal street signs would hang from streetlight posts with interchangeable signs suspended beneath to denote parking, and other amenities.

Metal street signs would hang from streetlight posts and suspend interchangeable signs beneath to denote parking, and other amenities.

Approved an increase of in funding for downtown directional signs: The sign expenditure was raised $2,500 to $6,000 because of a change in vendor.

Sign on Pole1

Paid the bills: The council approved invoices to be paid for the period July 11-July 24, 2016.

Approved in five separate votes resolutions providing for a runoff election if needed and naming as elected four candidates with no opposition: Resolutions acknowledging the uncontested elections of city council president and Ward 2/Place 1, and Ward 3/Place 1 council seats. Bruce Limbaugh is hereby the re-elected council president and in the wards are Patrick McClusky a re-elected Ward 3 councilman, Mike Higginbotham a newly elected Ward 2 councilman, and Alex Wyatt, who was appointed mid-term, a newly elected councilman in Ward 4/Place 2. The elections are effective the first Monday in November.

The council voted to terminate an agreement allowing a resident to clear an unimiproved city right-of-way of trees and vegetation after receiving complaints from neighbors. The vote started the clock on a 10-day notification period before the permission is withdrawn and property is returned to the city substantially unchanged.

The council voted to terminate an agreement allowing a resident to clear an unimiproved city right-of-way of trees and vegetation after receiving complaints from neighbors. The vote started the clock on a 10-day notification period before the permission is withdrawn and property is returned to the city substantially unchanged.

Agreed to terminate a prior approval for a resident to work in an unimproved city right of way: Mr. Jones asked for guidance from the council after hearing multiple complaints that a resident allowed to clear a “paper” alley behind his house was taking down a buffer of bamboo and was preparing to take down trees as well. The resident at 1627 Sunset Drive in May had been granted permission to work in the right-of-way after he made a case for clearing a path to roll his garbage cans to Lakewood Drive, rather than down his steep driveway to Sunset. Mr. Jones said he remembered the resident claiming there was no opposition from neighbors, but clearly neighbors either didn’t know or didn’t understand the extent of the work planned. A neighbor at #9 Ridgewood had been complaining daily since the vegetation started to be cleared.

In discussion, Ms. McGrath said the city’s permission could be terminated with 10 days’ notice, requiring the property be returned to its original state, but she also pointed out that residents don’t necessarily have a right to a buffer between houses. It was decided the best course was to terminate the permission to set the clock running on the 10 days, and to contact the resident as soon as possible to discuss the issue. The resident isn’t obligated to stop clearing the area immediately, but might be persuaded to, given the requirements of the council’s vote tonight.

Planning Commission, July 12, 2016

The lot at 818 Columbiana Road has been cleared for a 6-unit condo development in the works since last fall. Four more units are being added in a separate, but adjacent, parcel owned by one of the Edgewood Place developers.

The lot at 818 Columbiana Road has been cleared for a 4-unit condo development in the works since last fall. Four more units are being added in a separate, but adjacent, parcel owned by one of the Edgewood Place developers.

Not in Edgewood at all, Twin Properties’ 6-unit Edgewood Place condo development off Columbiana Road will be increased by four units, to be developed by the Edgewood Place development partner, Eric Rogers. For those who haven’t followed, the development group has been before the city four times to prepare for the first 6 units: 1) To the Planning Commission on Oct. 6, which recommended rezoning from mixed use to residential; 2) Before the BZA on Nov. 5 to receive three variances allowing shallower setbacks and lot areas; 3) To the City Council Nov. 9 for approval of the rezoning, which was granted with concerns expressed about drainage; and 4) Again on Dec. 1 before the Planning Commission, which substantially waived subdivision requirements to allow decreased road width, sidewalk width, and a smaller turn-around that will require a fire engine to back out of the street. The return engagement plans to add more units to the final development.

Members present: All-Fred Azbik, Mike Brandt, Jeffrey Foster, Fred Hawkins, Billy Higginbotham, chair, Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill, James Riddle, and Mark Woods.

Members absent: None.

Vacancy: Jamie Ponseti resigned following the November meeting. Mr. Ponseti filled the “mayor’s designee” spot on the commission. The mayor or a new designee can be named to fill the vacancy.

Staff attendance: Donna Bridges, commission secretary, Fred Goodman, a city planner, Vanessa McGrath and Greg Cobb, city Building, Engineering and Zoning Department.

Audience attendance:  8

NEW BUSINESS

822 Columbiana Road The property fits inside the irregular shape of 818 Columbiana and adds four more units facing the original six that have been approved earlier.

822 Columbiana Road
The property fits inside the irregular shape of 818 Columbiana and adds four more units facing the original six that have been approved earlier.

Voted to recommend rezoning property on Columbiana Road to expand a condominium project:  The city council must approve the rezoning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

124 Oxmoor Road

124 Oxmoor Road

Approved a resurvey at 124 Oxmoor Road for an additional house: Owners representing the Betty Smith Trust were granted a resurvey that divides a corner parcel into two lots along a line that preserves a house existing on the property but creates a smaller-than-allowed lot for a second house, which would be built facing Edgeknoll Lane. The BZA had previously granted a 1,458.7 square foot variance for lot size and a narrower lot width if the commission allowed the redrawing, which it did tonight for applicant Willow Homes.