High School relocation meeting, Sept. 27, 2016

More than 300 parents and residents showed up to hear why the current high school building is obsolete, and must be relocated.

More than 300 parents and residents showed up tonight to hear how growing enrollments have rendered the current high school building is obsolete. The school will likely be relocated to property purchased by the city on West Oxmoor Road.

Why the High School is moving to West Homewood and other questions asked and answered at a Homewood City Schools presentation tonight:

Most of the 300 + parents showing up tonight at the Homewood High School auditorium already knew the basic plan in play to relocate the 1973 high school building from Lakeshore Drive to a newly purchased parcel on West Oxmoor Road adjoining the West Homewood ballfields. But they were treated to an organized and straightforward presentation of supporting demographics and history, via a study by B. L. Harbert (which built the city’s latest Park and Rec Center) to make the decision more understandable.

Bottom line, the school system and city are partners in a plan to use a $4.25 million property on West Oxmoor Road to relocate the high school, expand ballfields and relocate the West Homewood Park swimming pool to a part of nearby Patriot Park property.

The supporting evidence was provided in an earnest, one-hour initial presentation by Homewood City Schools superintendent Bill Cleveland, who promised no elementary school would be relocated but toured the recent growth statistics at the system’s three elementary schools and middle school to the foregone conclusion that the high school could not long remain functional in its location on Lakeshore.

  • The growth in student enrollment system wide has increased 30% since 2000;
  • An equivalent growth in city park program participation has been tracked since 2009;
  • The median age of Homewood residents has dropped from 40 to 29, parents of early elementary-age students;
  • Kindergarten enrollment from 2009-10 to the current year has grown from 305 to 309, topping out at 349 in the 2013-14 academic year. These large classes are making their way through the grades, ultimately to push the capacity of the high school beyond its 1,177 capacity by 2023.

Current status by school, expansion possibilities and cost of additions at three elementary schools at $29,428,900 for all three and middle school expansion costing at least $13.7 million, probably more: 






Hall-Kent School, west Homewood

  • 588 students total; 42 classrooms
  • Easiest school to enlarge without disruption;
  • Could add 16 classrooms by an L-shaped addition on the north side that would occupy a portion of the track.







Edgewood Elementary School

  • The largest school in attendance and grounds, at 832 students in 55 classrooms;
  • Could build out the east side for more classrooms, including a partial second story, and also expand the cafeteria on the south side, by taking up part of the playground.









Shades Cahaba Elementary

  • The smallest of the three elementaries and most difficult to expand, with 578 students in 39 classrooms;
  • Expansion to the north could add 18 classrooms and enlarge the cafeteria;
  • Could build a new gymnasium in the “horseshoe”‘ and use the current gym space for more classrooms.







Homewood Middle School

  • The school has 927 students in 48 classrooms;
  • Considering adding a 5th grade wing angled out to the north toward Valley Avenue, and adding to cafeteria;

Dr. Cleveland,  a Homewood HS graduate and first principal of the new Middle School in 2005-06, said the school system’s working plan had been to sell the 28-acre Magnolia apartment property for single-family residential. Lately, in view of plans to expand, the system wants to hold onto the property, whether to build a new school building or build temporary classroom buildings to house students during elementary school construction (the original plan for purchasing the $10 million property was to develop a cross-country track and other facilities, possibly an intermediate school.)

At this point Dr. Cleveland introduced the parks and rec director to show how park lands were also in need of expansion to accommodate the growing city.

CIrcled area shows 15-acre property adjacent to the West Homewood Park ballfields to be used for park enhancements and potentially a new location for the high school.

CIrcled area shows 15-acre property adjacent to the West Homewood Park ballfields to be used for park enhancements and potentially a new location for the high school.

Park and Rec presentation

Berkley Squires, the park and rec director and now Public Services Superintendent over streets, sanitation, landscaping and parks, presented a case for expanding the park facilities, saying West Homewood Park had been purchased in 1966, enlarged in 197s and had multiple renovations in later years, including the pool and upper fields added in 2003-04.

Parks participation had grown from 3,100 children in 2009 to 4,100 in 2016, he said.

He said the ballfields were inadequate for growing baseball, flag football lacrosse, peewee football and soccer programs; the pool wasn’t up to the standard of modern families, and the parks maintenance staff worked out of a disordered collection of metal buildings on the grounds. Harbert’s study showed how a new high school could be positioned on the property (already purchased by the city for that purpose) by the stadium and also provide room for a new maintenance facility and three new multipurpose fields on the upper-field (also called the 6-acre field), and add five ballfields. The old pool would be moved to land between the Senior Center and Patriot Park along with tennis courts.

Finally, the high school

Dr. Cleveland returned to the podium to explain how the current high school, built in 1973 for a 1,200 student capacity and undergoing 8 additions since then–most recently to add the alternative school in 2008–could not be enlarged easily at its current location, which is hemmed in by a steep grade to the rear and the floodway from Shades Creek in the front. Can a high school of 1,400-1,600 students be expected to function well in this location, he asked? The answer was obviously, no.

The first hour presentation was accompanied by several offers to answer questions and a promise to post the entire slideshow, demographics, and maps on the Homewood City Schools website, beginning tomorrow.

City Council, Sept. 26, 2016

The council found a scant $107,091 difference of opinion with the mayor's budget after a month of hearings.

After a month of hearings, the council’s Finance Committee found a scant $107,091 difference of opinion with the mayor’s $69 million budget, about the usual net difference from past years. One of the largest disparities, of $277,841 the committee removed from the mayor’s gas tax budget, represents a savings gained from having paid for part of the Valley Avenue repaving project out of the current budget. The $466,581 added to capital projects appears mainly to cover added sidewalk construction.

Across the board bonuses for all employees, based on tenure, will be drawn from this year’s projected budget surplus when all bills are paid after Oct. 1, and not to exceed $375,000. That will start at $350 for employees with 1-3 years service up to a one-time $2,000 per year bonus for those at the 20-year mark and above. As in past years, Mr. Hallman voted no, signaling his support of regular COLA’s, which become part of the employees’ regular salaries, and pensions.

Other boons that fell to the city budget were the $1.19 million low bid from Dunn Construction, awarded tonight, which came well under the mayor’s $2.3 million allowance for a city-wide repaving and street repair project that would have addressed the worst streets first (those graded in “c” condition by Volkert Engineering). The extra funds can now be used to begin addressing streets in the “B” level, grades established by Volkert’s traffic consultants last year. The entire project to address all the streets is $4 million to be spent over 8 years.

Finally tonight, the council gave a rare denial to a business asking for a sign variance, and passed a Mayfair Drive sidewalk project that had been disputed for months, and attempted failed for years past, to the disappointment of some in the audience.

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

Absent: Fred Hawkins and Vance Moody.

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

Audience attendance: 24

Appointed Matt Foley to the Ward 5 BZA position vacated by Hope Cannon. A second candidate, who already serves on the BZA, was disqualified because of term limits.


The following items were dropped from council consideration, for various reasons. Sometimes the reason is that the item has already been acted on or resolved. Dropped are 1) A request for a special event permit and tent variance at 200 Green Springs Highway; and 2) A request to address traffic concerns on Hambaugh Avenue.

Image provided by city to Homewood Star.

Image provided by city to Homewood Star.

Approved sidewalks and other improvements on Mayfair Drive between Whitehall and U.S. 31: The council passed Phase I (on the north side of Mayfair from U.S. 31 to Roxbury) and Phase II (Roxbury to Huntingdon) of street improvements planned between Whitehall Road and U.S. 31, which will use up to $70,000 from the current budget and include sidewalks. A couple in the audience said he and other long-time residents opposed the project and felt it was railroaded through by the council to please younger residents who, he said, were not likely to live on the street for more than a few years.

Purchased two Automatic License Plate Readers: Tonight’s purchase of so-called ALPRs for $34,585 was approved prior to adopting a policy to govern the use of data collected by the devices, which read license plate numbers and compare them to crime databases, matching the numbers to outstanding warrants and other offenses. ALPRs are in use now in Hoover and Jefferson County with no accompanying policies, a fact that prompted resident Ken Gunnells to pursue one for Homewood that, among other protections, would limit the retention period for any data collected. Gunnells’ main concern was the future use of data collected on individuals whose information is being searched in the absence of any reasonable suspicion. He has been in talks with council members since August about the dangers of police overreach, and has a meeting planned with the mayor. 

Awarded a $1.2 paving contract to Dunn Construction: The low bid left additional funds in the mayor’s $2.3 million allowance to repair, seal or repave more streets, and sooner than previously planned. See above. 

Carried over a vote to declare a block of Rumson Road one-way: The matter had been carried over previously to produce traffic counts from an earlier traffic study. That information still not available, Mr. Limbaugh had the plan to establish the 500 block of Rumson Road one-way going north and to build out sidewalks into the road because of  500 block of Rumson Road one-way:

Granted a fence variance on Hambaugh Avenue: The variance allows the resident at 612 to replace a split rail wood fence in her side yard with a 4-foot picket fence. 

Carried over a plan to rescind the Home Energy Section of the 2016 International Building Code: With builders apparently balking at onerous or costly insulation and ventilation requirements standards in the current International Building Code, the council moved to rescind this portion and revert to the 2015 version. That said, and with no objection during a hearing, Mr. Bischoff said the former building superintendent Jim Wyatt (now working with Hoover) said the city could not revert to a less stringent version of the building code than the one adopted by the State of Alabama. Some discussion followed on whether the state had passed the full 2016 edition, or had adopted an amended version. But without that information, the council president carried the matter over. Homewood and Mountain Brook are the only two municipalities locally to have adopted the 2016 version. 

Carried over again a request to annexed two properties on Shades Crest Road: The city attorney said answering questions about the legal descriptions of 913 and 1400 Shades Crest Road have prolonged the request. Earlier, he said the properties were bounded in part by the city of Hoover.

Denied a sign variance to a bridal shop on Linden: A motion by Mr. Hallman to approve this request, which had been held over since the last meeting, failed to get a second and the measure died. Ms. Smith explained that council members were reluctant to let a business erect such a large sign on a street dominated by small lots and houses. No picture of the sign was shown.

The city's major expenses this coming year include a $4 million in infrastructure projects, such as paving, trails and sidewalks.

The city’s major expenses this coming year include a $4 million in infrastructure projects, such as paving, trails and sidewalks.

Passed the FY2017 budgets in 17 separate votes: A summary of the separate budget funds approved tonight and a comparison with the mayor’s request are above. Pictured is a list of the major infrastructure spending planned for the coming year. The full budget will be posted online within a day and linked here.

Carried over a request for a franchise agreement with Level 3 Communications: No details.

Granted a tent ordinance exemption on Oxmoor Road:  The request is from Dawson Baptist Church at 1114 Oxmoor Road. 

Granted a sign ordinance exemption for a Green Springs Hwy. business: There was one dissent to a sign variance for the Jefferson County Satellite Building at 809 Green Springs Highway. No explanation given. 

Voting no: Mr. McClusky

Approved funds and ordinance to establish a cross walk on Manhattan Street. 

Set an Oct. 3 bid opening for a new wrecker/towing contract for the police department.

Set an Oct. 3 bid opening for a new animal control contract for the police department.

Awarded on a split vote one-time employee bonuses from a projected budget surplus: With one dissent the council approved across-the-board bonuses not to exceed $375,000 and conditioned on a surplus remaining after all bills are paid for the current budget year. Bonuses, which do not add to employees’ ongoing salaries or count toward retirement pensions, begin at $350 for employees with tenure 1-3 years and top out at $2,000 for those with 20 years tenure or more.

Voting no-Mr. Hallman voted no to indicate support for awarding the more permanent cost of living increase


To Finance – To consider A) A review of the sidewalk projects, past, present, and future; B) Paying for more street lights on Dixon Avenue (from Public Safety); and C) Amending the current budget.

To Planning and Development – To consider A) Establishing one-way traffic through Ardsley Road; B)

To Public Safety – To consider A) Improvements in a Peerless Avenue cross walk; and B) Supporting a new liquor license application for Michael’s restaurant.

To Public Works – To consider A) Planning for accommodations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; B) A request to review the contract for the Valley Avenue construction engineering.


Set an Oct. 10 public hearing for a sign variance at 150 Green Springs.

Approved a state permit fee, per Alabama law, to fund training of skilled construction workers: The Construction Industry Craft Training law levies a permit fee of $1 per every $1,000 in construction on non-residential permits issued by jurisdictions across the state. The fee, which is expected to raise between $3 million and $5 million annually, will pay for training to fill a shortage in skilled construction trade jobs that has occurred in the wake of a decline in trade unions. In discussion it was lamented that the city must collect and forward this additional fee to the state monthly, with no benefit to itself and in fact must pay a (very) small transfer fee to comply.

Passed an ordinance banning the use of engine brakes:  The city last year passed a prohibition against “jake braking,” and posted signs to that effect, which is apparently different than engine braking, a ban passed tonight. 

GianMarco's is bidding on the vacant lot by Patriot Park for a pizza restaurant. Public hearing before a vote is schedule for Oct. 10.

GianMarco’s is bidding on the vacant lot by Patriot Park for a pizza restaurant. Public hearing before a vote is schedule for Oct. 10.

Set an Oct. 10 hearing before voting whether to sell a lot by Patriot Park: The sale of the city-owned lot at 165 Oxmoor Road has been in play since at least 2013 and involved two city Requests for Proposals, multiple extensions, and attracted three bids, one for a retail building featuring a Cajun restaurant and other tenants, another for a food truck park, and most recently a controversial proposal by Avondale’s Hunter Lake for a Post Office Pies pizzeria in a building topped by condominiums. The property, bought by the city from a law firm for $135,000, is the site of a former gas station and contaminated by leaking underground storage tanks, which could limit its use for anything but commerce. For a look at past bidders and interested parties in this property, click here.

Paid the bills: Invoices for the period Sept. 12-25, 2016 were approved to be paid.

City Council meeting, Sept. 12, 2016

New height limits--although not as stringent as those originally passed by the Planning Commission--should hold houses down to a more reasonable scale on Homewood's narrower lots.

New height limits passed tonight–although not as stringent as those originally recommended by the Planning Commission–should hold houses down to a more reasonable scale on Homewood’s narrower lots.

In a meeting of record postponements, the most significant vote was one changing limits on height of single family houses and setting a new method of measuring height that engineering dept. employees think will be more enforceable for the small staff of two inspectors.  The new limits–29 feet for houses on lots 55 feet wide and under and 35 feet for wider lots measured from the threshold to the roof peak–are actually higher than the former limits (25 feet for lots 40-55 feet wide; 30 feet for lots 56-65 feet wide, and 35 feet high for larger lots). However, the old way of measuring by computing an average of heights from all four sides was easily manipulated by builders to produce roofs above the stated limits, they say. Zoning officials and the Planning Commission in April recommended a limits of 25 feet and 35 feet respectively for the two lot widths. The council declined to vote on that recommendation, carrying over the process to multiple discussions and pushing the suggested limits up to 29 feet and 35 feet as they did so. 

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

Absent: None.

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

Audience attendance: 15

Opened up the application period for two Homewood Environmental Commission vacancies, Ward 1 and at-large.


Dropped, by general consent, the following committee agenda items (Items may have been dropped not because they were denied but because they have been addressed without a council vote):  Dropped were 1) Request for a West Homewood Street Festival, with the idea that a private group will be incorporated to accept donations for funding regular street parties in West Homewood; 2) Request to resolve issues of sanitation, speeding and paving on Ashwood Lane;


Declared vehicles surplus to trade for new vehicles: A 2015 Freight6liner M2-106 with aerial device and 2016 Ford F550 with an aerial device were declared surplus in order to trade for similar 2017 trucks.

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.

Rezoned a parcel on Columbiana Road to expand a 6-unit townhouse development: Developer Eric Rogers’ Progressive Columbiana LLC had a parcel at 822 Columbiana Road rezoned from Office Business District (C-1) to R-7, for attached dwellings for a building with 4 units, to be built facing a 6-unit building already planned. Site clearing on the combined project is already underway. One person spoke at the hearing asking if there was adequate parking (yes, off-street parking enough for two cars per unit), and would it be gated (no).

Carried over a motion to convert the 500 block of Rumson to one-way only:  The matter has been under discussion for a while but was carried over from the last meeting to obtain information from an earlier traffic study by Skipper Consulting. The city is still waiting for that information and the item was postponed to the next meeting.

Carried over a measure to grant $5 million in tax abatements to promote a redevelopment of Wildwood South: The council wasn’t ready at the last meeting to vote on a proposed 10-year, 50/50 split in new Homewood sales tax (excluding the schools’ 1%), an offer on the table to Nashville retail development firm Oldacre- McDonald, which will potentially be adding traffic features and roads, building new outparcels and façade upgrades to the aging shopping center. The revenue sharing deal would be effective for 10 years or $5 million, whichever arrives first. Tonight the matter was carried over again because the development plan isn’t ready. However, the firm’s engineers have had parcels redrawn to align with the Birmingham-Homewood municipal boundaries, which are currently in dispute and divide two of the largest South Wildwood parcels.

yourpieGranted a sign ordinance exemption to allow an extra sign for a SoHo pizza franchise: Your Pie at 1831 28th Avenue South, Suite 160, a corner space, was allowed to have a third sign, which will be unlighted and project from the corner and be visible from traffic going both directions.

612 Hambaugh

612 Hambaugh

Carried over a request for an exemption from the city’s fence regulations for a house on Hambaugh: The request for 612 Hambaugh Avenue has been carried over once before.

Carried over a possible repeal of the Home Energy section of the International Building Code: The plan hasn’t been discussed in a council meeting but concerns new insulation and other building requirements associated with reducing long-term energy use but which are costly to implement.

Carried over, then provisionally passed funding for a crosswalk signal at Oak Grove Road and Oxmoor Road. The request had been carried over once and was carried over again tonight because funding hadn’t been approved. After the business meeting, Mr. Hawkins asked that it be re-opened and passed conditioned on what funding had been discussed in committee, i.e., that either it cost under $15,000 or if over, that it be bid out. With some reluctance, but no objection from the finance chairman, the council voted in favor.

Carried over for a second time a request for an oversized sign on Linden: A bridal shop at at 2900 Linden has asked for an oversized sign but not submitted a mock-up as promised. The business has agreed to shift the sign’s placement so it doesn’t block another business’s sign from view. Mr. Limbaugh said this was the last carry-over for the bridal business. 

Declared part of an alley pedestrian-only: The portion of an alley that runs between Woodland and Broadway will be marked with signs that it is not for vehicle traffic.

Approved an expenditure of $9,500 to synchronize the traffic lights on Lakeshore Parkway: The parkway is the portion of Lakeshore that lies west of I-65 that runs through the Wildwood shopping center.

Passed an amendment to the current budget: The amounts and changes weren’t discussed.

Carried over setting a public hearing on a requested annexation to Homewood: The request to annex properties at 913 and 1400 Shades Crest Road is complicated by the fact that they adjoin Hoover city limits, requiring a longer procedure. The request has already been held over once.

New houses push the limits of Homewood's smaller lots. New height limits will be measured at the front door to roof peak. The former method

New houses have pushed the limits of Homewood’s smaller lots. Now height limits will be measured at the front door to roof peak, not through complex and easily manipulated method of averaging.

Approved changes to the zoning book affecting lot size, housing height, setbacks and other details: The council, which had declined for months to vote on a handful of residential changes passed by the planning commission–including a controversial 25-foot limit on height of houses on lots 55 feet wide and under–was passed tonight after the limit had been raised by increments to 32 feet via a series of Planning and Development committee meetings, a public hearing and two informal public forums. In addition to the height limits (35 feet for houses on lots wider than 55 feet), the council added a provision for lots sloping down to the street–thereby raising the front door above the ground level–the height from ground to roof peak could be no higher than 32 feet for the narrower lots or 38 feet for the wider ones.

The amendments passed tonight included the new simplified the measuring method, which formerly was obtained by computing an average of heights of all roofs “between the eaves and ridge,” a time-consuming method that overwhelmed the city’s building inspection staff of only two. Under that method, which architects said could be manipulated to create ever taller roofs, the limits were 25 feet for lots 40-55 feet wide; 30 feet for lots 56-65 feet, and 35 feet high for larger lots. Beside changing setbacks, the changes tonight also reduced the number of lot classifications to just two: 55 feet and under and over 55 feet.

Approved sidewalks on Mayfair between Whitehall and U.S. 31: The council approved the measure in two phases.


To Finance – To consider 1) A franchise agreement with Level 3 Communications; 2) Set a bid date for wrecker/towing services for the police department; 3) Setting a bid date to consider a new animal control service contract; 4) Establishing a policy concerning police use of a license plate reader; and 5) Awarding one-time employee bonuses from a projected FY2016 surplus.

To Public Safety – To consider 1) Additional lighting on State Farm Parkway; 2) Establishing a crosswalk on Manhattan Street; and 3) Granting a BINGO permit to benefit the Agape House.

To Public Works – To consider 1) A request to work in the city right-of way at 11250 Columbiana Road.

To Special Issues – To consider 1) Allowing an exemption to the city’s tent ordinance t 1114 Oxmoor; 2) Granting an exemption to the city’s tent ordinance for a special event at 200 Green Springs Highway; and 3) Granting an exception to the sign ordinance at 809 Green Springs Highway.


Set a Sept. 26 public hearing for a sign ordinance at 809 Green Springs highway. The address appears to be the former Jefferson County courthouse annex.

Paid the bills: Invoices for the period Aug. 29-Sept. 11, 2016, were approved to be paid.

Park Board, Sept. 9, 2016

Chris Bailey joins the park board for Ward 2.

Chris Bailey joins the park board for Ward 2.

The brief business meeting was the first for new Ward 2 member Chris Bailey, who was chosen out of two applicants to replace Marjorie Trimm, who moved out of Homewood. Mr. Bailey is a baseball program director for the rec program’s under 9 group.

The business meeting was followed by informal discussion of park projects, including pool use, flag football and proposed off-season basketball skills clinics for elementary kids. Mr. Meeks answered questions on the status of several issues before the board–Exceptional Foundation contract, the Gateway Project, and plans for the new property adjoining the parks (no information available on the property).

Members present: Chris Meeks, chair, Gary Isenhower, Jody Brant, Paula Smalley, Becky Morton, and new member Chris Bailey.

Members absent: Gary Isenhower, Tyler Vail, and Michael Murray.

Staff present: Rusty Holley and board secretary, taking minutes. Berkley Squires, public services superintendent, was absent.

Audience attendance: 1

Approved the August meeting minutes.

Approved the Exceptional Foundation Knights of Columbus Rental.

Approved the Homewood Relay for next April: The American Cancer Society fundraising walk, and related family activities, was approved at Central Park for Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, 2017, beginning at 10 a.m. each day and with an expected attendance of 2,500.

Under certain conditions, the board will allow the Urban Cookhouse chain to host its Homewood Farmers' Markets at Central Park this summer.

The Urban Cookhouse chain, after persuading the board to allow its Homewood farmers markets at Central Park, shut the series down when attendance plummeted, possibly because of competition from the Trinity church market.

Discussion of Urban Cookhouse farmers market shutdown: The park board was reluctant to approve the restaurant’s request for a summer-long Saturday spot at Central Park to expand its farmers market, saying it utilized a lot of public property for private gain and citing damage to the grounds from vendor vehicles. But approval was finally granted with some limits set on vehicle traffic, only to have the market abruptly shut down after a couple of weeks. Mr. Holley said no reason was given but it seemed crowds preferred the market at Trinity church parking lot. There has been no talk of trying it again next year.

Discussion surrounding the growth of flag football: Flag football starts Saturday, Sept. 10, with 236 signed up compared to 128 last year. Mr. Holley said he postponed signups last year until regular football had completed registration. Regular football has suffered declining enrollments related to concerns over concussions. The program last year used (unlighted) fields at all three elementary schools, and the 6-acres field and baseball field outfields at West Homewood Park.

Discussion of possibly offering basketball skills classes for K-5: Mr. Stansell said Paul Brown was interested in the park utilizing unused courts in the off-season to offer skills courses elementary students. He will be invited to a future meeting to explore the idea.

Discussion of Central Park pool use for the season just ended: A rainy summer doused the numbers this year at the new pool, according to Mr. Holley. The Labor Day weekend finale saw more than 1,000 to the pool.

Questions addressed about the status of the “Gateway Project,” the board’s intended use for $4.25 million property adjoining ballfields, and parking agreement with Exceptional Foundation. Mr. Meeks could offer no further information on the park board’s share of the property, which the city purchased recently for the high school relocation and park uses. The protracted dispute over a shared parking agreement with the Exceptional Foundation ended in July when both parties signed a final agreement, he said. Copy of agreement is forthcoming.

As for the “Gateway Project”–the two-year-old plan to finish the new rec center with a landscaped entryway monument of some sort–Mr. Meeks reiterated that landscape architect Chuck Kelly had dusted off his drawings and re-presented them to a Facilities Committee meeting two months ago, but no decision had been made to go farther. He went over the project’s history, how the new $15 million rec center came in under budget and the board wanted to use those savings to mark the entryway with a special design. Former member Tom Walker in June 2014 added $200,000 to the board’s budget request for that purpose, which the mayor denied, saying the board could fund the project with private donations. Mr. Meeks said that is still a possibility and ideas about how to raise the cash are still floating around. Davis Architecture also had submitted an idea for the project. None has been made public yet.

Planning Commission, September 6, 2016


Wildwood parcels are being redrawn in part to align with the Homewood/Birmingham city line, which is in dispute.

Two commercial projects, one big and one small, asked to rearrange lot lines in conjunction with major building additions. On the small side, Covenant Classical School, a daycare next to the Publix Center, plans to build a separate infant center on the north side of the lot, where currently there is parking. The lot lines are being redrawn from the original to accommodate the shape of the new building and 500-foot setback from Publix buildings. More below.

On the large side, engineers for the Wildwood South renovation have asked to redraw three parcel boundaries and to let the largest two parcels be divided along the Birmingham-Homewood city line. The discussion, below, showed there is some dispute between the two cities on where that line should be. Tonight’s vote is conditioned on an agreement.

Members present: Billy Higginbotham, chair, Mike Brandt, Jeffrey Foster, James Riddle, and Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill.

Members absent: Fred Azbik, Fred Hawkins, 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:  3

Approved minutes of August, 2016 meetings.

A council committee seems to be zeroing in on a height limit for houses on narrow lots. A vote may come at the next council meeting.

A council committee seems to be zeroing in on a height limit for houses on narrow lots. A vote may come at the next council meeting.

Reported the latest thoughts on the controversial zoning height discussion for NPD housing:  Ms. McGrath said the Planning and Development Committee voted earlier in the evening to recommend a 29-foot height limit for houses on lots 55 feet and narrower and a 35-foot limit for houses on wider lots. The recommendation would carry the condition that the 29-foot limit–which would be measured from the front door threshold to the highest point on the roof–could be as much as three feet higher to accommodate a full basement in cases where ground sloped down to the street by such an angle.


Parcel being redrawn on the Birmingham side of the municipal boundary in Wildwood.


Parcel on the Homewood side of the disputed boundary through Wildwood.

Approved a resurvey of 54.3 acres commercial land crossing the Birmingham city line to be called Wildwood Centre South: The redevelopment of Wildwood involved moving the boundary of a small parcel by Lakeshore Parkway away from roadway, a move which affected the boundaries of two other adjacent parcels, only one of them on the Homewood side of the line. The engineer explained that while the lines are being redrawn anyway (which is in the approval process in Birmingham already), the developers want to shift the line between to two largest parcels (shown) to coincide with the municipal dividing line. Because that is a matter of dispute, tonight’s vote and Birmingham’s vote to redraw the lines are contingent on the two cities agreeing on where that line is drawn.

Covenant Classical School plans an addition.

Covenant Classical School plans an addition.

Allowed the Covenant preschool to redraw lot lines for an expanded building and parking: An engineer spoke for the school, explaining that it plans to build an “infant center” on the north parcel, which originally was set aside for separate office space later incorporated into the main building. The new plan also shifts the building to comply with the original requirement that the school building be at least 500 feet from the nearest Publix center building. Click here for the zoomable pdf.

Board of Zoning Adjustments, Sept. 1, 2016

BZASIGNWillow Homes builder Jason Hale returns from a case carried over last month and redeems himself with a tighter design that manages to use fewer variances to achieve the same effect. The board and builder do what they can to remedy a house whose 1990s addition was built across the neighbor’s property line.

Members present: Brian Jarmon, Hope Cannon (arriving after the third case), Jeffrey Foster, vice chair, presiding for chair Lauren Gwaltney, who was absent, Ty Cole, and Beverly LeBoeuf.

Members absent:  Lauren Gwaltney, chair, Stuart Roberts (S), and Batallion Chief Nickolas Hill. 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:  11

*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 (S) to sit in and vote if needed. Tonight there were only four present for the first three cases, meaning each vote had to be unanimous to pass, which they were. Variances expire in 180 days if a building permit isn’t obtained.

Approved March and April 2016 meeting minutes. Carried over approval of May minutes.

402 Broadway

402 Broadway

Approved an amended variance for a Willow Homes spec house on Broadway that was continued from last month: Builder Jason Hale returned with an amended plan for a new house at 402 Broadway that eliminated any protrusion to the front or encroachment into the setback on the left side, which concerned the next door neighbor at last month’s hearing. Mr. Hale managed to fit his 1 1/2 story design on the triangular lot, only building into the right side setback by 3 feet, most of it to accommodate a rear porch. By agreeing to use fire-resistant materials for the second level, he was able to build straight up from the ground floor without an additional variance. Mr. Cole congratulated him on working within the limitations of the lot and character of the neighborhood.


410 Edgeland Place

410 Edgeland Place

Granted a variance for an addition on Edgeland:  The homeowner at 410 Edgeland Place plans to replace a rear deck with a screened in porch that will be extended 9 inches to meet the edge of the house and covered by a roof from the main house. The variance was granted with the proffer that the porch will not be enclosed.

1116 North Shadesview Terrace

1116 North Shadesview Terrace

Granted a rear setback variance for an addition on North Shadesview Terrace:   William Siegel of Twin Properties was granted a 1.8-foot rear building variance at 1116 North Shadesview Terrace to build a roof over a deck that is already non-compliant by that amount. The variance was granted with the understanding that the deck would not ever be enclosed.

Hope Cannon arrives.

906 Westover Street

906 Westover Drive

Carried over a request on Westover pending a survey: The homeowners at 906 Westover were advised to carry over their case after they gave updated measurements that seemed not to require any variance for the planned addition. The drawing submitted earlier seemed to show the house already sitting four feet into a 9-foot right side setback. In discussion, the couple said the house sits 10 feet off the property line, i.e., not requiring a variance for an addition. Ms. McGrath said a survey was needed before making a decision.

129 Dixon Avenue

129 Dixon Avenue

Granted a variance for an addition on Dixon:  The builder plans a 1/2 story addition going straight up from the one-story house at 129 Dixon Avenue, which already sits .9-feet into the left building setback. The variance allows the setback exemption to continue with the new renovation.

301 Le Jeune Way

301 Le Jeune Way

Granted a variance for an awning on an addition on Le Jeune Way:  What do you do when a 1995 addition to your house at 301 Le Jeune Way is not only built way into the required setback area but is in fact built over your neighbor’s property line? That is the hardship the builder encountered in planning to replace an awning over the side door. The board granted an 8.5-foot right building setback variance to replace the awning and turn the side steps to the side so they don’t lead onto the neighbor’s property. A low retaining wall built on the neighbor’s property will be removed. The neighbor had written a letter in support of the plan.

227 Oglesby Avenue

227 Oglesby Avenue

Granted a variance for an addition on Oglesby:  The plans for 227 Oglesby Avenue include an extensive rear addition going straight back from the sides of the existing house, which already occupies 4 feet into both side setbacks. The board’s vote granted a variance to allow continued noncompliance for the addition. As currently planned, the addition will connect the detached garage to the house in the rear, but not the front. The builder said he will use stucco and terra cotta tile on the addition to match the current style. The garage will continue to be used for one car with the driveway holding two additional cars.

1607 Grove Place

1607 Grove Place

Carried over a case due to absence of applicants: Applicants asking for a 2-foot left building variance for an addition at 1607 Grove Place weren’t present when the case was announced. The request will be carried over to October’s meeting.

City Council, Aug. 29, 2016, Part 2

The council hasn't voted in months on a Planning Commission recommendation to limit housing height to 25 feet on small lots, and other amendments.

The council hasn’t voted in months on a Planning Commission recommendation to limit housing height to 25 feet on small lots, and other amendments.

The Aug. 29 meeting lasted more than two hours, with at least half the time devoted to a public forum on proposed height limitations for new construction in single-family housing, the city’s $4.25 million purchase of property on West Oxmoor Road for parks and potentially for schools, and the mayor’s budget presentation, all reported earlier here. Below is the report for the remaining 1+ hours of important business, including the police chief’s crime report numbers report for the first six months of this year compared to 2015, more explanation of the West Oxmoor financial transaction, and a chart of the mayor’s budget presentation, this year compared to last year, last item below. There was almost nothing minor passed in Monday night’s meeting.

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

Absent: None.

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

Audience attendance: Full house to start

Appointed Christopher Bailey to the Ward 2 Park Board position: Mr. Bailey was one of two applicants for the position vacated by Marjorie Trimm.

Closed the application period for a Ward 5 BZA seat: The position is being filled by Hope Cannon, whose term has expired.

Approved minutes of the Aug. 8, 2016, council meeting.


Dropped three items: The council dropped request for paint striping on Valley Avenue, parking concerns on Shades Road, and to consider sound barriers on both sides of I-65.


Approved pursuing a FEMA grant to fund three new firefighter positions, with conditions: This item–which authorizes the mayor to accept a federal SAFER grant of $353,052 to hire firefighters for two years–was carried over while the fire chief checked to see if the city was obligated to keep the positions if the grant wasn’t renewed. It is not, and the council passed the authorization.

Handled a series of public nuisance cases for overgrowth, as follows; discussed further measures on two structures. Property declared a nuisance is cleared at city expense, with the cost charged against the property in the form of a lien.

Declared overgrown property on Ridge Road a public nuisance: Two neighbors came forward at the hearing to say the house had been vacant more than a year and was not in good repair. The council asked the inspections department to do a site visit to possibly prepare for legal proceedings against the owner to make repairs on the house.

Dropped public nuisance proceedings against two property on Mamie L. Foster: The addresses at 2516 and 2522 Mamie L. Foster are owned by the Islamic Academy and a private citizen respectively. Both had been cleared of overgrowth to the city’s satisfaction.

Dropped public nuisance proceedings against an Acton Avenue property:  The property at 110 Acton Avenue was cleared of overgrowth.

Declared property at 1624 Mountain Gap Circle a public nuisance: The situation at Mountain Gap Circle was described as similar to that at 1602 Ridge, with repeat public nuisance offenses and an absentee owner. A neighbor spoke at the public hearing asking the city for more help clearing up the property. An inspector will visit the property to check for any required repairs.

Referred zoning amendments, including roof height, back to committee following a third public hearing: See extensive notes, here.

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.

Set a Sept. 12, 2016, public hearing to rezone Columbiana Road property for a condominium expansion. The subject property is 822 Columbiana Road, an expansion of a previous condominium development that is following a similar rezoning process, although it is seeking to be rezoned from Office Building District to R-7. The previous parcel was rezoned from commercial. Click here for an earlier report, with details.



Carried over plans to designate the 500 block of Rumson Road One-Way: There was some discussion about traffic safety and lack of visibility on the steep downhill section of Rumson where it connects to Shades Valley Parkway. The council asked to carry over matter while it finds traffic counts and other information from a previous Skipper Traffic consultant study. Discussion held that declaring a one-way portion of Rumson might shift more traffic on to Hampton instead.

Approved a variance to the sign ordinance on Citation Court: The company at 103 Citation Court is eliminating a freestanding sign and asking to replace it with a second building sign, requiring a variance.

Opening soon in Homewood

Opening soon in Homewood

Approved a variance to the Urban Air sign on the former Mazer’s property: The Urban Air indoor trampoline park is close to opening at the former Mazer’s building, 800 Green Springs Highway. The building sits behind the main buildings fronting Green Springs and received an additional sign and additional square footage to compensate. The council approved a sign that is 7 feet high and 26 feet long.

Approved a partial variance for a furniture store to the sign ordinance for on 18th Street: The At Home furniture store at 2921 18th Street South, the retail strip being renovated on the east side of the main street, asked for two oversized signs on the front and a third sign on the side of the building, requiring variances for number and size of signs. The sign on the side was denied.

Set  Sept. 26 public hearing for two variance requests: The requests are for a sign variance at 1831 28th Street South, Suite 160, and a front yard fence variance at 612 Hambaugh Avenue 

Set a Sept. 26 public hearing to reconsider the adoption of the Home Energy section of the International Building Code: What’s this all about?

Carried over a request to support a state Off-Premises beer and wine license application for Fred’s Store on Green Springs Highway:  The store at 234 Green Springs Highway wasn’t ready to proceed.

Voted support of a state application for an On or Off-Premises retail wine license for Mi Pueblo Grocery.

Houses going up on the Broadway triangle by the city's added parking spots. Construction and two busy restaurants on the Broadway neighborhood have created an ongoing traffic nightmare.

Houses going up on the Broadway triangle by the city’s added parking spots. Construction and two busy restaurants on the Broadway neighborhood have created an ongoing traffic nightmare.

Approved a three-way stop and cross walk at Carr and Broadway: The intersection has been a mess for a couple of years, with GianMarco’s customers parking anywhere on Broadway or Carr, sometime all the way to the corner. The city painted curbs yellow and installed sidewalks, lights and parallel parking spaces along short Saulter, while GianMarco’s hired a valet service, which used most of those spaces. Meanwhile, the triangle island was developed for housing, taking up many of those new parking spaces. The council’s latest move aims to regulate car and pedestrian traffic from parking to GianMarco’s and JoJo’s bar.

Approved a directional sign to the Middle School on Mecca and Oxmoor: The signs will be placed on Oxmoor and Mecca and Mecca and Valley Avenue. Neighbors who agreed to having the sign in the right-of-way by their property asked if they could continue to keep the hedges trimmed instead of allowing city workers to maintain it.

Crime numbers reported by the police chief for the first six months of 2015 compared to 2016.

Crime numbers reported by the police chief for the first six months of 2015 compared to 2016.

Crime report accepted, with year-over-year numbers provided: The police chief’s report of crime reduction has been circulating for a while, but not with numbers. On Monday chief Ross provided those numbers with his report, which included an announcement that 45 new patrol cars had been issued.

Carried over a vote to grant economic incentives for Wildwood South redevelopment: The council wasn’t ready yet to vote on a proposed 10-year 50/50 split in any new local sales tax (excluding the schools’ 1%) offer on the table to Nashville retail developers Oldacre McDonald, who will potentially be adding traffic features and roads, building new outparcels, and façade upgrades to the aging shopping center. The revenue sharing deal would be effective for 10 years or $5 million.

Carried over a franchise agreement with Southern Light for fiber optics: The agreement will allow the company to lay cable in the city’s right of way.

Approved an unspecified amendment to the current budget.

Approved two street lights at 913 Shades Road. Streetlights are paid from gas tax revenue fund.

Carried over a cross walk signal at Oak Grove and Oxmoor roads: The council is waiting for a price.


To Finance – To consider A) Reviewing a Waste Water Facility Ordinance; B) Purchasing more trash cans for downtown; C) Declaring the following vehicles surplus and due to be sold for 2017 trucks of equal or greater value: A 2015 Freighliner with a Terex Aeria device, and a 2016 Ford F550 with aerial device; D) Amending the current budget;

To Planning and Development – To consider annexing property at 913 and 1400 Shades Crest Road.

To Public Safety – To consider A) Another West Homewood street festival; B) Adding more lighting to Valley Avenue; C) synchronizing traffic lights on Lakeshore Parkway; and D) Making an alley between Woodland and Broadway pedestrian-only.

To Public Works – To consider A) Making improvements in an alley behind 509 Edgeland Place

To Special Issues – To consider A) A sign ordinance variance at 2900 Linden Avenue; and B) A request to rename a portion of Dixon Avenue south of Hambaugh Avenue.


Annexed a residence on Dobbs Lane into Homewood: The property is at 1628 Dobbs Lane.

Carried over a request for annexation for two properties on Shades Crest Road that need additional legal work: The addresses 913 and 1400 Shades Crest Road are adjacent in places to City of Hoover jurisdiction and as such require more work than an annexation from unincorporated county land that is surrounded by Homewood jurisdiction, such as the Dobbs Lane case, above.

Set a Sept. 12 public hearings for Linden sign variance sent to committee, above. 

Closed Montessori Way for a Grand Opening: The street will be closed from 1-5 p.m., on Oct 2, 2016. A Sept. 1 ribbon cutting is scheduled.

Paid the bills: Invoices for the period Aug. 8-28, 2016, were approved to be paid.

Notice spelling out parts of the financial and ownership details behind the city's $4.25 million purchase of 123 West Oxmoor Road.

Notice spelling out parts of the financial and ownership details behind the city’s $4.25 million purchase of 123 West Oxmoor Road.

Approved purchase of 123 Oxmoor Road and authorized warrant issue to pay for same.  The approval authorizes the mayor to sign purchase agreement of $4.25 million, to be paid by a warrant issue. The matter has been reported separately, here.  It appears the Homewood Industrial Development board decades ago issued warrants to purchase the property, which was subsequently leased to a light manufacturer, Mason Corp., operating via Chamco Investments LLC (formed in 1997). Although the original establishing documents are not available from the city, the notice shown here clarifies some of the details. 

Rescinded a September 2015 designation of J. H. Berry as the city’s exclusive insurance carrier:

HWBUDGET2016-2017Mayor’s budget presentation: The mayor’s budget summary, with slides and notes, is available here.  The entire document with line-by-line detail, which the council’s Finance Committee will review in budget hearings this September, will be posted on the city’s website but is not available now. Here is a side by side comparison of last year’s mayor’s budget compared to this year’s. The budget will be amended by the council and adopted by the start of the Oct. 1 fiscal year.