Homewood City Council, Nov. 26, 2012

The council on Monday handled a slew of public nuisance hearings for 11 residences or vacant lots cited for litter and overgrown weeds and foliage. Of these, some were dropped, several were declared nuisances, and others were continued to Dec. 17 meeting.  Following the 2 1/2 page agenda, the council set more public hearings on amending the zoning ordinance for 1) accessory structures, 2) to add regulations for community gardens, and 3) setbacks for neighborhood preservation districts.  After some discussion and a split vote, the council authorized the mayor and city attorney to negotiate a purchase contract on a house on Manhattan Street, which would be demolished during construction of the new recreation center.  The park board at one time considered a buyout of seven houses on Manhattan, including this one, for additional rec center parking. The Regional Planning Commission will present its West Homewood Village plan to the whole council at 6 p.m., Dec. 10 during the Planning and Development committee meeting.

All votes were unanimous unless otherwise noted.

Members present:   (All)  Council members Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Jenifer Champ Wallis, Heather Reid, Richard Laws, Peter Wright, council president Bruce Limbaugh.

Absent:   Mayor Scott McBrayer

Staff present:   Mayor’s chief of staff J.J. Bischoff, city clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Michael Kendrick, Scott Cook and Greg Cobb, city engineering department.

Audience attendance:   9, to start

Approved:  Minutes of the special meetings of Nov. 5, Nov. 7, and Nov. 8 called to pass recreation center financing.

Public nuisance hearings

Declared public nuisance: Vacant house at 2708 17th St. South; field between Lowe’s and hotel, debris and excessive growth, repeat offender; and a foreclosed house on Oglesby.

Found in compliance, and dropped:  606 Warwick Road, tall grass; 2900 16th Place South, overgrowth; 1624 Mountain Gap Circle, grass; vacant lot cleared at 2831 16th Place South.

Continued to Dec. 17:  House at 718 Broadway; 1001 Queensbury Rd., after owner confessed negligence and asked for more time to finish cleanup; 2827 16th Street South, overgrowth cleared but litter remains.

Continued on an 8-3 split vote: Property at 809 Columbiana.

Voting no:  Michael Hallman, Fred Hawkins, and Jenifer Champ Wallis voted not to let it slide because the owner had only done partial cleanup and had put a storage shed on the lot in a floodway and without proper permitting.

Approved on a 10-1 split vote and expedited: A variance allowing Zoe’s restaurant in SoHo to install a new and larger lighted sign, from 49 to 89 square feet, during a scheduled remodel Dec. 3-22. Hawkins moved to approve immediately.

Voting no:  Wright cast the lone no vote against an immediate decision.

Set public hearings for Jan. 14, 2013: Amendments to zoning plan to add Garden Ordinance, change setback allowances in NPD.

Approved:  Refer to finance committee, 5 p.m., Dec. 3,  discussion of proposed purchase of vacant property for Lakeshore Greenway extension to Wildwood.

Approved after discussion: The council authorized the mayor and city attorney to negotiate a purchase contract with a house for sale on Manhattan, directly behind the city pool. The contract would be brought first to the finance committee.  During pre-council, Thames said construction manager B. L. Harbert had offered to raze the house at no cost to use it for construction staging. Laws, in council, said the house was one of seven on Manhattan the park board originally wanted to buy out to use for parking expansion.  Hawkins said the house was slightly run down and would likely be bought by an investor if not purchased now. Wright voiced reluctance to take a property away from residential but agreed to “look at it.”

Approved with one condition: Payment of invoices with exception of $500 for clothing allowance for plainclothes police officer. Champ-Wallis in pre-council wanted to verify the item was approved by the department head.

Approved:   Appointed Liz Ellaby Ward 2 Environmental Commission seat; appointed Bernard Mays to Ward 2 Commercial Development Board seat.


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