City Council meeting, Jan. 28, 2013

Homewood City CouncilCouncil president Bruce Limbaugh called the meeting to order at 6:10 p.m.

Among the night’s business, the council discussed an item carried over from a Jan. 14 public hearing (which included a prohibition on renting out garage apartments) [corrected to note that the prohibition was to allow unrelated people to occupy garage aparatments], voted on two public hearings for residential fence variances and two public hearings for business sign variances at Dunkin’ Donuts and Food World.  Also, two items that passed the Finance Committee were added to the Consent Agenda (a list of city business items that can be passed with one vote to save time) and approved: the purchase of property adjacent to Patriot Park, and the purchase of two trash loading trucks.  The Council also approved all items from the Committee Referral Agenda, including three public hearings for business sign variances.

Members present:  Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Bruce Limbaugh, Walter Jones, Jenifer Champ Wallis, Heather Reid, Richard Laws, Peter Wright.

Absent:  Patrick McClusky.

Staff present: Linda  Cook, Mike Kendrick, J.J.  Bischoff, Mayor Scott McBrayer

Audience present: 12

Before the meeting, Mr. Jones, a resident of Ward 2, and agent with Birmingham Water Works Board, presented the city a $214,154.87 check for the annual franchise fee.  The council also commended him for recently winning a national industry award in the Association of Metropolitan Water Agents.

The following votes were unanimous unless unless otherwise noted.

Approved:  Minutes from Dec. 17 meeting. Thames made the motion, seconded by Laws.

Appointed to the Ward 4 Art Council seat:  Ms. Champ Wallis, Mr. Hallman, and and Mr. Laws nominated Diane Litsey out of two applicants interviewed. Ms. Litsey is the director of the Children’s Dance Foundation (CDF) in Homewood. Three vacancies remain, at-large, and wards 2 and 5.

Sent back to the Planning and Development Committee:   The public hearing on a change in zoning ordinance for accessory structures was not continued from Jan. 14, and council discussion ensued about whether to vote on the issue  or not.  The ban on renting garage apartments to people unrelated to the homeowner was a main point of discussion [the ban actually applies to allowing nonrelatives to live in garage apartments; rentals are not allowed to anyone], including concerns from wards 5, 4, and 1 about conflicts in the proposed verbiage regarding the definition of “family” along with the limit on renting private property.  Ms. Champ Wallis suggested further discussion in committee. Mr. Wright, committee chairman, made the motion, seconded by Hallman.  The council voted to send the matter back to committee for further study.

Sent back to Special Issues Committee:  Following a public hearing on a request to grant a 7-foot fence variance at 290 Redfern Street, the council voted to send the matter back to committee. Mr. Jones made the motion, seconded by Ms. Reid. The variance was requested because of an address change that placed the fence at the original front yard of the house.

Granted a sign variance:  Following a public hearing, the council voted to allow a secondary sign for better visibility at the new Dunkin’ Donuts at 505 Brookwood Blvd.  Mr. Moody and Mr. Laws asked questions about the design.  Ms. Champ Wallis made the motion to approve, seconded by Mr. Thames.

Granted a sign variance:  Following a public hearing, the council approved three sign changes for Belle Foods, which has bought several former Bruno’s locations, including the Green Springs Food World.  Belle representative Greg Triollo (formerly with Bruno’s) and Mr. Grimmer of Grimmer Realty asked for a larger letter sign to replace the Food World sign near Green Springs, citing visibility problems because the store sits away from the main road.  The sign would be the same size but with larger letters.  Other sign changes requested were renaming the signs at the top of the store and front of the store, replacing Food World signs with Belle Food signs.  The company representatives said Belle is trying to bring a moderate-priced grocery into Homewood, with new concepts and features to update the area, including improving the site and parking lots, and building interior and exterior.  Ms. Champ Wallis made the motion to approve, seconded by Reid.

Granted a fence variance:  Following a public hearing, the council approved a request from a homeowner to build a new fence on a lot, now vacant, at 206 West Linwood Drive.  Caroline Sherer, prospective buyer, plans to build a house on the lot. The ordinance states a need for a 15″ setback, the fence currently is 12.5″ from property line.  Ms. Champ Wallis made the motion to approve, seconded by Mr. Thames.

Approved 9-1:  On a unanimous Finance Committee recommendation, the council approved the purchase of property at Oak Grove Road by Patriot Park, and to move $140,000 for the purchase from the Capital Project Fund.

Voting No:  Michael Hallman

Approved purchase of two trash loaders for $155, 453.00  Also, approved and recommended by the Finance Committee.  Three bidders were contacted, Ingram equipment won the bid by default. 

Referred to Committee:  Eight items were referred, including requests to work in the city right of way on Central Avenue, three sign variances, a software bid opening, consideration of West Linwood surface water problems, Fire Dept. to declare equipment and vehicles as surplus, and request for Fire Dept./General Fund to cover $50,000 for repairs following a vehicle accident. Mr. Moody made the motion to approve, seconded by Mr. Thames.

Bid opening set:  The council agreed to set a public hearing/bid opening for software to combine access for building engineering and zoning departments. The date is  Feb. 25, at 5:30 p.m.

The council approved payment of invoices for Jan. 14-24.  Mr. Jones, Finance Committee chairman, suggested the council alternate reps by ward to review the invoices. Mr. Thames completed the review of invoices for this period. During announcements, the mayor said the city’s audit would be complete in several weeks. He predicted the city would have more than $1 million in surplus this year. There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

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