City Council, Feb. 11, 2013

Homewood City CouncilThe two-hour meeting covered a wide range of business, including several public sign and fence variance hearings–some of which were continued or postponed. [By ordinance, sign, fence and driveway variances in Homewood are heard by the city council instead of the Board of Zoning and Adjustment.] The Homewood Environmental Commission and the city’s Chamber of Commerce made presentations before the meeting. Of note are a proposed assisted living center west of I-65 in the former Alta Vista hotel, a four-way stop at Highland Road and St. Charles Street, and another new business coming to the Target development at Brookwood–unnamed until the lease is signed.

Members present:  Mike Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Jenifer Champ-Wallis, Heather Reid, Richard Laws, and Peter Wright, acting for Limbaugh as council president pro tem.

Members absent:  Council president Bruce Limbaugh (Limbaugh returned early from a scheduled absence and remained in the audience.)

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

Audience attendance:  19 to start

Votes are unanimous unless noted otherwise.

Approved:  Minutes of the Jan. 14, 2013 meeting.

Approved referral agenda (a variety of issues that can be referred to different committees on one vote, to save time): To Public Safety, pedestrian crosswalks on cross streets to U.S. 31 between 28th Avenue and Mayfair Drive; study of city parking ordinances. To Finance, a request for a city contribution to a basketball event at Samford University March 7-10; proposed city budget amendments; and tuition reimbursement for a city firefighter. To Special Issues, proposed city social networking site to post announcements, lost pets, crime reports.

Old Business:

Approved 9-1:  A zoning amendment that eliminates restrictions on placement of dish antennas, but restricts other “accessory structures,” such as tool sheds, detached garages, etc., and prohibits them in front yards.  The amendment failed to get the council’s required unanimous consent for a vote when it was introduced in January because of concerns over wording that also prohibits homeowners from allowing unrelated people to live in a detached garage apartment.  The measure, however, came back from committee with a favorable recommendation (except for Mr. Hallman), after the city attorney said the new wording didn’t create a new prohibition, i.e., city ordinances have always prohibited accessory structures from being rented out or occupied by anyone unrelated to the resident homeowner.  Ms. Champ-Wallis, who asked for the review, voted to leave the amendment intact although she said she disagreed with the original legislation.

Voting no:  Mr. Hallman, saying he disagreed with the prohibition.

Approved:  On a recommendation from the Special Issues committee, granted a 7-foot front setback fence variance along Redfern Trace and Redfern Street for a corner house at 290 Redfern Street.

Sent back to Special Issues Committee: A request to enlarge a sign for The Baskits restaurant at 801 Green Springs Highway.  Applicant Paul Shunnarah wasn’t present.

Postponed: During a public hearing for sign variances for the Fresh Market and an unnamed prospective tenant at Brookwood Village, the council decided to carry both matters over to the next regular meeting until the prospective tenant has signed a lease and presents the artwork for comment. (Sign variances are typically for more visibility by increasing size, lighting, height, etc., beyond city regulations.) Council members Champ-Wallis and Jones said they didn’t want to vote on the matter sight-unseen.

Postponed: Big #1 Motorsports asked for a postponement of scheduled public hearing for a sign variance at 501 Cobb Street, by Oxmoor Road and I-65. According to council talk after the meeting, the request will probably be for height for interstate visibility. The public hearing was opened in order to continue it at the next council meeting. 

Approved: An ordinance declaring as surplus property a list of equipment, including vehicles, to be sold. Passed after getting the council’s unanimous consent for a vote at the same meeting it was introduced.

Passed: A resolution moving $50,000 to the fire department general fund to pay for vehicle repairs after an accident.

Approved:  In two separate motions, permission was granted to work in the city’s right of way at Woodbine Drive and Columbiana Road to update the Lakewood Hills subdivision sign; and to store construction materials and perform work in the right of way at Hillside Circle for up to one year.

Approved:  An ordinance placing a four-way stop sign at St. Charles Street and Highland Road. The council passed the measure for safety although findings of a 4-day study didn’t show sufficient traffic to support the measure. The ordinance received unanimous consent for a vote on first reading, then passed unanimously.

Approved:  The council had no objection to Target’s ABC board request for off-premise sale of beer and wine license.

New business:

Set a rezoning hearing:  A public hearing is set for the March 25 council meeting for a request to rezone a vacant hotel at 260 Goodwin Crest Drive from C-1 (Office) to MDX (Mixed Use District). The property, owned by Jun Yan doing business as Mountain View Resort, will be redeveloped as an assisted- and independent-living facility. (As a hotel, the property had been improperly zoned as C-1.)

Passed:  A resolution temporarily closing the roadway between Applebee’s and Belk March 1-2 for the Exceptional Foundation’s annual Chili Cook-Off.

Passed with one abstension:  A resolution authorizing Mayor McBrayer to enter an agreement with the state highway department to make repairs on U.S. 31.

Abstaining:  Mike Hallman, a former ALDOT employee.

Approved:  The council appointed Jennifer Warren to the Arts Advisory Council and Champ-Wallis as the first Arts Advisory Committee liaison.

Approved:  Appointment of Jane Ross, landscape architect, to the Environmental Commission.

Approved with stipulations: The council approved invoices pending department head approval of some items.

There being no further business, the council adjourned at around 8 p.m.

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