The council met for approximately 45 minutes at this meeting, rescheduled from March 11 to allow council members to attend the National League of Municipalities conference in Washington, D.C. that week. Of interest was a unanimously passed resolution supporting the construction of a 66-bed nursing home facility in the Brookdale assisted living community off Lakeshore. The facility will be a relocation of Brookdale’s facility on Hanover Street in Birmingham, near St. Vincent’s. Also of interest–councilman Fred Hawkins’ recent appointment to a city of Birmingham job prompted the council to request an attorney general’s opinion on possible conflict of interest.
Members present: All, Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Jenifer Champ Wallis, Heather Reid, Rich Laws, Peter Wright, and council president Bruce Limbaugh. Mayor Scott McBrayer was also present.
Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, Mayor’s chief of staff, J. J. Bischoff, and Greg Cobb, making presentations on behalf of two companies seeking sign variances.
Audience attendance: 4
Votes are unanimous unless noted otherwise.
Approved: Minutes of the Jan. 28, 2013 meeting.
Approved: The council passed a resolution supporting the expansion of the Brookdale senior living community off Lakeshore, to include the addition of a 66-bed nursing facility. Brookdale representative Carey McRae, a lawyer from Bradley Arant, Boult & Cummings, said construction would be to the east of the current development on property already owned by Brookdale. Brookdale–which he billed as the largest owner/operator of senior living facilities in the country–must obtain a state Certificate of Need before operating, and requested the resolution to prove community support. Mr. McRae said construction and first year’s operation would top $20 million. The creation of a nursing home completes the “continuum of care” that begins with independent living and moves to assisted-living and then nursing home care if needed. The development already operates specially licensed lock-down units for patients with dementia and memory problems who need 24-hour monitoring. McRae said there would be an equivalent of 69 full-time jobs moved to the facility, and a payroll of $2.5 million.
Postponed: The council agreed to carry over to the next meeting a request for sign variances at Brookwood Village. The developers are asking for changes to increase sign visibility on behalf of Fresh Market, DSW and prospective tenants at 541/543 Brookwood Village. The unnamed tenant(s) haven’t yet signed leases.
Approved: The council granted a sign variance to Big#1 Motorsports, allowing it to attach eight signs to the exterior of its building at 501 Cobb Street in exchange for not erecting a pole sign. The original request was for three, then five attached signs advertising various distributors. The council on Feb. 25 asked the company to propose an alternative to the pole sign after Mr. Limbaugh had concluded the public hearing on the original request. Mr. Cobb said the company asked to use its combined allowed square footage for the eight distributorship signs, and the council agreed.
Approved: An ordinance providing for crosswalks on [unclear] Lancaster and Mayfair and U.S. 31, as recommended by the Public Safety committee. The ordinance was passed after the council gave unanimous consent to vote on the measure at the same meeting it was introduced.
Approved: On a recommendation from Finance Committee chairman Walter Jones, the council approved a bid of $66,947.60 for software to combine the zoning and engineering department operations. The vendor wasn’t named.
Approved: On a recommendation from Finance Committee chairman Walter Jones, the council approved a renewed annual contract with Rivertree Systems for $158,000 to audit city tax and license collections. The contract amount represents a rate of $165/hour, or a $5/hour increase over last year.
Approved but carried over: On a recommendation from the Finance Committee, the council approved a $15,000 payment to ClasTran (to provide transit for elderly and disabled), although the resolution will not be prepared until the March 25 meeting.
Approved: The council approved in one vote the referral of several issues to committees: To Public Works: permission to make improvements in the city’s right-of-way behind 319 Laurel Place; request to make improvements in the non-functioning street (Second Avenue) behind the Creative Montessori School. To Special Issues: Request to set a public hearing for a sign variance (larger sign) for The Baskits restaurant at 816 Green Springs Highway.
Set a public hearing: A public hearing is set for the March 25 meeting before a vote on whether to rezone property located at 260 Goodwin Crest Drive from C-1 (office) to MXD (Mixed Use District) for use as an assisted- and independent-living facility. The property is a vacant hotel.
Approved: A resolution asking for a state attorney general opinion whether Mr. Hawkins’ recent appointment to a city of Birmingham job comprises a conflict of interest with his office as a Homewood councilman. Mr. Hawkins was appointed by Birmingham mayor William Bell as Deputy Director of Planning Engineering and Permits.
Approved: Payment of invoices was approved without discussion.
Before adjourning, Mr. Limbaugh set a work session (full council) for 4 p.m., March 25, to discuss the continuing sidewalk projects. Any specific requests should be turned in within the next few days. The mayor announced the grand opening of Target at Brookwood Village at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5.