City Council meeting, March 25, 2013

Homewood City CouncilThe city council met for approximately an hour and split on two votes which passed, one to contract and fund ClasTran transit service to the elderly and disabled (split 7-3) and one to allow a sign variance for Octane Coffee Bar (9-1). The furniture liquidator’s sign on Green Springs, erected in violation, was allowed a variance for three months following a personal appeal from mayor Scott McBrayer.  One council member also abstained from voting to approve payment of invoices, which were to include approximately $13,200 in expenses for those council and staff attending the National League of Municipalities convention in Washington, D.C.

Members present:  Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Walter Jones, Jenifer Champ Wallis, Heather Reid, Richard Laws, Peter Wright, and council president Bruce Limbaugh. Mayor McBrayer was also present.

Absent: Patrick McClusky

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

Audience attendance:  11

Approved:  Minutes of the February 11 and 25, 2013, meetings only.

Postponed:  A public hearing for proposed sign variances at Brookwood Village, including the Fresh Market, DSW, and as yet unnamed tenants was carried over.

Approved:  Following a public hearing in which no one commented, the council approved a development plan for an assisted- and independent-living facility to be built by remodeling the interior of a vacant hotel at 260 Goodwin Crest Drive, to be called Mountain View Resort. In the same motion, and after agreeing unanimously to vote without a second reading of the ordinance, the council approved the rezoning of the property west of Green Springs Highway from commercial-office (which was mis-zoned previously), to MDX, or multi-use district.  [Unless the council unanimously agrees to override this rule and vote immediately, ordinances normally must be read twice, at separate meetings, before being subject to a vote.] The business is seeking license to operate a 120-unit facility, 60 units for assisted-living, which it hopes to be open by fall 2013.

Approved:  A public hearing was set for April 8 at 6 p.m. to consider a sign variance allowing a larger sign for The Baskits restaurant at 801 Green Springs Highway. The Special Issues Committee had referred the matter back to the full council with no recommendation.

Approved on a 9-1 split vote:  After a public hearing in which no one commented, the council approved a sign variance for Octane Coffee Bar at 2821 Central Avenue, near the Little Donkey restaurant. The Special Issues Committee had reviewed the matter with no recommendation. According to a mock-up handed out, the proposed sign will hang from an arm extending from the retail center’s monument sign and appears larger than the names of other listed merchants.  Mr. Jones said the council had previously been assured that signs for additional tenants would be placed under the others on the same structure.

Voting no:  Walter Jones.  Mr. Jones said the sign had morphed into something different from what the council had approved previously and was inconsistent with the other retailers’ signs. A coffee bar/sign representative said there was no visibility at the bottom of the monument structure for another sign.

Approved conditionally: Following a public hearing and a personal appeal from the mayor, the council voted to allow the non-compliant Furniture Liquidators sign on the former Mazer’s building to stay up as a temporary variance, expiring July 1. Mayor McBrayer said the property owners had, at his request, removed a pole sign which was the subject of the original variance request and public hearing.  In exchange, he asked the council to give the tenant, Sam Kelly, more time to complete the liquidation of Sticks ‘N Stuff and propose a better, permanent sign for the space.  Mr. Kelly was not present. Ms. Liz Ellaby opposed the move as the sign was erected in violation before any request for a variance. Following the hearing, Ms. Champ Wallis moved to grant a three-month variance, seconded by Mr. Thames, and passed unanimously.

Sent back to committee:  After discussion, a measure to increase traffic safety at South Wellington and Ridge roads was sent back to the Public Safety Committee and on to Finance Committee for a cost analysis.  Mr. Thames presented the option of making two one-way lanes at the intersection, one going southbound and one northbound.  The current stop and yield signs would be removed and replaced with a stop sign for northbound lane. Ms. Reid said there was also a second option presented in committee, but neither had been vetted by residents. At her request, the matter was sent back to the Public Safety Committee. The Finance committee will also consider a cost estimate for the work.

Approved:  On the recommendation of the Public Works Committee, a request for a Hazardous Waste Disposal program was referred to the Homewood Environmental Commission.

Approved:  At the mayor’s request, the council re-approved a personnel classification change (promotion) for an unnamed employee, which had been passed by the previous council but submitted to the Jefferson County Personnel Board without the former council president’s signature.

Approved on a 7-3 split vote:  A year’s contract and $15,000 appropriation for the special needs transit service ClasTran, previously affirmed pending the formal resolution, was approved over the opposition of three council members. Voting no:  Richard Laws, Heather Reid, and Peter Wright.  Ms. Reid said she was absent from the committee meeting in which the issue was discussed and didn’t have enough information to vote in favor. Mr. Laws and Mr. Wright said not enough city residents use the service to justify the expense.

Approved:  The council approved a request from the mayor to create a Finance Director position, also agreeing unanimously to pass the ordinance on the first reading.  [Unless the council unanimously agrees to override this rule, ordinances normally must be read twice, at separate meetings, before being subject to a vote. ]

Approved committee referral agenda:  In one vote, the council sent the following measures to separate committees:  To Finance – A contract proposal from Maintenance Edge/Johnson Controls to audit the city’s energy use and suggest cost saving measures; To Public Safety – Request to install a retaining wall in the 1600 block of Oxmoor Road, request for signage at the West Linwood Drive roundabout, request for signage at the Oxmoor Road, Ridge Road crosswalk; To Public Works – request to make improvements in the city right-of-way at 1504 Berry Road, and to discuss developing a pocket park on property at Saulter Road and Carr Avenue.

Approved invoices, with one abstention:  The council routinely votes to approve payment of invoices each meeting, unless there are questions. In this case, Ms. Champ Wallis abstained from the vote because invoices included the expenses for four council members, including herself, and two staff members to attend the National League of Municipalities convention in Washington D.C.  Also attending were Michael Hallman, Walter Jones, Heather Reid, Linda Cook and J. J. Bischoff.  [The mayor’s office reported 04/10/13 that the total council expenses for the Washington trip are $10,463.60, and the total for the city clerk’s office is $2,735.96.] The meeting adjourned at a little after 7 p.m.

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