Board of Zoning Adjustments, May 2, 2013

BZAThe board met for a little over 1-1/2 hours, voting after public hearings on all six cases scheduled.  Among the most discussed were a proposed car wash approved on a Publix outparcel on Green Springs Highway [owned by the city of Homewood], and an Iron Tribe Fitness request for on-street parking rather than a separate parking lot. One residential setback variance was approved on a split vote.

Members present: Valerie Askew, Sandy Eichelberger, Jeffrey Foster, vice chairman, Lauren Gwaltney, and Trey Schaefer

Members absent: Ross McCain, chairman

Staff present: Donna Bridges, board secretary; Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, Building, Engineering & Zoning staff

Audience attendance: 16

All votes were unanimous unless otherwise noted.

Approved: Minutes of the April 4, 2013, meeting

Approved: The board approved a request by J & H Properties to allow outdoor car vacuums (work/service outside an enclosed building) at a proposed car wash at 436 Green Springs Highway–a Publix shopping center outparcel.  [Property at this same address had been purchased by the city of Homewood over a decade ago and subsequent to this meeting was to be considered for sale by the city council.] There was a great deal of discussion on this request, but no comments during the public hearing. The proposed business would be independently owned, with a single location. The developer was present with an equipment supplier, saying he planned to invest $1.2 million in the project, which would be built to match the existing center. Vacuums would be in the rear, not visible to Green Springs, and would only be available to customers who paid to proceed through the car wash. In lieu of a plan, the supplier provided drawings of other similar projects, including a car wash in the Gardendale/Fultondale area and one in Bessemer. Under those prototypes, customers would enter the facility in the rear of the shopping center and make payment before being allowed to use the vacuums, then proceed through the car wash, exiting onto the parking lot. Employees would be on the site during operating hours, tentatively set for 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and 2-6 p.m. on Sundays.

Approved, with conditions, on a 4-1 split vote: The board approved a 9-inch setback variance for a second story addition to a house at 137 East Glenwood Drive, pending a second and final approval of the fire marshal. During discussion it was learned that the fire marshal had denied approval to an earlier, 21-inch variance, saying the roof overhang would be too close to the neighboring structure for fire safety unless the second-story was furnished with sprinklers. The majority of the board, however, agreed to approve the reduced variance pending the fire marshal’s second look at the variance.

Voting no:  Hope Cannon

Approved: Request to allow a second story on the existing footprint with no changes for a house at 817 Forest Drive.

Approved: Due to space constraints, the board voted to allow parking to be entered directly from the street and alley rather than provide a parking lot for a relocation of Iron Tribe Fitness at 2740 Central Avenue. Iron Tribe is renovating this building, which is across the street from its current location. Opposing the variance was Rilla Foley, whose business warehouse adjoins this property. Iron Tribe has 15 parking spaces where code only requires 13. However, Ms. Foley said she has had problems with overflow parking from the current Iron Tribe/Little Donkey businesses blocking the entrance for delivery trucks (tractor trailers) to access the warehouse. After hearing her concerns and viewing the building designs and lot layouts, the board approved the variance. The Iron Tribe architect said he would arrange a meeting for himself, Ms. Foley and Iron Tribe owner Forrest Walden to work out a solution for all concerned.

Approved: A request for a 6-foot fence instead of the required 10-foot tree buffer at 333 Green Springs Highway at the site of a planned Dunkin’ Donuts. The property currently has a 6-foot fence between the property and apartments to the rear and side. The business is asking that the present fence–or a same-size replacement– remain in place of the tree buffer. A Dumpster enclosure will be added inside the fence. The lot currently has a large stand of bamboo, trees and other vegetation in addition to the fence, but it wasn’t clear if that was to remain.

Approved: A request to add a shed roof behind a townhouse at 91 Windsor Drive. The townhouse currently is 5 feet into the setback and this shed roof will add 11 feet to that.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:40 PM.

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