City Council meeting, May 6, 2013

Homewood City CouncilThe council, with four members absent tonight, referred to the Finance Committee a mayor’s request to consider amendments to the city’s finance policy and appointed Marcus Huskey (losing Ward 1 council candidate in 2012) to the Educational Building Authority and Rich Campbell to the Homewood Downtown Redevelopment Authority.  Among the decisions with the most impact on day-to-day business in the city were the council’s split votes to ban package liquor stores within 500 feet of schools, churches, religious institutions and facilities and to call a six-month moratorium on pole signs.

The council called a six-month moratorium on pole signs as it considers banning them altogether in the city. Existing signs, like this one, are not affected.

The council called a six-month moratorium on pole signs as it considers banning them altogether in the city. Existing signs, like this one, are not affected.

The moratorium, expiring November 1, would apply to applications for new signs, replacements and substantial repairs. Both votes passed on split, 6-1 votes.

Members present:  Michael Hallman, Vance Moody, Walter Jones, Heather Reid, Richard Laws, Peter Wright and council president Bruce Limbaugh. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer

Members absent:  Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, and Jenifer Champ Wallis.

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

Approved:  Minutes of the March 25, 2013 council meeting.

Consent agenda

Dropped:  A request for signage on the West Linwood Drive roundabout was turned over to the police department’s traffic division, on the recommendation of the Public Safety Committee; A public hearing for a sign variance at the Rodeway Inn on Oxmoor Road was dropped because the owner withdrew the request.

Old Business

Approved:  El Pastrocito Taqueria at 406 West Valley Avenue got council support for its state Alcoholic Beverage Control retail liquor license.

Approved on a 6-1 split vote:  On the second reading the council passed an ordinance banning package liquor sales within 500 feet of schools, churches and any religious institution or facility.

Voting No:  Michael Hallman cast the only no vote, saying after the meeting that he wasn’t in favor of any ordinance that hindered business.

Postponed:  Brown-Mackie College’s request for a parking contract at a city-owned former Regions building on Bagby Drive north of the B-M building was carried over for lack of documentation, according to Finance Committee chairman Walter Jones.

Approved:  An expense of up to $6,100 for a veterans memorial was approved at Patriot Park–also referred to as the Senior Center–as follows:  $5,000 for a sidewalk and $1,100 for electrical supplies, presumably for lighting.

Approved: Mr. Jones recommended the council pass “numerous” line-item general fund transfers requested by the city’s finance director after the Finance Committee had scrutinized each one at its April 29 meeting.

Approved:  Requested by the battalion chief and fire chief, the council approved the following transfers:  $50,000 from “Salaries” to “Overtime”; $5,000 from “Salaries” to “Tuition/Schools”; and $400 from Drills/Training” to “Memberships/Subscriptions.”

Approved:  The mayor was authorized to sign a five-year postage machine lease renewal with Pitney Bowes for $146/month.

Previously postponed: Two public hearings had previously been re-set for the May 20 meeting after the May council meetings were rescheduled.  After favorable recommendations from the Planning Commission, public hearings are set on the rezoning of a house at 101 Gillon Drive from commercial to residential, and the rezoning of the former Magnolia Apartments, purchased by the Board of Education for its central office and campus activities, from residential to institutional.

Approved on a 6-1 split vote:  On a Special Issues Committee recommendation initiated by Mr. Thames, the council approved a six-month moratorium on pole signs throughout the city.  Mr. Wright said the committee is also reviewing the city’s sign ordinance(s) in general.

Voting no:  Michael Hallman was the dissenter, saying after the meeting that he thought this move would hinder the re-development of the old Mazer property on Green Springs Highway, whose tenants include a new Pep Boys location and a furniture liquidation business that was in violation of the sign code, but which which the council granted a three-month grace period to come into compliance (expires July 1).

Committee Referrals

Matters approved to the following committees:  To Finance- 1. A request to set a bid opening date for a demolition of the former Regions building on West Valley Avenue/Bagby Drive. The Brown-Mackie College has asked to lease the property for parking overflow; 2. A request to declare as surplus property four police vehicles and one building maintenance vehicle; 3. a request to share the cost with private residents a decorative street sign at the intersection of Lancaster Road and U.S. 31; 4. a request to consider the “sale of the Loo property” on Green Springs Highway [no further information provided.]; and 5. a request by the mayor to consider amendments to the city’s Finance Policy. Although no details were provided, there has been some controversy recently over deadlines required by the policy.

Dropped from Public Safety committee referral:  A parking and safety issue at the Mayfair Medical Group has been dropped, to be resolved by the business owners.

Approved:  Two routine yearly tax ordinances were passed immediately on the unanimous consent of the council to 1. Allow the Jefferson County Tax Assessor and Tax Collector to assess and collect property taxes in Homewood, and 2. Allow existing homestead exemptions to continue.  The city attorney said the ordinances did not change property taxes or their assessment.

Approved with one question: The council approved the payment of invoices for April 22-May 3, 2013, after Mr. Moody was assured that all employees listed as getting tuition reimbursements were making progress toward their certifications.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:45 p.m.


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