Planning Commission Meeting, May 7, 2013

planning & zoning(1)The commission convened at 6:10 p.m. and approved one case for rebuilding a house at 1659 28th Avenue South for mixed residential/commercial use, rezoning the property accordingly, [and expanding the kinds of dwellings allowed in “Mixed Use Districts.”] Also, the Regional Planning Commission presented its preliminary plan for the redevelopment of the West Homewood business district using a new form-based code to transform and unify the appearance of the area. That plan will undergo review by the commission with suggestions to be added to a final plan for commission approval, and ultimately for adoption by the Homewood City Council.  There has been some interest in the plan from an existing West Homewood commercial property owner at the corner of Raleigh Avenue and Oak Grove Road, across from Patriot Park. (Links to pdf  files of the form-based codes are below.)

Members Present:  Billy Higginbotham, chairman,  Mike Brandt, vice chairman, Joe Falconer, Battalion Chief McCombs, Fred Hawkins, James Ponseti, and James Riddle. (Mr. Falconer, the real estate agent for a property seller on two items,  recused himself from voting and sitting on the dais for these cases. )

Members Absent:  Fred Azbik, Mark Woods

Staff Present:  Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, Homewood Engineering, Planning and Zoning Department; Donna Bridges, board secretary. 

Audience attendance:   28

Approved:  Minutes of the April 2, 2013 meeting.

Approved for recommendation to the city council, with one abstention:  In this case, the seller and purchaser asked to continue using property at 1659 28th Avenue South for both commercial and residential as well as to obtain commission approval to rezone the property from NPD (Neighborhood Preservation District, i.e., residential) to MXD (Mixed-use District).  The property, most recently used as a printing business, was developed in the 1950s as a residence in the front and commercial in the rear.  It has held several different kinds of ventures and was reportedly at one time a “speakeasy.” The building, which is in extreme disrepair, borders residential lots on two sides and commercial lots on the other two sides. The prospective buyer has plans to tear down the existing structure and rebuild on the exact footprint, with a single family dwelling for herself in the front and attached retail women’s clothing and accessories shop — and possibly a floral design business in the rear.

Three neighbors spoke, though there were several more in the audience for this case.  Their main concerns were the fate of the property if the business failed, that the property continue to be a single family dwelling, and that there be more off-street parking provided. After discussion with the commission, the buyer offered to maintain the current fence between the property and other residences, and to add additional off-street parking spaces.

[Beside the vote to rezone, the commission also voted to amend the Mixed Use District, recommending to strike individually-owned “Condominiums” and replace with the more inclusive “dwelling units.” The amendment and rezoning recommendations both go to the city council] Added 05/23/13.

Mr. Higginbotham said any changes to the residential property would have to come back before the commission for approval. The buyer also agreed to continue meeting with neighbors to address their concerns and to ensure that the street remains as clear of traffic and parking as possible.  

Abstaining:  Joe Falconer, real estate agent for the seller, abstained to avoid a conflict of interest. 

Presentation:  The Regional Planning Commission presented its preliminary plan for the West Homewood commercial area, based on public involvement meetings, two of which were at the Homewood Senior Center in West Homewood. The property owner of a strip building at the corner of Oak Grove Road and Raleigh Avenue is interested in upgrading that building using the form-based codes and possibly working with the city to make the corner more pedestrian-friendly.  A copy of a potential form based code for the area was also included.  The next step is for the commission to take the code document and the design report and make suggestions back to the RPC, which would make a final presentation to the commission and ultimately to the city council for adoption. The RPC representatives asked to have those suggestions in the next couple of weeks.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 7:35 PM.

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