Council meeting, May 20, 2013

Homewood City CouncilThe council covered 3 1/2 pages of agenda business that included an overhaul of the three-year-old Fiscal Policy, approved in the work session just before the regular meeting [covered in previous entry]. The city also has set a bid opening for demolishing a substantial office building it owns at 90 Bagby Drive in West Homewood, although no plans were forthcoming except to lease parking space to the Brown-Mackie College. Interesting from a dramatic standpoint was the council’s harshly worded resolution criticizing Alabama Power Company, whose representatives didn’t show up as agreed to take comments about the company’s tree-cutting practices. Trees and vegetation in some sections of the city have been “cut to the nub” council members said.

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

Members absent:  Patrick McClusky, Heather Reid, Richard Laws.

Staff present:  City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, Mayor chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, city engineering and zoning staff Vanessa McGrath and Greg Cobb.

Audience attendance:  23

All votes are unanimous unless noted otherwise.

Approved Board of Education Ward 4 appointment: Charley Douthit was appointed to the school board vacancy.

Approved for reappointment to the park board on a 7-1 split vote:  Chris Meeks will continue as a member of the park board after candidates were interviewed last week.

Voting no:  Michael Hallman voted no, saying he didn’t think Meeks’ application was in the top three of six interviewed.

Approved to three member Educational Building Authority:  Ashley Page and Tom Dekle were approved tonight. They join Marcus Huskey, approved previously on the three member board. Such boards are authorized by state law as entities to seek bonds and other means to finance new school buildings or additions, such as the planned central office and campus. These authorities are typically dissolved when the debt is retired.

Approved consent agenda, dropping several items:  Dropped by Public Works Committee after discussion are 1. A request for street cuts (?); 2.  Permission to work in city right-of-way at 2740 Central Avenue; Crosswalk signage on Oxmoor Road near Ridge Road; and considering a retaining wall  in the 1600 block of Oxmoor Road.

Approved, subject to campus development plan:  Following a public hearing in which no one commented, the council approved the rezoning of the Magnolia Apartment parcels from apartments to institutional use for a school board campus, and sent the matter on to the Planning and Development Committee.

Approved immediately by unanimous consent:  A residence at 101 Gillon Drive that was rezoned C-2 (neighborhood shopping) more than 20 years ago but never used for a business was rezoned back to residential (neighborhood preservation district) to allow a sale to new buyers.  The council voted to allow the rezoning on the first reading.

Denied a sign variance: Following a public hearing in which no one commented, John Saddler was denied a sign variance at his Allstate business, 832 Green Springs Highway, due to a city-wide moratorium on pole signs. Saddler had told the city staff that he would merely resurface the existing pole sign, which is also nonconforming, if not granted a variance for a new sign, which would be approximately twice the allowed square footage. Mr. Hawkins said he was disappointed that the business wouldn’t cooperate with the city’s request to use a monument sign instead.

Approved larger signs for Express Oil Change locations: Express Oil Change has acquired Tire Engineers and was approved, following a public hearing, to place larger combined monument signs at 196 West Valley Avenue and 407 Hollywood Blvd.  A third location at 1717 27th Court South was dropped or not included. No image of the new signs was presented.

Approved:  A request by Rachel Craige to open the south end of a dead-ended alley behind 319 Laurel Place got the go ahead. The matter has been to back and forth between several committee meetings because residents are concerned about drainage. Mr. Cobb said problems would be addressed.

Approved on a 7-1 split vote:  The council in regular session passed a resolution accepting the mayor’s changes to the city Fiscal Policy, which were discussed in the work session [see work session post for details.] Mayor McBrayer had commented that he needed a later timeline for presenting an accurate annual budget because certain figures — such as insurance– were not available until August of each year. Also, he had deleted an annual presentation and public hearing for capital projects, saying the city council already knew what the capital projects needed to be (currently, a new public safety center).

Voting no:  Michael Hallman disagreed with the later timeline, as he did when the amendments were presented at the previous work session.

The city is asking for bids to demolish this building on West Valley Avenue.

The city is asking for bids to demolish this building on West Valley Avenue and Bagby Drive in West Homewood.

Approved on a 7-1 split :  A bid opening for demolition of the building at 90 Bagby Drive was set for June 17, 4:30 p.m.  Accompanying the request is approval to spend $2,500 to evaluate the property.  The parking lot is planned to be leased to Brown-Mackie for overflow parking at an undisclosed rate, although council talk sets it at $500/month.

Voting no: Michael Hallman gave no explanation, but has said he needed more information on the plans for the building and reason for its demolition.

Approved:  Declared as surplus property, for sale, four police vehicles and one building maintenance vehicle.

Approved:  The city will split with residents the cost of a decorative street sign for Lancaster Road and U.S. 31.

Approved:  The council referred the following matters to the Finance Committee – A request for amendments to the current General Fund, Capital Projects and Special Revenue Funds budget; and tuition reimbursement for Firefighter Brandon Broadhead; a new request from Mr. Thames…[tba/unclear].

Other new business

Set two public hearings on June 24:  1.  A recommendation from the Planning Commission to rezone a house at 1659 28th Avenue South from residential (NPD) to Mixed Use (MXD) so the homeowner could rebuild the house and operate retail concerns in the rear section; and 2. A Planning Commission recommendation to amend the zoning ordinance by replacing the permitted use “Condominium” with “Dwelling Units.”


Owners of the large former Mazer’s property are  seeking sign variances for its tenants. Furniture LIquidators, cited for this oversized sign, was given until July 1 to present an acceptable alternative, or take it down.

Set a public hearing June 10:  A public hearing is set June 10 for consideration of a sign variance for the old Mazer’s property, now being redeveloped for a Pep Boys and other businesses in a joint partnership with Terra Equities and Dunn Real Estate.

Approved property liens on three buildings declared a public nuisance and cleaned by the city last year:  1.  $10,232 for clean-up at 150

The city is seeking more than $10,000 for cleaning this property after it was declared a public nuisance.

The city is seeking more than $10,000 for cleaning this property after it was declared a public nuisance.

Green Springs Highway (listed as the former Wing Out restaurant); 2. $1,078 for cleaning up property at 1106 Irving Road; and $1,059 for cleaning up 2708 17th Street South.

Approved a resolution critical of Alabama Power Co. After unanswered complaints about severe tree cutting throughout the city, the council discussed and passed a resolution calling for APCO to cease tree cutting immediately until the matter can be discussed with the city and residents, and to take better care with allowed tree trimming in the future. Mr. Hawkins asked that all APCO sub-contractors working in the city be required to show they had acquired city business licenses. He also said the utility could not work without permission in the city’s right of way except to maintain the lines, although the city attorney disputed this.

Approved:  Invoices for May 6-May 17 were paid.

The meeting adjourned before 7:30 p.m.


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