City Council, June 24, 2013

Homewood City CouncilThis approximately one-hour meeting covered a number of zoning issues and was highlighted by a failed attempt to pass on the first reading a business license exemption for peddlers, musicians and other vendors doing temporary business at city-sponsored events, fairs, festivals, etc. The measure will come

Should the city tax vendors who earn under $1,500 yearly at street fairs and other special events?

Should the city tax vendors who earn under $1,500 yearly at street fairs and other special events?

back for a vote in July. Also of interest, the council awarded (with one dissenter) low-bidder Tomlin Excavation the $49,150 contract to demolish the city-owned building at Bagby Drive and West Valley Avenue.

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

Members absent: Vance Moody, Peter Wright.

Staff present: J.J. Bischoff, Mayor’s Chief of Staff; Linda Cook, City Clerk;  Mike Kendrick, City Attorney.

Audience attendance: Approximately 18 to start.

All votes were unanimous unless noted.

Approved:  Minutes from the May 6, 2013, meetingH.

Approved appointment:  Andy Gwaltney (Ward 1) was appointed to the Housing Abatement Board.

Old Business

Postponed: A request by Brown-Mackie College to lease parking space at a city-owned building on Bagby Drive and West Valley Avenue was carried over to the next meeting.

Postponed:  There has been a delay in finalizing  an agreement to purchase publicity in an Alabama Symphony Orchestra publication, at a cost $5,000, to be shared by the city, the Chamber of Commerce, and the school board. The matter was carried over to the next council meeting. [Correction.  The contract is for $10,000 to be split three ways, and to include a performance in Central Park and activities in the schools.]

Approved:  The council approved the board of education’s final development plan for the rezoned Magnolia Apartments property off Valley Avenue.

Approved:  Following a public hearing, the council rezoned a lot at 2492 28th Avenue South from residential (NPD) to Mixed Use District (MXD) and an accompanying development plan. The current structure will be demolished and rebuilt on the same footprint to be used as owner occupied dwelling in the front and for a floral and small retail business in the rear.  And in a related vote…

Approved:  Following a public hearing, the council approved changing the wording in the definition of Mixed Use District (MXD) from “condominium dwelling units” to the more inclusive phrase, “dwelling units,” under the rationale that the city could dictate the use–not the ownership–of structures in the district. The wording had also presented some financing problems for some MXD projects.

Approved on an 8-1 split vote:  The council approved Tomlin Excavating’s $49,150 bid for demolition of the city-owned building at 90 Bagby Drive. The bid was the lower of two bids opened previously in committee. The other bid, by Swanson Enterprises, was $269,990.

Voting no:  Mr. Hallman voted against the measure. [In a letter provided later Mr. Hallman explained that the building was determined to have one unsafe wall but was otherwise structurally sound. He felt the revenue from the proposed $500 monthly parking lease to Brown-Mackie College didn’t warrant the expense of demolition.

Approved:  A resolution amending the current General Fund and Capital Fund budgets, in part to pay for the demolition of the building on Bagby Drive and West Valley. [To be clarified.]

Approved:  A $2,405 tuition reimbursement for Officer Scott Easterwood.

Failed to pass on first reading:  A proposed amendment to the city business license ordinance that would grant a fee exemption to certain small businesses with no permanent city location (peddlers) failed to get the required unanimous consent to be approved in the same meeting it was introduced.  The amendment will be voted on at its second reading, July 8, 2013. 

The amendment exempts vendors and musicians working temporarily at city-sponsored or non-profit events or who would expect their earnings from such work to fall under $1,500 annually. Vendors (especially those appearing at outdoor fairs and markets during spring and summer) had complained that the fees were too burdensome compared to the amount of profit expected.

Voting no:  Mr. Hallman voted against passage on first reading. [In a letter provided later, Mr. Hallman said it would be fairer to all businesses in Homewood for small-time vendors to be charged a reduced fee rather than to be exempted from any cost. He also disagreed with setting a dollar amount limit.]

Approved:  An $8,000 transfer was approved from the Animal Control budget to the K-9 Supplies budget.

Referred back to the Planning and Development Committee:  The West Homewood Re-development Plan (Village Plan) was sent back to committee.

Approved:  Following a pubic hearing in which no one commented, the council approved additional signs for a Baskin-Robbins to be added under the same roof with the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts on Green Springs Highway and Oxmoor Road. 

Postponed:  A new hearing set tonight for additional sign variances at Big #1 Motorsports at 505 and 511 Cobb Street was continued to the July 8, 2013, meeting.  

Sent back to committee:  A requested variance to allow a fence along the Hawthorn Road side of 1500 Grove Place was referred to the Special Issues Committee. 

Referred to committees:  To Finance – Request to approve and authorize the mayor to sign a copier lease with Xerox Corp. for replacement copiers city-wide; Request to consider amendments to the current budget; and a request to declare surplus property for sale.

To Public Safety – Request to rename Hillside Circle (behind Vulcan Animal Care off of Valley Avenue) Moretti Circle; and a request to consider supporting a state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board license for off-premise beer to Super Ofertas, at 406 West Valley Avenue. 

To Public Works – Request to complete a sidewalk from Edgewood Boulevard to South Forrest Drive; request to allow work in the city right-of-way at Hillside Circle; and a request from the board of education to allow work in the city right-of-way at Dale Avenue.

Other New Business

Approved on first reading:  The mayor was authorized to enter an agreement with Alabama Power Co. to install overhead and underground facilities near Manhattan Street.

Public hearing set:  The council set a public hearing for July 8 before voting on whether to allow a fence at 1546 Saulter Road. 

Approved:  Invoices from June 10-June 21, 2013 were approved to be paid.

Comments:  Before adjournment, during a council comment period, Mr. Hallman said residents wanting mosquito larvicide tablets could contact him or the Homewood Environmental Commission. There is renewed interest from one council member about reinstating a mosquito spray program.

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