Two split votes over proposed developments within blocks of each other near Broadway failed tonight–the popular Broadway Park effort, and a bid from a developer to buy a tract in the Publix shopping center for a carwash. The meeting followed a 4 p.m. budget hearing and was brief except for comment on these two issues. Those against the city purchasing two residential lots on “short” Saulter Road for a park cited the cost–$220,000 plus and estimated $50,000 to add improvements, such as benches and a little walking track–although the Finance Committee had voted no objection to the purchase last month (with the exception of Mr. Wright). Mr. Limbaugh pointed out that maintenance costs could also add up. SEE DETAILS BELOW.
On the sale of the city-owned “Loo Property,” those in the minority in favor of the sale either cited–or have cited in the past–that the property has lain vacant and the offered price of $150,000 was almost twice the appraised price.
The council also approved a last-minute purchase of a fire department trailer, costing $14,700.
Members present: All–Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Jenifer Champ Wallis, Heather Reid, Richard Laws, Peter Wright and council president Bruce Limbaugh. The mayor was absent due to his father’s recent death.
Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, city Building Engineering and Zoning staff Greg Cobb.
Audience attendance: 23 to start
Approved: Minutes of the July 22, 2013 meeting.
Agreed to drop the following public nuisance proceedings: The council dropped actions against two properties that had been cleared of excessive weeds by the public hearing tonight: 1613 25th Court South, and 2516 17th Street South.
Failed on a 8-3 split vote: About 13 years ago, the story goes, the then-city council — wanting to complete the Publix Center development plan — condemned a tract of property belonging to the Loo family on which sat a dilapidated house. The purchase price was $320,000, but the property was never developed. A local developer earlier this year showed interest in the tract (just behind the Taipei restaurant) for a carwash, and a price of $75,000 surfaced in council committee discussion. Other council members opposed a sale at that price for that kind of development and the issue has been carried over multiple times until councilman Vance Moody, the most vocal proponent of the sale, moved to send the matter to the full council. After more discussion on both sides tonight, the motion to sell the property at that price failed.
Voting yes to the sale: Vance Moody, Fred Hawkins, and Heather Reid.
Failed to support the Broadway Park concept on a 7-4 split vote: Support among council members for this grassroots effort to develop a neighborhood park seemed to evaporate at the Sept. 9 meeting of the Finance Committee, which earlier had voted no objection to buying the property for $220,000, if money was available. Ms. Wallis, however, objected at a later committee meeting that the price of the land plus development was too high to justify before the FY 2014 budget was passed, an idea seconded by Mr. Wright, who added that Parks and Recreation director Berkley Squires had first nixed the idea of a community garden at the site, and in a written report opposed the park development altogether. No members of the Broadway Park support group were present at that meeting and there were no protests following the no vote tonight. Ward 3 councilmen Patrick McClusky and Walter Jones, who had encouraged the group of “hundreds of residents” in favor of the project, also made comments before casting their failed votes in favor of going forward with the park. Mr. McClusky said opponents had pointed out the existence of two other “pocket” parks in the area, a lot behind Gian Marco’s and the landscaped area with a pavilion nearby on Broadway, but added that there wasn’t sufficient land in either place to call them “parks.” Mr. Jones pointed out the lack of green space in the densely populated city and cited the volume of Facebook “likes” for the park group and their sheer numbers and diligence. He said it would be good to listen when residents come to the council with their ideas.
Voting yes to spending $220,000 for residential property for a park: Michael Hallman, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, and Walter Jones.
Approved: Permission was granted for work to proceed in the city’s right-of-way at 1600 Oxmoor Road. No details.
Approved a sign variance for the Sticks ‘N Stuff tenant at the old Mazer’s: Sam Kelly, owner of Sticks ‘N Stuff and a tenant of the Mazer’s main building at 816 Green Springs Highway, got permission for a bigger display sign for his new business, Trader Bob’s Furniture and Mattresses. Mr. Kelly had earlier this spring put up a nonconforming sign for his Furniture Liquidators business, but without asking permission. He was cited for that violation, then given a 3-month reprieve by the council to give him time to develop an appropriate design. Mr. Kelly then over-stayed that time limit as well. The council tonight approved unanimously a sign variance of 690 extra square feet, with Mr. Limbaugh asking if the purple columns on the building would be painted over, and reminding him it was not permissible to use his truck as a secondary sign. Mr. Kelly agreed.
Referred to Finance Committee: The council referred a proposed contract for software and service from iCity Corp., a company that offers city’s comprehensive communications systems for emergency response, community involvement, news, etc.
Approved a $1,500 tuition reimbursement: No details.
Referred eight items to the following committees: To Public Safety – 1) Request for support of a state restaurant retail liquor license for Casa La Bamba Grill, 1006 Oxmoor Road; 2) Request for special events [permit?] for Kick’n Chick’n Wing Fest, to be held at the lower parking lot behind City Hall, 2950 19th Street South; 3) Request for support on a state retail beer and wine license for The Fresh Market, at 549 Brookwood Village; 4) Request for support of a state restaurant retail liquor license for Michael’s Steak and Seafood, at 1903 29th Avenue South. To Finance – Request to renew an AT&T Uverse video agreement expiring in February 2014; 2) Set a bid opening for Oct. 7, 2013 at 5 p.m. for an animal control contract; and 3) Set a bid opening for Oct. 7, 2013, at 5:15 p.m. for a wrecker service contract. And to Special Issues – Request to consider a city-wide wi-fi network.
Set the following two public hearings for sign variances: The council set public hearings on Sept. 30, 2013, at 6 p.m. for sign variances at 135 Distribution Drive and 1920 Huntington Road.
Agreed to renew a 3-year lease: The council agreed to renew a lease with Barber Companies for the West Homewood substation at 120 Oxmoor Boulevard. The lease is $500 the first year, $550 the second and $600 the third.
Approved funding and extra security detail: The council approved the money to pay for security at the Alabama Symphony Orchestra performance at Central Park, Sept. 28, 2013.
Approved an end-of-year $14,700 capital purchase for the fire department: Fire chief John Bresnan appealed for the city to act in this budget year to purchase a tow vehicle for bringing “third tier” equipment to fire sites. Chief Bresnan explained later that third tier equipment could include such things as special Hazmat booms, or other needed equipment that couldn’t be transported on fire engines or in other emergency vehicles.
Approved payment of invoices: Invoices for Aug. 25-Sept. 13 were paid.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned shortly before 7 p.m.