The city’s average age has dropped — again–from 40 years to 30 in the last decade, prompting a renewed look at city staffing and services. Ward 1 councilman Britt Thames said he’d already met with Finance Chairman Walter Jones and CPA David Heeter, author of the 2003 analysis, with the idea of commissioning a new report by the end of the budget year.
But the lengthiest discussion tonight surrounded a request for a sign variance by Ken and Ann Rosenberger of Rosenberger’s Trunk, lately of The Summit. The Rosenbergers say they left the Summit in January due to a rent increase and built a new store at their warehouse space on 19th Street South in Homewood, opening in April. Now, with their shop set back 62 feet from the street, they wanted a more visible sign, only to find the city had called a six-month moratorium on “pole signs,” (expiring Nov. 1). The Rosenbergers then
presented their solution –a 5-foot wide sign atop a 6-foot tall brick foundation — thereby eliminating the offending “pole” and fitting the definition of a “monument” sign preferred by the council. But as they and the council soon found out, a 10-year-old city ordinance specifically bans any free-standing sign in the downtown Soho district. Council members asked the applicants to return in two weeks when they will have presumably changed the ordinance to fit the request. City The sign ban was written into the zoning rules to preserve decorum around the new Soho development, according to Greg Cobb, of the city’s Building, Engineering and Zoning Department.
Members present: Britt Thames, Vance Moody, Walter Jones, Jenifer Champ Wallis, Heather Reid, Richard Laws, and council president Bruce Limbaugh.
Members absent: Michael Hallman, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, and Peter Wright. Mayor Scott McBrayer was also absent.
Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Building, Engineering and Zoning staffer Greg Cobb.
Audience attendance: 15
Approved: Minutes of the Aug. 26, 2013 meeting.
Dropped the following requests: A request for additional speed limit signs on Woodland Drive, which are already installed; a request for installation of a city-wide wi-fi network, already in process; and a contract proposal by Retail Strategies to recruit commercial tenants, due to the company’s lack of response.
Approved the following sign variances: The council, on recommendations from the Special Issues Committee, allowed rule changes for more visible signs for Iron Tribe at 2740 Central Avenue, and Dollar Tree at 222 Green Springs Highway. The Dollar Tree is being remodeled after a fire.
Carried over Rosenberger’s Trunk sign request/referred sign ordinance question to committee: If the Special Issues Committee decides to overturn the ban on freestanding signs around SoHo, the matter will go before the council for a vote at the Oct. 28 meeting. The Rosenberger’s special sign request, therefore, was postponed until that meeting.
Approved a $16,500 fee increase for Greenway Trail extension: After “vigorous discussion” in committee, the council approved funding the fee increase requested for extra geotechnical work by Goodwin, Mills and Cawood, which is already budgeted.
Approved end-of-year budget transfers: No details.
Approved: The council passed an unspecified request for consideration of “traffic issues” on the 400-1400 blocks of Clermont Avenue.
Referred the following to committees: To Finance – Request consideration of finance options for a new ladder truck; request year-end budget amendments; allow excess vacation time over 320 hours to transfer to sick leave at year-end; and consider a contract with PReMA Corp., a company specializing in increasing tax collections. To Public Works – Request to vacate an alley behind 1008 Irving Road.
Re-set the following Animal Control and Wrecker service bid opening dates: For Animal Control, Nov. 18 at 5 p.m., and for Wrecker Service, at 5:15 p.m.
Set a bid opening: There will be a bid opening Nov. 4 at 5:30 p.m. to purchase three (?) thermal imaging cameras, estimated at around $8,000 per device, for the fire department.
Set an Oct. 28 driveway variance hearing: The request is for a residential property at 332 Kenilworth Drive.
Authorized the mayor to make certain fire department purchases: The council voted to permit the mayor to open a purchasing account with the Houston/ Galveston Advisory Council, a government entity.
Approved payment of invoices for Sept. 30-Sept. 11.