The most ambitious project of three new business items tonight was a request –approved–to change the final development plan for a large Christian-based daycare and pre-school planned on Columbiana Road near the Publix shopping center, with an estimated daycare attendance of 180-220 children. In other business, the commission allowed a resident’s request to re-divide 3 lots on Irving Road into 2 lots with an additional request for the city to vacate (or permanently surrender) an alley right-of-way to the property owner. The commission also approved an
amendment that reduced the setback requirement for certain accessory structures. Most zoning changes approved by the commission must be ratified by a vote of the city council.
Members present: Chairman Billy Higginbotham, Mike Brandt, vice chairman, Fred Azbik, Joe Falconer, Battalion Chief Rusty McCombs, Fred Hawkins, James Riddle, and Mark Woods.
Members absent: James Ponseti
Staff present: Donna Bridges, Vanessa McGrath, Greg Cobb
Audience attendance: 16
Approved minutes: Minutes of the Sept. 3, 2013 meeting were approved. The October meeting had been canceled due to no cases.
Approved a lot consolidation and vacated a city alley: Owners of 1008 Irving Road petitioned to resurvey to divide 3 lots into 2 lots. A representative
of surveying firm Jackins, Butler, and Adams Inc., asked for a property line to be pushed back to the creek bed to create lot 18A and 18B and to also approve vacating–or permanently giving up–city ownership of the alley. Such a measure requires the approval of the city council as well as Jefferson County. No public comments were made. The board voted its approval after Mr. Hawkins said the council was in agreement to approve.
Approved an ambitious daycare school plan: John LeBreche, CEO of Covenant Classical Schools, the applicant, presented a final development plan for a new school daycare building/professional building space at 428 Columbiana Road, on property owned by Greensprings Retail Co, LLC. Mr. LaBreche showed similar designed properties that now exist in Hoover and Pelham. The plan includes using extensive landscaping and trees to enhance the property, and required several access points from Carr Avenue, the Publix shopping center, and Columbiana Road. The business plan also shows an expansive daycare facility that would include a small outdoor soccer field, a “pirate ship” playground, tricycle track, splash pad, and infant area. The center’s promoters said the school would be highly secure, with 32 surveillance cameras and a biometric entry. There were a dozen or more in the audience to speak in support of the project, including Covenant employees, and parents of children who have attended the schools.
Jeff Pomeroy of Bayer Properties spoke, explaining that this property was acquired for the Publix development in 2002 and slated for phase 11 development, but had not yet sold. Mr. Pomeroy said Bayer would sell the property to Covenant and that he supported the project as a good and appropriate use of the property. Several Homewood residents also spoke in favor, one parent saying he believed the school would be an asset to Homewood, and very convenient for him in visiting his children; and another resident — who also is a Covenant K4 teacher — who praised the education, moral and spiritual guidance at the schools. A Hoover parent attested to the quality of care, with all workers having background checks.
Several on the commission asked about the conditions under which the property could be sold for this use. Mr. Pomeroy said there must first be an amendment to a protective covenant that limits the number of structures on the property to one. Such an amendment would require the approval of Publix, owner of the shopping center. Also, the school has stipulated that there be an access road available from Carr Avenue, and a City of Homewood deed restriction prohibits certain entries and exits to property. To overcome this, the title company will have to provide a waiver and consent to change the deed, which also must be approved by the city council.
Mark Woods asked about the amount of parking available for school events. The plan provides for 80 spaces, 65 for the daycare and 15 for the office building. Parking is an issue also because the parents do not line up in vehicles for curbside pick up and drop off, but park in the lot and enter the building. A discussion ensued about borrowing parking from Publix and/or the shopping center, but an agreement with either is not yet in place. The commission urged the developer to clarify parking issues and their solutions soon.
Approved a change relaxing a setback rule for certain accessory structures: The commission approved an amendment to Appendix A, zoning Article 5, Sec D of the zoning ordinance to read: “Rear yard accessory structures shall not be closer than 5 feet to any side or rear lot line, except that rear yard accessory structures of 2 or more floors, and exceeding 750 total square feet, shall not be closer than 10 feet to any side or rear lot line.”
The previous wording required structures to be 15 feet from a property line.
The change was brought up by an issue of a garage built for an RV which was only 5 feet off the property line, and was tall but was one story high.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7 p.m.