City Council meeting, Nov. 12, 2013 – updated with ADEM information

Homewood City CouncilThe city council tonight agreed to file suit against a company in a case involving property the city calls the “Yuppie Puppy”/Mayfield Cleaners site (see below for more). All we know –and we’ve asked–is that the council authorized the city attorney to file an unspecified application with the ADEM-logostate department of environmental management for the property, a former dry-cleaners site, and to file suit against a BBB Enterprises related to the same property.  Although answers haven’t been forthcoming from others, councilman Britt Thames provided this explanation:

This piece of property had been a dry cleaners in the past.  The city needed the land for the development of SOHO.  The city bought the property and the title was held in escrow with an agreement that the owners would remediate the land to the satisfaction of ADEM before we would take full possession.  Well the soil was removed etc etc and ADEM requires a ground water monitoring phase for several years until satisfactory levels are met.  The property owners did not do this and dissolved the LLC without notifying the city.  Now we are having to finish out the monitoring process.  We are filing suit for breach of contract.  I do not have the exact address but it is the old Mayfield Cleaners site.  I believe it would be on the North West corner of the SOHO property in the parking lot.

Also worth noting–Santa arrives at Brookwood Village Nov. 15.  Tonight’s meeting was opened with 40 scouts from Boy Scout Troop 97, Trinity United Methodist Church, leading the council and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Members Present:  Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, council president Bruce Limbaugh, Jenifer Champ Wallis, Richard Laws and Peter Wright.  Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent:  Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, and Heather Reid.

Staff present:  City Clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J.J. Bischoff, Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath of the Building, Engineering and Zoning Department, John Bresnan, fire chief.

Audience attendance:  12

Approved:  Minutes of the September 30, 2013, council meeting.

Sent a driveway variance back to committee:  The council wanted more information on the 504 Hambaugh Avenue case, and a specific design, before voting.

Approved a driveway variance: A circular driveway was approved for 907 Westover Drive on a 68-foot lot, where the ordinance requires a width of 75 feet. The reason given for the variance concerned easing Edgewood Elementary carpool traffic conditions.

Awarded the bid for thermal imaging camera: Approved  at the request of the fire chief, the council accepted a bid of $41,632 from E. D. Bullard to be paid from the capital funds budget for the purchase of (3?) thermal imaging cameras.  Bullard was the lowest “responsible” bidder, meeting all bid specifications. The amount was under budget.

Approved, on a split vote, an application to the state environmental agency (ADEM) and a resolution to file a lawsuit: In two related votes, the city council authorized the city attorney to apply for an “application” to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management in regard to a property at 2703 19th Place South in SoHo that was formerly Mayfield Cleaners and now is owned by the city of Homewood, according to one council member.  According to other council chat, unconfirmed, the city purchased this property subject to it either being cleaned up after a spill or that it be certified environmentally sound, with the purchase funds being placed in a trust until that occurred.  The owner then died and the city is acting on its own behalf to claim the property. The property was listed on one agenda as the Yuppie Puppy/Mayfield Cleaners site on 19th Place South, but it is apparently a different site, Creative Dog Training, which runs a grooming service by that name, says it isn’t the same property.

In a later vote, the council approved, also with one abstention, a resolution allowing the city attorney to file suit against BBB Enterprises–reason not given.

Abstaining:  Councilman Michael Hallman abstained, explaining that as a former ALDOT employee he was ethically prevented from voting on matters involving ALDOT or its jurisdiction, including ADEM.

Approved changes to employee healthcare plans to comply with new tax rules:  In accordance with new IRS requirements, the city council changed the amount of pre-tax dollars an employee can contribute to a Flexible Spending Account from $3,500 to $2,500. The limits have to do with unreimbursed medical/daycare expenses.

Approved the following committee referrals agenda, with one abstention: 

To Public Works – Permission to work in the city’s right-of-way at 4301 Independence Drive.  To Finance – 1. Request to authorize the mayor to enter into a contract with Gonzalez-Strength and Associates, engineering firm, for work on additional lanes on the Oxmoor Road Project, and 2. To enter into a construction agreement on the Shades Creek Greenway project, Phase II, with the state highway department; 3. To extend financial considerations for the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins development that stalled on Green Springs Highway; 4. To consider unspecified final amendments to the 2012-13 budget; 5. To consider the purchase of two “Cobra Street Lights” on Stuart Street for $538 and 6. Dropped a request–which had already been approved–to participate in the 2014 Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday.

To Planning and Development – Request to consider deed restrictions on a Bayer Properties parcel adjacent to Publix (likely the Covenant preschool and daycare development reported earlier).

To Special Issues – A request for consideration of a driveway variance at 1510 Oxmoor Road.

Abstaining:  Mr. Hallman, a former ALDOT employee, routinely abstains from any measure involving his former employer.

Approved two mall street closures:  The council agreed to close 780 Brookwood Village Lane on November 15, 2013, from 3 – 7 p.m. for Santa’s arrival at Brookwood Village and to close it on November 28, 2013 from 3 – 8:30 p.m. for the Black Friday shopping event.

Carried over a zoning amendment for accessory structures:  The carry-over is an indefinite hold on this item.

Referred a driveway zoning amendment to committee:  The council had planned to request the Planning Commission to consider an amendment allowing more circular driveways. The question was referred to the Special Issues Committee.

Approved with a contingency:  A request for the city to re-survey two lots on Grace Street/Irving Road and to vacate (surrender possession of) an alley was approved contingent on the owner signing a “declaration of vacation” so that part can be donated to the Homewood Board of Education. The issue had been before the Public Works Committee, which discharged it to the council with no action after the 5-member committee failed a quorum due to two absences (Moody and Laws) followed by the unannounced departure of Hallman because the meeting was running nearly a half-hour late. Rumors have circulated freely about this incident.

Paid the bills:  Payment of invoices for the period of October 28-Nov. 8, 2013.

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