City Council, Nov. 25, 2013

Homewood City CouncilPending a public hearing, the council tonight agreed to offer the struggling Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins development a cool $88,000 in tax abatements to build on the long-vacant Oxmoor Road/Green Springs Highway corner. The franchise had been unable to connect via the old Checkers sewer tap, which Jefferson County had capped more than 20 years ago as “illegal” access. The tax deal will offset the developer’s cost to access a sewer main across Green Springs Highway, while a separate vote approved a $114,690

The city is offering a tax abatement of $88,000 or five years, whichever comes first to help the franchise pay for sewer access on Green Springs Highway. Mayor McBrayer said doubted more than two years would elapse before the popular franchise hits the target amount.

The city is offering a sales tax abatement of $88,000 or five years, whichever comes first, to help a dual Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins franchise pay for sewer access on Green Springs Highway. Mayor McBrayer said he doubted more than two years would elapse before the popular snack food franchise hits the target amount.

expense toward the planned widening of Oxmoor Road with an additional lane, including the busy intersection by the donut and ice cream shot.  Meanwhile, developers of a proposed preschool a block away were not so lucky. The council denied a request to allow an access road from Columbiana Road to the property adjacent to Publix for Covenant Classical School traffic, leaving a deed restriction intact.

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

Members absent: Peter Wright

Staff present: Greg Cobb, city Building, Engineering and Zoning staff, Linda Cook, city clerk, Mike Kendrick, city attorney, J. J. Bischoff, mayor’s chief of staff.

Audience attendance:  10, including other city staffers.

Approved:   Minutes of the Oct. 14, 2013 meeting.

Dropped a driveway variance: A request for a wider driveway at 504 Hambaugh Avenue was dropped because the entire driveway ordinance is being rewritten, see below.

Denied a preschool’s request for access from Columbiana Road to Publix The council listened sympathetically but didn’t yield to a request from Covenant Classical School to open a road from Columbiana to its proposed campus on a Publix outparcel.  The property was part of the tract sold by the city to Bayer Properties in 2002 for the Publix center, a transaction that included  pages of deed restrictions to limit the types of developments that could be built. One of those restrictions was a neighborhood protection clause limiting access to the center from Columbiana. Bayer, now wanting to sell the long- undeveloped land, gave its approval to the development and request for more access, but Ward 3 councilman Walter Jones said the access restriction was meant to protect the residential neighborhood from commercial traffic and deliveries into the shopping center.

Covenant CEO John LaBreche offered to build a gated drive with limited access or access only to school traffic, which Mr. Jones at first said would be an acceptable compromise. However, he amended that to say his first choice was to keep the property closed and revisit the matter after the school had been open a year, to which the council unanimously agreed. The development will need other restrictions lifted, such as one limiting development to retail; Mr. LeBreche also mentioned the possibility of building a pediatrician’s office on the outparcel.

Approved, with one abstention, $114,690 for Oxmoor Road widening: The vote authorized the mayor to enter an agreement with Gonzalez-Strength engineering firm for a traffic study and other preliminaries to adding an additional lane from Barber Court to Columbiana Road.

Abstaining:  Mr. Hallman routinely abstains from measures involving the state highway department, a former employer.

Authorized, with one abstention, starting work on the Shades Creek Greenway, Phase II: The vote authorizes the mayor to enter a Construction Agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation on the westward extension of the Greenway Trail. There was some delay while “conflicting language” was re-worded in the document.

Abstaining:  Mr. Hallman routinely abstains from measures involving the state highway department, a former employer.

Carried over a mayor’s request for an $88,000 tax abatement for Dunkin’ Donuts: This matter was carried over to give the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise time to review the legal agreement. The matter is subject to a final vote after the terms are published, and following a public hearing, to be held in January, at the earliest.

Approved lighting expense for parking lots in Edgewood: The city will pay $538 yearly for two street lights at city-owned lots on Stuart Street and St. Charles Street.

Approved year-end budget transfers: The council approved unspecified transfers of funds for FY2012-13 amounting to approximately $5,000. Mr. Jones explained that such transfers are part of the routine business of closing out a budget year.

Approved a circular driveway on Oxmoor Road: The council passed a variance allowing a circular drive at 1512 Oxmoor Road to prevent cars from backing out on the busy street.

First reading of relaxed rules for driveways: The city attorney read an amendment to the driveway ordinance that will allow circular driveways (or multiple access points) on smaller lots than were previously allowed.  At a  request to pass the measure on the first reading, Mr. Moody asked to wait until the next meeting to allow the public time to understand the changes.

Postponed changing setback rules on “accessory structures:” The council agreed to wait until a Dec. 16 public hearing to vote on a zoning amendment, as follows: Rear yard accessory structures shall not be closer than five feet to any side or rear lot line, except that rear yard accessory structures of two (2) or more floors and exceeding 750 total square feet shall not be closer than ten (10) feet to any side or rear lot line. The current rule requires the same setback as the main building.

Issues referred to different committees, as follows:  To Finance – 1) A request to put a decorative street light at Mayfair Circle and split the cost with residents; 2) A request to enter an agreement with Revenue Discovery Systems; a request to fund Clastran (Clastran was funded in the last budget year over the objections of several council members); and 3) To consider a contract with Birmingham Engineering and Construction Consultants, a firm specializing in geotechnical and environmental engineering.  [Possibly a firm related to the city’s lawsuit to recoup money spent in cleaning a former dry cleaners spill site. This contract is to write a grant requesting funds for sidewalks.]

To Public Safety – A request to support a state wine, beer and liquor license application for Dupont Public House at 1830 29th Avenue South, formerly Lovoy’s in SoHo.

Rescheduled December meeting times: The holiday meeting schedule will be Monday, Dec. 9, and Monday, Dec. 16.

Paid the bills: The council approved payment of invoices for Nov. 9-22, 2013.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 7 p.m.


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