City Council, Dec. 9, 2013

Homewood City Council

Brookwood Medical Center president Gary Gause and staff formally recognized four Homewood police officers who had taken part recently in an “armed attacker” training simulation at the site. In a ceremonial presentation, Mr. Gause pointed out that the hospital relies heavily on municipal services to do its job–as demonstrated by a broken water main recently that shut down dozens of routine operations as well as some critical services–and praised the city’s police and fire departments for their work on behalf of the center’s patients. The business meeting itself lasted under 45 minutes.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Jenifer Champ Wallis, Heather Reid, Peter Wright and council president Bruce Limbaugh. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent:  Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, and Richard Laws.

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

Audience attendance: 14

All votes were unanimous unless otherwise noted.

Approved minutes: Minutes of the Oct. 28, 2013 meeting were approved.

Set application closing dates on several city board vacancies: Mr. Limbaugh set a Dec. 16 closing date for applications for vacancies on the Historical Preservation Commission and the Park and Recreation Board, saying there were multiple applicants for the P/R at-large position and one applicant for Ward 2 so far. On the previous Thursday, Park Board chairman Chris Mason also announced his resignation, but this vacancy apparently wasn’t officially opened.  He set a Jan. 6 closing date for vacancies on the Board of Zoning Adjustments (Ward 4) Library Board (Wards 1 and 5), and the Homewood Downtown Redevelopment Authority. 

Passed the consent agenda, dropping two items without further discussion: On the recommendation of the Public Works Committee and based on unfavorable reports from Mr. Cobb, two items were dropped: 1. A request by Creative Montessori School to build out into a public street that exists on paper only (Second Avenue); and 2. A request to make unspecified improvements in the city right of way at 1504 Berry Road. 

Approved replacing a decorative residential street light: Ms. Champ Wallis explained that residents on Mayfair Circle had reported a missing street light and further investigation revealed that Alabama Power Co. had removed it. The light will be replaced and council agreed to take over the maintenance and utility expense.

Agreed to publish notice of a January hearing on a Dunkin’ Donuts incentive: At the mayor’s request, the council will consider offering an

The proposed $88,000/five year abatement of local sales tax for this development on Green Springs was the top dollar item on tonight's agenda. Residents will get a chance to voice their opinions at a hearing in January, date to be determined.

The proposed $88,000/five year abatement of local sales tax for this development on Green Springs was the top dollar item on tonight’s agenda. Residents will get a chance to voice their opinions at a hearing in January, date to be determined.

$88,000/five-year local sales tax abatement to a Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins  franchise as an incentive to locate on Green Springs Highway as originally planned. The sewer access at that corner had been permanently capped as “illegal access” by the Jefferson County sewer department, and the business faced the expense of tapping into a sewer main across Oxmoor Road. The council will vote after a public hearing, which may be held as soon as the first regular council meeting in January, depending on how quickly the notice can be published in the newspaper. The hearing date will be announced at the next meeting.

Amended a zoning ordinance to allow more circular driveways – The council, dispensing with a second reading, passed an amendment that reduces the lot width required to allow multiple driveway access points. The intent was to allow more circular driveways.

Postponed a zoning amendment vote to reduce “accessory structure” setbacks: The council will hold a Dec. 16 hearing on a change that would allow backyard sheds and other structures to be built as close as 5 feet to the side or rear lot line, and 10 feet from the lot line for structures of two floors or more, or which exceed 750 total square feet. A favorable vote would ratify the measure already approved by the Planning Commission. The current setback for accessory structures is the same as the main house (i.e., now they may be more visible).

Awarded a new animal control contract, through Sept. 30, 2016: Vulcan Park Animal Care on Valley Avenue, which has the contract now, was the successful bidder again. Two other providers gave a “no bid” response. The police chief noted that Vulcan took in 151 animal in 2012 and was using a Facebook page to increase the number of pets returned home or adopted to new homes.  [The FB page was actually created and is maintained by Homewood Animal Control officer Robbie Bagby.] CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ANIMAL CONTROL AND TOW SERVICE (BELOW) CONTRACTS.

Awarded a new police wrecker and towing contract, through Oct. 31, 2016: The Council approved a contract to Weil Wrecker, the only bidder responding.  CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TOW SERVICE  AND ANIMAL CONTROL (ABOVE) CONTRACTS.

Approved an additional expense to close out a sidewalk program: An additional $2,000 was approved to Birmingham Engineering Construction Consultants to formally close a long-running Safe Routes to School federal grant program. The program paid for approximately $180,000 in sidewalks around Homewood and was completed more than a year ago. The added expense was due to documentation required by the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Abstaining: Councilman Michael Hallman abstained, as a former employee of ALDOT with potential conflict of interest.

Postponed a liquor license request:  The Dupont Public House, slated for the Lovoy’s spot in SoHo at 1830 29th Avenue South was postponed because the application papers weren’t ready. 

Conditionally approved parking in the city right of way: The council is allowing the Mayfair Medical Group at 4301 U.S. 31 to put additional parking in the city right of way, pending approval by the Building, Engineering and Zoning Department.

Referred these items to different committees, as follows:  To Finance – A request to amend the 2013-14 budget for encumbrances carried over from Sept. 30, 2013. To Public Safety – A request to prohibit parking on Moretti Circle. 

Carried over a fence variance case due:  A hearing has been set Jan. 13 for a complicated variance requested at 408 Yorkshire Drive that would allow a front-yard fence and additional height–addressing two regulations in the zoning ordinance. Because the next meeting — Dec. 16 — is only one week away, the intended public hearing that night was moved ahead to meet public notice requirements. 

Paid the bills: Invoices for Nov. 25-Dec. 6, 2013 were approved to be paid. 

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at about 6:45.

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