City Council meeting, Dec. 16, 2013

Homewood City CouncilBy far the biggest issue before the council in late christmas-hollyDecember is the prospect of funding Cost of Living Allowances for 150 486 employees, a topic taken up but not solved at the 5 p.m. work session preceding this meeting (to be posted Dec. 17). For the regular session, and the last before Christmas, a residential zoning amendment to expand the allowable area for building structures such as detached garages and storage sheds took the spotlight. (The amendment actually restores an original version of the ordinance, which had been changed, and is now being “changed back,” but with some differences, according to the city clerk.) The council president also re-iterated closing dates to apply for various city board openings.

Members present:  Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Jenifer Champ Wallis, Heather Reid, Richard Laws, Peter Wright and council president Bruce Limbaugh.

Members absent:  Vance Moody

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

Audience attendance:  4

No minutes presented for approval

Application deadlines for board vacancies:

  1. Park Board, At-large & Ward 2……………………….Today, Dec. 16, 2013
  2. Board of Adjustment & Appeals, At-large…………Today, Dec. 16, 2013
  3. Library Board, Ward 1 & 5……………………………..Jan. 6, 2014
  4. Historical Preservation Commission, Ward 4…..Jan. 6, 2014
  5. Board of Zoning Adjustments, Ward 4…………….Jan. 6, 2014

Approved a zoning amendment on unanimous consent: The council, after saying changes still needed to be made, agreed unanimously to put the proposed version of the accessory structure regulations to a vote after only one reading. One person asked if the vote shouldn’t wait until all changes were made, but councilmen  said the changes needed immediately (larger set-back areas for accessory structures) were already contained in the current proposal and other changes could wait. The amendment sets a 5-foot setback for rear yard structures, an increase over the current version, which requires those structures to have the same setbacks as the main house. Two-story garages or structures exceeding 750 square feet must be less visible–at least 10 feet from the property line. Also of note, the amendment includes a clause allowing detached garages to be used as apartments, but only for relatives of people living in the main house. This clause has been interpreted to prohibit homeowners from renting garages and carriage houses.

Set a Jan. 13, 2014 hearing for a proposed tax incentive: The hearing is the public’s chance to comment on whether the city should extend a 5-year/$88,000 tax abatement to help a Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins developer meet added expenses to connect to sewer service and build a store on Green Springs Highway and Oxmoor Road. The mayor has predicted the development would meet its income threshold in two years.

Set a Jan. 13, 2014 hearing:  The council set a public hearing for a variance to allow a front yard fence, and to allow a height variance on the fence, if allowed, at 408 Yorkshire Drive.

Carried over a liquor license request: The Dupont Public House tavern proposed at 1830 29th Avenue South, in SoHo, was postponed again because the applicant’s paperwork wasn’t in order.

Referred one item to committee: To Finance The mayor is requesting consideration for an agreement with CGI Communication to produce a “community video tour.” 

There being no further business, the council was adjourned for the year at approximately 6:40 p.m.

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3 responses to “City Council meeting, Dec. 16, 2013

  1. I’d like to know if the city council charged their dinner at Gianmarco’s tonight to taxpayers.

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  2. I’m told the city attorney, Mike Kendrick — or his firm– paid for the meals and that it was cleared first through the Alabama Ethics Commission. The issue would be if the city attorney–a public official who is appointed by the council–should offer the council free meals, etc. I understand that it is ok within certain financial limits, which I’m sure were met. Also, a city attorney is NOT considered a public official or even an appointee under the law, but merely a private person working under contract with the city. The other question is whether such a meeting, without public notice, violates the open meetings act. Probably not, and I’m purely guessing here, as there are tons of exceptions in the law and I think it would be pretty difficult for the council to actually hold a secret meeting in such visible surroundings.

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