Exceptional Foundation expansion meeting, Dec. 19, 2013

1528716_662476353804260_1548558557_nOn Jan. 7, the Homewood Planning Commission will hold a public hearing before it votes whether to recommend rezoning a substantial segment of adjacent residential property (two lots) on Oxmoor Road for an Exceptional Foundation building expansion in 2015 and for an immediate addition of 16 parking spaces to be shared by the Homewood Park and Rec Center. The City Council has final approval. To provide some background to that decision, the following notes were taken at a neighborhood meeting hosted by the Exceptional Foundation’s executive director Tricia Kirk, and attended by about 18 people, including Ward 1 councilman Michael Hallman and Park and Rec Superintendent Rusty Holly.

In summary, the private non-profit Exceptional Foundation will be asking to

The Exceptional Foundation is seeking to expand west down Oxmoor Road. Its space concerns were complicated by the Homewood Rec Center expansion, seen in the background.

The Exceptional Foundation is seeking to expand west down Oxmoor Road. Its space concerns were complicated by the Homewood Rec Center expansion, seen in the background.

convert occupied residential property to property zoned institutional. It has already negotiated purchase agreements for two houses, conditioned on getting that approval from the Planning Commission and City Council. The move is prompted by the steady growth over many years of the EF, compounded by the construction of a much larger city Recreation Center directly behind it.

The Park Board two years ago contemplated, but hasn’t completely implemented, a plan to take six houses on Manhattan Street for more parking.

The meeting

The Exceptional Foundation backs up to Oxmoor Road. It is seeking to expand west down Oxmoor if allowed to rezone and take two houses.

The Exceptional Foundation backs up to Oxmoor Road. It is seeking to expand west down Oxmoor if allowed to rezone and take two houses.

Ms. Kirk opened by discussing the foundation’s need for a vision of its future. She said the organization’s growth has been “phenomenal” over the last 13-14 years, and the board has decided that it must expand if it is to remain at its current location in Homewood. The programs draw participants from Leeds, Trussville, and parts of Shelby County to Homewood every week. The EF leadership has also considered opening satellite locations to accommodate participants from outlying areas.

Looking east on Oxmoor at two houses the Exceptional Foundation is seeking to buy and use to expand parking and facilities.

Looking east on Oxmoor at two houses the Exceptional Foundation is seeking to buy and use to expand parking and facilities.

The architect presented a preliminary rendering of the design for a completely new, 7,000 square foot building. According to that plan, two houses would be resurveyed then rezoned from NPD (Neighborhood Preservation District) to I2 (Institutional).  The lots would be used initially for parking while the EF conducts a capital campaign for the building. A rough time frame to start that expansion was 2015.

The plan consists of using the lots to build a road from Oxmoor to allow remote access to EF and which could be connected to the Homewood Rec Center parking lot and carry traffic around all four sides of the building– along Oxmoor Road, the new road; the Rec Center parking lot; and the existing entry drive. The plan includes using evergreens as a landscape buffer for neighboring houses.

The new Homewood Rec Center, pictured under construction in December 2013, and the Exceptional Foundation, left, share parking concerns.

The new Homewood Rec Center, at right under construction in December 2013, and the Exceptional Foundation, left, share parking concerns.

Ms. Kirk said the EF usually only needs 25 parking spots during the week, which the current lot provides. However, adding the new lots would add 16 parking spaces, which would be shared by the Park and Rec center.

Mr. Hallman spoke, saying a family renting one of the houses was unaware of the plans under way and thought they were leasing to own the property. He thought that family deserved help relocating if the plan went that far. He asked if EF would need further expansion, and Ms. Kirk said no. Mr. Hallman also mentioned a traffic study the city is conducting on the entire length of Oxmoor Road, and suggested the EF be aware of this plan and how to coordinate within it.
Mr. Holley said he liked the idea of an access road from Oxmoor. It was mentioned that if a “shared” public road is to be built, then those parties who will benefit from that road should help with the cost.

The meeting was opened at 5:30 p.m. and was adjourned at 6:45.

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