City Council, Jan. 13, 2014

Homewood City CouncilIf all goes as planned, the council’s approval tonight of an $88,000 sales tax abatement will give Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins the incentive it needs to build and open as planned on the corner of Green Springs Highway and Oxmoor Road. The council also filled various board vacancies and announced one park board (Ward 4) interview with applicant C. Michael Murray, that took place today because of a scheduling conflict with the Jan. 16 interview times.

Perhaps of more interest to the city’s 486 employees is what didn’t happen tonight, i.e., the postponement of Cost Of Living Adjustment talks that were to be continued this month from a December work session. Look for the council to reconsider raises in March.

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

Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, and J. J. Bischoff, arriving late.

Audience attendance:  6.

Board appointments made:

  • Ward 1Library BoardKaren Roberson; Downtown Redevelopment Authority – Wes Quattlebaum
  • Ward 2Park Board – Marjorie Davis Trimm (only applicant).
  • Ward 4Board of Zoning Adjustments – Brian Jarmon
  • Ward 5Library Board – Melvin Upchurch (only applicant).

Approved dropping several items – The council agreed with the Finance Committee’s recommendation to drop these items:  1. Establishing a funding source for yearly Cost of Living Adjustments for the city’s nearly 500 employees. The mayor in August presented a budget that didn’t fund COLAs, asking the council to take on the task in January or mid-year (March), depending on city revenues. The council has apparently opted for March. Click here to read more background from December’s work session. 2.  A request to consider a contract with PReMA Corp. because the council is no longer interested in doing business with the company; and 3. A proposal to fund an update of the city’s 10-year-old “Staffing Analysis” report.

Approved an $88,000/5-year sales tax incentive: Following a brief public

The city passed an $88,000 sales tax abatement plan to help the fast-food franchise connect to a distant sewer main across Green Springs.

The city passed an $88,000 sales tax abatement plan to help the fast-food franchise connect to a distant sewer main across Green Springs.

hearing at which no one commented, the council passed a resolution and development agreement with the developer of a Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins. The venture, which is under the same ownership as the Dunkin’ Donuts on Lakeshore, had a contract on the vacant corner lot but was unable to connect to a Jefferson County sewer. Mayor McBrayer explained that the former tenant, Checkers, had “illegally” tapped onto the sewer at that location and the county had now permanently blocked that (sewer) site. The incentive, therefore, is roughly the cost estimated to connect to the sewer in front of the Shell Station on Green Springs by boring under the road–the nearest and cheapest alternative. Mr. Kendrick read the resolution, explaining that the city would collect and then rebate to the business a portion of the sales taxes up to $88,000 or for five years, whichever came first, as long as the business was open and operating. The agreement is tied entirely to the store’s operation, not the specific sewer construction, although the business can’t be allowed to operate unless it is connected to the sanitary sewer. Mr. Kendrick also mentioned the possibility of the council filing a “validation lawsuit” whereby the city could test the legality of the development agreement. However, he said he would explain this to the council later.

Approved, on a split vote, a complex front yard fence variance: After a public hearing in which only the applicant commented, the council allowed the homeowner at 408 Yorkshire Drive to build keep a fence that extends into the front yard, and also allowed the fence to exceed height limits in certain places. The matter came to the full council from the Special Issues Committee with no recommendation.

Voting no:  Ward 2 councilman Vance Moody voted against the measure. He explained later that he didn’t like granting variances in the absence of a [legally required] hardship, as in this case. Also, the applicant had already built the fence without getting a permit.

Carried forward, reluctantly, a languishing request from the Dupont Public House – The much publicized tavern proposed at the former Lovoy’s at 1830 29th Avenue South in SoHo has not materialized, nor has its paperwork requesting a liquor license approval, despite the diligence of the city clerk to get the paperwork in order. Mr. McClusky asked to carry the matter over one more meeting before dropping it, as Mr. Limbaugh suggested.

Postponed a requested no-parking zone on Moretti Circle  No details.

Approved carry-over budget “encumbrances,” with one exception: Finance chair Walter Jones recommended a budget amendment for unspecified  “encumbrances” remaining at the end of last year’s budget. However, one item relating to the transit authority was not included and will be taken up later, he said.

Approved a no-cost contract:  The contract with CGI Communications for a video tour of the community, purpose unknown but at no cost to the city, was approved subject to review by the city attorney.

Set hearings and referred the following items to committees: 

To Finance – 1. A mayor’s office request to update the city’s investment policy; 2. To add three police motorcycles to the surplus list; and to 3. To consider last-minute additional funding requests for an Eagle Scout veterans memorial project at Patriot Park.

To Special Issues – Sign variances are proposed at 1. the former Food World, 222 Green Springs Highway; 2. the Moretti Circle development off Valley Avenue; 3. An unspecified business at 3500 U.S. 31; 4. An unspecified business at 1927 29th Avenue South; and 5. A residential driveway variance at 319 Laurel Place; and a request to add one at-large position to the Arts Advisory Council.

Set five Jan. 27 public hearings for the variance requests, above. The council’s public hearings follow committee meeting discussions and recommendations.

Paid the bills: The council approved payment of invoices from Dec. 16-Jan. 10.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 6:40 p.m.

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