Planning Commission meeting, July 1, 2014

This is the site of a proposed 3-house subdivision for family members of Mike and Dianne Kendrick. If developed, it would be the third such “private” subdivision in Homewood.

Subdivisions ruled tonight’s brief meeting, with plans revealed for three new housing developments, namely a “private” subdivision on Columbiana Road for family members of Mike and Dianne Kendrick; a preliminary development plan to build four houses on a difficultly sized empty lot across from Hall Kent Elementary; and the division of the now well-known “Heeter” property on “Short” Saulter Road into two lots for a residence. This is the property once proposed for a community garden, a pocket park, and a gravel parking lot for GianMarco’s.

Members present: Billy Higginbotham, chairman, Mike Brandt, vice-chairman, Fred Azbik, Fred Hawkins (member and council liaison), Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill, James Ponseti, and James Riddle.

Members absent: Mark Woods.

Commission vacancies: One seat.

Staff attendance: Donna Bridges, commission secretary; Greg Cobb, Manager, Engineering, Planning & Zoning Department; and Vanessa McGrath, Engineer, Engineering, Planning and Zoning Department.

Audience attendance: 12

Approved several variances to create a family “compound” on Columbiana Road: Resident Mike Kendrick, who also serves as Homewood’s city attorney, presented several applications on behalf of his wife, Dianne Kendrick, to waive subdivision regulations for the couple to develop property at 1051 Columbiana Road (on the portion of Columbiana located west of Green Springs Ave.) The Kendricks live in the house on the 2-acre property and propose to build two other houses for family members only. Ms. McGrath, however, pointed out that there would actually be no legally binding restriction on who lives there. [Click here to read Section 107 of the Homewood Subdivision Regulations, which covers private subdivisions.]

Specifically, the Kendricks sought waivers to omit sidewalk, curb and gutter requirements; to allow as an entrance the existing 14-foot-wide driveway, (within 24 feet of city right-of-way) instead of a required 24-foot wide driveway; to allow a 5-foot shoulder in place of a 7-foot shoulder; and  “[a]ny other provision of the Homewood Subdivision Rules and regulations not included in the Application and the Preliminary and Final Plats for the Kendrick Subdivision.” Jefferson County has already approved a sewer extension to serve the new development.

Mr. Cobb explained that the sweeping final provision was added as a protection in case the Engineering Department had overlooked any additional requirements. Interestingly, Ms. McGrath explained that this so-called private subdivision is not the first of its kind in Homewood–two others have been approved on Berry Road and Belmont Lane. During the public hearing, neighbors asked whether a back gate to the property would be accessible to all three lots. Mr. Kendrick said it would be used by only the owners of the existing house (themselves).

A developer wants to build four houses on a shallow vacant lot across from Hall-Kent. Previous attempts to develop the property have failed--including towing a house onto it, which was eventually removed.

A developer wants to build four houses on a shallow vacant lot across from Hall-Kent. Previous attempts to develop the property have failed–including towing a house onto it, which was eventually removed.

Approved a preliminary plan to build four houses by  Hall-Kent: A former plan to squeeze six houses on a shallow lot across from the West Homewood elementary school ultimately fizzled, as did an attempt to move a completed house onto the property in 2011. This time, under different ownership, developer David Siegel of Twin Construction, presented a preliminary development plan to build four houses at 816 Cobb Street. Siegel and architect Joe Ellis explained that the houses would be 1.5 stories (with upper stories having a smaller footprint than lower stories) and would vary in size from 1,700 square feet to 2,000 square feet. The exteriors would be similar but not identical. During the public hearing, two neighbors spoke in opposition, citing the past history of the lot and adding that second stories would encroach on neighbors’ privacy. One neighbor was concerned about the possibility of water runoff onto his property.

In response, Mr. Siegel and Mr. Ellis said each lot would be about 50′ wide, that the rear setbacks would be 20 feet–the same as nearby properties, but that the front setbacks would need to be smaller (about 10′) to account for the lack of depth. They also said that there were a number of two-story and split-level houses in the area. Siegel said he thought the proposed density was appropriate given the institutional zoning across the street (Hall Kent School) and that the new houses would be an asset to the neighborhood. Commission members approved the preliminary plan unanimously, but pointed out that no permits could be issued until a more detailed, final plan was presented and approved.

Approved: The commission granted a resurvey to David Heeter to divide a lot at 800 Saulter Road (“Short” Saulter) into two lots. The newly created lots are each approximately 72 feet wide and 175 feet deep. The lot closest to Carr Avenue was under contract to a Homewood family that intended to build a house there, with the sale contingent on the resurvey. The property owners had already received a variance from the BZA allowing the narrow lot width. No comments were offered at the public hearing, and the commission approved the request unanimously.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:39 pm.

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