City Council meeting, July 28, 2014

photo 4The consensus to close down the America’s Best Value Inn & Suites motel in West Homewood was made clear in a unanimous council vote tonight after owners ADMA, Inc. asked to extend operations one year, through July 2015. The council decided in a split vote in March to deny renewing a business license for the business because of criminal behavior allegedly tolerated to such an extent that it created a public nuisance. The owners immediately answered with a request in circuit court for a temporary restraining order — which was granted — to continue operations. Meanwhile, the legal discussion between the city and motel owners has taken place in a series of executive sessions leading to an agreed upon closing date of July 31. That date remained firm after a vote toonight.

Speaking of nuisances, a property on Irving Road repeatedly cited for overgrowth and litter was declared a public nuisance for the third time tonight, with a warning issued about actions needed for the dilapidated housing on the property as well.

Members present:  All-Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Walter Jones, Patrick McClusky, Heather Reid, Richard Laws (arriving late, Peter Wright, and Bruce Limbaugh, council president. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

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

Audience attendance: 45, including crews from ABC 33/40 and Fox 6 News.

Approved minutes of the May 12, 2014 meeting.

Board Vacancies: Eleven applications were submitted to fill the Ward 4, Place 1 Council seat vacated by the resignation of Jenifer Champ Wallis at the last council meeting. A replacement will be appointed to serve Ms. Wallis’s unexpired term.

Approved a sign variance for a new SoHo tenant: The council allowed a variance for PT’s Sports Bar & Grill at 1830 – 29th Avenue South (former Lovoy’s location at SoHo) for an additional sign because of its location at the corner of the building.

Is that the Sims Ecoscape we keep hearing about? No, this overgrown property is a repeat offender on the city's  "excessive growth" list. A July 28 hearing is set to see if this and several other overgrown properties should be declared public nuisances.

Is that the Sims Ecoscape we keep hearing about? No, this overgrown property is a repeat offender on the city’s
“excessive growth” list.

Ruled on several overgrown properties: Out of five properties subject to a  judgment because of overgrowth and litter, only one–1106 Irving Road–was declared a nuisance tonight. Council members and BEZ staff noted the continual decline not only of the grounds at this address but also two houses, saying they would consider pursuing action on the structures as well if not remedied by the owner. Cleared of problems since the last council meeting were properties at 2827 16th Place South, 2831 16th Place South, 1425 Ardsley Place, and 3406 Avalon Road.

Authorized a 3-year contract for CM Food service for Rosewood Hall:  The council approved the contract, with a caveat from the mayor that terms must include two rent-free nights per year, one for a Police Department event and one for a Homewood City Schools event. The city gets 100% of facility rental fees up to $100,000, then 70%. For catering, the city receives 5% of gross sales up to $250,000, and 2% for amounts above that. An additional 10% of all alcohol sales at Rosewood Hall goes to the city, according to the contract.

Approved, with one condition and over a dissenting vote, the ClasTran contract. The council approved $15,000 this year to continue funding Clastran pending a year-end budget surplus. Local government appropriations for the transit service serving elderly and disabled passengers are matched by federal dollars. It has been reported that the service makes 40 trips in Homewood per day, although the council last year split on its vote to fund the service, with opponents saying there weren’t enough riders to justify the expense. The director of the Exceptional Foundation, however, in defending a planned building expansion earlier this year, said there would be fewer traffic concerns because many clients traveled to the agency on ClasTran. The council in September didn’t include ClasTran in its 2014 budget.

Voting no: Ms. Reid voted no as she did in March 2013, saying then that there were not enough riders to justify funding the transit service.

Authorized the mayor to enter a contract to repair a storm sewer: Walter Schoel Engineering has the engineering contract for repairs to a storm drain at 1717 27th Court South. The estimated cost for the engineering work is about $10,000 with construction, depending on bid results, estimated at $150,000.

Referred the following items to various committees:

To Finance – A complaint regarding either reducing the speed limit or enforcing the current 35 mph limit on Valley Avenue near Vulcan; A mayor’s request to ease parking congestion on Carr Avenue by providing parallel parking spots (along with decorative street lights and a sidewalk) on city-owned property on “short” Saulter Road. The mayor reported in an earlier committee meeting that congested parking on Carr potentially blocked rescue vehicles and could not continue. GianMarco’s Restaurant has also leased valet parking space at the former Jefferson County satellite office parking lot to help alleviate the parking problem.

To Public Works – A request to vacate (surrender possession of) an alley off of Kensington Road;

To Public Safety – To consider recommendations of a traffic study by Skipper Engineering, Inc. required for an ATRIP grant to fund resurfacing and lane reduction via re-striping (from two lanes in each direction to one, plus left-turn lanes) on Valley and West Valley Avenue. 

Denied an extension on the America’s Best Value Inn & Suites settlement: Although the family owners of the troubled motel stood to speak at this agenda item, the council president reminded them it was not a public hearing. The vote was taken with no further discussion.

Settled a lawsuit on clearing a downtown chemical spill: The council approved, without making the terms public, a lawsuit filed against BBB Enterprises, LLC, to pay for environmental clean up of a dry cleaning business. Click here for first reference in November 2013.

Paid the bills, July 14-July 25, 2014. 

Adjournment: 6:45 p.m.



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