Following trends seen in recent meetings, the Planning Commission tonight approved three non-residential cases — including two in Rosedale — rezoning vacant residential property to commercial, amending a Mixed-use District Development Plan, and the last approving additional paved parking on the Samford University campus. The discussions were dominated by concerns over parking as commercial and institutional areas expand.
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 Wood
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: 20
All votes are unanimous unless otherwise noted.
Approved: Minutes of the July 1, 2014 meeting, without reading.
Approved rezoning a residential district for commerical parking: The owner of vacant land at 1728 26th Avenue South asked to rezone the property from R7 (attached dwelling unit district) to C2 (Commercial Shopping District) to accommodate an ADV audio/visual showroom that has 12-month lease on the former Dorothy McDaniel building. The property encompasses a drainage ditch and abuts the building and a lot already rezoned to C2 at 2560 18th Street. The plan is to improve existing parking and expand for a total of 30 spaces. The expanded parking area will be landscaped to buffer the view of parked cars. No questions were asked at the public hearing, other than a clarification by Mr. Azbik that the property would be used for “shopping.” Ms. McGrath explained that a showroom was considered a “shopping” area.
Approved amending a development plant on a 6-1 split vote: Property owner Abby Brock requested a previously approved development plan be amended to add a second story to her building at 1659 28th Avenue South, to modify parking, and add landscaping. (The property had previously been rezoned to MXD with the original development plan. MXD stands for Mixed Use District, an urban district combining residential and work space under one roof.) Ms. Brock presented a three-dimensional video property layout, showing views of all sides of the building, and a top view, with the modifications.
Two neighbors living adjacent to the property spoke in the public hearing. A resident at 1626 28th Avenue South asked what the height of the building would be with the second story. Mr. Cobb said 20 feet height, which is within the 25 foot maximum. The resident also asked the height of a prominent wall right off the street that was already approved in the development plan. It was determined to be 8 feet high.
A second resident living at 1627 28th Ave South had concerns about the wall being out of character for the area, and too high or imposing. He asked for the walls to be lowered to 6 feet and expressed concern about creating additional parking in an area already congested with traffic. Traffic concerns weren’t addressed and it was determined that an “8-foot stucco wall” was already approved in the development plan. Ms. Brock said she would stick with the original plan.
Ms. McGrath then summarized the contents of a letter in favor of the development submitted by a resident on B. M. Montgomery Street. Following the hearing, Mr. Higginbotham asked if a side wall was on the property line. It was determined to be on the property line, but in line with the former house and fence. The proposed parking modifications would place angled parking in the city right-of-way. The Battalion Chief said there was adequate fire department access from two sides, and with no further questions, the plan passed 6-1.
Voting no: Mr. Azbik, giving no explanation.
Approved additional parking on Samford’s campus: The commission approved an amendment to the development plan, allowing Samford University to add a total of 246 parking spaces on campus in three new lots.
- One area of 27 spaces would be paved onto a grassy service area behind the University Center.
- A second parking area of 139 spaces would be created from an out-field of Griffin Baseball Stadium.
- A third area would create 80 parking spaces near Lakeshore Drive, extending current parking there and demolishing one house.
Mr. Cobb was quick to mention that none of the new parking areas falls within or near the surrounding residential neighborhood. During the public hearing, a resident from Curry Way asked whether the utility road behind the University Center would remain open. The answer was yes, access for utilities would remain, and new drainage would be installed into the existing ditch.
Mr. Higginbotham closed the public hearing, then asked Ms. McGrath whether Samford met parking requirements for the city. Ms. McGrath said yes, Samford exceeded the city’s parking requirements.