No announcement could have been more happily received by the Planning Commission than tonight’s unveiling of a movie theater inside the Brookwood Village mall. Explained by Brookwood owners after the meeting, the theater will feature dining, other entertainment, and be luxuriously roomy compared to other theaters. The proposed seating, at 550, is half what theaters routinely would pack into a 40,000 square foot facility. Read agenda item below.
Members present: Billy Higginbotham, chairman, Mike Brandt, vice-chairman, Jeffery Foster, Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill, James Ponseti, James Riddle, and Mark Woods.
Members absent: Fred Azbik and Fred Hawkins.
Staff attendance: Donna Bridges, commission secretary; Greg Cobb, manager, Engineering, Planning & Zoning Department; and Vanessa McGrath, engineer, Engineering, Planning and Zoning Department.
Audience attendance: 11
All votes were unanimous. For rezoning cases, the Planning Commission’s votes are advisory only; the City Council has the final say after conducting its own public hearing on each case.
Approved the minutes of the Jan. 6, 2015 meeting.
Approved redrawing lot lines on Bagby Drive for a storage redevelopment: Melinda Sellers of Burr Forman law firm, owner of vacant office park buildings on Bagby and Golden Crest Drive in West Homewood, asked for the property to be resurveyed from three lots in three parcels to two lots. The buildings currently are built across lot lines; the resurvey will place the line in between two buildings. The planning commission recommended a rezoning request to allow an indoor storage facility. That case will be decided by the City Council following a Feb. 23 public hearing.
Approved a resurvey for a sports facility next to Brookwood Medical Center: Arrington Engineers requested a resurvey of property for D-1 Sports Training facility, at 2031 Medical Center Drive. The facility is on property owned by Brookwood Center Development Corporation and adjacent to a vacant parcel also owned by Brookwood. The approval enlarges D-1’s lot by moving a boundary 39 feet to the west and another line to the east, contingent on signatures from Brookwood. D-1 Sports is one of a chain of physician-run sports training centers, catering to high school athletes. The property was rezoned from commercial to institutional in 2008.
Subdivided property on Irving for new owners: Property at 1106 Irving Road that was recently sold after a long decline, multiple nuisance violations and court battle with the city, was resurveyed from six lots to four. New owners Brent and Sandi Ponce plan to sell the residential lots.
Approved, with some fanfare, an amended development plan to allow a movie theatre and other changes to Brookwood Village. Kirk Williams, managing director of a Brookwood ownership entity, Cypress Equities, presented a plan to build a 550-seat, 40,000 square foot theater and entertainment complex in the west-center portion of the mall, relocating tenants such as Jason’s Deli, Victoria Secret, the Loft, etc., as well as 225 underground parking spaces. Parking will be redistributed to sections to the east of the main mall, and in front. Mr. Williams said the decision was made after careful analysis of the market, and would deliver to the area a “sophisticated shopping and entertainment boutique.” The theater will face north, providing a central design focus to the mall but its profile will not rise above the roof lines of restaurants across the private drive due to building the theater down into the mall’s basement.
Mr. Williams was careful not to reveal the name of the theater operator, saying only that it was familiar to the area. The interior of the mall will be redeveloped as well, Ms. McGrath said.
The owners have been criticized for closing down the Applebee’s restaurant to make way for a cell phone retailer. All the mall tenants displaced by the theater will be relocated elsewhere on the property, Mr. Williams said.
Allowed a changed residential development plan in West Homewood to allow storage buildings. Twin Properties, which is building three houses on a shallow parcel across from Hall-Kent Elementary, requested a change in the plan to allow storage buildings in the rear of each house.
Approved six changes to the city’s zoning ordinance requested by city staff: Citing confusing wording and other practical difficulties, the commission agreed to the following changes requested by Ms. McGrath. Any changes to the ordinance are subject to final approval by the city council.
- Clarified the definition of “front of a corner lot,” to distinguish between the actual front, and the exposed side of the house, also considered a “front” under current wording.
- Simplified residential setbacks at 10 feet on each side for houses over 66 feet wide. The current percentage method of figuring the setback is too difficult to impose on irregular shaped lots.
- In a complicated move, the changes eliminate the required 20-foot fire lane clearance between second floors on adjacent houses, and also offer homeowners options for building second floors without “stepping in” the second floor 10-feet from the ground floor. The required 20-foot clearance–intended to deter the spread of fires and make it easier to reach by fire equipment–was considered arbitrary and unworkable in practice, i.e., if one household receives a variance to build into the setback, the requirement prevents neighboring households from doing the same should they want to expand. The proposed change keeps the 10-foot step-in requirement, but offers homeowners the option of building straight up with non-combustible materials or furnishing interior sprinklers, instead. (The change wouldn’t prevent a homeowner from consuming his neighbor’s setback space in a remodeling, but would offer those neighbors more options for their own remodels.)
- Imposed uniform setbacks for accessory buildings, which are currently figured on square footage. The change makes the setback 5 feet for one-story structures and 10 feet for two-story structures.
- Allowed HVAC equipment to be installed in a setback area as a matter of law. A reinterpretation of the code last year has sent numerous homeowners in front of the BZA for a variance to allow air conditioning equipment. The change would eliminate the need for a variance.
- Clarify the wording that requires businesses to enclose waste receptacles.