It was a long time coming, say UAB supporters, who showed up in force tonight wearing UAB T-shirts, Blazer gear and green and gold jackets. But Homewood finally joined 30 other Jefferson County municipalities in passing a resolution urging the university to reinstate the football (and riflery and bowling) athletic programs canceled late in 2014. Lavon Chaney, speaking for the group of 35 or so, said the group represented a grass-roots campaign to acknowledge UAB’s importance not only to Birmingham, but to all the surrounding communities.
Homewood, she said, had delayed passing a resolution until it could count on a unanimous vote of its 11-member council, an uncertainty until tonight. (Please refer to an earlier “Minority Report” for clues to likely hold-outs on unanimity.) So deeply had this fear of a single dissenter been impressed on the council that even when a unanimous voted was counted, Mr. Limbaugh announced it as only 9-1 in favor.
UPDATE FOR CLARITY 02/25/15 [Mr. Limbaugh, when asked for details of the vote two days after the meeting, said he and two other council members were reluctant to support the proposed football resolution. During continuing discussions, the three dissenters became two, then one, in the weeks leading to a vote.]
Mountain Brook now remains the only city in the immediate area that hasn’t passed such a resolution, and would likely remain so, Ms. Chaney said.
Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Barry Smith, Heather Reid, Peter Wright and Bruce Limbaugh, council president. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.
Members absent: Rich Laws.
Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Building, Engineering and Zoning staff Vanessa McGrath and Greg Cobb.
Audience attendance: 35
Approved minutes of Dec. 18, 2014 meeting.
Filled several board vacancies: Ward 3 representatives nominated and the council approved 1) appointing Elaine Snow to the Historic Preservation Board; 2) Appointing Gary Sheffer to the Homewood Environmental Commission for Ward 3; and 3) Re-appointing Ward 3 representative Paula Smalley to the Parks and Recreation Board. Ms. Smalley, who was chosen over another applicant, was hit by a car and seriously injured in December.
Rezoned derelict building sites on Bagby Drive, one for a storage facility: The Planning Commission was split 6-2 on recommending this rezoning from Commercial Office to a less restrictive C-5 (General Business District), and for a while it looked like the council was undecided as well. The two matching buildings, at 55 and 65 Bagby Drive, and another at 301 Goodwin Crest Drive, are in the defunct telephone company office complex off West Valley Avenue and are owned by a partnership represented by Burr Forman law firm. The north Bagby building and a smaller building nearby on Goodwin Crest are slated for an indoor storage facility; the other building has been sold for an undetermined use.
Council members asked plenty of questions, with Mr. Moody concerned the move constituted a case of “spot zoning.” Mr. Jones and Mr. Wright then seemed satisfied to put off a vote until the second reading, in March. However, Mr. Thames prompted them to ask their questions and Burr Forman’s representative said the March date was too late. That said, members unanimously passed the rezoning on the first reading, with Mr. Hallman abstaining.
Abstaining: Mr. Hallman, saying he worked for the engineering company that did the drawings for the site.
Approved, with conditions, a safety fence for Islamic Academy buildings: The council approved a 6-foot metal security fence to enclose two sides of four portable classrooms at 1810 – 25th Court South, in Rosedale. The approval is subject to approval of the fence appearance and materials prior to installation.
COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA
To Finance – To consider 1) a request to declare Fire Department equipment surplus, in order to sell; and 2) to change Employee Assistance providers due to the closing of the current provider.
To Public Safety – To consider 1) adding another stop sign at Venetian Way and Parkside Circle/Parkside Court in West Homewood; and 2) Adding three street lights on Forest Brook Drive, costing $28.50/month for each.
To Planning and Development – To set a public hearing to review proposed changes to the city’s zoning book, reported in detail here.
OTHER NEW BUSINESS
Set a March 16 hearing before voting on zoning ordinance changes: See item above.
Changed the March meeting schedule to accommodate travelers to a Washington, D.C. meeting: The March 9 meeting has been rescheduled to March 16, allowing Mr. Hallman, Mr. Jones and Ms. Cook to attend the National League of Cities annual meeting.
Approved changes to the current FY2015 budget: Budget items were amended on the recommendation of the Finance Committee. No details given.
Gave additional funding to the Homewood Arts Advisory Council: The newly reorganized and funded group was given an additional $2,500 for a June gallery opening.
Approved a change to employee retirement plans: The change to an agreement with retirement provider Alerus Financial allows partial as well as full fund distributions to those covered.
Set a March 16 hearings for a street name change: The Creative Montessori School has requested changing the name of its address at First Avenue West to Montessori Way.
Carried over a no parking sign request: A request for a no parking sign at 101 East Edgewood Drive and East Edgewood Drive was postponed to March 16 because the ordinance hadn’t been prepared.
Paid the bills: Invoices for the period Feb. 9-20, 2015 were approved for payment.