City Council meeting, March 23, 2015

Efforts to have this sign relocated from unincorporated Jefferson County along Homewood's Lakeshore Drive is prompting a city overhaul of its own sign ordinance.

The City Council approved changes to the sign code tonight that would allow this digital billboard to be relocated Lakeshore Drive, near Homewood residences, to a location nearer I-65 and Oxmoor Road in the city’s Green Springs Urban Renewal District. In the same measure, new pole signs and pylon signs are to be banned in commercial areas.

Councilmen tonight said “pending litigation” has kept them mum about the likely relocation of the controversial digital billboard installed over a recent weekend on Lakeshore Drive, in unincorporated Jefferson County. But changes finalized tonight in the city’s sign ordinance point to a site within the Green Springs Renewal District, which was newly rewritten to allow interstate billboards, under certain conditions.

Ward 5 representative Peter Wright was an outspoken critic of the digital billboard installation on Lakeshore Drive. The sign is being relocated to a site in Homewood, but nearer I-65.

 

The sign must be within 75 feet of the Interstate right-of-way and at least 600 feet from any residential building, among other conditions. The distance required between same-facing billboards on the highway was reduced from 750 feet to 600 feet. Asked after the meeting why the city wasn’t more forthcoming with its own plans, Britt Thames and Patrick McClusky said it was the threat of legal action coupled with their idea that the new location is superior and in the best interests of Homewood. Peter Wright, who stood out with protesters earlier this month, echoed the same sentiment. The sign — wherever it is to be located — has not yet received final approval from the state Department of Transportation.

Also tonight, the Islamic Academy property was finally rezoned, to be cleared for a parking lot and expanded playground. The council dropped a beer and wine license request from Neighborhood Hops and Vine.  See below.

Approved minutes of the Feb. 9, 2015 meeting.

Appointed a BZA member and opened a Board of Education vacancy: On the recommendation of Ward 3 representatives, the council appointed Ty Cole to the Ward 3 seat of the Board of Zoning Adjustments. Mr. Wright announced the opening of the Ward 5 Board of Education seat; applications will be taken during the month of April.

OLD BUSINESS AGENDA

Postponed action on a laundry list of changes to the city’s zoning book: Instead of voting on the changes, which were detailed at the February Planning Commission, the vote was postponed until after the April 24 retreat involving the council and members of the Board of Zoning Adjustments and Planning Commission. The idea came from Mr. Thames, who thought the various issues would be good fodder for discussion.

Pole signs like these and hundreds of others across the city would be banned under proposed amendments to the sign ordinance.

Sign ordinance changes banned future pole signs like these and hundreds of others across the city, along with shopping center pylon signs.

Approved billboard and sign amendments:  Saying there were certain grammatical errors and other minor adjustments to the ordinance read at the last meeting, the city attorney re-read the ordinance, which the council gave  unanimous consent to vote on tonight, approving it unanimously. The ordinance bans pole signs (on-premise signs held aloft on a pole) and pylon signs (tall business identification signs at the gateway to shopping centers).

It also makes very specific changes to the sign code allowing billboards in the Green Springs Urban Renewal District, setting a 600-foot minimum clearance between billboards and residential buildings, and decreasing the allowed distance between two such billboards from 750 feet to 600 feet. These changes point to the likely site of the relocation of the digital billboard from Lakeshore Drive following boycotts and other protests earlier in the month. The measure also repealed the pole sign moratorium currently in effect.

The Islamic Academy must remove unsuitable fill dirt and repair damage to the public right-of-way when it attempted to build an unauthorized parking lot.

The Islamic Academy won rezoning of 4 acres adjacent to the school, but must remove unsuitable fill dirt from its prior, unauthorized attempt to carve a parking lot into the slope. The rezoning is conditioned on the school not removing any of the underlying rock from the slope along 18th Street.

Approved two measures rezoning Islamic Academy property and surrendering an unused city right-of-way within it: The city has delayed action for months on the Islamic Academy’s request to rezone 4 acres it purchased last year on a steep slope adjacent to its Rosedale location. The hold up involves questions over whether the school is responsible for damaging the  rock slope along 18th Street South when it attempted unauthorized work to build a parking lot on the site, cutting into the ground and filling it with unsuitable bill dirt. Geotechnical engineers later reported the school’s work didn’t cause the damage. The council passed the rezoning request on condition that there would be no permit issued for any rock removal that would destabilize the slope. The city also vacated the right-of-way in exchange for $5,000.

Voted in support of a state liquor license application for a Brookwood mall restaurant: The license is for the sports grill chain restaurant Hickory Tavern.

The Homewood location will be a second one. This picture taken in Crestline.

The Homewood location will be a second one. This picture taken in Crestline.

Dropped a request for a beer and wine license for a new business, Neighborhood Hops and Vine: The matter was dropped because the business proposed at 1712 28th Avenue South is in a C-2 zoning district, which allows restaurants but not restaurants whose business is primarily as a bar or tavern. Mr. Wyatt explained that the property would have to be rezoned first. The business is “months away from being ready to apply for a liquor license,” he said.

Approved an appraisal for property due to be purchased for the Greenway, Phase II. The measure authorizes payment of $4,250 to Pless Appraisals for appraising property, and if acceptable, writing a letter of intent to purchase it for the western access point of the Greenway Trail.

Declared two large trucks surplus, to be sold, and approved purchase of two rebuilt trucks for $77,000.

Asked the state DOT to place No Jake Brakes signs on I-65: The city outlawed loud “jake braking” by trucks in city limits. Due to complaints from residents on Berry Road near the highway, the mayor will ask ALDOT to also place signs nearby on the Interstate.

Set an April 13 hearing about a West Homewood District review committee: The review committee will look over any proposed new buildings or modifications in the West Homewood District, where any new or modified structures must now conform to an appearance-based code that replaced traditional zoning. The committee membership is alreadyd determined by the ordinance establishing the district, including two council members, certain Planning Commission members, and mayor. The measure was brought up because the Econo Lodge, in the new district, has plans for a major building modification.

COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA

To Finance – Request to consider 1) Authorizing a Personnel Study; 2) Amendments to FY 2014 and FY2015 budgets for General, Capital and Special Revenue Funds; 3) Purchasing from Alabama Power Co. 21 decorative acorn-type street lamps for the West Homewood district; and 4) Accepting a $8,972 Homeland Security grant (for something).

To Public Safety – To consider traffic calming measures on Lancaster Road.

To Planning and Development – To consider a Bike Share program.

OTHER NEW BUSINESS

Pam Clark has closed her business near the corner of Green Springs Highway and Oxmoor Road. The council has delayed action on a measure allowing the transfer of city-owned parking to a new buyer.

Pam Clark has closed her business near the corner of Green Springs Highway and Oxmoor Road. The council has delayed action on a measure allowing the transfer of city-owned parking to a new buyer.

Carried over a measure involving the sale of a business involving city property:  Great confusion followed the council president’s decision to carry over a request from the Garden Shop of Homewood to sell its building at 309 Oxmoor Road. The property owner said she leases an adjacent parking lot from the city, which is why the matter is before the council. which must be part of the transaction. Lamar Advertising, whose general manager was present for the proceedings, has a billboard erected on the adjacent property, next to the building. Before postponing the matter, Mr. Limbaugh had said he was not clear about the city’s/business owner’s relationship with Lamar Advertising. [contains corrections from a previous post.]

Paid the bills: Invoices for the period March 16-20, 2015, were approved to be paid.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Barry Smith, Heather Reid, Peter Wright, and Bruce Limbaurh, council president. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent: Vance Moody

Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Jim Wyatt, head of the city’s Inspections Department, and Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, Building, Engineering and Zoning Department.

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