With few people present, including the selected candidate, the council tonight named Alex Wyatt to the Ward 4 council post vacated recently by Heather Reid’s resignation. Mr. Wyatt is a 14-year resident of Homewood and Ward 4 who lists board membership on the Homewood City Schools Foundation and the anti-drug group, Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Homewood, as his most prominent civic duties. A graduate of Spring Hill College, ’96, he is a shareholder in the Parsons, Lee and Juliano law firm, focusing his practice on medical malpractice, environmental litigation, product liability, and mediation. Click here for Mr. Wyatt’s and other applicants’ resumes and cover letters.
In other business, the council agreed to spend $128,000 for a new street sweeper from carryover capital fund balance, and set public hearings on a series of overgrown properties, mainly in West Homewood.
Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Walter Jones, Patrick McClusky, Barry Smith, and Peter Wright. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.
Council president Bruce Limbaugh and Richard Laws. President pro tem Peter Wright led the meeting.
Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Melody Salter, finance director, Vanessa McGrath and Greg Cobb, city Building, Engineering and Zoning staff.
Audience attendance: 17
OLD BUSINESS AGENDA
Approved minutes of the May 11, 2015, meeting.
Carried over a maintenance program for city streets, pending funding: Volkert Engineering had pitched a $40,000 plan to inspect 125 miles of city streets and recommend a schedule of maintenance involving a spectrum of sealants, repaving, resurfacing and other treatments, to prolong their life. The maintenance program ultimately will save money on road maintenance. In committee it was learned that the project would qualify for a federal grant with the usual 20% local contribution, or only $8,000. Tonight the matter was carried over.
The project has been held over for successive meetings since April, while the city awaits an okay on a federal shared funding from the state highway department. A decision is expected by the July 13 meeting.
Approved, in part, a variance to fence in a housing development on the Broadway “triangle.” Real estate agent and investor Chris Tucker asked for code exemptions to allow his 5-house development planned at 902 Broadway to be enclosed back and front by picket fences. So-called “front yard” fences–or fences enclosing a house on any side exposed to a street– are one of the few variances the city has consistently denied, and tonight’s request sparked a lot of conversation, revealing that the city had built part of its Saulter Street sidewalk on Mr. Tucker’s property, while at the same time, Mr. Tuckers’ proposed fences would cross city right-of-way. The dual encroachment issue was put off until further study; meanwhile, Mr. Jones led the discussion in opposing the fences, saying Homewood was a community where neighbors were generally welcomed into each others’ front yards, not fenced out. Very few exceptions have been granted and Mr. Williams was asked to state the hardships that would justify the exemption.
Mr. Tucker was then put in the uncomfortable position of describing his development as unsafe* from surrounding traffic on three streets (Broadway, “short” Saulter, and Carr Avenue), a city-built parallel parking spaces on short Saulter, which are used almost exclusively by GianMarco’s valet customers, and a nearby bus stop. In discussion, the hardships were dismissed except that the “triangle” is an island unlike other residential developments. The council agreed to allow fences along the rear of the houses, on Saulter, and on the sides of the two end lots.
The development has received significant lot area and setback variances prior to tonight’s request.
*In an email the day after publishing, Mr. Tucker complained that he didn’t mean the development was “unsafe” because of traffic on three sides, but meant the street exposure called for more privacy, and therefore a fences on all sides.
Approved a the parking requirement on a mixed-use development plan: Amendments to the MXD development plan at 1659 28th Avenue South moved the structure slightly on the lot and reduced parking from 4 spaces to 3 since the use had changed from retail to primarily office space.
Denied on a 6-2 split vote a variance to build a front yard parking pad on Roxbury Road: David Siegel of Twin Construction requested a variance to allow construction of a flagstone-covered parallel parking space built into the front yard (and right-of-way) off the street at 3104 Roxbury Road. Discussion showed the council favored widening the existing driveway for more room instead.
Voting in favor of the request: Fred Hawkins and Peter Wright.
Continued two public hearings for driveway and front fence variances on Oakmoor Drive: Neither party was present tonight. The fence and driveway issues are near or on the property line at 605 Oakmoor Drive, contested by a neighbor.
Agreed to request $160,000 in next year’s budget for a downtown revitalization project. The vote was in support of the project and intent to fund it; it does not guarantee the project will be budgeted.
COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA
To Finance – To consider 1) Amending the current General, Capital and Special Revenue budgets; 2) Setting a bid opening for July 6 at 5:30 p.m. for construction in the West Homewood District street and parking improvements; 3) An easement at 108 Woodmont Drive; and 4) Retiree benefits.
To Public Safety – To consider 1) Amending an ordinance prohibiting paring within 50 feet of the Roseland Drive and East Edgewood intersection.
To Public Works – To consider solving problems with an alley near Sutherland Place and Parkridge Drive.
To Special Issues – To consider 1) A sign ordinance for 579 Brookwood Village; and 2) A fence variance at 1424 Melrose Place.
OTHER NEW BUSINESS
Set a July 6 bid opening for West Homewood improvements: A bid opening is set for July 6 at 5:30 p.m. for construction of streetscapes and parking improvements near Patriot Park.
Set July 13 public hearings for sign and fence variances, see above.
Approved the city’s role in pursuing a federal grant to identify and help at-risk athletes stay in school: The school system is seeking $50,000 for a Department of Justice grant that would be used on school staff and programming to help disadvantaged high school athletes succeed in school. The funds would pay for tutors, counselors and regular staff overtime to implement the assistance program. Federal funds are awarded through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to city police departments in partnership with schools. The grant request is being supported by the school-based anti-drug organization, Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Homewood.
Voted in support of a state retail liquor license for DoDiyo’s restaurant: Due to a change of ownership, the restaurant must reapply for its liquor license at 1831 28th Avenue South.
Set July 13 public nuisance hearings for several overgrown properties: The properties are at 416 Raleigh Avenue; 112 Knoll Crest Drive; 260 Oxmoor Road, and 1602 Ridge Road.
Paid the bills: Approved invoices to be paid for June 8-19, 2015.