City Council, July 13, 2015

Ward 4 appointee Alex Wyatt and his wife Megan are applauded following a swearing in ceremony. Mr. Wyatt fills the unexpired term of member Heather Reid, who moved from the city.

Ward 4 appointee Alex Wyatt, standing with wife Megan, is applauded following a swearing in ceremony. Mr. Wyatt fills the unexpired term of member Heather Reid, who moved from the city.

Lawyer Alex Wyatt took his oath of office tonight, with judge Elisabeth French presiding. Mr. Wyatt will assume his predecessor Heather Reid’s committee appointments, except Finance Committee, which goes to Ward mate and council appointee Ms. Barry Smith, who has seniority. Mr. Wyatt will also be the council’s library liaison.

In other news tonight, the council rescinded and re-approved its ServisFirst tax abatement, in a maneuver that cuts Jefferson County out of a side agreement Homewood made to collect $30,000 annually from the bank during the abatement period. See below.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Walter Jones, Patrick McClusky, Barry Smith, Alex Wyatt, new Ward 4 member sworn in tonight, and Peter Wright, chairing the meeting in the absence of the council president.  Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent: Vance Moody, Richard Laws, and council president Bruce Limbaugh.

Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Melody Salter, finance director, Scott Cook, code enforcer, and Vanessa McGrath and Greg Cobb, city Building, Engineering and Zoning staff.

Audience attendance: 21 after initial commendations and swearing in.

Approved minutes of the May 18, 2015 meeting.

Dropped three items, as follows:

  • A request to offer incentives to a restaurant proposed in West Homewood:
  • A request for speed humps on Sterrett Avenue; and
  • A request for a four-way stop at the Roseland Drive and East Glenwood Drive intersection.

OLD BUSINESS

A crumbling street in the Edgecrest neighborhood. The city is considering federal funds to start a city-wide pavement maintenance program.

A crumbling street in the Edgecrest neighborhood. The city is considering federal funds to start a city-wide pavement maintenance program.

Approved a $40,000 pavement management system for city streets: The project was pitched by consultants Volkert Engineers and awaits word on a federal grant that would pay 80%, or $32,000, with a 20% local match. The resolution tonight budgets the project based on winning the grant; the agreement must be restructured to be eligible. No further details. The matter was discussed in more detail Nov. 18, 2014.

A fence and driveway issue between two houses on Oakmoor Drive were carried over to the next meeting.

On Oakmoor — No to a parking pad to accommodate 3 or more cars, and no to an extended side fence to block out the neighbors.

Denied variances to allow an exposed fence and parking pad on Oakmoor: The homeowner at 605 Oakmoor Drive failed to make a hardship case to pour a concrete parking pad to accommodate three and sometimes four cars conveniently. Her request to extend a side fence at least 6 feet beyond the front edge of the house to somewhat enclose a carport area as a patio and screen the view of the neighbors and the corner intersection also fell on deaf ears. The council has been adamant about denying fences that divide front yards from neighbors, saying front-yard socializing is part of the city’s warmth and charm.

Brookwood's planned Orthopedic pavilion and parking deck will occupy the site originally planned for its woman's health center.

Brookwood’s planned Orthopedic pavilion and parking deck will occupy the site originally planned for its woman’s health center.

Approved a development plan for a Brookwood Medical Center orthopedic surgery center: To read background on the project at 525 Brookwood Boulevard, opposition, and a disastrous earlier attempt by Brookwood to develop this property, click here.  Steve President, a Brookwood executive, described the new Orthopedic pavillion and parking deck in glowing terms as part of Brookwood’s merger with Baptist Health System and $250 million investment pledged over the next five years. The hospital, owned by Tenet Healthcare, will be the company’s flagship of five hospitals, with an acute care hospital to be added soon that will bring 130 new employees, he said.

Location of proposed Orthopedic Pavilion for Brookwood Medical Center.

Location of proposed Orthopedic Pavilion for Brookwood Medical Center.

But opposition raised at the Planning Commission continued from Keith Hazelrig, who represented ownership of two Metroplex office buildings, saying the new facility and accompanying 500-car parking deck would create a traffic nightmare on Medical Center Drive, where buses, delivery trucks and pedestrians within two crosswalks already kept traffic continually backed up.Mr. Hazelrig said he had been asking for weeks for a copy of the traffic study but only received it a few days ago, and it didn’t address the day-to-day problems that concerned him. He asked the council to take more time to address traffic before okaying the plan.

Brookwood responded that improvements in elevators, an elevated walkway from the deck to main hospital and restriping a dedicated turn lane to the deck would all help clear traffic.

The council listened but ultimately voted to approve the development plan. A vote to immediately approve the actual rezoning from the Brookwood District’s C-1, commercial to I-3, institutiona, failed to get the required unanimous consent of the council when Mr. Hallman — first on the roll call — abstained. The vote will be repeated at the second reading next meeting.

Abstaining: Mr. Hallman.

Approved, in part, a sign variance for a cell phone store at the former Applebee’s: A Verizon store going up at 579 Brookwood Village was granted a variance to allow a taller sign on three building sides. It was denied a variance to allow it a fourth sign, which Verizon wanted to put on the rear side.

A fence can go up in the city right of way. Google.

A fence can go up in the city right of way. Google.

Approved a front yard fence at 1424 Melrose Place:  The homeowner took down a non-conforming side fence at 1424 Melrose Place, and asked for a variance to replace it. Discovering that the fence was installed 2 feet within the city’s right-of-way, Mr. Jones asked for the replacement to be moved onto private property. The council relented after finding the right-of-way extended too far into the yard and approved the variance, but requiring an indemnification agreement that would also allow the city access to the right-of-way if needed.

The now vacant America's Best Value Inn cleaned up its grounds. It and two other West Homewood properties cited for overgrown vegetation were dropped from the nuisance list.

The now vacant America’s Best Value Inn cleaned up its grounds. It and two other West Homewood properties cited for overgrown vegetation were dropped from the nuisance list.

Dropped nuisance proceedings against three West Homewood properties: Vacant residential properties at 416 Raleigh Avenue, 112 Knoll Crest, and the closed hotel at 260 Oxmoor Road were cleaned up to the city’s satisfaction.

Declared an overgrown vacant property on Ridge Road a public nuisance: A vacant house at 1602 Ridge Road will be cleared of overgrowth and the bill charged against the property. Ms. Smith said the structure was deteriorating and the grounds attracted rodents and snakes. 

The city is looking for offers to develop a corner lot on Oxmoor Road and Oak Grove, by Patriot Park.

The city is looking for offers to develop a corner lot on Oxmoor Road and Oak Grove, by Patriot Park.

Agreed to send Requests for Proposals to develop city-owned property by Patriot Park: The council, based on a Finance Committee recommendation, agreed to invite development proposals for property that was to be a catalyst project in the new West Homewood “village” renewal district. An earlier, informal offer to purchase the corner property for $50,000 for a restaurant development didn’t get much traction. The RFPs will go out with responses expected by October.

Replaced American Express with Visa cards for departmental purchases: The vote allows the mayor to execute an agreement with Iberia Bank for the cards.

Accepted a grant for Fire Department equipment: The council agreed to accept a Jefferson County EMA for Alabama Mutual Aid System grant of $8,044.

Agreed to spend up to $15,000 repairing a broken stormwater drain affecting a Woodmont house:  Few details were discussed. The city will repair a broken drainway causing problems at 108 Woodmont Drive.

Approved changes to the current budget’s various funds: Changes were approved int he General, capital and Special Revenue budgets. No details given.

DECORATIVE LIGHTS

Bull’s Construction Group got the low bid for construction on a West Homewood District intersection.

Announced low bidder for West Homewood streetscaping construction: At $317,463, Bull’s Construction Group was the low bidder out of three proposals to complete streetscaping, parking, lighting and other improvements at the intersection of Oak Grove Road and Raleigh Avenue by Patriot Park.

Approved spending $100,000 toward a comprehensive traffic study:  The vote approves a Request for Proposal to conduct and present results of a comprehensive traffic flow, biking and walkablity study, to be paid in the coming budget year.

Voted support of a state restaurant liquor license on West Valley Avenue: The restaurant is La Sabrosita at 191 West Valley Avenue.

Reduced a No Parking area from 50 to 40 feet: A 50-foot parking prohibition around the Roseland Drive and East Edgewood intersection was reduced by 10 feet in all directions.

COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA

To Finance – To consider 1) A Construction and Utility agreement with the State of Alabama for the Lakeshore Parkway/I-65 Interchange modifications; 2) Line item transfers for the Fire Departments; and 3) Replacing a wrecked police car.

Work is underway to strengthen the city's tree replacement ordinance.

Work is underway to strengthen the city’s tree replacement ordinance.

To Planning and Development – To consider 1) Amendments to the Tree Ordinance from the Homewood Environmental Commission; and 2) Planning Commission recommended changes to the West Homewood zoning District, including dissolution of the Community Development Review Committee and other substantial changes. (An agenda item to set a public hearing Aug. 10 was canceled under new business, due to the extent of the changes.)

To Public Safety – To consider 1) A Restaurant Retail Liquor application for Maya Mooresville, LLC d/b/a Holiday Inn Express Homewood Alabama  at 492 Wildwood Circle; 2)  Posting a dead-end or other sign on Acton Avenue; 3) Prohibiting street parking at the intersection of an ally near 862 Forest Drive; and 4) The adoption of the 2015 International Building Code, 2015 edition of the International Residential Code, 2015 edition of the International Plumbing Code, 2015 edition of the International Mechanical Code, 2015 edition of the International Fuel Gas Code, 2015 edition of the International Existing Building Code, 2015 edition of the International Property Maintenance Code, 2015 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code and the 2014 edition of National Electrical Code;and 2015 International Fire Code and all Appendices.

To Special Issues – To consider 1) Discussion about various development authorities and boards; and 2) A sign variance at 808 Green Springs Highway.

OTHER NEW BUSINESS

Set two July 27 public hearings: The council set hearings for 1) a variance to a sign ordinance at 808 Green Springs Highway; and 2) Declaring an overgrown property at 1704 26th Avenue South a public nuisance.

Postponed setting a public hearing on West Homewood District zoning changes: Such significant changes were recommended to the governance and content of West Homewood District that the city attorney recommended putting off setting a public hearing until the Planning & Development committee could consider them more carefully. Mistakes can be time consuming because of the advance notice and advertising required for zoning changes.

Granted road closures for Brookwood mall’s Thursday evening concert series: Village Lane will be closed from 1 – 10 p.m. for “103.7 Radio “Just Show Up Show,”; from 1-11 p.m., Sept. 24, for a Brookwood Live event; and from 1-10 p.m., Nov. 14, for the Arrival of Singing Santa.

Paid the bills: Invoices were approved to be paid for the period June 22-July 10, 2015.

Rescinded and re-approved the ServisFirst 20-year tax abatement:
The tax abatement of historic proportions granted April 27 was rescinded and re-approved under a different timeline in order to avoid sharing with Jefferson County any proceeds of a $30,000 annual payment passed in the original agreement.

Mr. Kendrick explained that state law allows a city to grant tax abatements of local, county and state taxes for only a period of 10 years. After that, each jurisdiction can decide for itself if it wants to extend the tax waiver. In the ServisFirst case, Jefferson County objected to Homewood’s arrangement to collect $30,000 annually from the bank during the abatement period, saying the county was due a part of that payment or an amount equal to it. To work around the county’s objection, Homewood has agreed to postpone collecting the $30,000 annually until the 11th year.

The city will ultimately collect the same amount, but not up front, Mr. Kendrick said.

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