City Council, July 27, 2015

Sign concept for two new businesses going in to the old Mazer building on Green Springs Highway.

Sign concept for two new businesses going in to the old Mazer building on Green Springs Highway.

An Asian grocery and popular Chinese restaurant are the latest offerings at the newly redeveloped Mazer’s site.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, Barry Smith, Alex Wyatt, and Vance Moody, chairing the meeting in the absence of the council president and president pro tem.  Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent: Walter Jones, Peter Wright, 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 Greg Cobb, city Building, Engineering and Zoning staff.

Audience attendance: 26

Approved minutes of the June 22, 2015 meeting.

OLD BUSINESS AGENDA

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Approved a rezoning in Brookwood Medical Center for an orthopedic surgery pavilion: Brookwood Medical Center is building a 500-space paring deck and free-standing Orthopedic Surgery pavilion on property it owns but which was zoned commercial under the Brookwood District rules. The site was originally selected for the Women’s Center, which was put off and ultimately moved. Some opposition has followed this case through the Planning Commission and the council public hearing at the last meeting, where Mr. Hallman voted against a move to pass it on the first reading. Tonight, with no conflict and two abstentions, the rezoning from commercial to institutional at 525 Brookwood Boulevard slid through.

Abstaining: Michael Hallman due to his employment with a related engineering firm; and Mr. Wyatt, a lawyer who represents Baptist Health System, which is now a part of the for-profit Brookwood system.

Approved a question about an alley near Sutherland Place and Parkridge Drive: No details available.

Supported a state retail liquor license application for the Holiday Inn Express: The hotel is at 429 Wildwood Circle. 

Approved a dead-end sign for Acton Avenue: The request was made to stop unwanted traffic.

Approved an ordinance prohibiting parking on a portion of Forest Drive: The ordinance prohibits parking 30 feet either side of an alley entrance near 862 Forest Drive.

Set an Aug. 24 hearing before adopting updated building and fire codes: The council’s last attempt to adopt an updated building/fire codes met with opposition from certain businesses, particularly Barber’s, that objected to new requirements for installing automatic sprinklers. [See Aug. 23, 2013, Oct. 14, 2013, and Oct. 21, 2013.] The fire chief at the preceding committee meeting assured members this adoption carried no such “negative” effects. To be considered are the 2015 edition of the International Building Code, Residential Code, Plumbing Code, Mechanical Code, Fuel Gas Code, Building Code, Property Maintenance Code, Energy Conservation Code , AND the 2014 edition of National Electrical Code / NFPA 70 and the 2015 edition of the International Fire Code and all Appendices. Start reading.

Approved a larger combined sign size for a restaurant and grocery store at the old Mazer’s property: A Hometown Grocery is one of the latest additions to the Mazer property, judging from a sign variance request approved tonight for the business opening at 808 Green Springs Highway. The council, disappointed with an earlier, cartoonish sign prototype presented by the discounter Ollie’s, settled for a more conservative version when that store opened. Along with the Hometown Supermarket sign will be a sign and logo for Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese Restaurant, a popular restaurant now in a Hoover storefront. The request for a variance allowing a 223 square feet sign (Ollie’s is only 199 sf and Pep Boys is 149 sf) was rejected, but passed if limited to 200 square feet total.

Parking downtown is a madhouse.

Reese Street. Parking downtown is a madhouse.

Approved an ad hoc committee to address downtown parking concerns: Over loud objections from most of the city’s downtown merchants, the Planning Commission and City Council voted last month to rezone a downtown commercial building for a Church of the Advent satellite. Tonight the council established an ad hoc committee to study solutions to parking congestion–the main objection to the rezoning. The committee will be chaired by Mr. Thames, with mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff and the Chamber of Commerce president, as well as Kevin McCain–whose wife Tricia manages the Homewood Toy & Hobby Shop founded by her father–and Linden Avenue merchant Mark Westfall.

The first redevelopment under the new West Homewood Village District regulations could be another hotel on the currently EconoLodge property. This sketch is taken from the application to be reviewed by a district committee on July 30.

The first redevelopment under the new West Homewood Village District regulations could be another hotel on the current EconoLodge property. This sketch is taken from the application, to be reviewed by a district committee on July 30.

Postponed any action on changes to the West Homewood (village) District zoning code: The new redevelopment district is based on a non-traditional building code that focuses on the form and placement of buildings rather than mainly their use. As an experiment in so-called form-based codes, city leaders were hoping to start off with a building of their own choosing. Instead, an application to redevelop the 1970s-era EconoLodge under the code came first, and the city and zoning office have been scrambling to understand the code as well as procedures for implementing it. The Planning Commission’s recommendation to make significant changes to the code and replace the

The owner of the EconoLodge in West Homewood is proposing to remove this building to make room for a second hotel on the property.

The owner of the EconoLodge in West Homewood is proposing to remove this building to make room for a second hotel on the property.

Community Design and Review Committee (CDRC) with the traditional Planning Commission/BZA format, has been postponed once before. Tonight the council kicked the whole question back to the Planning and Development Committee, giving no reason. The CDRC is scheduled to meet Thursday, July 30 at 3 p.m. to consider the EconoLodge application.

Approved an agreement to allow work on the planned Lakeshore interchange: The vote allows the mayor to enter into a Construction and Utility agreement on behalf of the city.

Agreed, with one dissent, to pay $55,000 to replace a wrecked police car: The police department has pushed hard for this replacement, which calls for an unbudgeted $55,000 expenditure from this fiscal year. The Public Works Committee last week reluctantly voted its recommendation after a plea from the police chief and Sgt. Jerry Suttles. 

Voting no: Michael Hallman, saying the city should budget the replacement in the year starting Oct. 1.

Approved transfers for the Fire Department: No details.

Funded bus service through the end of the budget year: The council agreed to fund the final quarter of funding for the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority in the amount of $65,967. For more history on the long transit saga and maps of proposed new routes, click here.

Declared a Ward 1 property a public nuisance: The overgrown property at 1704 26th Avenue South was declared a nuisance, due to be cleaned up at city expense and billed to the owner.

COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA

To Finance -To consider, 1) Costs for a new, revamped city website; and 2) Funding Clastran at $9,000 of initial request of $15,000.

To Public Safety -To consider 1) a state beer and wine license for the Red Pear/Super Oriental Market at 243 West Valley Avenue

To Public Works – To consider 1) Allowing a parking pad and retaining wall to be built in the city right of way near 222 Devon Drive, and a parking pad at 3107 Whitehall Road.

To Special Issues – To consider variances to the sign ordinance on the rear property lines of 2800-2836 18th Street South.

OTHER NEW BUSINESS

Set an Aug. 10 public hearing for a sign variance at 2800-2836 18th Street South: See above.

Appointed Mr. Moody as member and Mr. Hawkins as alternate to serve on the CDRC: Mr. Moody, who will be absent when the committee’s first case is heard on July 30, will be replaced by Mr. Hawkins. Both are Ward 2 representatives.

Approved $15,000 to fix the transmission on a fire truck:

Paid the bills: The council approved payment of invoices for the period July 13-July 24, 2015.

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