The most momentous ruling tonight was the mayor’s postponement of his FY2016 budget proposal. But for a mercifully small number of Homewood dogs, the passage of an anti-tethering law was the most important vote taken. The city’s animal control officer told a council committee two weeks ago that the words “inhumane” in the current animal ordinance was not a clear enough term to stop owners from tying out dogs, some whose entire lives are lived on the end of a chain. With precise language outlawing tethering for any longer than an hour in any 8-hour period, enforcement should follow quickly.
Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Walter Jones, Patrick McClusky, Barry Smith, Alex Wyatt, Richard Laws, Peter Wright (arriving after several votes, see below), and council president Bruce Limbaugh. Also present was Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer.
Members absent: Peter Wright arrived mid-way through the meeting.
Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Melody Salter, finance director, and Greg Cobb, city Building, Engineering and Zoning staff.
Audience attendance: 15
Approved minutes of the July 27, 2015 meeting.
Dropped an idea to build a playground on public property in Lakeshore Estates: The Public Safety Committee recommended dropping the item after a negative report from Parks and Recreation chief Berkley Squires. A similar report from Mr. Squires helped kill a movement to create a park on a triangle traffic island and a vacant lot off Broadway and Short Saulter Road.
OLD BUSINESS AGENDA
Dropped a request for prominent NO PARKING signs on the back parking lots of downtown businesses from Cahaba Cycle to Shaia’s: Merchants were angered by the council’s passage, over their objections, of a rezoning measure that allowed a building on Linden Avenue to be used for a nonprofit church business. Asking for the oversized signs at the last meeting, merchants agreed to see the results of an ad hoc parking committee meeting. The committee’s meeting last week apparently persuaded those merchants to agree to dropping their request.
Approved a request to use public property to build a parking pad for a house on Whitehall: The request carried over from last meeting involves using concrete or stone pavers to establish a parking pad parallel and adjacent to the street at 3107 Whitehall Road. Although the council has denied recent driveway variances for similar parking pads, it approved this one because the area had already been leveled, either as a former parking place or flower bed, and covered with gravel. The homeowner plans to use separate pavers to construct the parking place.
Approved, with one exception, the 2015 editions of building and fire codes: The council approved all but one section of the 2015 building codes. The section removed in its entirety any requirement for single-family houses to be furnished with automatic sprinklers. The city attorney said the state legislature had ruled it an overreach of state government to require residential sprinklers under any condition. Passed otherwise were the 2015 editions of the International Building Code, Residential Code, Plumbing Code, Mechanical Code, Fuel Gas Code, Existing 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.
Allowed a variance for a driveway on Yorkshire Drive: The city code requires a variance for driveways constructed of any material beside asphalt or concrete. The driveway at 105 Yorkshire Drive would be lined with a particular kind of gravel that doesn’t scatter, but allows water drainage, mitigating stormwater runoff and flooding problems in the hilly Hollywood section.
Mr. Wright arrived during the discussion of Yorkshire Drive.
Approved a law against tying/chaining dogs for extended periods: The essentially humane animal treatment law passed tonight is all that was salvaged from an ambitious proposal by Mr. Hawkins that would have regulated almost every aspect of dog ownership from mandated microchipping to a separate city pet licensing program, tiered system of fines for biting dogs, special fencing and restraints for certain dogs deemed dangerous, and even jail time for repeat leash-law offenders. An organized protest against any breed specific legislation stopped the momentum. The remaining law addresses the creation of “vicious dogs” by tying and isolating them in ways now considered inhumane.
Specifically, the law prohibits tethering for any more than one hour during any 8-hour period. The rule applies to both dogs and cats.
Approved resurfacing a part of Columbiana Road: The vote authorizes the mayor to enter into an agreement with the state Department of Transportation for this project.
Approved funding of remaining $9,000 owed ClasTran: ClasTran provides public shuttle transportation for elderly, low-income and other special needs populations, underwritten by local and federal dollars. This vote funds the remaining $9,000 of a yearly $15,000 bill for service in Homewood.
Renewed a Pitney Bowes mailing system contract:
The vote authorizes the mayor to sign a lease agreement with Pitney Bowes, Inc. for a new mailing system. No cost provided.
Approved budget amendments for current year: Passed unspecified amendments to the current budget in the General, Capital, Debt and Special Revenue Funds.
Continued setting a Sept. 14, 2015, hearing before voting on zoning changes to the West Homewood District: A public hearing is set before the council votes whether to make substantial recommended changes to the West Homewood District regulations, including abolishing a review panel that is in the process of ruling on a major redevelopment request by the EconoLodge on Oxmoor Road.
COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA
To Finance – To consider 1) Fixing Lee Center parking lot drainage problems; 2) Finalizing a contract with Volkert Engineering, Inc., for a federal/local funded pavement management contract ongoing since 2014; 3) Declaring street department fleet equipment surplus and due to be sold, including oil burning heaters, a sandblaster part, pneumatic lift jack, and Street Sweeper; and 4) Reviewing the Mayor’s proposed FY2016 budget.
To Public Safety -To consider 1) Discussing traffic-calming measures in West Homewood; 2) Establishing a crosswalk at the intersection of Central Avenue and Reese Street; and 3) Closing Oak Grove Road in coming months for a neighborhood celebration.
To Special Issues – To consider sign ordinance variances at 600 Brookwood Mall.
OTHER NEW BUSINESS
Mayor’s FY2016 budget presentation postponed:
Gave local approval for a beer and wine license for new restaurant on Oak Grove Road: The owner of Oak and Raleigh, at 705 Oak Grove Road, said the business is having a “soft opening” this coming weekend from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday, with formal opening set for Sept. 2.
Set a Sept. 14 public hearing for a Brookwood mall sign variance: See committee referral item, above.
Paid the bills: The council approved payment of invoices for the period Aug. 10-Aug. 21, 2015.