More interesting than the four residential cases discussed–and passed–tonight was a work session devoted to how new zoning might affect a planned Waffle House renovation on Oxmoor Road in West Homewood. The 24-hour short-order restaurant will be possibly the first redevelopment completed under the new West Homewood District zoning, which emphasizes buildings built to street level, with vaulted first-story interiors, and a limited selection of shopfront types designed to invite people to stop, look and drop in. (Oddly, the Waffle House was the only business to object to the new “form-based” code when it was imposed on 22 parcels in 2013 to create a village appearance to West Homewood’s aging commercial area.) The EconoLodge two doors down was the first applicant under the new code, although its case has languished. Its application will continue to be followed by a review committee that has since been dissolved.
Zoning official Vanessa McGrath summarized where codes in the 50-page document departed significantly from traditional zoning: Buildings must not be set back too far from street level; A minimum 70% of the ground floor area must be devoted to windows and doors; and there are more options for meeting parking requirements, such as counting street and other available public parking. She expected the business to ask for variances to build 6 inches farther from the street than the maximum 6 foot allowance, and for an interior height lower than required 12 feet. It is considering putting up a “street wall” or free-standing structure at street level to block the open parking area. The restaurant’s prototype already meets the glass and window requirement
The case will be heard next month (although a discarded Nov. 5 yellow sign was found outside the Waffle House tonight.)
Members present: Brian Jarmon, Ty Cole, Lauren Gwaltney, Jeffrey Foster (S), Beverly LeBoeuf.
Members absent: Hope Cannon
Staff present: Vanessa McGrath and Greg Cobb of the Building, Engineering and Zoning Department; Planning and zoning clerk Donna Bridges.
Audience attendance: 8
*Note on procedure: By state law, zoning variances granted by the 5-member board require a super majority of 4 members voting in the affirmative. To keep business moving in case of absences, the law also allows two substitutes (S) to sit in and vote if needed. There is one substitute vacancy remaining. Variances expire in 180 days if a building permit isn’t obtained.
Approved 4-1 variances to allow a rear addition/second floor on Ardsley Place: Building designer Joe Ellis made the case for allowing a 6.5-foot left setback variance on a second floor addition at 1416 Ardsley Place. The roof line on the 1926 house will be extended straight back to preserve the look of the house while allowing room for two bedrooms and a bathroom, he said. Although the addition will be 6 feet off the property line, it will 15.5 feet from the house on the left side, a fire safety concern. However, Mr. Ellis said the new work will be built with non-combustible Hardie board, with second-floor living space concentrated away from that exterior wall. A neighbor on the left provided a letter of support for the plan.
Voting no: Mr. Foster.
Approved 4-1 a rear addition for a house on Edgewood Boulevard: Mr. Ellis was again the applicant on an addition to add two bedrooms and a bathroom at 403 Edgewood Boulevard. The addition encroaches on the setback as it nears the property line in the rear. He asked for a left building setback variance of 1 foot on the first floor and a .9 feet on the second floor, space needed to add a small den at the top of the stairwell. In discussion, Mr. Ellis didn’t know the distance from the second floor addition to the neighboring houses on either side, or offer an estimate. Mr. Cobb noted that the fire marshal, who was absent tonight, had said that he would likely approve any variance allowed by the BZA.
Voting no: Mr. Foster
Granted three variances to allow a small condominium development on Columbiana Road: Developers Progressive Properties asked for three variances to allow shorter front and rear yards and smaller overall lot area for six units and a new side street to be built at 818 Columbiana Road. The property is owned by Twin Properties, which is seeking a rezoning from commercial to residential. The request was discussed at length and in October by the Planning Commission, which recommended the change, and will go before the City Council next Monday for a separate hearing and final vote. The specific variances granted will shorten the required front street setbacks from 24 feet to 21 feet; reduce the rear setback from 40 feet to 10 feet; and reduce the overall lot area from 3,100 square feet to 2,000 square feet.
Mr. Foster, who voted against two previous cases, spoke in favor of this one, saying the new side street will be turned over to the city to allow individual residential garbage collection instead of a commercial garbage container. The street will run perpendicular to Columbiana, with the two end units facing in opposite directions, the one fronting Columbiana designed to match single-family houses already there. A Homeowner’s Association will be required to maintain the property.
Approved a variance to allow a bay window, already built, on a house on Primrose: Variances were already granted in February and construction 90% complete on this renovation when builder Jeremy Strickland learned the homeowners needed a third variance to permit the bay window added as an afterthought in one of the bedrooms. The window is 13 feet from the neighboring house but doesn’t rest on a foundation and fits under the house eaves. After questions, the board granted a 1.5-foot right setback variance.
Approved a meeting calender for next year.
Heard about an upcoming request for variances under the West Homewood village district from the Oxmoor Road Waffle House: The Waffle House development isn’t the first to apply for approval under the new West Homewood District code. But it may be the first one to be completed. The EconoLodge request has languished since this summer, with two variance requests denied and a third still under consideration.