City Council meetings, December 7, 2015

Legislation passed tonight opens the door for Uber and other Transit Network Companies to operate in Homewood city limits.

Legislation passed tonight opens the door for Uber and other Transit Network Companies to operate in Homewood city limits.

Homewood is Uber-ready after legislation was passed tonight setting license fees and regulations for the mobile-phone dispatched personal transit service. Homewood’s ordinance makes way for the expected passage tomorrow of Birmingham’s ordinance, after nearly two years of stalling over the objections of residents who say metro area transit options are falling behind the rest of the country.

One proposal for Patriot Park-side property is a food truck park.

One proposal for Patriot Park-side property is a food truck park.

Of interest to west Homewood residents, two development proposals for city-owned property at 164 Oxmoor Road were rejected in a pre-meeting work session, with advice given to both applicants to present more solid operating and financial plans. One applicant submitted a proposal called “The Grove” comprising a two-story retail building with a restaurant, tenant space and an event room on a second floor. A second applicant proposes a facility for rotating food trucks. Both proposals have failed to gain the traction council members want before selling the property on a prominent corner in the newly rezoned West Homewood village. Tom Walker, developer of the food truck park, said he would work on his proposal and include a presentation with leading food trucks.

The Grove proposal has undergone several aesthetic changes in the last two years. This is the latest.

The Grove proposal has undergone several aesthetic changes in the last two years. This is the latest.

However, Sonja DiCarlo, who submitted The Grove idea, objected strenuously, saying the council was rejecting the proposal without giving an opportunity for her to answer questions. She brought with her Jim Terry, co-owner of the adjacent Corky Bell property, who a council members said has recently expressed interest in selling that property for an expanded development. Mr. Terry then spoke, saying he was interested in the proposals on the table and would certainly consider participating at some point in the future, if business circumstances improved–perhaps if the corner development was ever expanded. However, he was not interested in being a “pioneer” in the venture, he said. He said later he would make a move “at some point, when it makes sense.” Mr. Terry’s sister co-owns the property and operates the business. Ms. DiCarlo left early.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Walter Jones, Richard Laws, and council president Bruce Limbaugh. Also present was Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer. (During the preceding work session, Mr. Hallman, Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Moody, Mr. Jones, Mr. Laws, Mr. Wyatt, Mr. Wright, and Mr. Limbaugh were present. Mr. Thames arrived late)

Members absent: Patrick McClusky, Barry Smith, Alex Wyatt, and Peter Wright. (During the preceding work session, Mr. McClusky, Mr. Jones and Ms. Smith were absent.)

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: 16

Request to review and consider proposals received for the sale and development of the city owned property located at 165 Oxmoor Road as handled by Mr. Greg Cobb/BEZ Department – Fred Hawkins (Referred to Work Session at the 10/12/15 Council Meeting/Carried over in W. S. 10/26/15)

Regular council meeting – 6 p.m.

Named Gary Isenhower to the at-large Park Board seat: Mr. Isenhower was the only applicant when the council closed the application period for the board seat in November. However, another applicant apparently appeared and the two were interviewed for the post, with Mr. Isenhower again making the cut.

Approved minutes of the Sept. 28, 2015 meeting.

CONSENT AGENDA

Dropped considering a pavement repair proposal from PRI Systems.

OLD BUSINESS

The subject property, owned by the city, is marked in red. Next door are Corky Bell buildings. Neither proposal impressed the council enough to be selected tonight. The current proposals were rejected and a new invitation issued for these applicants and others to submit development proposals.

The subject property, owned by the city, is marked in red. Next door are Corky Bell buildings. Neither of two proposals submitted for the city-owned lot impressed the council enough to be selected tonight. The current proposals were rejected and a new invitation issued until Feb. 15 for current or new applicants.

Rejected two development proposals for city-owned property next to Patriot Park; opened the process anew until Feb. 15, 2016: Based on discussion in the preceding work session, the council expressed sufficient reservations about the two submitted development proposals to go forward with either, but reopened the process until Feb. 15. Under consideration were 1) The Grove, a two-story commercial structure with a restaurant on the ground floor and other tenants, and a second floor devoted to event space; and 2) A Food Truck court with seating, utilities, and shelter amenities to accommodate a mix of food trucks operating in the area. The council wanted more concrete operating plans from applicants and assurance of the likelihood of tenants for either development.

Declared a residential property on Shades Creek Parkway a public nuisance: An absentee owner did not respond to a first certified letter to clean up and cut grass at 506 Shades Creek Parkway, and belatedly agreed to clean the property after receiving a second letter. But didn’t. 

Approved a variance allowing a large outdoor tent for a Trinity United Methodist Church event: The variance allows a 4,000 square foot tent to be erected for an annual spring youth program.

Approved school zone speed limit signs at the Montessori School: Four signs were approved limiting speed to 20 miles per hour in the school zone during arrival and dismissal times. The school is being renovated and expanded.

Approved an ordinance restricting the location of vape and tobacco shops: The ordinance restricts vape and/or tobacco shops to a distance of at least 500 feet from a school, church or religious institution. An earlier version tried to incorporate vape and tobacco shops to the ordinance restricting liquor stores, but the city attorney recommended a free-standing measure.

Agreed to open bids for further improvements on Columbiana Road, no address, presumably behind Publix.

Approved unspecified budget amendments for encumbrances on the current budget carried forward from the FY2015 budget year.

Released a nearly 80-year-old lien from five Edgewood lots: With no history disclosed, the council agreed to lift a “public improvement assessment” lien placed on five lots in Edgewood (South Highlands Addition, Map Book 6, page 83) for $150.

Approved sale of an alley adjacent to a Cliff Place residence: With no buyer or purchase price mentioned, and subject to the usual hold-harmless agreements, the council agreed to sell an alley adjacent to 414 Cliff Place. 

Authorized the mayor to sign a revised fee schedule for retirement plan manager: No details presented. The council’s approval affects the Alerus (bank) “457 Plan.”

COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA

The following items were moved to various committees, as follows:

To Finance – Request for 1) reducing penalties/interest and payment plan for business license fees uncovered by RiverTree Systems audit; and 2) Consideration of a contract with Carr Riggs Ingram to assist with year-end reporting requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

To Special Issues – Request for 1) A variance to the sign ordinance at 816 Green Springs Highway; and 2) Consider increasing the number of members of the Industrial Development Board to 13.

NEW BUSINESS

A Your Pie franchise is opening at SoHo in Homewood.

A Your Pie franchise is opening at SoHo in Homewood.

Approved supporting a state retail beer and wine license application for a new pizza place: The business in the former Salsarita’s location is Your Pie, operated by YP Homewood LLC.

Paid the bills: The council approved payment of invoices for the period Nov. 16 – Dec. 4, 2015. 

Passed an ordinance allowing and regulating Transportation Network Companies, such as Uber: Following Mt. Brook and anticipating  Birmingham’s approval of Uber tomorrow, the council approved legislation allowing ride-share companies to operate in city limits. Like Mt. Brook’s measure, the ordinance charges a $500 license fee and require proof of insurance and criminal background checks for drivers. Uber utilizes smart phone apps to let riders schedule and route rides from drivers in private vehicles. TNC legislation has been stalled in Birmingham for over 18 months.

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