Planning Commission, Jan. 5, 2016

Approximate location of three new Greek residence halls planned on Samford's campus. They will have to be approved for additional height by the Board of Zoning Adjustments.

Approximate location of three new Greek residence halls planned on Samford’s campus. They will have to be approved for additional height by the Board of Zoning Adjustments.

Two large institutional development plans were on the agenda tonight and received approval for changes, adding three dormitories to Samford University and rotating the building position for the ServisFirst headquarters planned in Rosedale.

Members present: Chairman Billy Higginbotham, Jeffery Foster, James Riddle, Fred Hawkins, Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill, and Mark Woods.

Members absent: Fred Azbik and vice chairman Mike Brandt.

Vacancy: Jaime Ponseti resigned after the November 2015 meeting.

Staff attendance: Donna Bridges, commission secretary, and Greg Cobb,  city Building, Engineering and Zoning Department staff.

Audience attendance: 15

Approved minutes from the Nov. 3, 2015, meeting. 

NEW BUSINESS

Approved changes to the Samford University Development Plan: 

Detail of the location of planned new Greek residence halls on Samford's campus.

Detail of the location of planned new Greek residence halls on Samford’s campus.

Samford University plans to add three new residence halls on a parking lot on a ridge on the northwest part of campus, requiring an amendment to the current final development plan. University representatives said the buildings would include two 64-bed buildings and one 72-bed building, which would exceed height regulations by about 6.5 feet, but would be visually similar in to existing buildings. The requested height will require approval by the Board of Zoning Adjustments in a case to be heard this Thursday. Speaking during a public hearing was one Windsor Boulevard resident, who wanted to know the location of the building, but had no objections.

Samford has been in an aggressive growing phase in the last five years, having won an unpopular rezoning of neighboring residential property in 2011 in order to demolish houses and build dormitories on the east end of campus. [For a link to a detailed al.com article http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2011/07/many_walk_out_of_meeting_after.html ] To appease neighbors, the college agreed to a 7-year moratorium on further rezoning requests for expansion and proffered land for a neighborhood park off Saulter Road, which hasn’t been built, among other concessions. The university last December purchased the 28-acre Southern Progress property on the east side to use for College of Health Sciences buildings. On a smaller scale, the school also made a BZA visit last year to install a large fuel tank above ground near Windsor. Click here for a link to the current development plan.

Approved changes to the ServisFirst development plan behind Rosedale:

The new ServisFirst headquarters will be situated near the Embassy Suites on commercial property overlooking Rosedale.

The new ServisFirst headquarters will be situated near the Embassy Suites on commercial property overlooking Rosedale.

ServisFirst in April was granted a controversial and record property tax abatement to move its headquarters building from Mt. Brook to 2500 Woodcrest Place in Homewood. On behalf of its banking client, Giattina Aycock architects asked for and received approval to amend the final plan by rotating the building entrance to the south. (Giattina Aycock Architect Ty Cole, present tonight, sits on the city’s BZA panel.) 

Two residents during the public hearing had questions about the building’s impact on 19th Street houses, one asking if the bank wanted to “take” the houses and the other asking if there would be any access to the bank from 19th Street. There will be no access from 19th Street or any attempt to expand into the residential area. Because of the proximity to houses, there will be a 15-foot tree buffer planted on the other side of the 20-foot alley separating the houses from the commercial property.

An aerial view of the ServisFirst development.

An aerial view of the ServisFirst development.

The plan includes a four-story building of approximately 97,600 total square feet, a three-car drive through teller and a one-level parking deck. The bank is in the process of buying Birmingham Water Works Board property behind the pump house to use for additional parking. The property is vacant. It was purchased for an office building that was never built, just prior to the recession.

There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at about 6:30 p.m.

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