City Council meeting, Jan. 11, 2016

Tonight’s meeting ran smoothly under pressure of a 7 p.m. kickoff for the Alabama vs. Clemson national championship game. Of note tonight was the continued postponement of a landfill contract award despite a Dec. 7 bid opening that revealed Santek as low bidder. In other news, the city has reconfigured the seats on three independent development boards so that the same members can sit on all three, improving communication, according to one councilman. Another $40,000 is added to an offer on the Fox TV News property for Greenway trail extension, Phase II.

Members present: Britt Thames, Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky, Barry Smith, Alex Wyatt, Richard Laws, and Peter Wright, presiding for council president Bruce Limbaugh. Also present was Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent: Walter Jones and Bruce Limbaugh.

Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Greg Cobb, Building, Engineering and Zoning Department, and Melody Salter, finance director.

Audience attendance: 15

Approved minutes of the Nov. 16, 2015, meeting.

OLD BUSINESS AGENDA

Shrimp Basket owners won a variance to display extra signs, to advertise a menu that offers more than shrimp, a representative said.

Shrimp Basket owners won a variance to display extra signs, as illustrated, to advertise a menu that offers more than shrimp.

Granted sign variances to allow menu items to be printed on a new restaurant awning. The Shrimp Basket, a new chain restaurant at 801 Green Springs Highway appears to be doing well, so council members in committee last week were reluctant to grant more signage. Tonight, however, they passed variances allowing the greatest departure from regulations.

Voting no:  Michael Hallman

Carried over a case to have larger monument sign than regulations allow at businesses on Green Springs.  No one was present to represent the businesses at that redeveloping Mazer site. The matter and the public hearing were continued to the next meeting.

BIGSKY

Big Sky Environmental, of California, purchased the former Green Mountain landfill out of bankruptcy in September.

Postponed awarding a landfill contract from a Dec. 7 bid opening. The city currently hauls its household garbage to the former Green Mountain landfill in Adamsville, the largest landfill in the state and one recently purchased out of bankruptcy by Big Sky Environmental of California. Nevertheless, a Cleveland Tennessee-based waste firm, Santek, appeared to be the low-bidder at the Dec. 7 bid opening, as reported by the Homewood Star, and its representative was present tonight to ask why there is a delay in awarding the contract. Santek has managed Jefferson County’s landfill contract since 2006, according to the company’s website, and in December its subsidiary,  Waste Services of Alabama, won garbage collection contracts for the cities of Hoover and Gardendale–Homewood operates its own household garbage and trash collection.

Santek was the low-bidder on Dec. 7, but the city is still looking for the best deal, according to the mayor.

Santek was the low-bidder on Dec. 7, but the city is still looking for the best deal, according to the mayor.

Tonight, the mayor told a Santek representative that the city was still comparing numbers and looking at other bids before awarding a landfill contract. Following the meeting, the mayor said he wanted the best deal for the city. The award will be made most likely by the next meeting.

Authorized a request to increase the number of seats on two Homewood  Redevelopment boards: It’s complicated. Tonight’s vote increased to 13 the number of members on two independent city development boards — The Downtown Redevelopment Authority and the Industrial Development Board. The purpose is to make these two entities–and a third not identified — coordinate and communicate better by seating the identical membership on all three. Because the three entities have different responsibilities, members, and meeting times, it was decided to increase each to 13 seats and retain the same members on all the panels.

Set a Jan. 25, 2016, public hearing for variances to the sign regulations downtown: The hearing is for a proposed corner restaurant facing 18th Street to have a large wall mural and other sign variances. The mural prospect seemed dim when heard in committee last week.

Dropped a request from a cell phone provider to install up to 9 cell panel antennae on top of the Dawson parking deck. No details.

Approved a $6,300 solar-powered speed limit device, if money found, to slow traffic on West Oxmoor Road near Huntington Glen: This issue was debated in the Public Safety committee, where some members didn’t support the expense before a full traffic study and implementing other fixes at the dangerous hill where a truck ran off the road into a house, killing the driver. The vote tonight approves the expenditure, but sends the item to the Finance Committee to decide if the expense is feasible.

Approved with one dissent support for a state liquor license application for a new business on 29th Avenue: The business is Real and Rosemary, a casual restaurant planned at 1922 – 29th Avenue South.

Voting no: Michael Hallman

The Fox News TV property, (shaded in lavender to the left) lies perpendicular to the trail extension route and is a key acquisition for continuing the trail across Lakeshore Parkway to West Homewood Park, as planned.

The Fox News TV property, (shaded in lavender to the left) lies perpendicular to the trail extension route and is a key acquisition for continuing the trail across Lakeshore Parkway to West Homewood Park, as planned.

Raised by $40,000 the offer on acquiring the Fox News property for Phase II of the Greenway trail behind Wildwood: As discussed in committee last week, the city is bound by federal finance regulations to offer the appraised value of property it will use for the Greenway trail right-of-way, meaning it must raise its earlier offer of $240,000 to $280,000. A city councilman had erroneously thought the property wasn’t necessary for the Phase II expansion planned to carry the trail behind Wildwood along Shades Creek, and money was redirected to other projects last fall. The mistake was discovered, then the offering price was raised to match the appraisal.

Approved unspecified amendments to the current budget. 

Approved, in part, the purchase of seating and safety barriers at businesses on Oak Grove next to Patriot Park. A committee had earlier agreed to recommend spending up to $3,000 for safety barriers around an Italian ice business on Oak Grove Road and for outside dining tables and chairs for a new deli in the same building. Tonight Mr. Moody said the safety fencing  alone would cost $2,000 and tables and chairs cost another $5,000 or more. The $3,000 expenditure was approved, and the item sent back to the Finance Committee to look for the additional funds. The extra expense is conditioned on realizing enough savings from a $400,000 construction project that included asphalt paviang, a cross walk and sidewalks by Patriot Park.

Approved a Cost of Living raise for a city magistrate, due to an oversight in the current budget: This item is to correct an unspecified oversight in the budget, and approves a $1,1998 COLA for a magistrate.

COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA

To Finance – To consider 1) An updated contract with Freedom Probation Services; 2) Paying for a decorate street sign at East Hawthorne and Oxmoor Road;  3) Amending the current budget to cover an office equipment lease; and 4) Purchasing an ad in the city’s Chamber of Commerce magazine.

To Special Issues – To consider 1) A Fence ordinance variance on Roseland; 2) A review of rules and requirements governing the city’s communications; and 3) A sign variance for a downtown business.

OTHER NEW BUSINESS

Set a Jan. 25 public hearing for a front yard fence at 1527 Roseland Drive. See above.

Approved purchasing a subscription to a software that predicts likely crime locations: The predictive software, called PredPol uses crime data to produce maps with detailed grids as small as 500-feet to illustrate where police should be more efficiently deployed. The cost, at just over $11,000, is reduced by a 20% discount, according to the contract. 

A screen shot from the opening page of the city's revamped website.

A screen shot from the opening page of the city’s revamped website.

Paid the bills: Invoices for the period Dec. 21, 2015-Jan. 8, 2016 were approved to be paid. One of the invoices paid for the construction of a new city website, screenshot above. 

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