The Planning Commission tonight recommended new zoning for four commercial properties that were annexed last year from unincorporated Jefferson County following a fight to relocate a massive electronic billboard installed on one such property fronting Lakeshore Drive. Several more of the annexed property cases–those on Citation Court–will be heard next month.
The March installation of the digital billboard on the edge of the city but legally inside unincorporated Jefferson County sparked the annexation of attempt by act of the STate Legislature. A first attempt in May failed to reach a vote. A second attempt in early August passed after a state representative insisted that a Buffalo Rock property on Citation Court be removed from the request. Here’s that report.
The commission tonight recommended city zoning designations that were equivalent to the county zoning. Although the annexations were approved in an August special session, there was a 60 day period before the city could begin re-zoning, city officials said.
Also tonight, the commission approved amended development plans for Wildwood South and for the planned addition to the Lakeshore Foundation.
Members present: All- Jeffrey Foster, Mike Brandt, Chairman Billy Higginbotham, Fred Azbik, James Riddle, Fred Hawkins, Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill.
Members absent: None.
Vacancy: Jamie Ponseti resigned following the November meeting. Mr. Ponseti filled the “mayor’s designee” spot on the commission. The mayor or a new designee can be named to fill the vacancy.
Staff attendance: Donna Bridges, commission secretary, Fred Goodwin, Greg Cobb, city Building, Engineering and Zoning Department, and Vanessa McGrath, city engineer/zoning.
Audience attendance: 3
Approved changes to a development plan for the Lakeshore Foundation: Applicant Rebound LLC, was approved to expand the current facility with an addition and add 28 private beds, for a total of 62, in addition to semi-private rooms. There were no renderings or illustrations of the addition, which was announced last year to encompass more than 20,000 square feet, to be completed in 2019. Ms. McGrath said the building will reach 48 feet at its highest point, will be built over the existing pool area and create a more accessible entrance. Construction will start in approximately one month.
Approved an amended development plan for Lakeshore Retail: Applicant Walter Schoel Engineering Co., Inc., received approval to reconfigure the South Wildwood area, taking down a wall by Costas and extending the drive by Chick-Fil-A to the shopping center’s west entrance. Three outparcel buildings are planned at the Hobby Lobby end for retail/restaurant uses, though no names were mentioned.
Recommended rezoning a parcel owned by Rivas Justo and Cesar Gonzales: This property at 201 Green Springs Highway is the home of San Miguel’s (formerly El Palacio) restaurant, a billboard and vacant space routinely leased to a fireworks business operated out of a trailer. That business will no longer be able to operate under Homewood regulations. If the council approved, the property will be rezoned from the county’s commercial zoning to Homewood’s Green Springs Urban Renewal District zone, which restricts certain types of developments to improve diversity and appearance of the area.
The following three properties are adjacent to each other near the site of the billboard.
1) Recommended rezoning the Circle K property annexed last year: The Circle K property at 1250 Columbiana Road was in the red-hot center of a conflict among the City Council and residents, the Jefferson County Commission and the owner of a vast electronic billboard erected there to the surprise of a nearby neighborhood. After a slew of advertiser boycotts and pickets driven by an unrelenting social media campaign, the sign was relocated to private property behind K-Mart, where it remains. Tonight’s vote recommends rezoning the property from Jefferson County Commercial to Homewood’s C-2 designation, for Neighborhood Shopping District.
2) Recommended rezoning a pharmacy and doctors’ office building: This property at 1 West Lakeshore Drive is adjacent to the Circle K property, above, that prompted last year’s annexations. The commission also recommended rezoning this from Jefferson County commercial to Neighborhood Shopping District, in Homewood. The owners have said they plan to subdivide the property and sell a section to the Circle K next door, to reconfigure a better entrance.
3) Recommended rezoning the SMA building: The property at 35 West Lakeshore Drive is owned by Southeast Medical Homewood, LLC, and houses the Southern Medical Association offices and a few other businesses. Tonight’s vote was to recommend rezoning from Jefferson County’s Preferred Commercial to Homewood’s Office Building District, mainly because that matched the zoning in place on a piece of the property that was already inside city limits.
Abstaining — With no explanation, Mike Brandt