It was a brief meeting where important matters got only a mention: The city’s audit report for the previous year was accepted, although the presentation was made in a previous committee meeting; a struggling buffer of evergreen Cypress downtown are being considered for removal; and more crosswalks — and stop signs — are possible on Manhattan and the intersection of Forest Drive and Broadway. This month marks a year anniversary of Circle K’s land lease to the digital billboard that divided West Homewood and sparked a firestorm leading to its annexation out of unincorporated Jefferson County. That and other annexed properties are being rezoned, while the fate of the now-illegal fireworks trailer is under discussion.
Members present: Michael Hallman, Fred Hawkins (arriving after the seventh item), Vance Moody, Britt Thames, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Barry Smith, Alex Wyatt, Peter Wright, and council president Bruce Limbaugh. Also present was Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer.
Members absent: Fred Hawkins arrived late, see below. Rich Laws was absent.
Staff present: City attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, and Greg Cobb, Building, Engineering and Zoning Department.
Audience present: 10
The council did not vote on past meeting minutes.
Approved a new member to the Homewood Environmental Commission: A single applicant for the post, Amy Milam, was approved to the vacant at-large seat on the commission.
Added to the consent agenda, and dropped, consideration of a front yard fence at 1732 Wellington Road. The request to build a front yard fence was heard after the city stopped work already in progress for lack of a permit and variance. One neighbor has supported the project; several had gone on record last week to oppose it, when the council voted to return the topic to the Special Issues Committee.
OLD BUSINESS AGENDA
Continued again a request for a sign variance/variances to a walk-in medical clinic on Lakeshore Drive: The request from a clinic at #1 Lakeshore Drive, Med Help, was continued for the second time because the applicants weren’t ready to present their request.
Carried over again a request for local support of a renewed package store and liquor license at two related businesses on West Valley Avenue: Last week the request was carried over because of uncertainty over the dual addresses. Carried over for the same concerns again this week were requests for an off premises retail beer and wine license for Homewood Fuel at 317A West Valley Avenue and a Lounge Retail Liquor Class II/Package Store license for Homewood Package, located at 317B. The businesses have been bought by AAMR, Inc.
Set an April 11 public hearing before voting to rezone 3 of four annexed properties: Four of six unincorporated properties on city limit boundaries were annexed to the city last summer in the aftermath of a furor over a digital billboard installed at the Circle K on Lakeshore Drive and Columbiana Road. The annexations, which took two trips through the state legislature to accomplish, and were passed only after Buffalo Rock was removed from the bill, were to prevent another installation or nuisance development on the relatively unregulated county land. The commercial properties are now being formally rezoned from county to Homewood city designations. One of the four properties, the San Miguel restaurant and adjacent lot, has been set aside from the rezoning until a dispute with the owners is resolved over whether the fireworks business is somehow exempt from the new city zoning, which outlaws fireworks. The city says there is no way to “grandfather” a business brought into a new jurisdiction. The parties are in talks before the zoning will resume.
Meanwhile, those being considered for rezoning are the Circle K Store, Inc. (which leased the property for the digital billboard a year ago, starting the firestorm that ended in annexation) at 1250 Columbiana Road, from Jefferson County C-1 commercial to Homewood C-2, Neighborhood Shopping District, and the same for the medical clinic at #1 West Lakeshore Drive. The property at 35 West Lakeshore Drive occupied by Southeast Medical Homewood, is pending rezoning from Jefferson County C-P, Preferred Commercial, to Homewood C-1 (Office Building District).
Approved work to clear an alley of overgrowth in the city right-of-way next to 12 West Lakeshore Drive. The property appears to be a house up for sale across the street from the BP station.
Abstaining – Mr. Wyatt, saying later the request involved a law partner.
Fred Hawkins arrived.
Approved a street light on Manhattan Street: A street light will cost $140/year and be paid from the 7-cent gasoline tax. The city is still considering a cross-walk for safety reasons.
Accepted an audit report on the FY2015 (year ending Sept. 30, 2015): The audit report by Carr Riggs & Ingram CPA firm was presented in the Finance Committee meeting earlier. It will be presented here, later, in a separate entry. No details were presented.
Voted to pass unspecified amendments to the budget. No details presented at the meeting.
Approved a three-part contract involving the fire and police departments: The approval is to join the Birmingham Emergency Communication District/Jefferson County 800 MHz/SmartX Radio System; lease certain public safety communications equipment for police and fire departments, costs not specified, and amend the current E911 budget. No details were presented at the council meeting.
COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA
To Finance – To consider 1) Entering an agreement with the Jefferson County Commission’s General Services Department/Elections Division for voting equipment; and 2) Addressing traffic concerns on Saulter Road, transferred from the Public Safety Committee.
To Public Safety – To consider 1) Placing a cross walk at the intersection of Broadway and Forest Drive; and 2) Hosting a spring street party at PPatriot Park.
To Public Works – To consider 1) Removing Cypress trees used as a buffer between the former Do-Di-Yo’s in downtown Homewood and the new Holler & Dash to facilitate walking from the parking lot to other businesses
OTHER NEW BUSINESS
Paid the bills: The invoices for March 14-18, 2016, were approved to be paid.
In the announcements segment of the meeting, Britt Thames, liaison for the Homewood Chamber of Commerce, reported the Taste of Homewood fundraiser raised $12,000, nearly twice as much as last year;
The public is invited to a celebration marking the 75th anniversary of the Homewood library, on March 24, 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the auditorium.