A long and not otherwise spectacular meeting held two surprises, the announced retirement of long-time city clerk Linda Cook and council’s appointment of current finance director Melody Salter to take her place. The consolidation of two departments follows the mayor’s earlier move to name parks director Berkley Squires as Public Services Superintendent and add Streets and Sanitation to his duties.
Further fireworks followed the meeting when city attorney Mike Kendrick explained why he asked the council to drop the rezoning of a recently annexed fireworks trailer and restaurant property on Green Springs Highway. The objection came from fireworks owner Pam Palmer, also mayor of the City of Adamsville in northwest Jefferson County. The stand-off over rezoning will be addressed in an upcoming meeting, Mr. Kendrick said. Homewood bans the sale of fireworks and the fireworks stand on the very edge of town has been a perennial source of irony.
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: Britt Thames and Fred Hawkins.
Staff present: City attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, and Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, Building, Engineering and Zoning Department.
Audience present: 17
Minutes of the Jan. 25 and Feb. 8, 2016 meetings were passed.
CONSENT AGENDA – The agenda was passed, dropping the rezoning item for recently annexed property at 201 Green Spring Highway and also dropping a traffic measure on Central Avenue: The city has been rezoning several parcels annexed last year from unincorporated Jefferson County in the aftermath of a furor over a digital billboard being erected in one of those parcels. In this case, the city received objections to rezoning annexed property owned by operators of a Mexican restaurant who lease ground next door to a fireworks business. The fireworks business owner and Mayor of Adamsville Pam Palmer has asked for a meeting, claiming the fireworks business–which is banned in Homewood city limits–should be “grandfathered” or allowed to continue operating under certain conditions, despite the annexation. Homewood city attorney Mike Kendrick said after tonight’s meeting that he asked to drop the rezoning (for now) to keep from muddying the discussion. Although it’s true that an annexed business can be rezoned while grandfathering in a noncompliant business, Homewood has strictly outlawed fireworks sales anywhere in city limits, he said. “This is not a zoning issue. This is a business license issue.” A meeting with the Adamsville mayor is still being planned.
Membership and vacancies synced on three separate development boards to consolidate their power: In previous actions the council has approved changing the number of seats in each of the Commercial Development Authority, Homewood Downtown Redevelopment Authority, and Industrial Development Board to 13 and placing the same members to serve on each board simultaneously. Tonight a member acknowledged that when a term was up on one board, the existing member could continue in that seat until a replacement was found to fill seats on all three boards.
Continued for a third time a sign ordinance public hearing for a medical clinic on Lakeshore: With the business continually unprepared to make a request, the council talked about dropping the item altogether. It was decided to allow one more continuance to the next meeting.
OLD BUSINESS AGENDA
After a postponement, voted in support of two liquor licenses at related businesses on West Valley Avenue: The matter had been carried over because of questions over the physical addresses/locations of the businesses, a gas station, Homewood Fuel, and a package store, Home Package, at 317A and 317B West Valley Avenue, which have been recently purchased by AAMR, Inc. The fire department had concerns about the addresses and if the businesses had separate entrances. The wrong addresses were corrected and the matter was approved tonight.
Rezoned one of three recently annexed properties; postponed two others due to typos in the parcel id’s: Mr. Moody noted that one parcel id on the agenda didn’t match the parcel id for the same property on the ordinance. It was determined that two of three parcels were “advertised” or publicly posted with wrong parcel id’s, an error that called for re-posting them and setting two more public hearings. Ironically, the council quickly counted and voted to set the new hearing date for May 11, which wasn’t technically far enough, then had to re-opened the item to set the hearing for May 23, prompting the city clerk to announce that the original hearing (tonight’s) had also not been set to the correct date. Tonight’s hearing was then allowed to stand for the one correct property–the medical clinic at #1 West Lakeshore Drive. It was rezoned from Jefferson County C-1, commercial, to C-2 Homewood’s Neighborhood Shopping District.
Reset public hearings to May 23 for two recently annexed properties on Lakeshore: Re-advertised properties were the Circle K Store, Inc. at 1250 Columbiana Road, site of the digital billboard that in March last year sparked interest in the annexation campaign, and the medical association building at 35 West Lakeshore Drive.
Annexed a residential property in Forest Brook: A residential lot at 1601 Shades Glen Circle was annexed to Homewood tonight.
Carried over a street festival request by Patriot Park in West Homewood: Questions about the street-closing permit and the times of the festival forced this matter to the next meeting. Some said the times were 2-8 p.m. and Ms. Smith said the times were 2-10 p.m., because a previous street festival the city hosted didn’t allow enough time for clean up.
Review of paving and adequate repair of street cuts by utility companies: The council, with mainly the Birmingham Water Works Board in mind, passed a far-reaching ordinance to set tougher repair standards for utilities excavating city streets. It wasn’t clear what specific changes were made despite an exhaustive first reading of the provisions; however committee discussions centered having the city make the repairs and charge costs to the utilities. Two water works board officials were in the audience, but had not comment except to say they’d try to comply.
Approved street closures in May for Brookwood Village concerts: The concerts will be on Thursdays, May 12 and May 19, closing the street from 1-10 p.m.
Approved funds to hire a consultant to track down source of odors coming from Barber Dairies and/or Buffalo Rock plants on West Oxmoor Road: The vote authorized up to $27,000 for the consultant.
Approved hiring an insurance consultant: No details.
Authorized actions to lease election equipment from Jefferson County for upcoming city elections: Municipal elections are being held this summer.
COMMITTEE REFERRAL AGENDA
To Finance – To consider 1) Declaring equipment surplus and due to be sold, being a one an incomplete engine, a 2000 Chevrolet Impala, and three 2007 Crown Victorias; 2) Hiring Skipper Consulting for a traffic study; 3) Conducting a mid-year review of the current fiscal year; 4) A review of finances following a final audit to see if any year-end transfers are needed; and 5) Transferring $1,000 to the polygraph operations of the pd.
To Public Safety – To consider 1) A request to place a pedestrian crossing at the end of Devon Drive over Lakeshore Drive; 2) Safety concerns at Overton Park; 3) Placing a stop sign at Durham Drive and Yorkshire Drive; and 4) adding a stop sign at Lakewood Drive and Cornelius Drive –
To Special Issues – To consider sign variances at 1) 2941 18th Street South; 2510 18th Street South; and 2846 18th Street South.
OTHER NEW BUSINESS
Set an April 25, 2016, hearing for sign variances referred to committee, see above. The three include a new construction and two existing businesses including the Urban Cookhouse, which want new signs.
Denied a Bingo application for Helpmate Ministries: The council voted against the request after Chief Ross reported finding three convictions for the applicant, who had stated on the application she had no criminal background. The chief explained afterwards that the convictions were misdemeanors, with the oldest dating to 2004, for assault, hindering prosecution, and resisting arrest.
Approved an ordinance allowing and regulating small cellphone antennae, etc.: Shortly after the BZA has reluctantly approved Dawson’s parking deck as a site for Verizon cellphone antenna, the council passed an ordinance reflecting recent federal court decisions saying small-scale technology was taking the place of cell towers and cities and local governments had to make accommodations to allow them. Tonight’s ordinance, although it sets limits on height and placement of such antennas, would not have influenced the decision on the Dawson cell panels, according to the city attorney.
Voted in support of a state liquor license application for a Hallman Hill Thai restaurant: The restaurant is Shiki Thai and Sushi at 300 Hallman Hill, Suite 109.
Paid the bills: Invoices for the period March 21-April 8, 2016, were approved to be paid.
Announced retirement of city clerk Linda Cook and search for a successor: The long meeting ended with an announcement that Linda Cook, 27-year veteran city clerk, would be retiring effective June 1, but taking vacation during the last weeks, with the next meeting being her last. Mayor McBrayer recommended and the council unanimously accepted his choice of Melody Salter, the current Finance Director, as her replacement. Ms. Salter, according to tonight’s vote, will act as interim clerk during the last month of Ms. Cook’s tenure, while she’s on vacation, then take the permanent position June 1. In their final remarks, council members thanked both women and wished them well in their new roles. Earlier in the day, Ms. Cook had announced her retirement via email.