Planning Commission, Jan. 10, 2017

planning & zoning(1)A homeowner finally relented in his stand to keep a tool shed up against side and rear property lines to give his children more room to play in their small back yard. In this brief meeting that included a dry cleaner’s case on 28th Avenue South, the zoning staff said the downtown master planning process will begin shortly now that an agreement has been signed between the city and Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham. Also, staff will present–with mayor’s office blessings–amendments to eliminate components of the new village code in West Homewood.

Members present: Billy Higginbotham, chair, Mike Brandt, vice chair, Jeffrey Foster, arriving after the first case, James Riddle, Britt Thames, Mark Woods, and Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill.

Absent: Fred Azbik and Brady Wilson.

Staff present: Donna Bridges, board clerk, Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, building, engineering and zoning department.

Minutes: None

The shed at 808 Cobb Street will be moved, ending a mini-standoff between the homeowner and planning commission

The shed at 808 Cobb Street will be moved, ending a mini-standoff between the homeowner and planning commission

Reached a final compromise on a long-running but minor setback case in West Homewood: Homeowner John McElheny agreed to move a partially assembled tool shed 3 feet from rear and side property lines, ending his months-long stand against relocating the structure from its position just inches from a sidewalk and rear property line at 820 Cobb Street. The wood structure has been exposed to the weather since the fall, when city workers issued a stop-work order because its location violated setback regulations. The house is one of three added recently to an older subdivision zoned Planned Residential District, whose regulations are governed not by zoning regulations but by a development overseen plan overseen by the planning commission.

Mr. McElheny in October argued that the zoning office had waived its setback regulations due to special circumstances surrounding the construction of his house and two others on very shallow lots; zoning staff and the commission denied any special agreement, but did admit to an error recording the setbacks for his address. The matter has been carried over each month since Oct. 4, 2016.

Although similar compromise was first proposed in November 1, it failed on a tie vote with a new member abstaining. Mr. McElheny then argued the vote should be rescinded until the new member could visit the site and cast a vote. The next month Mr. McElheny was unable to attend because of a school activity and the matter was reconsidered at 3 feet again this month, and passed.

Watkins Cleaners combined four parcels into one, purpose unknown

Watkins Cleaners combined four parcels into one, purpose unknown

Approved a resurvey to combine four parcels into one on 28th Avenue South: Watkins Cleaners was granted a re-survey to combine 1707-1715 – 28th Avenue South into one parcel, reason not given. The case prompted Mr. Foster to ask staff again when the Regional Planning Commission and city would initiate the downtown Master Plan process, which will take a year to complete and begin next month with meetings with various stakeholders. Ms. McGrath said the contract had been signed.

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