A city engineering staffer jovially points out that the competing plans underway for downtown Homewood are “mind boggling,” comparing the downtown map to a Monopoly game. In other words, Big Bad Breakfast had its parking requirement waived with promises that a downtown master plan and other parking fixes are on the horizon.Most cases tonight were approved unanimously. Two cases were withdrawn before the meeting and a Lancaster case was rejected.
Members present: Matt Foley, Beverly LeBoeuf, Lauren Gwaltney, chair (arriving midway through the first case heard, and therefore not voting), Brian Jarmon, vice chair, and Ty Cole, and new member Andrew Marlon, replacing Jeffrey Foster.
Members absent: Stuart Roberts (S) and Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill.
Staff present: Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath of the Building, Engineering and Zoning Department; Planning and zoning clerk Donna Bridges, part-time planner Fred Goodwin.
Audience attendance: 17
Withdrew a request to retain and modify a pole sign at Hatfield Auto Parts and Service: Trent Hatfield withdrew his request to retain and modify–with many variances–an abandoned pole sign at his new location at 190 Oxmoor Road. The case was initially heard May 4 and carried over until tonight.
Allowed a vacant residential lot to be divided into two lots narrower and smaller than regulations allow on Shades Creek Parkway: Cooper Smith, a developer (?) made the request to divide one lot at 606 Shades Creek Parkway into two smaller lots, asking for a 19 feet less than the width regulation allows and 797 square feet fewer than regulation lot area. However, he turned it over to Bubba Smith (father?) when asked to state the hardship (financial gain or loss aren’t eligible arguments). Mr. Smith said the large lot had been created by combining two smaller lots and the request was merely to return to that. The variances, he said, were caused by the change in zoning over time and the fact the lots had been combined. Mr. Cole countered that the variances were caused by dividing the lot and the current zoning. The lots had been combined for a long time and considered as one. Ms. LeBoeuf was concerned about driveways exiting on Shades Creek. Mr. Smith
said he would have a shared driveway between the two houses, although he had no further building plan. Mr. Cole asked the size variances were very large–would there be further variances requested when it came time to build. At this point Mr. Smith proffered to use only the single shared driveway from the street and to request no further house variances on the property. That said, the vote was unanimous in favor.
Case withdrawn at 306 Le Jeune Way for a left side setback variance.
Allowed a homeowner to build an addition 5 feet into the required setback on Westover: Applicant Hunter Lake proposes to build a 1-story addition for a bedroom, bathroom and storm shelter/closet on the rear of the house at 906 Westover Drive. The house is already built into the setback by 4 feet at the rear corner, and he wants to bring the addition back another 26 feet. Because the house is tilted and the lot narrows at the back, the corner of the addition will be 6 feet over the 10-foot setback. A mitigating factor is an alley that acts as a buffer between houses on the right side. The board had no objection and voted in favor.
Allowed a homeowner to build an addition into the required setback on Shades Road: Builder Warren Kyle presented asked to build into the left and right side setbacks to add and addition to the rear of a bungalow at 913 Shades Road. The lot is wedge-shaped, narrowing toward the rear and he is stepping in the addition on the left side to stay close to the property line setback. On that side, the addition crosses 2 feet into the 10-foot setback, requiring a variance. The addition on the right side extends an already nonconforming wall across the angled lot line, requiring a 2.9 foot variance at the corner. The addition will add an 8-foot front porch, and a rear deck, both of which stay within required limits.
Allowed a variance from the front setback requirement for an addition on South Forest: Architect Joe Ellis is transforming the looks of the split-level house at 948 South Forest Drive by demolishing a left section of the house and building out a 7-foot front porch, which would extend into the front setback 6.5 feet. The hardship case was easy to make, as the house is hemmed in on the rear by Griffin creek and on the left side by a utility easements and vacated Jefferson County road easement. The left section of the house that is in the floodway will be demolished.
Allowed, with one dissenting vote, a side setback variance for an addition on Morris: Architect Joe Ellis, who presented the previous case, requested a 3.7-foot right setback variance for an addition at 405 Morris Boulevard. The addition will include a second level, which is compliant with setbacks, and a 1-story section that extends over the setback, but on the alley side (shown), providing a buffer from neighbors. The case convinced most of the board, but not all, perhaps because of the tight fit.
Voting no: Mr. Jarmon
Rejected a homeowner’s request for a 40-foot garage in the setback on Lancaster: A car enthusiast/collector lost his bid for a 3.1-foot setback variance along the 40-foot length of a proposed garage addition at 1823 Lancaster Road to accommodate his car and trailer. Board members weren’t persuaded by the hardship–to keep the trailer off the street–which wasn’t helped when the owner’s fiancée called from the audience what was he supposed
to do if he got another car? However, the negative vote was already taken by that time, following a discussion where the homeowner rejected various other remedies, such as a covered car port, or keeping the car and trailer side by side, or in a different location.
Voting yes: Mr. Foley
Waived a requirement to provide 33 additional parking spaces for a downtown breakfast restaurant: Applicant Stewart Miller returned tonight to ask again for the board to waive a requirement to provide 35 parking spots for the Big Bad Breakfast development at 1928 29th Avenue South. The business needs 50 parking spaces, which can be provided by lease arrangement, by available public parking, or spaces onsite. Mr. Stewart had previously based his request to waive 35 of those spaces by estimating room for 19 spaces onsite. However, Mr. Cole questioned that estimate and the variance couldn’t be granted based on it. The case was carried over pending an exact drawing of available space and advice to lease extra spaces if possible.
Tonight, Mr. Stewart returned to say the onsite lot provided only 15 spaces, when drawn to to code, and he could find no extra spaces off-site. Even though there were 50-60 empty spaces at any given time at the Regions building, Regions wasn’t interested in leasing them, he said. Instead, he offered that the 12 employees would park in the SoHo deck, and asked the board to consider in their favor the 28 spaces available within 150 feet of the property. He also argued that, as a breakfast restaurant, the busiest time would be weekends before 1 p.m. Based on traffic at the U.S. 280 store, he said, the rest of their business, or 40%, is breakfast only and clears out by 11 a.m. He predicted the same in Homewood, although Mr. Cole was skeptical. Ms. McGrath then came to his defense, saying that the building’s high-rise zoning category (C-4B) required the most parking of any designation, while very close by the C-4A category didn’t require any parking at all. While Mr. Cole acknowledged that requirements are inconsistent, he maintained the need for actual parking spaces to stay in business.
Mr. Cobb also offered a defense, saying the city would likely remove the center turn lane to provide angled parking, although he couldn’t swear to it. He said there were so many different parking plans in play that it was “mind boggling,” and so many moves on the downtown map in the last six months that it was like a Monopoly board. That said, a vote was taken and board waived the additional parking requirement.
Not voting: Ms. LeBoeuf left the room during the presentation and didn’t vote.
The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.
From Tuesday’s Planning Commission
*Approved changes to the Lakeshore Foundation Development Plan to accommodate a campus walking trail and an addition to an office building: [The details of this *Aug. 1, 2017, Planning Commission case were unavailable on Tuesday and provided here as a convenience. KPS Group is the designer.]
Briefly, the Foundation is planning to build an addition to its existing administrative building, with a nearby open air plaza, a sunken “contemplative garden,” and water feature. The building addition will include office and research space, a videography lab and test kitchen.
The plaza will be located near the building’s main entrance for informal gatherings, while the contemplative garden and water will provide a quiet refuge farther away.
Encompassing these features and to allow better walkability, the plan adds a “treetop” walking trail through the wooded north slope behind the building, connecting the existing cottages on the eastern end of the campus. Map not made available.