The city council meets on March 13.
Two new crosswalks and a controversial state bill were the primary topics of tonight's city council meeting, along with a sign variance request for the Floor & Decor store under construction at 230 Green Springs Highway.
The council was smaller than normal, as two representatives were attending the National League of Cities conference and others had work obligations or out-of-town trips. The seven members present on March 13 approved crosswalks on 18th Street South at the intersections of 26th Avenue South and 27th Avenue South.
Ward 1 Representative Andy Gwaltney said the locations for the crosswalks were chosen to connect existing sidewalks. They will take about two weeks to be painted. Gwaltney said he and fellow Ward 1 Representative Britt Thames, who was not present tonight, have some other crosswalk locations under discussion and he has received a few requests from Rosedale residents for more.
Discussion of street lights in Rosedale was carried over to the council's first May meeting. Gwaltney said he and Thames have been driving through the Rosedale area making notes of potential locations for new lights. He said the delay in the lighting discussion was partly to avoid Spring Break conflicts and also so the representatives have time to meet with any residents who might be affected by a new light shining into their home.
The council also approved an amended version of Floor & Decor's sign variance request. Floor & Decor had previously received approval for larger front and side signs, but was denied a rear sign on a 38-foot parapet. Tonight, Floor & Decor representatives returned with a new design that decreased the parapet height by about nine feet and reduced the actual sign square footage.
However, some council members were still unconvinced that visibility from I-65, which the rear store sign was intended to address, constituted a hardship. The council ultimately decided to approve installation of the sign on the building's rear side, but without any parapet.
Ward 2 Representative Mike Higginbotham introduced a motion opposing Senate Bill 31 (also called House Bill 58). The bill would exempt pharmacies from including prescription medication sales in their gross sales receipts, which would reduce the amount they would pay in business licensing taxes. Pharmacies would still include over-the-counter medications and non-medical sales, such as gifts or toiletries, in their gross receipts.
Proponents of the bill, which has been approved in the state Senate and moves on to the House, say it will help small pharmacies succeed in the face of rising costs of medications and that medication sales should be taxed the same way as doctor visits. However, many city governments are opposed due to the loss of revenue.
Higginbotham said the bill would create a loss of $30,000 in annual revenue to the city, and he was concerned it could introduce the possibility of other industries seeking exemptions of their own. He noted that pharmacies in Homewood make use of roads and services the city provides through business license taxes and other forms of revenue.
The council approved the statement of opposition, which they will send to Homewood's representatives at the House of Representatives.
The council also:
- Approved Sain Associates to work on an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan for the city's infrastructure and facilities.
- Approved streetlights at 924 South Forest Drive and Frisco Street.
- Approved a sign variance request for the Valora apartment complex, formerly called Overlook at Homewood, at 915 Valley Ridge Drive, as well as a sign ordinance for Caliber, 2822 Central Avenue, to put a second sign on the building facing the back parking lot.
- Approved purchase of an ad in the 2017 Homewood Magazine, produced by the Homewood Chamber of Commerce.
- Approved the mayor to sign a contract with Strada Professional Services to evaluate wetland areas behind the Mason Corporation property adjacent to West Homewood Park, which the city recently purchased.
- Opening of several board seats for applications: Applicants can submit applications for the Historic Preservation Committee Ward 1 seat and Environmental Commission Ward 4 seat through March 27, and for the Board of Education Ward 1 and Ward 4 seats from April 1-10. Charlie Graham was chosen for the Ward 2 Historic Preservation Committee seat, and Jake Collins and Ann Wheeler were chosen for that committee's at-large positions.
- Approved funding for Operation School Bell.
- Set April 10 public hearings to consider a fence ordinance variance at 1715 Mayfair Drive and a driveway ordinance variance request at 602 Windsor Drive.