Planning and Zoning Committee Meeting Recap

On Thursday, November 30th, there was a Special Called Meeting of the Planning and Zoning Committee. The meeting’s full agenda can be found below:

The Planning & Zoning Committee is comprised of:

Committee Chair Steven Hoyt, Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, and Council President, Valerie Abbott. The Committee meets on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at 4:00 p.m in 5th Floor Planning and Zoning Conference Room of City Hall.

The Committee Process

The Planning and Zoning Committee considers matters related to zoning, planning functions, comprehensive development and land use plans. Requests to rezone property are presented first to the Zoning Advisory Committee of the Birmingham Planning Commission. This committee holds a public hearing and makes a recommendation to the City Council. The Planning & Zoning Committee reviews the request along with the ZAC recommendation and then makes its recommendation to the Council. The Council then holds a public hearing and votes to rezone the property or deny the request. A rezoning will appear on the council agenda twice: once to set the date for the public hearing (First Reading), then again to hold the public hearing.

Requests to vacate streets or alleys are heard by the Subdivision Committee of the Birmingham Planning Commission. The committee makes recommendation to the council. The council holds a public hearing and votes on the request; vacations cannot be placed on the consent agenda. The Subdivision Committee also reviews all new subdivisions and resurveys and approves or denies them. Appeals in subdivision cases are to the Birmingham Planning Commission.

The Zoning Board of Adjustments is a quasi-judicial, independent board whose members are recommended by the Planning & Zoning Committee and appointed by the city council. Its jurisdiction includes: variances, such as height, parking or setback requirements; requests to continue or reinstate legal non-conforming uses; and special exceptions, which are required for some specific uses, including day care centers and communal living facilities. Appeals from the Zoning Board of Adjustments are to Circuit Court; Zoning Board of Adjustments cases are not heard by the council.

The Planning and Zoning Committee makes recommendations for appointments to the following organizations: Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, Birmingham Planning Commission, Design Review Board (from a list approved by the Mayor), Jefferson County Historical Commission, Birmingham Historical Commission, Birmingham Historical Preservation Authority, and Zoning Board of Adjustments.

There are currently 2 vacancies on the Birmingham Planning Commission. If you are interested in submitting your resume for consideration by the committee, please send it along with a cover letter, to steven.hoyt@birminghamal.gov.

Now, on to the agenda.

EAST AVONDALE

  1. *ZAC2017–00007…………………………………………………….East Avondale Application for a change in zone district boundaries from R-4A Medium Density Residential District and CM-1, Contingency Light Industrial District to C-2, General Commercial District, filed by Bentley Nelson, representing the owners, M N Capital Strategies, LLC for the properties located at 4352, 4400, 4404, 4408, and 4412, 3rd Avenue South and situated in the NE¼ of Section 29, Township 17-S, Range 2-West. (35213, District 2).

The owners of the highlighted properties in the East Avondale Neighborhood are intending to build a 30 unit, multi-family apartment building.

The applicant met with the East Avondale Neighborhood Association on July 11th 2017. The neighborhood voted 8–0 against the proposed development because:

-The proposed property on 3rd Avenue South had 5 houses on it before. Although most of these homes were demolished after falling into a state of disrepair, the neighborhood association would prefer only single family homes be rebuilt on this property, which could include garden homes, condos and or townhouses.

-The location/lots are too small to build 30 apartments on it. In addition, unless one (1) person lives in each apartment, this development will cause an increase of parking on the street which is not acceptable. This will only add to the parking and traffic congesting due to the proximity of the brewery and other businesses nearby.

-Existing apartments that are on the street are not kept up by current landlords, who just take money and never come out to check on the residents or the apartments.

The applicant also met with the Zoning Advisory Committee on July 18th, 2017, and they also voted to not recommend approval of the request.

LAND USE AND FRAMEWORK PLANS

One of the major considerations the City of Birmingham has when going through the process of granting permission to develop a property is whether or not the proposed use is in line with the City’s Future Land Use Plan. In this case, the Future Land Use plan would allow a single building apartment complex in the proposed location, just not one with 30 units.

A little background: in 2012, the City of Birmingham released a Comprehensive Plan, its first since 1961, and the the first comprehensive plan based on a community process. The Comprehensive Plan was developed through a process of broad public participation by citizens, business owners and other stakeholders. Now, through a process conducted by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, 7 “Framework Plans” are being developed for different areas of the city. ​Framework Plans are future planning documents that provide a clear vision of the kind of place the community wants to be in the future. The Community Framework Plan influences policies that have a direct bearing on quality of life. City leaders will look to the Community Framework Plans for direction on land use, new development, transportation, housing, parks, trails and open space, utilities and economic development. It will be used by elected officials and city staff as a guide for making short and long range policy and investment decisions — regarding land use development, zoning, transportation improvements, parks, trail, housing issues, and economic development.

So far, 5 of the 7 have been completed: Northeast Birmingham, Southwest Birmingham, North Birmingham, Titusville, and the Western Area.

The other 2 Framework Plans (for the Eastern Area, and for Pratt-Ensley) are still in development.

You can find thorough information on all the completed plans, as well as details about how to get involved in the process for the other two plans at http://www.imaginebham.com/

And for a more robust understanding of the Future Land Use Process, you can read Chapter 14 of the Comprehensive Plan here:

CENTRAL PARK

2.*ZAC2017–00009……………………………………………………Central Park Application for a change in zone district boundaries from R-3, Single Family District to D-4, Medium Density Residential District, filed by Eric Walker, representing the owner, Eric Walker, for the property located at 4941 Court R situated in the SW ¼ of Section 08, Township 18-S; 3-W.

The applicant intends to turn the former Loving Arms Daycare Christian Academy into the location of Safe Haven Boarding Home, a facility that “extends helping hands to adults with housing needs.” Their center would be a “comfortable and enjoyable place that they consider home”, and their services would include “meals, assistance in obtaining hygiene items, clothing, and a secure place to rest.” They would also provide job and life skills classes, transportation to medical appointments and court, and access to educational programs such as GED completion, as well as providing counseling services.

The applicant was not present at the meeting, and the Central Park Neighborhood voted against the rezoning at its regular meeting on October 12th, 2017. The Zoning Advisory Committee also met on October 12th, and voted to not recommend approval of the request. Furthermore, the property’s designation in City’s Future Land Use Plan (Residential Low Density) is inconsistent with the request. Therefore, when this matter comes before the Birmingham City Council, it will be marked as “No Recommendation” from the Planning and Zoning Committee.

Zoning Ordinance

For those interested, we’ve linked to the full Zoning Ordinance (518 pages) below.

Tweets from The Birmingham City Council in Birmingham, Alabama