This St. Patrick’s Day, the Birmingham City Council approved the city’s first entertainment district. The BJCC will be presenting the Uptown Entertainment District to the Council for consideration during the March 17, 2015 meeting (Item 1). The district would be the first established since the passage of an amendment to Birmingham’s ordinance on “Intoxicating Liquors” in September 2013. The design for the “to-go” cups to be used by businesses were not subject to Design Review Committee (DRC) approval though they were presented during the end of the review process last fall.
The Alabama State Legislature passed a law in 2012 allowing for “open carry” of drinks from participating businesses within the boundaries of a designated district (though drinks cannot be carried from one business to another). Several districts already exist elsewhere in the state, including two in Huntsville and one in Decatur. Uptown is considered an ideal a test case by many for other potential districts to watch, including the recently renamed Parkside district surrounding Regions Field; the Lakeview district; and a portion of Second Avenue North. The amp below shows the proposed boundaries for the district:
The BJCC received DRC approval for the necessary signage identifying the district’s proposed boundaries in October 2014 after reviewing options since that July. There is no official word about how soon the pole signs, designed by a local graphic designer, would be installed; it is also unclear as to when the relaxed rules would take effect.
During discussion involving the ordinance before the vote (unanimously 7-0; Councilors Lundy and Tyson were not present), Councilor Abbott suggested that the bugs get worked out in Uptown first before tackling other proposed districts. Council President Pro-Tem Roberson pointed out the potential financial benefits related to this district and future proposals.
The preliminary agenda for the January 20 Birmingham City Council meeting included an item that has the potential to impact the city’s Southside. A portion of the nine mile stretch of road officially known as State Route 149 was the central focus of Item 7, submitted for and approved as part of the consent agenda on Tuesday morning. Specifically, it involved the portion of the nine-mile stretch of road once known as Alt. U.S. 31 — one that made getting around Red Mountain a little easier before the completion of the Red Mountain Expressway. The item called for approving an “Agreement, Resolution and Quit Claim Deed with the State of Alabama, acting by and through the Alabama Department of Transportation for the Transfer of Finley Boulevard from US-78 to US-31 to the State of Alabama and the Transfer of SR-149 within the City limits of Birmingham to the City.” This is a big deal on both ends of the deal.
Finley Boulevard is a major thoroughfare for the city, especially with regards to its ability to serve as a hub for the transportation of goods. A portion of the road runs parallel to Finley Avenue, home to several popular destinations in the city including Niki’s West and the Birmingham Farmers Market. It will eventually serve as the terminus to a project preparing to get underway to its east, the Maxine Herring Parker Bridge — the pedestrian/vehicular bridge project the former council president was working on before she passed away in November 2013. If you’re wondering about the status of that project — one focused on making accessing Collegeville safer and easier — the request for proposals for construction are due into ALDOT by 10 a.m., January 30.
Returning the focus to State Route 149, it provides the opportunity for the city to make additional improvements and changes to the portion of the road called University Boulevard — the portion that runs through the middle of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s campus on the Southside. UAB has recently constructed monument signs along University Boulevard at Richard Arrington, Jr. Blvd. (one, eastbound side) and at 13th Street (two), essentially announcing the eastern and western boundaries for the urban campus.
The other major story from yesterday’s meeting involved the approval of a zoning variance for the Salvation Army, allowing it to proceed with plans to convert Lewis Elementary School and some of the surrounding area into apartments, a homeless prevention center, and a church (Item 1). This approval comes a little more than four years after a similar proposal to be placed along 12th Avenue North in Norwood was voted down by the neighborhood, 52-0. As Alabama’s 13 reported yesterday, Norwood Elementary is currently being renovated with plans to reopen, allowing students from Lewis to move there.
The Birmingham City Council’s recap is available via PDF on their website.
Honestly, the most compelling thing to point out on the agenda this morning is the fact that depending on what happens this evening, it could be the last time Carole Smitherman leads the pledge of allegiance at a Birmingham City Council meeting. Why? She’s a candidate for Circuit Court judge, Place 13.
Other important highlights for today’s meeting include Item 2, one that would create a local historic district out of a portion of the city’s Norwood neighborhood. Item 43 brings the city one step closer to determining what its smoking policies in public places will look like; it would set a public hearing for April 17. We also learn about an upcoming fundraising running event in Pratt City on April 28, the Legends of the Iron Bowl run for Recovery 5K, via Item 15.
Items 29 – 35 are pretty interesting considering they’re calling for approval of contracts for construction equipment – but the version of the agenda on the city’s website as of late last night didn’t include the name of the lowest bidder for any of these items.
Missing from the agenda in its current form, last week’s proposal from potential developers in the city’s Smithfield Estates that was rejected by the council. It had been thought the mayor would place it back on the agenda for this week.
As always, the fun starts at 9 a.m. with the pre-Council meeting, with the scheduled start time for the actual meeting being 9:30 a.m. You can follow along via the live stream available on the city’s website.
This morning’s Birmingham City Council meeting should be an interesting one to watch.
The agenda itself is not that exciting (526 properties on the list for weed removal notwithstanding). Items 4-7 are normally boilerplate items; approval of contracts with print publications to help publicize notices, ordinances and resolutions. This year the contracts with The Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times are on consent; the contracts with the Alabama Messenger and The Birmingham Times are not.
Items 32-40 are providing for payouts equaling $79,195 in disaster relief/critical repair grants.
The more interesting conversation though should be during the mayor’s report. This morning’s Birmingham News front page includes a piece about the continuing issues surrounding communication between the mayor and council. This time it’s focused on issues related to the PACE board created to downtown ballpark.
Last week it was announced that construction on the $60 million new home of the Birmingham Barons closer to being completed in time for the first pitch of the 2013 season. Joseph Bryant’s piece points out that the loans were approved in meetings that took place prior to the appointment of two board members by the City Council – after partial demolition was approved last month.
The meeting is available via live stream on the city’s website – as always.
UPDATE: Kyle Whitmire with Second Front reports the City Council has voted to go with Mayor Bell’s proposal for debris cleanup and not to use the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
So after you get past the thirteen pages of properties scheduled to undergo nuisance abatement in today’s Birmingham City Council agenda, you arrive at Item 7 – the first of 14 that involve “inoperable vehicles” on property. They’re all public hearings too…
The most interesting item on today’s agenda involves clean up efforts underway after the April 27 tornadoes. The simple part of the agenda is Item 21, making $10 million available to do the debris removal in the budget. Then it gets interesting. The mayor has submitted Item 22, asking for permission to enter into contracts with DRC Emergency Services, Southeast Renewables and Malcolm Pirnie. The City Council counters with Item 26, granting permission to the Army Corp of Engineers Mobile District, which is using Phillips & Jordan to coordinate efforts throughout the state.
They’ve already spent several days talking about the issue, including the majority of what was supposed to be the first meeting about the 2011-2012 budget.
There also appear to be several road construction projects on today’s agenda, including one (Item 23) moving the extension of Finley Boulevard from 26th Street to East Lake Boulevard forward.
It’ll be an interesting one to watch this morning – or whenever you get around to it.
The most interesting item on this morning’s Birmingham City Council agenda involves the Batmobile. Back in 2007 we linked to a post written by Lou Anders about Birmingham’s Batman – Willie Perry.
The car that Perry drove around while providing assistance to those in need has been the focus of a lot of attention in recent years. Today, so long as the issue isn’t deferred again, it will find a new home. Item 2 on today’s agenda hopes to accomplish just that as it would allow the mayor to enter into an agreement with Old Car Heaven to house the car for an indefinite period of time.
This morning’s agenda also includes potential approvals for contracts with companies to demolish structures throughout the city (Items 9-14) as well as a funding request that would allow Main Street Birmingham to move forward with plans to develop an arts incubator in the Woodlawn commercial district (Item 6).
It should be an interesting meeting to watch… The live stream begins with pre-council at 9 a.m.
Considering how many items are on currently on consent this morning, you’d assume that the first Birmingham City Council meeting of 2011 should move as quickly as the last one of the year. We already know that this will most likely not be the case because of the expected proposal from Mayor Bell about to use that expected $9 million mid-year budget surplus.
Items 4-27 cover an insanely large amount of properties being taxed for overgrown weeds, meaning that by the time you get to page 32 you may not be in the mood to look at Item 29 (it allows the city to enter into an agreement with ESPN Regional Television to help publicize the BBVA Compass Bowl for the next four years – beginning with this year’s edition.
Preparations for this year’s game is well underway (especially since it’s scheduled to take place this Saturday). Continue reading
Posted in On the agenda
Tagged aquatic center, BBVA Compass Bowl, bowl, City Council, contracts, ESPN Regional, Fair Park, football, Hotel, On the agenda, overview