Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council Settles Suit With One Self-Storage Developer, Extends Moratorium

Birmingham City Council President Valerie Abbott (Source: Sam Prickett)

The council voted unanimously to extend the city’s moratorium on new self-storage developments by 90 days. But it also voted to settle a lawsuit from one developer, paying out up to $125,000 and allowing construction on a self-storage facility near Vulcan Park to continue.

The moratorium, which halts all city involvement in development of self-storage facilities, was first set in July. Councilors said then that this would allow time for the completion of the city’s framework plan, which could result in some areas being rezoned. “We need to be intentional about making the best use of our downtown properties,” District 5 Councilor Darrell O’Quinn said.

The ordinance passed in July lasted for 180 days, but it also included the option for a 90-day extension, which councilors approved Tuesday.

They also voted to settle a lawsuit with Morningstar Properties, a North Carolina-based “real estate opportunity group” that had been forced to halt development on a proposed self-storage facility at 2125 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. Work had begun on the site before the moratorium was passed. The settlement will include payment of up to $125,000 and will allow construction on the development to continue.

Because the discussion involved pending litigation, the council discussed it in a private executive session. But when they returned to the dais, several councilors offered statements expressing disdain for the settlement.

“The residents of Redmont Park will be deeply disappointed that we can’t make things work out where we do not have an enormous mini-storage building right below Vulcan,” said District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott. “I will vote accordingly … It just bothers me.”

District 2 Councilor Hunter Williams, meanwhile, indirectly chided Morningstar for not being a “good corporate citizen.”

“If you see the city trying to do something — and the rest of the corporate community as a whole — sometimes being an outlier to make money is not a good place to be,” he said.

District 1 Councilor Clinton Woods argued, instead, that the city should have been more careful in passing the original ordinance. “I think it is important to really consider how we treat the business community, specifically in the city,” he said. “I thought it sent a bad message originally … We need to be careful with harming people.”

The council voted 6-3 to approve the settlement; Abbott, O’Quinn, and District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt were the dissenting votes.

The council’s next meeting, originally scheduled for New Year’s Eve, will take place on Monday, Dec. 30.