Category: Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Council Says ‘No’ to Storage Facility

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to deny a rezoning request from developers of a proposed mini-storage facility in the city’s Oxmoor neighborhood after outcry from residents. The proposed development, which would have been at 801 Tom Martin Drive, would have repurposed a property vacated by the Internal Revenue Service in 2018. It would have created 166 new storage units for boats and recreational vehicles as well as a wash bay for those vehicles. Read more.

Woodfin’s Budget Proposal Would Increase Police Funding, Fund City Pay Raises, Neighborhood Revitalization, Transportation and Other Services

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin presented his “whopping” FY 2023 budget proposal to the City Council on Tuesday, describing it as a reflection of “an unprecedented time of investment and growth” for the city.

The $517 million budget is up roughly $61.5 million from last year’s budget, which at the time was the city’s largest-ever. Most of that money, Woodfin said, came from increases in business tax revenues — particularly business license revenue, which are projected to rise $23 million compared to last year. As a result, Woodfin said, “appropriations are up across the board.”

Roughly two-thirds of the budget would go toward personnel costs — a priority for Woodfin’s administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. Neighborhood revitalization, another of the mayor’s key issues, is also a focus, with $2 million earmarked for blight removal, $1.5 million for weed abatement and $15 million for street resurfacing.

The biggest increase in revenue would go to the Birmingham Police Department, which would receive $118.5 million — up $18 million from last year. Read more.

Woodfin’s Budget Proposal Would Increase Police Funding, Fund City Pay Raises, Neighborhood Revitalization and Other Services

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin presented his “whopping” FY 2023 budget proposal to the City Council on Tuesday, describing it as a reflection of “an unprecedented time of investment and growth” for the city.

The $517 million budget is up roughly $61.5 million from last year’s budget, which at the time was the city’s largest-ever. Most of that money, Woodfin said, came from increases in business tax revenues — particularly business license revenue, which are projected to rise $23 million compared to last year. As a result, Woodfin said, “appropriations are up across the board.”

Roughly two-thirds of the budget would go toward personnel costs — a priority for Woodfin’s administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. Neighborhood revitalization, another of the mayor’s key issues, is also a focus, with $2 million earmarked for blight removal, $1.5 million for weed abatement and $15 million for street resurfacing.

The biggest increase in revenue would go to the Birmingham Police Department, which would receive $118.5 million — up $18 million from last year. Read more.

Birmingham Sets Out Rules to Promote Historical Building Redevelopment

Birmingham has changed its zoning ordinance to encourage the reuse of historical structures throughout the city.

The changes, which were approved Tuesday by the City Council, will provide “incentives and exceptions that are intended to foster the reuse of historical properties and further the goal of maintaining historical character within the city,” said Chief Planner Tim Gambrel.

This will promote the conversion of “older, economically distressed, historically significant buildings” into apartments, live-work units or mixed-use developments while excepting them from zoning requirements that would require significant structural changes. Read more.

Birmingham Council OK’s New Five Points South Restaurant Despite Councilors’ Fears

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve a liquor license for a new Five Points South restaurant, Social, despite concerns from neighborhood residents and some councilors that the owners intend for the business to be a nightclub, instead.

Social will occupy the space previously held by Skky Lounge, a nightclub shut down by the council in 2017 after multiple shootings. The restaurant will be operated by Jeremy Williams, whose J Wings restaurant has six locations in the city, including at the Birmingham CrossPlex and the Pizitz Food Hall. Williams told councilors that the restaurant would serve “high-end” fare such as lamb chops, steak and lobster pasta, and he said he had built a “state-of-the-art kitchen” in the building’s lower level.

But several neighborhood residents expressed skepticism over the proposal and fear that Social would quickly become another Skky. Read more.

Water Board Asks to Oversee Housing Construction Near the Cahaba, Despite Its Fight for the Ability to Lighten Water Protection Rules

The Birmingham Water Works Board has asked the city to require developers of a property near the Cahaba River watershed to submit to board approval before beginning construction.

Arlington Properties plans to build a multi-family housing development at 4641 U.S. 280, a property that is directly adjacent to BWWB-owned Cahaba watershed lands. The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday approved rezoning the property from an agricultural district to a general commercial district. The BWWB is asking to have a say in the development’s permitting process.
“If this development is being considered for approval, we would request that the city require the developers to comply with Birmingham Water Works’ watershed protection policy and to submit the proposed plans and associated documentation to the BWWB prior to such approval,” April Nabors, the BWWB’s environmental engineer, told the council. “We just want to be part of the approval process.”

District 2 Councilor Hunter Williams expressed some skepticism about this request, in light of the board’s recent attempt to have conservation restrictions on its own watershed properties loosened. Read more.

Birmingham Council OKs New Districts Despite Dissent

The Birmingham City Council approved the redrawing of its district boundaries Tuesday to comport with data from the 2020 census, despite some councilors’ misgivings that the move will disenfranchise some voters.

Municipal law requires the redrawing of district lines after each federal census, which happens every 10 years. The goal of the redistricting is to balance the city’s population roughly equally among the nine districts, which each elect representatives to the City Council and school board.

But two councilors objected to the plan. Councilor Darryl O’Quinn said redistricting now basically invalidated the votes of thousands of residents whose districts changed. And Councilor Valerie Abbott objected to major sections of her area being shifted out of her district and other areas being added in. Read more.

Birmingham Council Sets April 19 Hearing and Vote on New Districts Despite Disenfranchisement Concerns

The Birmingham City Council has set an April 19 public hearing on its proposed redistricting plan, which will likely culminate in a vote despite concerns from some councilors that the timing of the redistricting’s implementation could be interpreted as voter disenfranchisement.

Municipal law requires the city to draw new district lines after each federal census, which happens every 10 years, to make sure that population is roughly balanced among the nine districts, which each elect representatives to the City Council and the school board.

Due to delays caused by COVID, the council didn’t receive the 2020 census results until earlier this year, even though there was an election in fall 2021. Some councilors, such as Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, expressed concerns over the timing of the new map’s implementation. For the changes to be made so early in a four-year term, O’Quinn said, “would essentially nullify (voters’) participation” in the 2021 election. Read more.

Birmingham Council OK’s Plan to Bring Grocery Store to Five Points West

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve an incentives package for a new Food Giant supermarket in the city’s Five Points West area.

The store will be located at 2257 Bessemer Road, the former location of a Winn-Dixie store that shut down in 2018 after the chain filed for bankruptcy. In 2020, former NFL player Karlos Dansby announced plans to open a new grocery store in that location, but those plans fizzled ignominiously.

Food Giant, owned by the Albertville-based Mitchell Grocery Corp., will receive $640,000 from the city for property improvement, in particular to divide the existing 50,000-square-foot building into two units; the Food Giant will take up only an estimated 22,000 square feet. Read more.

Birmingham Asks Public to Consider Proposed New Council and BOE District Lines

The Birmingham City Council is considering the approval of new City Council and Board of Education district lines, redrawn to take into account population shifts shown by the 2020 census.

City law mandates that districts be redrawn after each census to make sure that Birmingham’s population is evenly distributed among them. Each district elects a member of the City Council and the school board. The proposed changes would be in effect for the next two municipal elections, in 2025 and 2029.

The council held a public hearing March 29 to hear residents’ thoughts on the new district maps, and tweaks could be made based on those comments.

The proposal would shift territory out of relatively overpopulated districts — Districts 1 and 2, for example — and into underpopulated districts — Districts 4, 6, 8 and 9. Read more and see the full proposal.