By Crystal McGough
CLAY – Citizens of Clay once again came out to speak about concerns over the St. James subdivision behind Clayton Cove at the Clay City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.
Bentley Taylor was the first to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting, addressing his concerns over the houses not being built with four-sided brick.
“We first started out at three to four-sided brick,” Taylor said. “Now, there’s a quarter, maybe two quarters, of a house being bricked in the front. … Who is the person that we should hold accountable for this?”
Mayor Charles Webster replied that the issue is currently in litigation, and City Attorney Alan Summers took over in response to Taylor.
“I don’t normally do this,” Summers said. “… Why don’t you call me tomorrow? Why don’t you come down and have the courtesy to sit down with me – if you want to bring two or three people, fine – and you talk to me and show me. And then let me go from a legal standpoint and tell you what I’ve got to work with. I don’t have perimeters to do things; I have to follow the laws because I do not want the city sued, if I can avoid it. … So if you will give the courtesy to call me tomorrow, I will take the time, and you come down to my office … You will be very welcome if you will come down and talk with me and let me show you what I have to work with.”
Jim Coupland also addressed the council with concerns about the subdivision. Coupland said that his house is not within Clay city limits, but a portion of his land is.
“I spoke a couple weeks ago about the issue with the four-wall brick in the St. James subdivision,” he said. “I just want to get a few clarifications. … My question is, the litigation, is that between the city, the developer and the builder? Or is that between other people and doesn’t include the city?”
Summers said that “at this point, it’s hard to say because there may be as many as three different entities.”
Coupland repeated the question of whether or not the city is involved in the litigation, and Summers said, “Not at this present time, but that’s only because we worked out some temporary things.”
Coupland informed the council that he had sent an email to the builder, and that the builder told him the city had signed off on the plans with one-wall brick.
“So my question, is it true that the city signed off and gave the builders the OK to build one-wall brick homes?” he asked.
Ronnie Dixon answered Coupland’s question, stating that “the building inspector issued 26 building permits on plans that showed three-sided, sided homes. That’s true.”
Coupland also inquired about the agreement made between the attorneys that the 26 existing houses would be allowed to remain as they are, with three-sided siding.
“I’ll say I made a mistake,” Dixon said, “and the (26) houses are going to be built with three-sided siding, as the plans were submitted. You cannot expend public funds on private property. What would you call making it right? … What would you do to make it right? Who is going to pay for that?”
Coupland suggested that the city pay for the four-sided brick, but Dixon reiterated that the city legally cannot spend public funds on private property.
“The only houses that are in question right now are the 26 that have already been built to some stage, that do not have all sides brick,” Councilor Dennis Locke said. “But because now the people that sign off on plans are aware of the ruling that was made in the Planning & Zoning, the others are guaranteed, they will not be built without four-sided brick.”
After the council meeting, Mayor Webster explained that the 26 houses that have currently been erected are at the back of the new subdivision and will be hidden from view by the remaining four-sided brick homes that are yet to be built.
During the regular council meeting, the council held a public hearing concerning Rezoning Case Z-2020-02, which addressed the rezoning of 6681 Trussville Clay Road from Institutional to General Commercial.
“It is a church at this point, has been for several years,” Dixon said. “But it is being purchased by a business that’s currently in Clay. This comes to you as a unanimous recommendation from the Planning & Zoning Commission to rezone that from Institutional to General Commercial.”
April Pitts, owner of Southern Craft Supply, spoke in favor of the rezoning.
“We are just a little, small craft store, already located here in Clay,” Pitts said. “We would love to stay here, but we do need to expand. We need a bigger building … so we would like to buy the church directly across from the middle school, right there located on Trussville Clay Road, just so that we can grow bigger and stay here in the community.”
Pitts said that Southern Craft Supply, which is currently located on Old Springville Road, sells blank wood for custom door hangers, paint, vinyl and other craft supplies. They also have a small selection of boutique clothing.
No one spoke against the rezoning, and the city council unanimously approved a motion to approve Rezoning Case Z-2020-02.
Additionally, the council held a public hearing regarding weed abatement at 769 Chestnut Drive. No one spoke for or against the abatement, and Resolution 2020-35 passed unanimously, authorizing the abatement.
Councilor Bo Johnson reminded the people of Clay that the city will be holding a trunk-or-treat at Clay-Chalkville High School this Saturday.
“We’ll have the city of Clay trunk-or-treat Saturday night, Oct. 31, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., in the parking lot of Clay-Chalkville High School,” he said. “This is not a drive-thru trunk-or-treat. This is a park and walk through. The folks who are at the vehicle giving out candy will be masked and gloved so that there won’t be any concerns. Also, Faith Community Fellowship is providing free food that night. At 7 p.m., we’ll wrap up the even with a small fireworks show.”
Councilor Dennis Locke introduced this month’s $500 school grant winners. They are as follows:
Clay Elementary School – Kristy Lott, Music, funds will be used to purchase a portable sound system, wireless mic, picks and straps so that they are not setting ukes (Ukuleles) on the floor or ground between songs.
Bryant Elementary School – Crystal Owens, Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies, funds will be used to purchase Math Counters and Legos. This will help students with their sensory process with number sense and place values.
CCMS – Spencer White, Baseball, funds will be used to purchase baseballs for practice and for games on behalf of the CCMS Baseball Team.
CCHS – Leslie Childs, ninth-12th grade Enhanced Virtual Learning, funds will be used to purchase a variety of items to help overcome learning obstacles. Wireless Headset, Laptop Stand, Document Camera and an extra computer monitor.
“It’s time for our grants again, so we have our winners,” Locke said. “Congratulations to all our teachers and for everybody that supports our teachers and the schools.”
The next meeting of the Clay City Council will be Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, at Clay City Hall at 6 p.m. This meeting will serve as the installation ceremony for the new mayoral and city council term, as well as the first November council meeting.