From The Tribune staff reports
TRUSSVILLE — The Trussville City Council met on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, and approved several measures including the sale of alcohol for Cracker Barrel.
The meeting was the first official meeting for the new council and for new City Clerk Dan Weinrib. Council President Alan Taylor asked the public to be patient.
“This is a brand new council,” said Taylor. “So, we may mess some things up but if we do, just laugh at us, we’ll correct them and we’ll move on.”
A public hearing was held on the rezoning proposal for a property owned by JebLow, LLC. The property, at 1809 Gadsden Highway, from Commercial Preferred to Commercial – 2. No one was in attendance to speak for or against the rezoning. The move was approved unanimously.
After a public hearing, the council rejected a proposal to rezone two properties at 7435 and 7473 Gadsden Highway from Industrial-1 to Commercial-2. Dinesh Patel presented plans for the property owner, John T. Howland, Jr., to the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, last month. Howland would like the property to be rezoned from I-1 (Light Industrial) to Commercial, in order for him to build a new service station and convenience store.
Several concerned citizens spoke against the rezoning and P&Z recommended that the city council deny the request because the property is in the city’s Industrial Park. Some of the same citizens spoke during the public hearing at the city council meeting Monday to relay those same concerns. Tris Swindle, a resident of Saddlewood, said he is concerned about the proximity of the property to Paine Elementary.
“It’s a gas station with alcohol sales, cigarette sales,” said Swindle. “I don’t really like that being real close to a school.”
Other concerns Swindle and others have are traffic, wildlife wellbeing and light pollution.
Michael Johnson, the Vice President of Commercial Sales and Leasing for Engle Properties Co., spoke in the public hearing saying he wanted to take the opportunity to chat with residents about interest in other kinds of businesses showing interest in the property.
“We’ve gotten a lot of interest from other retailers, including dollar-type stores” said Johnson. “The owner of the property owns the Bobcat Trading Company. Is that something that the neighborhood and the city would approve because we are talking about tractors being sold versus just a gas station.”
Council President Alan Taylor suggested Johnson meet with homeowners about what they would like to see go in the location.
“What this council has been asked to consider is only one thing,” Taylor said. “That is, ‘Do we want to move a property that is in our Industrial Park from industrial to commercial?’ For the council, our primary concern isn’t what is going there, it is whether we want to move that property from industrial to commercial.”
The council unanimously voted unanimously to reject the rezoning.
A public hearing was held on an alcohol license request for Cracker Barrel. The restaurant is planning to add wine and beer to the menu nationwide.
Cracker Barrel hopes to have alcohol in 600 of its nearly 660 locations by the end of 2021.
Cracker Barrel Associate Manager Shelby Puttnam spoke in support of the measure.
“I think it will be good for our business and I think it will be good for the city of Trussville,” Puttnam said.
Puttnam said employees will be trained to serve alcohol. She said Cracker Barrel is putting a lot of money into extensive training and paying close attention to policies.
“We are still a family atmosphere so with that all being taken in, I don’t think there will be an issue,” said Puttnam.
The council unanimously approved the restaurant retail liquor license.
The council approved the purchase of new management software for the Parks and Recreation Department. The city will use COVID-19 CARES Act funds to reimburse the Parks and Recreation Department to update the old system. The new software will allow Park and Recreation to send out alerts. The cost approved for the software is $47,535.
In other business, the council approved an ordinance vacating a 20-foot private alley that is no longer needed for public or municipal purposes. The move was part of a land-swap with Birmingham Realty Co., also known as Barber’s. The city will use the swapped property as part of the new downtown plaza.
The city also proclaimed November 2020 as National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. The proclamation supports hospice care and hospice care workers by encouraging “citizens to increase their understanding and awareness of care at the end of life, discuss their end of life wishes with their families, and observe this month with appropriate activities and programs.”
The following items were approved as part of the consent agenda:
- Hire Jessica Golab, Payroll specialist, Grade 18, Step 3, effective 11/23/2020
- Hire Christopher Carlisle, Police Officer, Grade 17, Step 4, effective 11/21/2020
- Purchase Law Enforcement Equipment for Entertainment District
- Section IX – Auditing Accounts
During council reports, Jaime Anderson announced that ACTA will perform “Elf” Dec. 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12, at 7 p.m., and Dec. 6 and 13, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. There will be over 30 actors in the production.
Councilor Lisa Bright said she met with Superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill about plans for the future. She also introduced Trussville City Schools Board of Education President Kathy Brown and BOE member Steve Ward. Brown gave an update on the school system.
“I don’t guess we can say that Hewitt-Trussville High School is a Blue Ribbon High School enough,” said Brown. “That is a huge honor and it’s not an overnight process.”
Brown said the school system just completed the accreditation process and scored 311. The average score is 278-283.
Taylor thanked the BOE for their volunteer work in making TCS what it is.
“Just those scores should make us proud,” Taylor said. “We hear every single day that people are coming to Trussville and one of the main reasons is for our schools and y’all ought to be thanked for that.”
Taylor also recognized former City Council member Jef Freeman, who was in the public seating area for the meeting.
“He’s done a great job for our city,” Taylor said of Freeman. “A lot of what you see down here, we owe a thanks to him and others for that.”
Continuing council reports, Councilor Perry Cook called on JR Malchus, with Inspections, to give an update on building permits. In the past two weeks, Machus said there have been 158 permits issued and 323 sites visited.
Councilor Ben Short, who serves on the Planning and Zoning Board, attended his first meeting Monday and gave an update. Short said the board gave final approval for Keystone Ridge Subdivision. Short also said the board discussed minor changes to the city’s zoning ordinance that could improve commercial development down the road.
Mayor Buddy Choat said he is planning on putting together a veterans committee in order to serve those who served for our country. Choat said the stand for the bust being made in honor of Army Sgt. Jason Stegall has been placed in Civitan Park and the University of Alabama is putting finishing touches on the bust.
Choat said the city has met all deadlines for the widening of Highway 11. The project is expected to begin in early 2021. He also said ALDOT is preparing to do resurfacing on Interstate 59 from exit 141 to St. Clair County.
The council also went into an executive session to discuss a real estate matter.