Cullman City Council draws crowd for rezoning vote; reconsiders $2.5 million WWTP bid

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W.C. Mann

Audience members show their opposition to a rezoning ordinance with a show of hands.

CULLMAN – The Cullman City Council held its regular meeting Monday evening, with a larger and more vocal than usual crowd in attendance.  Several measures were on the table, but most of the audience members were there to show their objections to a proposed rezoning of property on St. Joseph Street from residential to business.  The second big topic of the night was the awarding of the $2.5 million bid for tertiary filter installation at the Wastewater Treatment Plant to J. P. Construction Company, Inc.- a bid that was rescinded from B.H. Craig Construction due to bid calculation errors.

Mayor Woody Jacobs and all council members except Andy Page were present at the roll call.  After the invocation by Cullman Fire Chief Edward Reinhardt, the previous meeting's minutes were approved without reading.

Jacobs brought no report, but did take a moment to thank all city departments for their participation in decorating and preparing for the upcoming Christmas holiday.

As the council moved to public hearings, the part of the meeting in which audience members could address the council, President Garlan Gudger stepped in to explain the rules to the somewhat anxious crowd, noting that this portion was for comment only, and not council votes.  Following are the hearings from the official agenda, with notes added in (parentheses):

1. To hold a public hearing for Ordinance No. 2017 – 05 to vacate and surplus a right-of-way adjacent to 1299 10th Street SE, which received a favorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Planning Commission.

(No comments)

2. To hold a public hearing for Ordinance No. 2017 – 06 to vacate and surplus an undeveloped portion of Short Street SW west of Broadway Ave. SW, which received a favorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Planning Commission.

(Brad Wilson and Kevin Campbell, representing those developing a nearby property, spoke in favor.  None spoke against.)

3. To hold a public hearing for Ordinance No. 2017 – 07 to rezone 5.3 acres of property beside Spirit Life Church of God from R-1 residential district and B-2 business district, which received an unfavorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Planning Commission.

(No one spoke in favor of rezoning.  Ann Gibson and Don Davis, residents in a nearby neighborhood, spoke against the proposal.  Many others were there to show opposition as well.  Though most did not speak, Gudger asked how many were present to oppose the measure.  At least 15 people raised their hands.)

4. To set a public hearing on Jan. 23, 2017 at 7 p.m. for Ordinance No. 2017 – 08 to vacate and surplus the Charles Avenue SW extension right-of-way, which received an unfavorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Planning Commission.

(No comments; this measure was simply to set a date for the hearing.)

As the council moved into the next segment, a single request was brought and approved (from the agenda):

1. A request from Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper to purchase on the state bid list a 2017 Chevrolet Pick-up Truck from Donohoo Chevrolet in the budgeted amount of $31,753.

Then the council moved to resolutions and ordinances, the portion for which the audience had been waiting.  The first resolution passed with no issues (Note: all numbered resolutions and ordinances below were taken from the council agenda):

1. Resolution No. 2017 – 31 – To change the date of a Cullman City Council Meeting from Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 at 7 p.m. to Monday, Jan. 16, 2017 at 7 p.m.

The second resolution required explanation:

2. Resolution No. 2017 – 32 – To rescind Resolution No. 2017-26 in its entirety and award the bid for tertiary filter installation for the Wastewater Treatment Plant to J. P. Construction Company, Inc., the lowest responsible bidder, in the budgeted amount of $2,495,000.

A Wastewater Department representative explained that the original low bidder, B.H. Craig Construction, had an error in its figures that ultimately showed its bid to be incorrect.  Review of the bids indicated the correct low bidder to be J.P Construction.  This resolution was approved.

The third resolution was approved with no issues:

3. Resolution No. 2017 – 33 – To reject all bids received and rebid one or more half-ton pickup trucks for the City of Cullman due to no bidder meet all of the requested specifications.

The next two ordinances were receiving their first readings, which would normally mean that they could not be voted on at this meeting; the council decided to suspend the rules and vote.  Both ordinances were approved.

4. First reading of Ordinance No. 2017 – 05 to vacate and surplus a right-of-way adjacent to 1299 10th Street SE, which received a favorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Planning Commission.

5. First reading of Ordinance No. 2017 – 06 to vacate and surplus an undeveloped portion of Short Street SW west of Broadway Avenue SW, which received a favorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Planning Commission.

Then came the moment (and ordinance) all were awaiting:

6. First reading of Ordinance No. 2017 – 07 to rezone 5.3 acres of property beside Spirit Life Church of God from R-1 residential district and B-2 business district, which received an unfavorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Planning Commission.

As numerous residents opposed the ordinance, and as the Planning Commission had declined to recommend it, the council voted unanimously to deny the ordinance.  This means that the property will remain zoned as residential.

The seventh resolution opened the floor for council members to make board appointments.  Only one was offered: Councilwoman Folsom moved to re-appoint Judy Williamson to the Cullman Downtown Redevelopment Authority.  The motion was approved.

The eighth resolution passed without issue:

8. Resolution No. 2017 – 34 – To authorize the mayor and City of Cullman Parks and Recreation Board to review and if necessary amend the agreement with Rock the South, LLC.

The evening's last resolution received explanation:

9. Resolution No. 2017 – 35 – To amend position control policy of the City of Cullman, Alabama.

The specific purpose of this resolution was to allow the Cullman Police Department to change two patrol officer positions to sergeant positions.  This will help the CPD modify its work shift schedule to place more officers on duty during the hours when the highest number of police calls come in.  The resolution was approved.

The Cullman City Council normally meets the second and fourth Monday evenings of each month, but has moved its Jan. 9 meeting to Monday Jan. 16 at 7 p.m.  The public is invited to attend.

 

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