West Homewood may soon have an entertainment district.
The City of Homewood Public Safety Committee met Monday evening to discuss the possibility of creating an entertainment district in the area, following the creation last year of an entertainment district in downtown Homewood. Efforts to bring a district to Edgewood failed earlier this year. The city still has the power to create another district, but would need to get approval from the state legislature to create more.
An entertainment district allows patrons to consume alcohol outdoors within the boundaries of the district and allows restaurants to sell alcohol offsite, within the designated area.
Councilor Andrew Wolverton, who represents parts of West Homewood, said he heard from many residents and businesses in favor of creating a neighborhood in West Homewood. The neighborhood would include, in part, the area including Little London, Seeds Coffee, Pizzeria GM and Ash.
Resident Chad Stogner raised concerns about the neighborhood, saying it includes parts of a church property – the map included part of the church property across from Pizzeria GM, but is in being reviewed by the committee – and would essentially serve as an opening container law. While others feel the same way, Stogner said, they don’t feel comfortable coming forward due to support from other groups and the council.
Stogner asked the committee to consider advising businesses to apply for a special license from the state liquor control board that would allow them to serve alcohol on sidewalks or rest areas in outside their restaurant without creating a larger neighborhood. Councilor Melanie Geer also offered this as a possible alternative.
Stogner also raised concerns about the presence of an entertainment district in an area where children walk to school. Councilor Barry Smith said council has the power to control district hours of operation. Hours of operation for the downtown district are after school hours.
Although not required by law, Council Chairman Alex Wyatt elected to hold a public hearing on the matter. City council will vote on June 13 to decide a date for that hearing, with Wyatt telling The Homewood Star it will likely be at the next council meeting on June 27.
Councilman Carlos Aleman, who also represents the West Homewood area, said the district encourages the march.
In other cases, the committee heard an update on traffic calming efforts, which are underway and awaiting delivery of the items needed to complete the work.
At the finance committee, Wyatt announced the members of an ad hoc committee formed to study the possibility of bringing a city manager or city administrator to Homewood.
Committee members are Wyatt, Aleman, Homewood Fire Chief Nick Hill, Homewood Chamber of Commerce Director Meredith Drennen, resident Andrea Snyder and resident Kent Haines.
Wyatt said the plan is for the committee to meet in the near future to come up with a plan on how to study the impact of hiring a professional to run the day-to-day affairs of the town and report back to the finance committee as they get updates. He said it might take “about a year” to develop their findings and come up with a recommendation.
Any changes to the city’s form of government would have to be approved by public vote.
The committee also voted to recommend changes to the city’s furlough policy for probationary employees. Probationary employees, those in their first year of service with the city, were previously not eligible to take time off in their first year of employment, despite accumulating a sick day and a vacation day per month during this period. However, the Jefferson County Staff Council now allows cities to revise their policies as long as they notify the council. City Clerk Melody Salter said the recommendation presented by the committee is that employees in their first year of employment be able to use their accrued sick leave and vacation time after 90 days of continuous employment. The full board will need to approve the changes.
The committee also approved budget changes, declaring dump trucks as surplus, postponed a city audit review and heard an update on 18th Street construction, which is still ongoing.