City Council – Highlights from Feb. 23 Meeting
Published on February 24, 2017
The Huntsville City Council authorized Huntsville Police Department to hire new officers to bring the manpower up to authorized strength.
The approval enables HPD to have a second Police Academy class in 2017. Recruitment for that class will begin officially on March 6. A current group of 29 officers is in the preliminary stages of training for an Academy that begins in earnest on March 6.
City Administrator John Hamilton told the Council that the Police Academy is receiving less than half of the number of applicants as several years ago. He noted “there are a lot of gates they have to pass through” to become accepted to attend the Academy. HPD had to appeal to the state to get approval for a second class, a process that had been going on for a number of years.
A number of citizens spoke in debate over Huntsville’s potential as a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants, most urging that Huntsville Police Department should not become involved in immigration and customs enforcement.
While Council members expressed their appreciation for the debate and welcomed the conversation, Council President Dr. Jennie Robinson pointed out that “what we’re talking about are federal issues. And they should be addressed with federal authorities.”
Mayor Tommy Battle read a letter from Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray, who was addressing the concerns of a citizen who contacted him. Chief McMurray’s letter read:
“I can assure everyone there is no movement or expectation of new or altered policy as it relates to how Huntsville Police Department serves our community. We acknowledge and appreciate that Huntsville is very diverse. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, to help provide a good quality of life for everyone through fair and consistent enforcement of laws. We appreciate and share your concerns for others in our community. Our oath and mission statement as sworn police officers demand our defense of constitutional rights of all people with compassion, fairness, integrity and professionalism.”
Art & Entertainment district
The Council approved the designation of “art & entertainment district” for Butler Green. The area includes Campus No. 805 and will stretch east to include other brewpubs in the neighborhood.
According to Jim McGuffey, Manager of Planning Services, the Butler Green area will operate with the same hours as other entertainment districts in the city. The hours in which open-container carry in approved public places are from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Thursday, 12 noon until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
McGuffey told the Council that all businesses participating in the entertainment district are aware of and willing to be compliant with all restrictions.
Zierdt Road development
The Mayor was authorized to enter into a Development Agreement with Fuquay Commons LLLP, and Huntsville SJ, LLC to create a new retail development in the Martin Road-Zierdt Road area.
Mayor Battle and City Attorney Trey Riley advised the Council that a final Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release had been reached with Dawson Building Contractors, Frank J. Raley and Raley & Associates, Inc., on the construction of the city jail. Mayor Battle called it the “end of the saga” with which the City of Huntsville had been dealing for some 15 years.
The Council congratulated Reverend Dr. Oscar L. Montgomery on the celebration of his 40th Pastoral Anniversary, to be held Feb. 26, 2017, at Union Hill Primitive Baptist Church.
A public hearing has been set for Lyft, Inc., to operate a transportation network company in Huntsville. The hearing is set for March 9 at the regular Council meeting.
The City of Huntsville has received $200,000 in Alabama Emergency Solutions Grant funds from Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. They are designed for use with local homeless, domestic violence victims and others in similar need.
Michelle Jordan, Director of Planning for the City of Huntsville, said those funds would be distributed to non-profits AshaKiran, Crisis Services, Inc., Family Services Center, Inc., NACH, Inc., RiahRose Home for Children, Inc., the Salvation Army, Community Action Partnership, Inc., and New Futures, Inc.
Approved rezoning of 101.3 acres of property on the east side of Gray Road and north of Huntsville Brownsferry Road from Residence 1-B District to Highway Business C-4 District and Planned Industrial District.
Approved rezoning of 2.10 acres of property on north side of Davis Circle and east of Dr. Joseph Lowery Blvd from Medical District to General Business C-3, being consistent with other downtown properties.
Approved zoning of 1.26 acres of newly annexed property on the east side of Old Big Cove Road and on the north side of Kennedy Lane to Residence 1-B District.
Approved annexation requests of 1.00 acre of land lying on the north side of Kennedy Lane and east of Old Big Cove Road and 0.93 acre of land lying on the north side of Plainview Drive and west of U.S. Highway 431 South.