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Mobile City Council
P. O. Box 1827
Mobile, AL 36633-1827
Office: (251) 208-7441
Cell: (251) 404-4644
Welcome to winter! It's hard to believe but Christmas is just around the corner and we're planning for our annual District 7 Christmas meeting. This year we will again be at the Mobile Museum of Art, on Monday, December 9th and we'll be entertainedby the Mary B. Austin Elementary Choir, John Will Elementary Choir and the Clark-Shaw Magnet School Jazz Band. As always, we'll have delicious food, this year provided by Georgia Roussos Catering and Frios Gourmet Pops will also unveil some of their new holiday flavored pops. We're asking everyone to please bring a new, unwrapped gift for the children who live at St. Mary's Home. Pleasesee their wish list below. Our district firefighters, police officers and public works employees will be invited to attend so they can be recognized along with all the Community Action Groups and Neighborhood Associations. More details will soon be mailed.
Today the City Council denied a rezoning request in our district. If you don't live nearby, you may not be familiar with it. The request was to rezone a large parcel on Spring Hill Avenue, just west of St. Ignatius Church and next door to Mt. HebronChurch from residential to B-1 which is for a buffer business. The potential buyers were two veterinarians who currently operate a clinic in a shopping center at Spring Hill and I-65. The two doctors hoped to build a new clinic on one side of the parcel andsell a neighboring piece of property, while leaving a back parcel and small side parcel residential.
Because this rezoning issue became quite contentious, I wanted to share the comments I made at today's meeting.
This rezoning issue has been a long difficult one, that has pitted neighbor against neighbor and parishioner against parishioner. I hate what I've seen happen in this part of my district over rezoning for a veterinary clinic. True - it is a proposalfor a rezoning of a residential property and those are always sensitive - but the tension it's caused is troubling. Generally, when we have a contentious rezoning issue come before us, the neighbors all come together to try to defeat it - and are not at oddswith one another.
I have friends and supporters on both sides of this issue and I've heard from many of them. I've been warned about my future political career (or lack thereof) if I vote one way or the other - NO matter how I vote, I'm going to make some people mad.I hope they understand and are still my friends and supporters when this is over.
We've heard from many, many people some of them multiple times about this rezoning issue. I understand this has been an emotional issue for a lot of people and there are strong opinions and concerns on both sides.
Sometimes I hear from people as I'm certain my colleagues do - who are misinformed, have a grudge or a personal interest - sometimes it's all three. I try to answer this kind of correspondence as simply as possible with just the facts. However, thisweek I received an e-mail alleging that I have acted inappropriately - insinuating that I am in cahoots with a developer, that I am a member of a shell company and/or an LLC.
Generally, I let these things go -but that e-mail was a new low. And, it doesn't help the cause.
I believe if most everyone involved in this rezoning had it to do over again, they would've handled things differently. Perhaps Dr. Edmonds and her partner would've knocked on doors on Knowles Street and other nearby areas to alert neighbors thatthey were considering purchasing the property to build a veterinary clinic and ask for opinions - before entering into a sales agreement. That could've started amicable talks between the applicant and neighbors or stopped the whole thing in its tracks beforegoing to the Planning Commission. The two doctors thought they were doing things the right way.
Maybe the applicant would've better understood the kind of uphill battle she and her partner would find themselves in trying to get that residential parcel rezoned for commercial use.
I've spoken with Father Shields (St. Ignatius owns the property) - and he's said he regrets the tension this issue has caused, and had no idea there would be so much push back. I can understand that, given how long the property has been for saleand that there is commercial property nearby. At the time, Father Shields said it seemed like a good idea.
A Vet clinic is low impact, a buffer business and looking just west and across from the proposed site on Spring Hill Avenue and on McGregor Avenue there are parcels with an upzone of B-2.
Knowing what they do now, perhaps the church would've handled things differently. We've certainly heard a lot about how the sale was handled - but it's church business, not the City's. If they had it all to do over again, I believe the applicant might'veoffered conditions or concessions at the planning commission. The same sort of conditions that she has offered and have been discussed since the rezoning issue landed on our agenda. Some of those include not having outdoor kennels, moving the clinic to thewestern side of the parcel and agreeing to limit future use of the second parcel.
Prior to our public hearing which was weeks ago - there were a multitude of meetings. It is normal procedure for an applicant or developer to meet with the councilmember of the district to provide information about plans for development -especially if it entails a rezoning.
So, I met with the applicant and her team to go over their plans. My first question was - have you met with the neighbors yet? They said they had met with the Knowles Street neighbors since they are the closest to the proposed site and felt it wasproductive but there was some opposition. I suggested they meet again to try to work through the objections. Before agreeing to that meeting, the Sandtown Community Action Group wanted to meet with me first. So, I did, primarily to provide information on theCouncil's process, how rezonings occur and to answer some limited questions about the proposed plans. I encouraged members to meet again with the applicant to request conditions or concessions, since the planning commission had already recommended approval,and if the council passed the rezoning, they'd want to get as much benefit for the neighborhood as possible.
After that I attended a meeting of the Sandtown Community Action Group where the applicant and her team presented information, and one at St. Ignatius for parishioners to get information on the sale of the property. I didn't speak at either meeting,I was there to listen. Unfortunately at these meetings emotions ran so high it was difficult for those who had questions to get answers.
Weeks ago during our public hearing the applicant, her team and supporters and those in opposition had a chance to provide their arguments to the Council. During the meeting I asked Mrs. Barbara Knowles Smith, president of the Sandtown CAG if shewould be willing to work with the applicant toward a compromise. She said she would. Speaking for my colleagues here - we felt that was good news, and we all left thinking/or hoping that when this came back to the Council that conditions would be agreedto by both opponents and the applicant and there would be a compromise.
Councilmembers know how important it is in these land use issues for neighbors and developers to try to work together to get the best possible outcomes. It's very difficult to accomplish ...and usually emotionally charged, because rezonings - especiallyin a residential area like this one - change the neighborhood.
I facilitated a small meeting of opponents representing nearby neighborhoods to begin negotiations with the applicant. I attended the first meeting... After that the opponents group met to try to work through their objections and agree on a listof conditions they could request of the applicant. They met for several weeks making time in between their work & family responsibilities, and Halloween. I want to thank everyone who participated. I know you were - and - are - opposed to the rezoning, butyou agreed to discuss with open minds a way toward a compromise. I also want to thank Dr. Mary Edmonds and Dr. Mandy Alston for their willingness to make concessions and restrictions and to meet with the opponents. They've been very gracious, and vocal abouttheir willingness to compromise and work with the neighbors. These last few months have been difficult for them as well.
Unfortunately I learned yesterday that no compromise has been reached...but not for lack of trying. It's unfortunate.
Prior to the public hearing I told Dr. Edmonds that if we had to vote that day, the rezoning would fail - but that she had options. One was let the proposal fail and she could appeal to the circuit court, one was to withdraw, and the last was totry to work out a compromise with the neighbors. She opted for compromise. They tried - I believe everyone did. The neighbors who met over these last weeks understand - that if this rezoning fails - there may be other attempts at purchasing and rezoningthe property. But, whether to sell the property is up to St. Ignatius.
I urged the neighbors around this parcel of land to look at making the best out of the situation to better protect themselves going forward. As an example there is a new CVS on Airport Blvd. at Dogwood that backs right up to a neighborhood with littleto no buffers. The neighbors fought the rezoning and the Council denied it - landing it in court. The drug store won.
Though councilmembers like to defer to the district's representative, we all have a vote and in many cases we don't go with the district's representative especially if it's a contentious issue. I gave everyone on both sides of the issue the samemessage. I told them to meet with councilmembers and/or send correspondence. They did.
At the end of the day, this property is zoned for residential. The applicant knew that going in - as did Father Wall years ago when the church purchased the property. While the two doctors have jumped through all the hoops and done their partto make this rezoning the least impactful it can be -- 100 percent of the neighbors who live closest to the site are opposed to the rezoning, and a good number of those who live across from or just in back of the property are also opposed.
I have to listen closest to the people who are the most impacted by this proposal and give them deference. Because of that, I will have to vote against the rezoning. I spoke with Mary and Mandy yesterday to let them know. They were frustrated,disheartened and disappointed. I spoke with Father Shields this morning. He understands my reasoning and I believe he's relieved to get the matter settled. He's heard from many of his parishioners who were upset about the proposed rezoning, but again, he neverimagined the kind of push back that would unfold.
Father Shields told me he wants to heal any wounds caused in the neighborhood and church because of this rezoning. And I appreciate him being so candid with me. Going forward, this can be a win-win. I've heard from people who want to workwith the church and neighborhood to develop this property in a way that everyone can embrace and that would be a benefit to everyone.
HELPFUL CITY LINKS & NUMBERS
City Council Meetings
Dial 311 or 208-5311
Mobile Police Department
Downtown Mobile Alliance
BID Hotline- 327-7233 (SAFE)
Mobile Area Water & Sewer Service
694-3165 for emergency calls 24/7
MOBILE 311 HAS NEW HOURS
The new hours of operation for Mobile 311 are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Citizens should call 911 in the event of an emergency or 208-7211 to reach the Mobile Police Department's non-emergency operator. Call 311 during regular business hours, or to submit requests 24/7 via the City's website.
The change was made in response to the relatively small number of calls received overnight, on Sundays and holidays- an average of 20 calls per week after-hours (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) vs. an average more than 2,500 calls total per week.
In addition, a couple of vacancies that increased the workload and overtime on the current staff. As a result of the change, the City should realize a cost savings of $75,000 per year. That translates to more than $700 per call on nights & weekends. Every dollar saved is another dollar that can be spent fixing problems and eliminating the backlog of 311 requests.
Mayor Stimpson consulted with Chief Barber regarding the change and he assured us that it will have no effect on public safety. Gary Tanner at the County 911 Center said it should have no impact on his operations. They both agreed to contact the City Council immediately should any issues arise. Of course, the Action Center can be activated at any time in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
CITY OF MOBILE ANIMAL SHELTER
855 Owens Street
Mobile, AL 36604
Open for adoptions:
Monday through Friday: 9 - 11 a.m. and noon until 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9 - 11 a.m. and noon until 3:30 p.m.
(Closed for lunch between 11:00 am and noon)
Find us on Facebook and Petfinder.com
All dogs residing in the City of Mobile are required to be licensed!
Call 208-2800 for details.
HISTORY MUSEUM HAPPENINGS
Come by the History Museum and view the new Freidman Miniature House Gallery, which now includes selections from the museum's toy collection.
Tuesday- Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday- 1 to 5 p.m.
Every second Sunday join us for FREE!
For more information visit or call:
www.historymuseumofmobile.com / (251) 208-7652
HAVE YOU FACED A CLOSED DOOR?
Housing and lending discrimination occurs when people try to rent or buy a home, or when they attempt to get homeowner's insurance or a mortgage. Thirty-five years after Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act, millions of complaints are still filed each year - through nonprofit fair-housing agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Justice.
Housing discrimination doesn't always mean having a door slammed in your face or a bigoted remark directed your way. It is often done with a handshake and a smile. Unsuspecting renters or home buyers may be politely turned away from the housing of their choice, even though they are qualified.
The Center for Fair Housing, Inc. is full service fair housing center, whose mission is �To advocate, enforce, and educate the communities we serve in order to promote more healthy and inclusive communities.� Through education on relevant fair housing laws, pre and post homeownership counseling, financial literacy, and public accessibility accommodations, The Center continues their efforts to assure fair housing opportunities for all persons.
Center for Fair Housing
P.O. Box 161202
Mobile, AL 36616
Phone: (251) 479-1532
Fax: (251) 479-1488
Contact: Jasmine Spratt, Outreach Coordinator
The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce has received information from Airbus to help answer two of the most common questions: "How does my company become a supplier for the Airbus Alabama 320 final assembly line project?" and "How does my company become a supplier in Airbus' production supply chain?� As the company moves closer to announcing its construction timeline, they are committed to working with local vendors whenever possible.
All companies with interest in doing business with Airbus should reply to the "Airbus For Suppliers" tab on the website: http://www.airbus.com/company/americas/us/alabama/. On this site, suppliers will find two registration options:
1. For suppliers interested in working specifically on the new Airbus Alabama A320 Family final assembly line project, please visit the EADS eProc tool.
In addition, Airbus has created a truly global supply chain that contributes to the success of its growing aircraft product line. More than 1,500 primary contractors in over 30 countries deliver the quality components, parts, systems and hardware that Airbus requires - at the best quality and within the established time frame.
2. If you are a supplier interested in becoming part of the Airbus aircraft production supply chain, register your company's information through the Airbus/EADS sourcing tool.
The Airbus/EADS Sourcing Tool allows you to describe your capabilities to Airbus buyers who will then contact you directly, if applicable. Airbus/EADS Sourcing also allows buyers and suppliers to exchange requirements and proposals online during the bid process. For small and medium-sized companies, your best points of contact may be our first and second tier suppliers. Please use any existing contacts you may already have with these suppliers.
Airbus and its recruiting partner, Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), will post specific vacancies for Project Management and associated support roles as the positions are defined. The postings will provide the required qualifications and application methods.
HELP FOR BUSINESSES
Mobile Works announced a program for area businesses to take advantage of an On-The-Job Training program designed to help them grow their business. The OJT program provides financial assistance to area business owners and companies to help offset the costs of training new hires. Mobile Works can pay up to 50% of the costs associated with training new hires for jobs that pay at least $9 per hour.
Mobile Works is the local workforce investment agency operating under Alabama's Workforce Investment Act. Businesses interested in learning more about the OJT Program should contact Mobile Works at (251) 432-0909 or visit www.mobile-works.org.
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: CHANGING LIVES INSIDE METRO JAIL
Statistics say that out of every 100 people in jail, more than 70 of them have reading and learning problems. If an inmate receives educational training while incarcerated, the chances of returning to jail are around 25%, compared to a 40-77% recidivism rate without training.
Goodwill Easter Seals and the Mobile Area Interfaith Coalition partnered with the Mobile County Metro Jail Chaplain's Office to meet this need, by starting a GED program in 2010, and have since expanded the program within the jail system. Goodwill Easter Seals began GED testing at the jail in June 2011. Last year, 51 inmates took the GED test inside the jail, and 36 (72%) passed, at a rate higher than the state average of all test takers.
This program is run almost entirely on volunteer instruction from local people who want to make a difference in someone's life. More tutors are urgently needed, and you can help. To sign up to help someone get a GED or improve literacy, contact Cyndi Thompson at 344-9142 or Cyndi@gesgc.org.
New tutor training will be held on Thursday, February 28 at the Goodwill Easter Seals Community Center at 2423 Schillinger Road South (corner of Cottage Hill Road). Volunteers can choose between a morning (9 a.m. to noon) or an evening (5 to 8 p.m.) training.
FOSTER GRANDPARENT PROGRAM
Foster Grandparent Program of Mobile County (FGP) is a volunteer organization with more than 30 years of history. Its mission is to offer volunteer opportunities to use the experience of individuals 55 and older to serve special needs children. More than 80 volunteers bring an amazing commitment to serve approximately 700 children in 50 agencies and schools every day.
FGP is affiliated with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) which funds approximately 80% of the total program budget. Utilizing Foster Grandparents allows non-profit agencies to offset operating costs while having an impact on critical community needs involving children. The program recruits, trains, and matches volunteers with opportunities based on their skills and interests. Those who meet certain income guidelines receive a small stipend. All FGP volunteers receive accident and liability insurance, meals while on duty, reimbursement for transportation, and monthly training.
Many of the Foster Grandparents read to children ages 4 to 6 to help strengthen their vocabulary skills, increase their comprehension and ability to re-tell a story, and develop a lifelong love of reading and appreciation of books. They also provide guidance and leadership to youth to model and reinforce appropriate social behavior, provide nurturing support and encouragement, engage in education-related activities to enrich the child's appreciation for academic skills, and foster positive self-esteem.
During the 2010-2011 program year, 80 foster grandparent volunteers provided 96,795 in service hours, the economic equivalent of more than $1 million. Community partners and agencies include faith-based groups, Head Start Centers, schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, day-care centers, libraries, hospitals and other youth facilities.
Benefits of this program include, demonstrated gains in school readiness in terms of literacy skills, and math skills, and improved academic engagement and performance. FGP's effort to help children achieve and succeed is their priority. While volunteers offer a huge benefit to children and youth served, members enjoy the connections that bring fulfillment to them as well.
For more information on FGP services, contact Toni Robinson at (251) 574-6488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAMILY CENTER OF MOBILE
The Exchange Club Family Center of Mobile (ECFC) is a private not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation chartered in 1991 with the support of the Mobile Exchange Club and Parents Anonymous. The Parent Aide Home Visitation Program began in 1994 and continues to serve at-risk parents of young children today. In 2002 the ECFC began two new programs. The Healthy Start-Never Shake a Baby program is offered to new parents in area hospitals in the days following the birth of their children. Healthy Start is still active at USA Children's and Women's Hospital today. The Family Time program, a supervised visitation for non-custodial parents was also launched that year and continues to grow each year. Monitored exchanges for separated or divorced parents switching children for weekend or holiday visitation was added in 2006 and is now available free to the public. The focus of the programs has always been working with parents to educate and train them while their children are very young in order to prevent abuse and neglect before it happens. A second focus is to stress the importance of having both parents active and involved in their children's lives.
All programs provided by The Family Center of Mobile are offered free of charge to the public when certain conditions are met. Parents may opt to pay for some services if they prefer not to meet these conditions. Thousands are served every year through the programs offered.
Referrals are accepted from other agencies, the court system, and clients themselves. Staff members are mandatory reporters of child abuse and work closely with the Department of Human Resources. The Family Center relies heavily on volunteers, donations, and grants. For more information on the Family Center and its operations in our Community contact the Mobile office at (251) 479-5700.
MOBILE MUSEUM OF ART: NEW HOURS
The Mobile Museum of Art in beautiful Langan Park is the largest art museum along the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Tampa. The 95,000 square foot facility is the setting for a permanent collection of over 9,000 works of art spanning two centuries of culture, as well as world renowned traveling and regional art exhibits. The Mobile Museum of Art is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation.
The Museum is now closed on Mondays, with the exception of school tours. The Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. It is open until 9 p.m. on Thursday. Admission currently is FREE from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday evenings. The Museum is now asking the public to vote for a new free admission day. Go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VJH9JNJ to cast your vote.
Go to http://www.mobilemuseumofart.com/ to view the Mobile Museum of Art webpage which offers event information, admission costs, contact information, and more!
REAL TIME CRIME MAPPING
The Sheriff's Office has an improved feature on its website at www.mobileso.com. There is a crime mapping section under "My Neighborhood" on the homepage. The page shows users how to do their own crime mapping for all Sheriff's Office cases, in the unincorporated areas of Mobile County and in the City of Mobile.
Crime mapping is used by analysts in law enforcement agencies to map, visualize, and analyze crime incident patterns. Mapping crime, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), allows crime analysts to identify crime hot spots, along with other trends and patterns. Crime analysts use crime mapping and analysis to help law enforcement make better decisions, target resources, and formulate strategies, as well as for tactical analysis.
The crime mapping feature provides crime data in real time, updated every ten minutes around the clock. The public can quickly see where a crime is committed by using a web browser or a mobile device. Users select a location where the crime occurred and then they have the ability to choose a street view, satellite view, normal map view, or even a hybrid view. A hyperlink is also provided to anonymously share tips on a particular crime.
A user may also choose to filter crimes by the crime type, a certain date or by a landmark such as a church or a school. Streetscan, a notification system, has also been developed which will allow users to be notified by email if crimes are committed within an area that they specify. There is a fee associated with this subscription. Citizens can pay $19.95 annually to receive this service. Go to Streetscan.org to subscribe to this service.
MOBILE AREA CRIMESTOPPERS ASSISTING LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
The Mobile Area Crime Stoppers organization assists local law enforcement agencies by providing a method to persons who have knowledge of a crime or the location of a fugitive to report that information, but remain anonymous and also potentially receive a cash reward.
Mobile Area Crime Stoppers is affiliated with the national Crime Stoppers USA organization. It is a nonprofit charitable organization that was first incorporated in Mobile County in 1989. Its focus to date has been in assisting Mobile County law enforcement agencies. Future plans involve expansion of Crime Stoppers to service seven counties in southwest Alabama. The local Crime Stoppers outfit is managed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors.
A person who has knowledge of a criminal offense can provide the identity of the perpetrator, or information that will assist in identifying the offender, or can provide the location of a fugitive by calling 208-7000. This phone number is manned twenty-four hours a day by the Mobile Police Department. Callers are not asked to identify themselves in any way. No effort is made to trace the call or attempt to identify the caller. The first tip on a particular crime or fugitive is eligible for a reward.
The tip information is transmitted to the appropriate city, county, state, or federal law enforcement agency for handling and that agency is requested to provide feedback to the Crime Stoppers organization as to the value of the tip, whether it results in arrests or the solutions of crimes, etc.
The system has resulted in the apprehension of hundreds of offenders. The crimes solved have run the spectrum of criminal activity from theft of property to murder. There is little doubt that numbers of offenders would not have been apprehended but for the Crime Stoppers tip system and reward payments. It provides a proven method for persons who do not wish to be identified to provide information and potentially receive a cash reward for the information.
Any individual or company wishing to support the non-profit Crime Stoppers effort may send donations (checks only) to:
2407 Airport Blvd.
Mobile, AL 36606
For more information, contact:
David Evans, Sr.
President, Board of Directors
RESIDENTIAL RECYCLING DROP-OFF CENTER
On November 6, 2012, Mobile County received a letter of approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirming a $2,500,000 Coastal Impact Assistance (CIAP) Grant for the establishment and construction of a residential recycling drop-off facility on the old Brewer Center property off Hitt Road. With funding approved, the recycling center is now in the final design stage and the construction contract should be put out for bid in early spring 2013. The facility is expected to be completed and operational by the first quarter of 2014. Prior to the construction of the recycling facility, road improvements to Hitt Road will be completed, to improve visibility and traffic flow near the park entrance and the location of the recycling center.
For more information on City of Mobile events go to www.cityofmobile.org and join up for email notifications for city happenings.