Pelham hears suggestions on CBD business limitations, updates on Greenway Trail Project, more during council meeting

Published 3:22 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Following a stalemate related to the appointment of Councilwoman Mildred Lanier-Reed’s replacement, the Pelham City Council heard updates on suggested CBD business limitations, heard updates related to Pelham’s Greenway Trail Project, approved a consent agenda and recognized Alicia Walters during a work session and council meeting on Monday, Feb. 19.

Although highlighted by a stalemate that prevented the naming of Lanier-Reed’s council seat replacement, the Pelham City Council proceeded through the meeting in a cooperative tone.

After settling matters related to the night’s consent agenda, the Council received a presentation that sought to make suggestions toward addressing issues and concerns related to businesses that deal in vaping and CPD products in the city of Pelham.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Sherri Proctor, along with Director of Development Services & Public Works Andre Bittas, approached the Council with a number of suggested actions that would serve to curb the saturation of such business within the city.

“We have been reviewing, researching, discussing and looking at what other localities have done trying to come up with some solutions,” Proctor said. “Right now, the way (the ordinance) is written, (businesses) can do 50 percent CBD and 50 percent vape, I don’t think that is what was intended originally with this overall ordnance.”

That first suggestion, which seemed to suggest that the ordinances pertaining to vaping and CBD be separated from one another, was not greatly elaborated on during the meeting but was followed up with a number of other suggestions.

“We are looking at the floor area requirements,” Proctor said. “Right now, it says up to 50 percent of the square footage (can be used to sell CBD products) and we all think it is very difficult to administer (that limitation). So, we are looking (changing the limitation to) an actual gross sales percentage. That percentage, that magic number, is up for discussion.”

Additionally, the suggestion was made that the city increase the distance requirement away from public spaces of new businesses that would seek to sell such products from the existing 500 feet to 1,000 feet away from any public spaces, including civic centers, daycares, churches and other areas of public use. The suggestion was supported by citing the fact that a large number of localities feature the 1,000 feet limitation rather than Pelham’s 500 feet.

Furthermore, the suggestion was made to prohibit any such businesses from being approved for the city’s overlay district.

“I think that will allow us to manage these licenses much better,” Bittas said. “Changing the square footage requirements to a gross sale formula will allow us to easily audit (these businesses) to make sure that they are complying with the requirement. Square footage is very difficult to administer. In expanding the distance between the CBD and public facilities up from 500 (feet), We’re committing to change it to 1,000 (from public spaces) and keeping the 2,500 between the similar stores.”

Bittas acknowledged that the ideas would need to be thoroughly reviewed from a legal aspect to ensure everything was done correctly and appropriately.

In response, Councilman David Coram voiced his approval of the suggestions as did Councilman Rick Wash.

“I want to commend you guys and your staff for all of the work you have done on this,” Wash said. “I know that things like this—to get to where you are at on this—takes a lot of research. The square footage requirement is easy to manipulate and it can totally be a matter of interpretation of how much they use for this point of sale or that point of sale, so to do the percentage of gross sales—numbers do not lie. I commend you for adding that in and the distance (requirement changes). My favorite part of all of this is the overlay district (restriction). We (need to) protect it all costs and be very protective of what goes into the overlay district and what kind of image we are putting out into the public from that district.”

Bittas said that the department is ready to go with the changes pending legal review and hopes to get the suggestions submitted for the next the planning and zoning commission meeting where after it can be brought to the Council for final approval.

Upon the beginning of the council meeting, the Council promptly moved to unanimously pass the consent agenda that included the approval of Amy Milling to the Pelham Library Board. All matters requiring financial involvement from the city were budgeted as expenses in the city budget for the 2024 fiscal year.

The full consent agenda contained resolutions performing the following:

  •  The appointment of Amy Milling to the Pelham Public Library Board Place No. 2 effective Feb. 19.
  •  Entering into a professional services agreement with KPS Group, Inc. to assist with a review and development of recommendations for revisions to the city’s zoning ordinance.
  •  The approval of a three-year lease agreement with Deere Credit, Inc for two John Deere 2400 mowers and mowing accessories for Ballantrae Golf Club.
  •  The approval of a master contract with Alabama Power Company for public safety services.
  •  The approval of the 2024 contract with Pyro Shows of Alabama, Inc. for Pelham’s annual “Fire on the Water” fireworks shows.

The last resolution, pertaining to the city’s annual firework show, also set the date for the event for Wednesday, July 3 and detailed that it will take place at Oak Mountain State Park.

“This is one of the nicest things that the city does all year,” Wash said. “It is great, and we have a great turnout every year. If you’ve never been, please go, it’s a great family event and we always have a good time.”

Following the consent agenda’s approval, Pelham Mayor Gary Waters quickly proclaimed February 2024 as National Parent Leadership Month in the city and City Manager Gretchen DiFante recognized Alicia Walters for receiving the 2023 Alabama Recreation and Parks Association Professional of the Year Award.

“Walters was chosen because she has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and a deep commitment to promoting recreation in our community,” DiFante read from the official nomination. “She has planned and offered approximately 20-plus community wide events, added two new events Salsa in the Park and Fall Fun Day in the Park and (under her leadership) A Very Special Easter Egg Hunt, Paws in the Park, Kites and Bites and Music in the Park are just a few programs that have increased in participation each year.”

Additionally, Walters, who serves as the assistant director of Pelham Parks and Recreation, has also planned and implemented three overnight trips for senior adults among other enhancements that have driven the city’s senior center and programs forward.

“Getting to go the (award) event and seeing Alicia in the element with her peers, she is obviously well respected,” DiFante said. “I know I am joined with the mayor and with the City Council in saying ‘thank you for your dedication to Pelham, our residents and all of those who come in to our community.’”

DiFante then provided the city with an update on the Pelham Greenway Trail Project, which, following the conclusion of recent litigation, is planning to move areas of the planned trail back toward their original planned alignment as was shown in the original trail study.

Before the alteration, the trail was set for an alignment that would have brought the trail up against Highway 31.

In the works since 2015, Pelham’s Greenway Trail is planned as a six-and-a-half-mile trail system that will connect the sidewalks along Bearden Road to the entrance of Oak Mountain State Park upon its completion.

“The initial phase follows Bishop Creek from Bearden Road north through the Pelham City Park,” DiFante said. “This section of the trail system was completed in 2019. Phase five follows Amphitheatre Drive and State Park Road and connects the Pelham Civic Complex to Oak Mountain State Park, this phase was completed in 2024 and was constructed as two separate projects.”

Designs are being finalized for phases three and four. With phase four’s construction set to be underway through 2024 and phase three to begin in 2025. It is in these two phases where the realignments will take place.

“Originally, a portion of phase three followed U.S. 31 from the Pelham YMCA to Amphitheatre Road,” DiFante said. “This route was selected due to lack of access to certain areas along Bishop Creek (but) since that time, conditions have changed and a preferred route following Bishop Creek is now available. The proposed realignment provides better trail connectivity and meets the original intent of the trail.”

The realignments planned for Phase four are related to certain elements of the phase being subverted by the extensions made to Phase five during construction.

“Phase four was originally approved to follow Bishop Creek from U.S. 31 to State Park Road, however, the phase five trail line that was extended from State Park Road along the south side of Amphitheatre Drive removed the need for the proposed Phase four trail section on Bishop Creek,” DiFante said. “The purpose of the proposed realignment for Phase four is to connect to the completed Phase five on Amphitheatre Road.”

DiFante summarized that the proposed realignment would provide a better and more logical connection between phases four and five and would continue to provide access to Oak Mountain State Park with a reduction in the overall footprint of the trail. She also mentioned that the realignment would result in a reduction of associated costs for the section of the trail.”

Due to the changes, the Alabama Department of Transportation requires a reevaluation of environmental documentation related to the project and DiFante’s presentation also served as the legally required official public notice of the changes.

The following were discussed via the issuance of public announcements:

  •   The City Council is accepting letters of interest and resumes through Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. from residents who would like to be considered for appointment to the Pelham Board of Education, Place 1.
  •   A public hearing will be held on Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Pelham City Hall to consider Ordinance No. 135-260 an amendement to the zone district boundaries of the city of Pelham changing the present of general business district to townhouse residential district for property located along Huntley Parkway, consisting of 5.6 acres of vacant property.