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RH rezoning vote pushed back to July meeting

By Kevin Elliott


A rezoning request by Restoration Hardware scheduled for Monday, June 14, will be delayed a month due to a public notice error at the proposed property along S. Old Woodward between E. Brown and Daines streets.


Birmingham City Attorney Mary Kucharek said the developer failed to post the correct notice at the property prior to the city commission meeting. She recommended city commissioners postpone the review until July 12. The commission unanimously approved the measure.


“It came to our attention today by a citizen who noticed there wasn’t a physical notice on the building of the lot in question,” Kucharek said. “Under our zoning ordinance, there must be a physical notice placed upon the property and it would have to say it was a notice for a rezoning amendment or rezoning. The notice didn’t say that. It was in regard to the previous meeting.


“I want to make sure that everyone is clear that this was not the fault of the city or any of the staff,” Kucharek said. “The zoning requirement puts the onus upon the applicant to put the notice on the building, and it was the applicant that failed to do that, not the staff, not the city.”


City commissioners in May approved a series of property line amendments to allow for the existing three lots that house the Capital Title/Lutz building, Frank’s Shoe Service/Roche Bobois buildings, and the parking lot of Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel to be become two lots that will house the future RH building.


The postponed zoning request includes rezoning the property to the city's D4 zone from D3 to allow for a fourth floor restaurant and a requested amendment to the city’s economic development license map to include the newly formed parcels.


Plans for the site call for a 49,624-square-foot building with three stories of galleries, as well as a fourth floor restaurant that would double as a gallery for indoor/outdoor furnishings. Representatives for RH estimate more than $25 million would be invested in the project and generate about 130 new jobs


Birmingham City Manager Tom Markus said the public notice mistake is the result of an overly complicated notification process that should be updated.


“It’s my belief we have created a management nightmare to keep this taken care of because each one of these require a different sign,” Markus said about the public hearing notices. “We actually have stickers and the developer puts the stickers on the sign to identify the specific kind of public hearing. I suggest to you, with maybe a fair exception of people in the community, they don’t distinguish the type of hearing it is or isn’t.”


Markus thanked resident Paul Reagan for bringing the matter to the city’s attention, and further noted that the process should be re-evaluated, as it’s likely that similar errors have occurred and gone unnoticed. He said the intent of the notices is to let the public know something is happening at the property and how and where to get additional information.


“I think this is something that staff will look at and come back to the commission,” Markus said. “

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