Flags, property concern Picayune Council

Published 10:47 pm Thursday, July 6, 2006

Band Boosters at Picayune Memorial High School won’t be getting a nearly $65 payment from the City of Picayune this month.

The Picayune City Council voted to remove the payment from the city’s docket since the Band Boosters club was supposed to put up the American flags on the light standards on major thoroughfares in the city in return for the payment. The flags have not been put the last three days they were supposed to go up — Flag Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

City Councilman Jerry Bounds suggested that the city contact the PMHS Navy Junior ROTC as a possible replacement for the Band Boosters.

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“Those kids are serious and enthusiastic. I believe they will get the flags up,” Bounds said.

No action was taken on his suggestion. The docket was approved with the removal of the payment to the band boosters.

The council was meeting Tuesday night with a bare quorum with only Mayor Greg Mitchell and council members Leavern Guy, Anna Turnage and Bounds present. Councilman Donald Parker is a pastor and has Wednesday night services and Councilman Larry Watkins was unable to return from vacation in time for the meeting that had been moved from Tuesday night to Wednesday night because the Fourth of July fell on Tuesday.

To an originally short agenda, the board added a hearing on the Bob Larson property off the east end of Mitchell Street.

Larson’s engineer, John Bond, came before the council to discuss drainage issues that have concerned the council with the proposal to subdivide the property. Larson wanted permission to go ahead with the first phase of the subdivision involving six houses to be constructed in the area.

The council went over several issues with Bond, many of which dealt mostly with development beyond the first phase, finally agreeing to approve the plat for phase one with the assurance that water draining off the property would be directed away from existing homes in the area.

The issue the occupied most of the time during the public session of last night’s council meeting was one that Mayor Mitchell said never should have been placed on the agenda.

“Why are we hearing this,” Mitchell asked building inspector Shane Whitfield and staff members from the city’s zoning and permitting department. They replied that the property owners had requested to appear before the council to make their request.

The property in question at 1404 Palestine Rd. had been condemned in December and was to be demolished. Even the owner, CPS, represented by Carol McIntosh, admitted that. McIntosh said she had even asked that the council have the city demolish it at a meeting in December.

In the intervening time, the property had not been demolished and last night she came to the council seeking a reversal of that demolition order for 30 days so she could clear it and sell it. McIntosh said she had even gone against the advice of the Whitfield and the permitting department and gone to the property before meeting with the council and spent some money on the property by spraying the land with a weed and brush killer and doing some repairs.

McIntosh said she had found a buyer for the property as it existed and said it would be more expensive now to demolish it than it would be to repair it. As property owner, she and CPS must either tear it down themselves or pay the city the costs for having the property demolished and cleaned up.

“Ma’am, that property can’t be repaired. You have no roof, you have no floors. … It’s just a shell,” Whitfield told her.

McIntosh continued to insist the property could be repaired.

During the discussion, Guy told her and the other council members present that a lot of property in the city has been condemned or is under condemnation procedures and that the council needs to be consistent in its handling of the issues. He was particularly concerned about some property on Jackson Landing Road that has been condemned.

City attorney Nathan Farmer told the council that CPS’ time for appealing the decision to demolish the property by state law had expired 10 days after the council entered its notice of condemnation and demolition in December and that it didn’t have to take any action to go ahead with the demolition.

After Mitchell asked the council members if they had any motions in the matter and none came forward, the mayor told McIntosh the matter was over with as far as the City Council was concerned and that demolition would proceed. She requested to know when so that perhaps she could recover some of the building materials from the structure.

In other matters, the board:

— Approved the consent agenda.

— Approved continuing the state of emergency in the city. In response to a question from Turnage, Mitchell said state of emergency for Hurricane Katrina will continue until the governor lifts it. The city by state law has to vote every 30 days on the declaration for the city.

— Took no action on amendments to the chart of accounts and budget after City Clerk Linda Caston said no action was needed.

— Approved entering a Medical Control agreement with Central MS Emergency Medical Services for Emergystat.

— Went into an executive session on a contractual matter with Pearl River Community College and on a personnel matter.

Adjourned until 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 18.