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Council approves trailer for family, rezoning for subdivision

Two recommendations from the Picayune Zoning Commission caused some confusion and concern for the Picayune City Council at its meeting last night.
The first one was a recommendation against placing a trailer in an R-3 zone to replace a home that had been damaged beyond repair by Hurricane Katrina. The council moved that matter to the end of the meeting so Councilman Donald Parker might have time to return from a Town Hall meeting being held by Rep. Gene Taylor at the Criminal Justice Center. The trailer would be located in his district.
The second one, and the one that really raised the hackles of the council, was a recommendation to rezone from A-1 to PUD-R the property to be occupied by the proposed Beau Jardin subdivision phase II. The council had no problem with the rezoning, but Mayor Greg Mitchell and other council members were angry that the commission held the public hearing on the rezoning without a quorum and that the recommendation for the rezoning came from a vote that had to be made mostly by telephone when Linda Malone in the planning and zoning office called the members who did not make the meeting to get their vote on the recommendation.
Members made note that Planning Commission members who miss three meetings in a row can be removed and replaced.
The council approved the recommendation after being assured by city attorney Nathan Farmer that it could do so with little concern about repercussions.
“The important thing is that they held the public hearing,” Farmer informed the board, even as he noted that it has been council practice to generally follow the recommendations of the commission that are voted on with a quorum present.
“The law says that the hearing can be held by this council or by (a planning commission) or the city engineer,” Farmer said.
When Malone assured the board that the hearing had been properly advertised, that no one had appeared at the meeting in opposition and that she had called all the members of the commission not at the meeting to get their vote, the council went ahead and approved the rezoning.
The council also approved placing a trailer at the home site of Pearline Tillman and her son, though Parker had not returned from the other meeting, with restrictions that would prevent the trailer from becoming rental property should Tillman and her son vacate the property. The badly damaged house now occupying the property is to be torn down. The trailer would be located across the street from Councilman Parker, who had not returned from the town hall meeting, but who had indicated his approval for placing the trailer there at an earlier meeting.
Malone emphasized, in presenting the Zoning Commission’s recommendation, that the commission was only following city ordinances and were unhappy that those ordinances prevented them from recommending for the placement of the trailer.
The council took note of the fact that generally a trailer cannot be placed in an R-3 zone, however, Councilman Leavern Guy urged the council to make an exception in this case.
“We have done a lot to help people suffering from the hurricane, surely we can do this,” Guy said. “It’s a humanitarian thing to me.”
Guy noted after the meeting that he has recently been appointed as a member of the board of directors for 2006-2007 to the Mississippi Municipal League.
The board also voted to begin a series of budget workshops at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24.
City Clerk Linda Caston had wanted to begin the hearings on Aug. 28 or 29 because a new computer system has been installed that has her and others in her office typing in the budget line item-by-line item. Caston said she wanted a more complete budget for the council to look at when it was holding its hearings, but said she could give them the projections sought by Guy on total sales tax and ad valorem income and projected city expenditures by Aug. 24.
The budget process is supposed to be complete by Friday, Sept. 15.
In other matters, the council:
— Approved the consent agenda.
— Approved setting Tuesday, Sept. 5, as the date for a public hearing to discuss the city’s comprehensive plan.
— Approved the resignation of Scott White as a city representative on the county utility district board and replacing him with Hoppy Cole. White was required by law to resign when he moved outside the city limits, and sent word to the council that his resignation was a reluctant one.
— Approved to advertise for a fluoride feed system for the city’s water works. The system will be paid for through a Mississippi Health Department grant.
— Approved extending the CAP loan completion date to Dec. 30.
— Heard Jeff Hensiek on drainage and the dog ordinance.
— Agreed with Councilman Anna Turnage’s request to study the feasibility of a city wide recycling program. Turnage said he has had several phone calls and other contacts concerning the lack of such a program in Picayune. Currently, the animal shelter is taking donations of aluminum cans and newspapers for recycling and Picayune Industries is taking donations of newspapers for recycling.
— Heard Mark Thorman on his concerns about Ponderosa Subdivision. He said that a pit bull that was running loose in the neighborhood, which was later destroyed, had attacked a woman in wheelchair and that youngsters routinely walked such dogs on leashes and that the youngsters were not strong enough to restrain such an animal if it lunged. He also discussed noise pollution, groups of youngsters intimidating people, drug sales and other problems that have started cropping up in the neighborhood and requested more police presence there.
— Heard Willie Ellis on his complaints with the private water meter reading company in the city and was assured by the council that they were researching their options in regards to the company. Some of the councilmen voiced their owned complaints about the company and the size of their water bills.
— Went into executive session on contractual matters: with Ron Fine at the industrial park, with Partners for Pearl River County; with the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce; with Meter Readers Specialist, and on the land use study; and on a personnel matter.
Adjourned until 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24.