City Council handles series of problems

Published 5:33 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cookie carts, separating fences and a broken sewer line on Canal Street ruled Picayune’s city council meeting.

The problem with GTM Building Supply fence did not get resolved after the meeting in January but some progress was made at Tuesday’s meeting. Apparently there was a fence between GTM and the residential zones adjacent to it before Hurricane Katrina. A new add-on to a building on the property was supposed to resolve the situation, but resident Larry VanNattan expressed his discontent with that decision.

“Construction of a building and enforcement of a code are two different things,” VanNattan said.

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VanNattan said that under a previous agreement with the city and GTM, a fence is supposed to be between the business and the adjacent residential area. Mitchell admitted he is related to the owner of the business and did not want to take sides, but suggested VanNattan could build a fence on his property. Another alternative is to deed half of the unused street, which lies between the two properties, to each land owner. Mitchell suggested it would not be a good idea to deed that road away since it leads to U.S. 11.

City Attorney Nathan Farmer read an ordinance that stated a highway commercial zone should be screened from any abutting residential areas. Additionally council minutes from a meeting held in 1999 state that GTM is required to have a fence on that property. That fence should be seven feet high except on the south end, the end facing the residential area, where it should be 10 feet high. Troop 2 Scout Master Keith Kingrey interjected and said he would like to have permission for him and his scouts to build a nature trail on the unused road leading to the Hobolochitto creek.

Mitchell said he’s at the point now that if the city could get some lumber donated he would go down there himself and ask Boy Scouts in Troop 2 to help him build the fence between GTM and the residential area. Mitchell asked for more information on the fence situation so the council could make a decision at the next council meeting.

Scott Sappington, a scout with Troop 2, requested a copy of the city’s budget as part of his requirements for a merit badge. Kingrey said Sappington is working towards his Eagle Scout rank, and is considering one of two projects. One project entails raising funds to purchase Nintendo Wiis for a local retirement home while the other idea is to build the nature trail mentioned earlier in the meeting. The nature trail would be maintained by the scouts and would benefit the troop since it would be close to where they normally meet. Mitchell said the council needs to gather more information on those ideas.

A collapsed sewer line on East Canal Street brought Anna Faye Davis to the council meeting to inquire about the sewer smell and generator noise she has had to endured for about the past three weeks. Public Works Director Chad Frierson said a sewer line about 16 feet deep collapsed. To temporarily remedy the problem, a generator and rerouting hose had to be installed. He expects the supplies he needs to fix the collapsed line to come in within the week and work to repair it should begin next week. Council member Anna Turnage said as soon as those supplies come in she would like to see that work completed.

A public hearing was held during the meeting concerning the new flood damage prevention ordinance maps. The maps will be effective June 3, 2008. Maps are available for public viewing at city hall.

The maps will bring a 10 percent discount on flood insurance rates in certain areas of the city, said Royse Ader, who is with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program.

Some progress was made concerning the placement of a cookie cart. At the last meeting of Picayune’s city council, members of the Millcreek In-Home Service wanted a place for their cookie cart the train depot. Previous locations for the cart, such as Chimney Square and Church of the Way, have been demolished, or no longer offer county services.

Farmer checked into the legalities of the city allowing the organization to set up within the new train depot once it is complete. He said as long as it is a tax exempt organization or charity, then the city can lease them a space at fair market value or donate it to them.

“Yes, you can find a place for the cookie cart (at the train depot),” Farmer said.

Mayor Greg Mitchell asked interim city manager Harvey Miller to find a place in the train depot for the cookie cart and have the rest of the specifics worked out before the council’s next meeting.

In other business the council went into executive session to discuss the possible lease of office space, two contractual matters, two possible sales of property, a contractual matter with ambulance service, a contractual matter with growth management and a personnel matter.

No action was taken on the personnel matter, the ambulance service and the two contractual matters. The possible sale of office space and the contractual matter with growth management were both tabled until the next meeting. The council asked Barbara McGrew to obtain appraisals on those properties concerning the possible sale of property.

In other business the council:

— Approved allowing the accounting department to process accounts payable docket twice a month to eliminate the need for manual checks and create a better accounting record as requested by the auditors.

— Approved request from Picayune Industries to proclaim March as Mental Retardation Developmental Disabilities awareness month and March 14, as Mental Retardation Developmental Disabilities day.

— Approved a request to name the tennis court at Friendship Park in memory of Brittany Strain.

— Approved request to hold the annual egg drop at the Picayune Municipal Airport on March 15, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

— Tabled a request to re-appoint or appoint a member to the school board on the grounds that too few council members were present for a proper quorum. Action will be taken at the next council meeting.

— Approved request to allow retiring city employees to participate in the city’s insurance program for a period of five years or until the age of 65, whichever comes first, at the retiree’s expense.

— Approved a budget modification of violence against women to transfer $200 from office supplies to training and travel.

— Accepted donation from J.I. Luke Enterprises for an electric golf cart with charger to be used by the Picayune Police Department’s Senior Patrol. The cart is valued at $1,500.

The next meeting of the city council is scheduled for s6 p.m. Tuesday, March 4.