GLASGOW – The Glasgow Common Council approved first readings of four ordinances Monday aimed at beefing up code enforcement efforts and prevention of “nuisance” properties.
Before reading the first one, City Attorney Danny Basil said city officials have been trying to focus on these efforts and it was thought these measures would help.
“We're trying to strengthen all our ordinances so our code enforcement officer won't have their hands tied and we can process all these a little faster,” Mayor Harold Armstrong said.
Councilman Wendell Honeycutt has a 5-foot fence around his entire yard, he said, and he keeps it padlocked, so he wasn't sure about the need for a fence just around a pool area.
“What I see is a bigger problem is all the used tires around …,” he said. “That's a bigger mosquito issue than pools are.”
He said he would like to see the ordinance address that issue, and the mayor said they would need to revisit that at another time.
Councilman Brad Groce, who is an insurance agent, asked whether the city could be liable if someone falls into a pool. He said if his insurance company is OK with it, it's the one taking on the liability for it, not the city.
Basil discussed some scenarios where it could be an issue.
Armstrong said that if the gate keeps people from letting people get to the pool, then a second fence is not necessary.
Councilwoman Chasity Lowery said she could see where some of these were needed for safety concerns.
“This along with the next three all seem very difficult to enforce,” she said, and she asked whether there were plans to add to enforcement staffing.
Armstrong said these are all mostly complaint driven, and Basil said that if they didn't like the way it was written, they could suggest changes.
“Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Basil said. “If it's not good, fix what's wrong and bring it back in two weeks.”
Councilmen Patrick Gaunce and Terry Bunnell said they had concerns about the fencing section, and ultimately, a motion to amend it by removing that section was approved 10-2, with Councilmen Freddie Norris and Marlin Witcher opposed, and then the first reading of the ordinance as amended was approved unanimously.
The council approved 11-1, with Honeycutt opposed, changes to the ordinance regarding “open storage” of items such as inoperable motor vehicles, large appliances and building material.
The ordinance amendment dealing with mowing focused on height of grass as opposed to specific timeframes, except for hay, failed 11-1, with Norris voting in favor. This came after several minutes of questions and comments.
Honeycutt asked who gets to decide what's an ornamental bush versus a nuisance, for example.
Armstrong said that would probably need to be between the property owner and the code enforcement officer.
Code Enforcement Officer Sheryl Pena said it would be a nuisance if it were dead or if it were impeding the view of traffic, for example.
Gaunce asked whether the council Public Safety Committee had reviewed these, and Armstrong said it had not because it fell under codes, and Gaunce later asked Bill Anderson, a member of the Code Enforcement Board who was in the audience, whether they had, and Anderson said, “only in generalities.”
Gaunce recommended sending it to that board for further discussion, and Basil suggested they could vote it down and let them do that, given that a motion and second had already been made.
Other than an hourlong closed session to discuss the possible dismissal of specific individual members of a public agency after which no action was taken, other business items included the following, with all votes unanimous:
• Second readings of two ordinances were approved that respectively established two-way traffic on Wayne Street between South Green and South Race streets and amending the standard operating procedures for the Glasgow Police Department regarding firearms and ammunition; arrest and citations; and animal control response.
• First reading of an ordinance making several amendments to the budget ordinance for the 2019-20 fiscal year was approved unanimously.
• Resolutions authoring the filing of a grant application, updating the Glasgow Transit Authority Plan for the federal Title VI law and authorizing an agreement for funding for the shared-use path and sidewalk project.
Also at the meeting, the council members were provided with the mayor's nominees for board appointments, and he was proposing Glenn Pritchard for a four year term as a director for the Glasgow Electric Plant Board, and reappointing Holly Alexander and Jeff Harper to the Plaza Theatre Advisory Board.
Gaunce asked the mayor whether he'd asked Jeff Harned, whose term ends at the end of January and whom Pritchard would be replacing, whether he wanted to continue the role.
“My information was he was moving to Bowling Green,” Armstrong said. “He's been on there for the term I felt was appropriate, and I didn't ask him.”
He added that if Harned wanted to continue, he would be willing to talk with him about it.
Harned, who was at most of the meeting but had left by the time of this discussion, has served 12 years on the board, and he told the Glasgow Daily Times via telephone afterward that the mayor had not asked him, but he had not been seeking another term.
Gaunce asked the mayor to request of Pritchard that he be at the next council meeting so they could ask him questions before voting on the appointment. Armstrong said he would ask, but if Pritchard couldn't make it, he would bring along the application he is now asking potential board appointees to complete.