New board appointments on hold

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 22, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – Board appointments are going to have wait at least another two weeks after the city tabled discussion on the issue.

“Just give the new council some time to think about it,” Councilman Charles E. Jones Sr. told Councilman Woody Collins, who was pushing to take action on at least a few of the proposed appointments – mostly the recommendations of reappointment from various boards and commissions.

Several council members had campaigned at least partly on opening up city appointments to a wider variety of citizens.

Also tabled was action on a request from Ronnie Whitaker with BP Gas, Co., which owns a facility in the French Creek area, for the construction of a 90-foot radio tower to facilitate company communications.

The council, during the previous term, had placed a moratorium on any new tower construction inside the city to allow the planning commission time to create rules governing their construction. That action came after two cellular telephone towers were constructed.

Since the council did not specify tower types in its moratorium, the BP proposal to construct its tower was also denied, although the company had not requested a building permit.

“I came to ask about it,” Whitaker told council members. “We need to complete it as a soon as possible.”

The tower question, however, brought to light a broader issue, prompting council members to request Building Inspector Clarence Brooker contact the city’s planning and zoning contract consultant.

“Another problem you have is that all land that’s annexed is brought into the city as R-1 … the highest residential classification,” Brooker told council members.

The French Creek area was among the latest land annexed by the city, but land use maps and zoning has yet to be updated to accommodate the current usage.

Technically, Brooker said, the non-conforming use of land as business property precluded any expansion of business property in the area zoned for only residential use.

Council members anticipated the planning commission being able to address both issues in the near future.

The council decided to forward an offer to purchase the old coliseum building by Newell Paper Co. to City Attorney Rick Manley for review before action.

In 1995, Mayor Cecil Williamson told the council, Newell Paper Co., and the city signed a lease that allowed Newell to purchase the property for $150,000.

Newell’s request was that its lease payments be applied to that purchase amount, but Moore again voiced concern that the city could not sell the property for less than appraised value under state law.

Also, the Williamson was unsure of whether or not the original contract allowed for the application of lease payments.

In other council action, council accepted the bid for renovation of the fire station into a welcome center and council chambers.

Council approved the installation of an alarm system for City Hall, adopted a corporate resolution for signatures at all depositories for city funds, and the mayor signed a proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

A request from the Christmas on the River Committee to use certain areas of the city for the festival was also approved.

The council also agreed with Williamson that requests to be added to the council agenda be made by noon the Wednesday prior to regular Thursday council meetings in an effort to improve service to the citizens.

Halloween will also be officially observed in the city on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.