2017-08-11 / News

Council turns to the people for ideas on large equipment restrictions

By Cathy Cobbs

Forest Acres City Council may be working a new way to write ordinances by invoking an “of the people, by the people and for the people” method. At least that’s the way they did it Tuesday night, August 8, in dealing with an issue that has residents upset on both sides.

The council had a public hearing regarding two ordinances that would limit the type and length of large vehicle that can be visible from the front yard of Forest Acres’ residences, but the hearing was anything but by the book.

City attorney Lee Holloway told the packed crowd the council had been bombarded with arguments for and against the ordinances and then asked for feedback.

“We are asking you to tell us what the law should be,” Holloway said. “This is your time to tell the council.”

The ordinances that have been proposed involve limitations on the type and length of the equipment that can be stored in the front yard of a residence. The proposed length of 22 feet would be three feet more than the current restriction of 19 feet.

There were comments on both sides, with some residents upset about the comings and goings of heavy equipment on certain lots, as well as others who want to temporarily store boats and recreational vehicles feeling restricted by the ordinance.

Jack Oliver, who owns a pool company, asked the council if there could be a provision for temporary occupation, giving the scenario of storing a vehicle for 12 hours or less. But one resident, Wayne Fisher, objected, saying “so we have to babysit you and call Forest Acres when you’ve been there more than 12 hours?”

Margaret and Jim Testor said she has been having issues with a neighbor who has a storage trailer in his front yard, with the neighbor’s workers loading and unloading equipment at all hours of the day and night.

“If there is an ordinance passed, it has to be enforced 100 percent of the time to be effective—not 99 percent of the time, not 80 percent of the time, all the time,” said Margaret Testor.

After about an hour of back and forth, the council said it would take all the comments under advisement and come back in the next 30 days to reintroduce the measures.

“These are all great comments, and we will take them under advisement as to how we can make these ordinances so they will be acceptable for everyone,” said mayor Frank Brunson.

In other actions, the council:

• Approved the installation of 27 security cameras at various thoroughfares throughout the city, at a cost of about $135,000 over the next three years.

• Heard the pool of applicants for the new city manager has been whittled from 16 candidates to five. The council will begin interviewing those candidates in the next few weeks, according to Mark Williams, the current city manager.

• Approved a hospitality tax expenditure of $15,000 for the Knight of Honor by Heroes in Blue sponsorship.

• Approved the hiring of David Parnell as a new codes enforcement officer.

• Appointed the following people to boards and commissions—Arthur Suggs to a three-year term on the Code Board of Appeal, Carol Cook Duggan and John Kososki to three-year terms on the Zoning Board of Appeals, Joe Gentry and Ralph Bailey to two-year terms on the Planning Commission.

• Heard a bill in the General Assembly to fund rolling recycling carts has been killed by the governor.

The council then adjourned to discuss two legal matters—Forest Acres’ involvement with the Lake Katharine dredging project and the reconsideration of 23 Forest Lake Place to the city.

The session was adjourned at 8:15 p.m. In attendance at the meeting was Brunson, Shell Suber, Curtis Rye Jr., Beau Powell, and Ginger Dukes.

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