Marked Tree Council passes property cleanup ordinance

Monday, May 15, 2017

An ordinance requiring property be kept free of tall grass, garbage, and other unsightly conditions--which failed to pass at April's Marked Tree City Council Meeting two weeks ago--was passed by a 7-1 vote Monday night.

Last month, Aldermen Danny Johnson and Cleo Johnson had taken issue with the fines because the railroad does not keep their property mowed. Mayor Mary Ann Arnold brought the ordinance before the council again this month and asked them to reconsider it. During discussion of the ordinance Monday, Danny Johnson said he had a problem with the definition of inoperable vehicles in the ordinance and questions about who would decide if an inoperable vehicle was unsightly. Police Chief Michael Matlock used the example of five vehicles sitting on bricks at one residence as an example of the people they would go after with the ordinance, and City Clerk Pam Wright said it would be based on complaints from neighbors. She also pointed out that all decisions that fall under this ordinance would be reviewed by the city council, and people in violation of the ordinance would have the chance to come before the council and plead their case. Wright agreed to change the wording to "inoperable motor vehicles that are nuisances," and the ordinance passed.

Michael Scott addressed the council regarding drainage issues resulting from recent storms and flooding. Scott said when his street flooded, sewage came up into the streets and got in people's yards and homes. In his case, the water and sewage got under his house, requiring him to replace flooring in some rooms, and in his swimming pool. Scott said when he asked police about blocking the street off to prevent people driving through and causing waves which pushed more water into people's homes, he was told the street could not be blocked because emergency vehicles need a way in. Alderman Jason Gilbert said he had personally blocked the street with police tape but was later told to take it down for the same reason.

Scott said a lot of the problems could have been avoided with properly maintained ditches, and the council discussed buying or leasing the needed equipment to keep the ditches dug out regularly. Alderman Jerry Jones made a motion to invest in renting a piece of equipment for cleaning the ditches, but after more discussion he changed that to a motion to have Director of Public Works Wayne Hendrix put together a plan to start the project and report back at the June meeting. This motion passed.

The council also heard from Pastor Dale Noe, who told them about the May 13 community cleanup being organized. First Baptist Church organized a cleanup in October and is trying to expand this one to be more of a community event with more churches involved as well as the school and individuals. It will be from 10 a.m. to noon with the armory as its base of operations. They are currently looking to clean up the areas around the schools and the ball fields. He said they already have several people on board and plan to make it a regular, twice-a-year event.

In other business, the council:

*transferred $10,000 from the Airport Fund to the Capital Building Fund.

*heard from Sheri Whitlow regarding unsightly property next door to her house. Mayor Mary Ann Arnold said the new ordinances passed on condemnation and cleanup would help them take care of it but that it would not happen overnight.

*passed a resolution removing items from the inventory.

*approved an offer to buy six of the city's old sanitation bins at $200 a piece.

*approved putting porta potties at both parks. Wright said that instead of bathroom buildings, which would be expensive, Glen Gillis had suggested porta potties that are anchored down to concrete. They would be serviced once a week and could not be knocked over.

*heard from the mayor about a park grant. She said they would be hiring someone to fill out the grant application.

*approved moving forward with sending letters out to properties needing cleanup.

*hired Tonya Carpenter as custodian/office personnel.

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