Story by Jody Stewart
Mayor Kenneth Vines and the City Council recognized John Robert Ramirez Monday night as the recipient of a $2500 scholarship. Ramirez graduated from Chambers Academy this year and has plans to attend Faulkner University to study computer science.
The council then discussed the sewer line issue at the residence of 511 5th circle SW. The resident of the home after having sewer issues realized they were not connected to the city sewer and had been paying the city for the service for several years. The resident has asked the city for a refund. While the entire council was very concerned for the resident, it was brought to their attention that this matter had happened before and no refund was issued. City Attorney Mac Tucker explained that an ordinance was passed when city sewer lines were installed in the city that all residents were required to have their homes hooked up to the city’s sewer system. The ordnance went on to say if homes were not hooked up the property owner would be responsible for the revenue loss to the city. This would ensure that the city could cover the bond taken to install the sewage system.
Sewer Superintendent Richard Chapman went on to say that a resident off highway 431 was in a similar situation several years past and that resident did not receive a refund. Chapman also said that they believe they have identified seven other homes, not on city sewage. The council decided the resident at 511 5th circle would not get a refund and be given a set amount of time to have her sewer connected. Mayor Vines agreed with the council and said that they should follow the guidelines that were clearly set in the past.
City Attorney Mac Tucker then brought three rezoning requests in front of the council for their consideration. First was the request of the Sunco gas station across from the Alfa Building which was requesting a change in zoning that would allow them to sell liquor from their premises. The council discussed it and asked Police Chief Rampey his opinionrooftops. Rampey said he did not feel it was in the best interest of the city. The council agreed and denied the rezoning.
The second rezoning issue that came up was for a piece of property owned by Jack Holloway which is located across from Vines Funeral Home. Mr. Holloway had a home on the property that was considered unlivable, and he had the structure torn down so that he could rebuild four new roof tops. Due to the fact, that the land lies near the old railroad tracks that have since been removed the property is listed as a business. Holloway asked the city to rezone this piece of property as residential. Tucker explained to the council that this property butts up to other residential property. The council agreed this was in the city’s best interest and approved to proceed with rezoning this property. A public hearing will be set for July.
The third rezoning issue brought to the council was the issue of the size of pollical campaign signs. An ordinance in place says signs could not be bigger than 4x8. The council made a motion for a public hearing to change this ordinance and the mayor agreed. The public hearing will be set for July.
Councilman Magram brought up the issue of overgrown properties in the city. Magram felt the process to handle these properties has taken too long. “We deal with the same property owners again and again. I would not be happy living next to some of these places and our residents are not happy either. We need stronger enforcement on those who do not care about their property.” City Attorney Mac Tucker explained that the city of Valley enforces its, codes and has great success. He also went on to explain that LaFayette now had different avenues to pursue enforcing cleanup on these property owners. The council discussed different options and agreed that the city needs to take a strong stance on properties with falling down homes, lots that were overgrown, and homes still standing that had previously caught fire.
Councilmen Ellis brought up the issue of whether the city was losing revenue due to vendors not having the proper city business license. “I see all of these outside vendors in our city such as Home-Depot delivering appliances and I wonder do they have licenses to be in our city.” The council agreed with Councilmen Ellis to look further into the issue.
Councilwomen Williams asked the City Council and heads of departments to be part of a kickball tournament to be held in September. The tournament would be the residents against the city. Williams went on to explain that she wanted it to be a fundraiser for Four children and their families in the city that were struggling due to their children having serious health issues. The council and Mayor all agreed to the kickball tournament.