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Hartselle work session notes

The Hartselle City Council discussed the following items at its work session Monday night.

• The council interviewed five candidates for two openings on the Hartselle Utilities Board. They were Daxton Maze, Franklin D. Turney, James “Paul” Hogan, Terry Phillips and Garlin Cheatham Jr.

Maze works at Redstone Arsenal and deals with the day-to-day activities of utilities and infrastructure. He graduated last December from The University of Alabama with a degree in civil engineering and has been working at Redstone Arsenal since his graduation.

Turney is a graduate of the Army Electrical School. He has worked on construction at Daikin American as an electrician, according to his application. He also worked on the $167 million upgrade at the Courtland paper mill.

Hogan said his experience and degree in accounting and cost management would be beneficial to the utilities board. He also said he’s been a resident of Hartselle for 57 years and wants to continue to see Hartselle grow.

Phillips, who currently serves on the board, said her background in accounting, budgets and taxes will help her serve on the board. She said she would like to stay on the board to see several projects until the end and to help HU through the difficult economic times.

Cheatham, who also is a current board member, said his bachelor’s degree in math and his background in construction are items that will help him serve HU. He also wants to stay on the board to continue to make Hartselle better for all residents.

The council did not discuss filling the positions following the interviews, but will likely make a decision at Tuesday’s (today) meetings.

• City leaders are proposing to install pedestrian signals on Alabama 36 at the intersections of Sparkman Street and Sycamore/Hickory Street.

Mayor Dwight Tankersley proposed installing the pedestrian signals because of the way the traffic signals are timed in downtown.

“We’ve had a few close calls,” Tankersley said. “There haven’t been any accidents yet, but we need to prevent it.”

Council President Kenny Thompson said he was one of those close calls.

“I was nearly in the middle of a wreck trying to cross the road there,” he said. “Something definitely needs to be done.”

The cost of the project will be $12,000, but it will be split 50-50 with the Alabama Department of Transportation and the City of Hartselle.

• City departments are asking to increase its gas and oil budgets across the city by a total of $60,775 due to the spike in gasoline and diesel fuel prices.

• The public works department is asking to transfer $4,000 from capital improvements to its utilities line items to cover the utility costs of taking over the animal shelter. Public works uses the building for sign storage while the fire department also stores equipment in the animal shelter building.

• The Public Works Department has selected eight roads for paving out of the city’s gasoline funds for a total of $101,000.

They are the west end of Thompson Road SW, Perry Street SW, Memory Lane NW, Hidden Acres NW, an unpaved road parallel to U.S. 31 S, dead end near Southern Hickory Barbecue, south end of Mountain View Road NE and the north end of Hampton Road NW.

Public works director Byron Turney  said these roads were selected because they are the only unpaved roads in the city.

• Tankersley is asking the city to spend $55,000 to improve the drainage at Booth Meadows Subdivision to fix a flooding problem.

Cheatham, who was the developer of the subdivision, said the city signed off on the project in 1999.

“I can show you where the city engineer, planning commission and Hartselle Utilities all signed off on the project,” Cheatham said when he was asked about it by Councilman Bill Smelser during his interview for the utilities board Monday night.

Goodwyn,  Mills & Cawood, the city’s current engineering firm, reviewed the project and determined that the subdivision’s drainage was not built to the specifications of city regulations at the time the subdivision was accepted into the city.

The city’s planning commission initially signed off on the subdivision, but when it came to accepting the subdivision, Tankersley said it was denied. However, due to a technicality, the city was forced to accept the subdivision by the court system because there was no meeting within a 30-day window to review changes to the project with Cheatham after the subdivision was denied.

Tankersley, who lives in this subdivision near the flooding area, said this problem was the city’s because it is in a subdivision that was accepted by the city.

“I do not see any way that the city has any recourse,” Tankersley said. “This is potentially a major liability issue for the city.”

Tankersley said that water has risen as high as two feet against the garage of his neighbor that lives three houses down from him. In fact, he said that resident has backed his cars up against the garage door to prevent water from penetrating the garage door.

• The council received only one application each for the Park and Recreation Board and the CBD Design Review Board. State. Rep. Ed Henry was the only applicant to the Park and Recreation Board while Ann Tucker of Arley was the only applicant to the CBD Design Review Board.

• Residents living in the subdivision near Bible Baptist Church are upset that the church may be allowed to build a residence for their new pastor inside an old sanctuary, which is attached to the current church building.

They believe that this violates the covenant for the subdivision, which includes the church. The covenant states that there can only be one dwelling per parcel of land and that the property cannot be subdivided.

There were no representatives from the church present at Monday’s meeting.

Dick Carter said if the city doesn’t stop the construction, that they would likely take the case to court.

“We’ve been to court over this before and won,” Carter said at Monday’s meeting. “It looks like it will cost us another $10,000 to do it again.”

Jeff Johnson, building inspector and director of the department of development, said the church approached him about doing this several weeks ago. Although the church is zoned B-1, he doesn’t believe it will violate the city’s zoning ordinance.

“As far as I can tell, what they’re doing is perfectly legal,” Johnson said.

While he hasn’t issued a building permit yet, Johnson has given a verbal agreement that he will likely issue the permit after talking with City Attorney Larry Madison to make sure this is legal.

To that end, the church has already begun gutting of the interior of the old sanctuary. However, Carter and the other residents that attended Monday’s meeting were upset that the church began work without the permit.

Thompson said the city doesn’t have the authority to enforce covenants.

“As long as it’s legal to do it according to our laws and regulations, there’s nothing we can do,” Thompson said. “We don’t have the authority to enforce covenants.”

Johnson said he was planning to talk with Madison on Tuesday. Both Johnson and Madison will be present at Tuesday’s regular meeting.