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published on 07/09/2002

July Signal Mountain Town Council Meeting

By staff writer

Signal Mountain Town Hall
By Pris Shartle --
The Town of Signal Mountain Town Council met Monday, July 8th for its regularly scheduled meeting. Councilmembers Rachel Bryant, Billy Steele, and Bob Steel were present as well as Mayor Jim Althaus, town manager Hershel Dick, town recorder Diana Campbell, and town attorney Phil Noblett. Councilmember Steve Ruffin was out of town.

After offering a prayer, roll call, and approval of the minutes from the last two meetings, the regularly scheduled meeting on June 10th and the special meeting on June 17th, Mayor Althaus closed the regular meeting and opened a Public Hearing on the proposed stormwater ordinance. The Town of Signal Mountain has been federally mandated to conform to the Federal Clean Water Act as described by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Town of Signal Mountain is called to "regulate stormwater discharges, establish a system of drainage facilities, construct and operate a system of stormwater management and flood control facilities, and to fix and require payment of fees for the privilege of discharging stormwater."

Mayor Althaus reminded residents at the meeting that this is a federally mandated law required because of the size of our town and that the Town of Walden does not have to comply, as it is not as large. Attorney Phil Noblett pointed out that failure to comply could cost the Town of Signal Mountain enormous fines by the EPA. Town manager Hershel Dick responded to questions concerning the fees, which will be collected to cover the cost of managing the stormwater. Fees collected will support the salaries of the two people and equipment needed to managed the stormwater ordinance. Attorney Phil Noblett pointed out that the law allows towns to collect fees to support the management, impose civil penalties for violations of the stormwater ordinance, collect stormwater permits and/or inspection fees as well as look for state and federal grants. All monies collected will go into the stormwater management fund and be used only for stormwater management. (The Stormwater Utility Ordinance is available to the public for viewing at the Town Hall.)

After closing the Public Hearing, Mayor Althaus reconvened the regular meeting at which time the Resolution to establish the 2 rate for stormwater user fees was voted upon. The Town Council voted to accept an annual rate of $.01 per square foot of impervious area. (Impervious surface is defined as surface area which is compacted or covered with material that is resistant to infiltration by water i.e. driveways, streets, roofs, parking lots, etc.) The minimum annual rate will be $24 and according to the town recorder, Diana Campbell will come as separate bill.

In other business the Town Council approved a resolution to comply with a law mandated by OSHA (Occupation Safety and Health Administration). This resolution authorizes town manager Hershel Dick to establish an occupational safety and health program, devise rules and regulations, and provide for a director and the implementation of the program. A third resolution presented at the meeting was not voted upon, but was postponed until the next regularly scheduled meeting. This resolution presented by the town manager requested the Town of Signal Mountain enter into an agreement with the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority; the purpose being to take over the management of the sewers in the Town. A difficult decision for Hershel Dick as he has been with the sewer department since it was created. But he felt that the significant reduction in sewer fees for the residents with sewers was at this time the best action to take. Mr. John Anderson from the WWTA, also present at the meeting agreed. However, Mr. Mike Dowlen from St. Ives neighborhood wanted more time for the neighborhood’s lawyer and Mr. Noblett, the town lawyer to meet and agree on the terms of the contract with the WWTA. Also, Councilmember Rachel Bryant pointed out that the contract they were being asked to vote on was not made available to her and she assumed the other councilmembers until that night. Because this was an important decision, she wanted more time to read the contract and discuss it with others on the Council.

Lou Oliphant, secretary of the Planning Commission presented a report, which included a request to rezone a property on Taft Highway from low-density residential to highway commercial. The decision of the Planning Commission was to deny the request because: this would be spot zoning; the State plan shows no more commercial zoning in this area; approval would encourage additional similar requests; and the lot is surrounded by low-density residential and moderate-density residential. The Town Council agreed with the Planning Commission’s decision but noted that the owners of the property had the right to take their request directly to the Town Council if denied by the Planning Commission.

A concerned citizen spoke against the rumor that the committee appointed by the Town Council at last month’s meeting to look into the future of the playground and old pool behind the Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club, was going to tear up the old pool. Mayor Althaus responded by giving a history of the decision to close the pool and establishment of the committee to redesign the park.

Under new business three items were discussed. One is the CARTA van that comes up the mountain for residents unable to drive and need transportation to the doctor, grocery, and mall. To comply with an ordinance established in 1999, fees will be charged to residents using the van over the allowed times. Attorney Phil Noblett suggested the Town take a look at the "blue dot" ordinance that prohibits door-to-door salesmen within the Town limits. Because of a new Supreme Court ruling permitting it, the Town needs to make sure the wording does not go against the Supreme Court ruling. The last item discussed was the beer sting requested by M.A.D.D. and performed by the Signal Mountain Police. Three of the four places with beer licenses failed: Top of the Mountain, Pastaria, and Pruett’s. The servers/cashiers caught breaking the law were cited and will appear in court and the owners of the establishments breaking the law will appear before the Town of Signal Mountain Beer Board (which is the Town Council) at an upcoming meeting to be determined.

There was a little bit of politicking and campaigning by members of the council running for re-election and members of the audience. A private session was held after the meeting between the councilmembers and town attorney Phil Noblett on the Tabb property law suit.

Editor’s note: The Town of Signal Mountain sends me the agenda of each meeting. Sometimes it is not sent until the day of the meeting, however, I will post it on the sight as soon as I get it so that you can be informed as to what to expect at the Town Council Meeting. PNS

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