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published on 10/16/2003

Signal Mountain Town Council Meeting

By staff writer

A busy night of Resolutions, Ordinances, Motions, Reports, and Recommendations dominated the monthly Signal Mountain Town Council meeting on Monday, October 13th at the Signal Mountain Town Hall. Mayor Jim Althaus opened the meeting with prayer. Town recorder Diana Campbell called roll noting that Councilmember Steve Ruffin was absent. In addition to town manager Hershel Dick and town attorney Phil Noblett, Councilmembers Rachel Bryant and Robert White and Vice-mayor and Councilmember Bill Leonard were also present.

Attorney Phil Noblett presented six Resolutions. The first one authorized the town manager to pay the city of Chattanooga $10,000 for its contribution to the construction of the “roundabout” at the intersection of the “W” Road on Mountain Creek. According to Mayor Althaus the Town had budgeted the $10,000 when the proposal was a traffic light. However, when it came time to put it in the 2003 Budget, the Town dropped it down to $8,000 because the State of Tennessee had decreased its giving to the Town. When the Mayor got the call that the bill was due and the City expected the $10,000, they became disturbed when he told them they were only getting $8,000. After rethinking it, Mayor Althaus decided it was not fair to punish the City of Chattanooga for actions of the State of Tennessee and therefore recommended the full $10,000 be paid to which the Council agreed and approved the Resolution.

The second Resolution, which was approved, increased the water rates for the Town’s water services. The Tennessee American Water Company increased its rates 7˝ % and to accommodate that increase the Town had to pass that off to the residents. Effective November 1, this rate increase will amount to about $24 per year a customer.

Two members of the Mountain Arts Community Center (MACC) Board, Ken Gross and Glen Showalter extended their terms by one year and two new members Rodney Van Valkenburg and Pris Shartle were appointed to three-year terms on the Board in the third Resolution presented by Phil Noblett. All of these appointments were approved.

At a brief Town Council meeting on September 30th, members of the Town Council approved a Resolution awarding a contract to Southern Professional Painting for the repair and painting of the 250,000-gallon Suck Creek Road water-receiving tank. At the meeting tonight, that Resolution was rescinded and the contract was awarded to the next lowest bidder, Mid-South Maintenance Painting Co., Inc. This is because the first company was unable to obtain a performance bond required by the Town.

Each year the Town of Signal Mountain buys salt in anticipation of hazardous conditions with winter weather. A Resolution authorizing the town manager to purchase 200 tons of salt for $8,512 from North American Salt was approved.

The final Resolution presented by Mr. Noblett was one recommended by the town engineer and authorizing the town manager to rebuild the compactor and hopper at the transfer station on Mississippi Avenue. It is currently 30 years old and in desperate need of repair so much so that it won’t compact as tight so it requires more trips hauling it off the mountain and the Town has been cited for not complying with the stormwater ordinance. The Town Council approved this last Resolution.

Ordinances require two readings and two of the three presented at this meeting were approved. The third was tabled after discussion. Mayor Althaus asked town attorney Phil Noblett to draw up an ordinance pertaining to Yard Sales to which Mr. Noblett presented at this meeting. Included in the ordinance was a requirement that residents register to hold a yard sale which was limited to four times a year and that no directional signs would be allowed. This brought up concerns about the impact it would have on people having yard sales not related to the 450-mile yard sale and the problems not allowing directional signs would raise with other events and activities (i.e. church camps, hikes, weddings, open houses, etc.) Realizing this ordinance needed to be re-thought out, it was tabled.

The other two Ordinances pertained to stormwater management. The first being a substantial revision to the previous ordinance currently in place including inserting the definition of “Stormwater Management Board” to mean the Signal Mountain Town Council and the “Stormwater Operating Board” to mean a committee that includes town manager, town recorder, town engineer, director of public utilities, director of public safety, building official, and citizen representative. The second Ordiance created the two boards mentioned in the first Ordinance. Although extensive and detailed, the Town Council approved them both. Mayor Althaus reminded everyone that the Town of Signal Mountain is ahead of other communities in their federally mandated requirement to manage the stormwater.

Moving on to further business when asked about “old business” Mr. Dick said the public safety building will be painted some time this year to match the color of the Town Hall. He also said that the fall completion of sidewalks on James Boulevard have been pushed to next spring due to delays in the contracts. When asked about the fitness study (scheduled for November 2002) of the public safety department, Mayor Althaus said it was not completed as it had been sidetracked. Finally, the entire Council had agreed at the June 2003 meeting to address the vandalism problems in the Town. Mr. Dick pointed that the publicity about the problems has alleviated them some but Councilmember Bryant pointed out that now is the time to start focusing on a campaign before spring is here and the problems resume. Mayor Althaus thought the suggestion of tapping into the resources and presence of our police and fire departments might be a way a reaching the community. It was suggested that the Town Council have in their agenda each month an “Open Items” list that would pertain to items discussed or where action was taken at previous meetings. This would allow the residents to keep up with things discussed in the past as well as be a gentle reminder to action that needs to be taken in regards to items agreed upon at the meetings. The Mayor and other members of the Council agreed this was an excellent idea.

Lou Oliphant, secretary of the Signal Mountain Planning Commission reported that the commission learned at its last meeting that Tennessee state law requires local municipalities to not restrict the building of doublewide “trailers” within their Towns. She also noted that two of the members concluded their continuing studies with the Hamilton County Planning Commission.

Councilmember Rachel Bryant updated the Council on the Playground behind the Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club. Included in her presentation were drawings and budgeted items for upcoming additions to the park. Already completed is the new roof on the big pavilion and the Lion’s Club Pavilion, which they paid for and volunteered to paint. When completed the park will have two lighted tennis courts with new fences. The other two courts will have lights nearby and will be resurfaced; one for basketball and the other for free play. The bank separating the courts and ball fields will be rebuilt and two sets of playgrounds will be built one for older children and one for toddlers. After bids are received on the playgrounds, the committee expects to have members of the community volunteer to put the equipment together. Currently there is a limited amount of money available for landscaping so the committee hopes to receive help from organizations and private citizens wishing to make a donation in honor or memory of someone. The Town Council voted to accept the report. Councilmember Bryant will bring to the next meeting, November 10th a suggestion for the park name. The projected completion date of the park is May 31st.

Councilmember Robert White reported among other things that the Community Golf Tournament held on Saturday, October 4 to benefit the Thrasher Gym netted over $25,000. He also noted the Strategic Planning Meetings were a success having completed the S.W.O.T. analysis at the first two meetings, the third meeting is scheduled for October 28th at which time “Core Values” will be discussed.

The meeting, had at its peak time only 15 people in the audience and 7 when it ended at 9:35 PM.
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