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published on 11/11/2003

Signal Mountain Town Council Meeting

By staff writer

Over twenty students from Red Bank High School, members of Dr. Patricia Skates’ American Government Class were special guests at the regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, November 10th of the Signal Mountain Town Council. Mayor Jim Althaus welcomed everyone and reminded all to think of the men and women who have served and currently serve in the armed forces, noting that Tuesday, November 11th is Veteran’s Day.

In addition to the mayor, town manager Hershel Dick, town attorney Phil Noblett, and town recorder Diana Campbell were also present. Responding to roll call were Vice-mayor Bill Leonard and Councilmembers Steve Ruffin, Robert White, and Rachel Bryant who offered prayer. In addition to the students there were approximately 20 other citizens present at the meeting.

The minutes of the previous meeting on October 13th were approved. Attorney Phil Noblett presented three Resolutions for approval by the Council. The first pertained to a Safety Grant program provided by the Tennessee Municipal League (TML). In it the town manager is authorized to participate in the TML Risk Management Pool “Safety Partners” Loss Control Matching Grant Program. Participating in this program in which efforts shall be made to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace for the Town of Signal Mountain employees, means the Town will accept grant money from the TML and then match those grants with Town funds. According to the town manager, the money is already in place to use as such and therefore can be designated as part of the matching program. When asked by Councilmember Bryant if this is a one-time offer, the town recorder said the grant could be applied for annually.

The second two Resolutions, presented by the town attorney, concerned the reappointing of members to the Library Board and Board of Zoning Appeals. The Council approved the appointments of Dee Dee Raulston and Laura Pierce to the Signal Mountain Library Board; both three-year terms. Each had provided bios as required by the Council for approval. Because no bio was available for the member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Council deferred the vote of approval until the next regular meeting when one could be provided. The town manager asked the Council to vote on the reappointment saying he would provide it at a later date, however, the Council disagreed and decided to follow procedure and delay the vote, noting this was no reflection on the candidate, only a matter of procedure.

At the last regular meeting of the Town Council, two Ordinances were passed on the first reading. At this meeting both Ordinances passed on the second reading. The first was an amendment to the Stormwater Management Title revising the code regulating stormwater. The second sets up the Stormwater Operating Board and defines their function. Details of both these Ordinances are available at the Town Hall.

Jenny Smith, representing the Signal Mountain Newcomers announced the time and date of the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and invited the Town of Signal Mountain to participate in this event. Host for the event is the Mountain Arts Community Center, 809 Kentucky Avenue, which will be held Friday, December 5 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Lots of fun, food, and activities will be available including pictures with Santa.

The Signal Mountain Library Board, represented by board member Jean Brye, requested the Town of Signal Mountain consider pro-rating the Library non-resident fee. The Library Board approved the proposal at their October 20th meeting. Because the town recorder is currently reassessing the amount of non-resident fees for all departments, the Town Council approved the concept, and not necessarily the numbers, requested by the Library Board. The town recorder said the new numbers will be available in December. The new quarterly rates for the Library will begin in January 2004.

Resident Mark Shartle brought up the issue of the merchants on Signal Mountain being told (by the town manager) that this is the last year the sign inviting residents to the annual open house “Sunday on Signal” will be permitted, even though this is a special event (now in it’s 27th year) and not “advertisement.” Mayor Althaus agreed completely with Mr. Shartle’s concern and said the attitude of the Town needed to be changed and the whole system be re-thought taking into consideration the intent of those asking to use the sign. Councilmember Bryant was concerned the sign had not been permitted this year but was assured it was up.

Shawn Craig, a resident living on Green Gorge Road asked the Council to tell her how speed limit signs can be posted on her street. Other residents from the street were also present; all concerned with the safety of children, bikers, and walkers from traffic coming off the highway and into the neighborhood without slowing down or knowing the un-posted speed limit is 25 MPH. The mayor suggested people “police” their neighborhoods and call the SM Police when they see people speeding and assured everyone the police would follow-up. When asked by resident, Jock Dunbar, what this meant the mayor said to be prepared to go to court and testify against the speeders. Councilmember White, however, suggested the Town let the SM Police come up with a plan noting a report that the safety factor between driving 25 mph vs. 30 mph is significant and that a program called “Drive 25 to Keep Kids Alive” is an option the Town should pursue. In the meantime, the town manager said he would speak with the public safety director and town engineer to see about posting signs on Green Gorge Road.

Mayor Althaus asked the government students to identify themselves and invited questions. Most of the questions became debates between the students and the mayor and were over the issue of a high school on Signal Mountain and the impact it would have over Red Bank High School. Although both sides were biased, the discussion was lively and somewhat reflected the attitude of the community as whole.

The strategic planning session “By the Community, For the Community” is still going strong meeting every two weeks at MACC. Councilmember White gave an update on the process with a presentation of a slide show of the S.W.O.T. analysis, key values, and mission statement, all derived from the first four meetings. He encouraged members of the audience to participate in the rest of the process, which ends in March. He noted that a schedule for the sessions are posted on the Signal Mountain Community web site

Councilmember Bryant reported that progress on the Playground behind the Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club is coming along well. The town manager reported that bids on the playground equipment will be opened November 19th. Councilmember Bryant also thanked the students from Red Bank High for coming and praised them on their questions and urged them to keep their opinions. She also asked the Town to review the ordinances on dangerous dogs to see if they are current as a young man recently attacked by a dog asked her to look into this. She then reported that the town recorder provided the answers to a list of concerns raised by resident Pris Shartle at the last regular meeting. Resident Mark Shartle reminded the Council that it would be nice to have that list in the agenda and available to the public in advance as it would generate more interest in the meetings.

Vice-mayor Bill Leonard praised the citizens who have made the commitment to participate in the Strategic Planning Sessions. He also recognized the employees who serve at the pleasure of the Town Council and the citizens of the Town of Signal Mountain.

On a final note, the town manager noted that the Geological Information System (GIS) in Hamilton County has requested the address numbers of the homes in Phase One of Carriage Hill be changed to meet 911 Emergency standards of odd numbers on one side and even on the other. This is not a Town of Signal Mountain issue, however, letters to the 20 or so residents impacted by this decision will be mailed shortly. The town manager had no idea when the changes would take place.

The meeting adjourned around 8:50 PM.
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