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published on 06/12/2001

June 2001 Signal Mountain Town Council Meeting

By staff writer

The Town of Signal Mountain Town Council met Monday, June 11, 2001 at 7:00 PM. Present were councilmembers Rachel Bryant, Steve Ruffin, Billy Steele, Vice-Mayor Bob Steel, and Mayor Jim Althaus. Also present were Joe Wagner, town attorney, Hershel Dick, town manager, and Diane Campbell, town recorder.

Vice-Mayor Bob Steel opened the meeting with prayer.

After the roll call and approval of the minutes of the May 14th meeting, the Council approved the First Reading of the Budget Ordinance for FY 2002. Before approving the budget, the Mayor shared with the members of the audience some explanations for the increases shown in the budget. The first reason is that town expenses have gone up so the budget needed to reflect that. The other main increase in the budget is the creation of two positions of employment. One salary would go to a person working on the storm water issues. This person will report to Art Perry, the town engineer. The Federal government has mandated communities to manage their flood control problems so the Town is fulfilling this mandate by hiring this person to handle the problem. The other position created is an additional staff person to serve in the Recreation Department as support staff to all the leagues, boards and facilities used for recreation. A Public Hearing on this ordinance will be held June 22 at 10:00 AM.

Lou Oliphant, chairman of the Planning Commission made a report to the Council. Included in that report which the councilmembers had in writing were follow-ups to concerns sent back to the Planning Commission from previous Council meetings. Two issues resolved or abandoned were the ones concerning the in-home daycare and the rescinding of the ordinance concerning the ally requested by a citizen at the last meeting.

Before the citizens were given the opportunity to address the Council, the mayor asked consulting attorney Phil Noblett to address the request by Bill Woodcock, owner of the Mountain Top Restaurant and Nino Piccolo, owner of the Pastaria Restaurant, for on-site sale of alcohol beverages in the Town of Signal Mountain. Mr. Noblett explained the law in the Town of Signal Mountain at the present time and what would have to happen to change that law. To sell beer in a restaurant, the Town of Signal Mountain only has to change the current ordinance prohibiting the sale to one that permits the sale. However to sell wine or hard liquor, both of which are regulated by the state ABC, a referendum must be passed. This process, according to Mr. Noblett, is much more complicated in that first a petition with 10% of the citizen?s signatures must be secured. Once this is in place then a request must be made to the Hamilton County Election Commission to have the referendum placed on election ballot. The first opportunity for this would be August 2002. If and when such a referendum is passed, the sale of on-site alcohol will be out of the jurisdiction of the Town of Signal Mountain and in the hands of the state. As this was a time of questioning on the part of the owners of the two restaurants making the request as well as members of the Council, Mr. Noblett agreed to research what the Town's options were and bring back to the councilmembers his conclusions. In the meantime, the Council said that if Mr. Woodcock and Mr. Piccolo wanted to pursue the sale of beer in their restaurants, then it was up to them to make the next move.

The next two citizens to address the Council were representatives from Tritel Communications, Inc. and Cingular Wireless, both requesting an antenna on the existing tower on Walden?s Ridge. A one-time fee is paid to the Town as the tower is on private property. This is not a new tower just the addition of a new antenna, however a structure is built at the base of the tower in accordance to the guidelines of the Town of Signal Mountain?s Design Review Committee. Even though fences and landscaping will hide the structures and nothing could be built without the Design Review Committee?s approval, Councilmember Steve Ruffin insisted on seeing a picture before he would approve the installation of the antenna. So the Council approved the requests pending the approval of the DRC and Mr. Ruffin?s seeing a picture.

Under new business, Councilmembers spoke on various issues that concerned them:

Rachel Bryant asked once again that the Town consider closing down Shoal Creek Road for few hours on the Fourth of July so that pedestrians have an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the road. Both Billy Steele and Bob Steel thought the idea was a bad one for many different reasons but mostly because of parking which town manager, Hershel Dick said was the only concern the public safety department had. Mayor Althaus agreed that they won't know until they try. Mrs. Bryant also asked Mr. Dick if he was aware of the problems at the Town pool and if these problems were being addressed. He assured her that they were.

Steve Ruffin requested a special resolution be made honoring Bob Anderson for his loyal and dedicated service to the Town of Signal Mountain all the years he served as reporter for the Signal Mountain Post. Mayor Althaus and Mr. Ruffin agreed to plan something for the next council meeting.

Councilmember Billy Steele had numerous questions mostly concerning issues from previous Town Council meetings. For example, the dead trees on the property of a citizen that addressed the council last month were removed by the contractor who damaged them. He asked again if the town could speak publicly about the pending law suit by Judge Moon and consulting attorney, Phil Noblett reminded him again that it was inappropriate to do so. The Mayor said that there would be a press release when the time was right. Finally, Mr. Steele expressed a lot of concern about a recent police report, which the Council had access to but that the citizens did not. Mr. Dick responded to the questions as best as he could.

Mayor Althaus expressed his and the rest of the council?s pleasure at seeing Joe Wagner at the meeting. Mr. Wagner thanked him and said he was feeling well but that the exercise class he was attending three days a week was killing him!

The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 pm.

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