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published on 11/14/2006

“Let’s All Come Together As A Community”

By staff writer

The regular meeting of the Signal Mountain Town Council (TC) was held Monday, November 13, 2006 at the Town Hall. Town attorney Phil Noblett opened the meeting with a brief explanation of procedure for this meeting as described in the Town Charter. He reported that on Saturday, November 11th the three new Councilmembers were sworn in at 10:00 AM.

He then recognized Jane Wilson who was standing in for Sherry Morrison, the town recorder, and then asked all to stand and join him in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Mr. Noblett then invited Dr. Bill Dudley, pastor of Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church to offer a prayer.

The first order of business was for the Councilmembers to elect a mayor and vice-mayor. This was done by ballot with Paul Hendricks being elected mayor and Hershel Dick as vice-mayor. Both were elected unanimously. Jane Wilson then called roll. Present were Mayor Paul Hendricks, Vice-mayor Hershel Dick, Councilmembers Annette Allen and Lizetta Paturalski. Also present was the Town Manager Diana Campbell, Assistant Town Manager and Police Chief Boyd Veal, Fire Chief John Vlasis, and Loretta Hooper, Director of Public Works.

In addition the Town Hall was filled to capacity with citizens and over-flowing with standing room only.

Mayor Hendricks thanked and welcomed everyone for coming to the meeting. Although the two minutes up for approval were from meetings before the election of new officers and one that no one present had attended, they were approved with one minor correction on the special called meeting of October 19th.

There were four resolutions presented and approved at the meeting. The first three were the same but each had a different account name and pertained to signature changes at Citizens Tri County Bank, TN Local Government Investment Pool Account, and SunTrust Bank. Mrs. Campbell asked the Councilmembers to remain after the meeting to sign the 27 pages needed of signatures.

The last resolution authorizes Fire Chief John Vlasis to apply for recognition as a fire department with the TN Department of Commerce and Insurance. It also designates him as assistant to the Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance for the Town of Signal Mountain. Mrs. Campbell presented Chief Vlasis to the audience. According to TN state law, without applying for this recognition, the Town of Signal Mountain could not operate a Fire Department.

Lou Oliphant, secretary for the SM Planning Commission (PC) reported that the PC had met on November 2nd. At that meeting several issues had been discussed including approving only the building of roads but nothing else in a new neighborhood off Shackleford Ridge Road. Without sewers in place, the PC was unwilling to approve any other construction. They also put off annexing property in St. Ives until more information was available. Discussion on annexing Fox Run and Windtree was also delayed until the new fire chief could be consulted. A work session with the PC and TC is scheduled to discuss the annexation is planned for January 4, 2007. The next regular meeting of the PC is Thursday, December 7, 2006.

During citizens’ opportunity to address the Council, Ann Morris asked them to, “Please listen to the wishes of the people.”

Barbara Smith praised the “Save Signal Mountain” citizens and asked them to all stand.

Polly Ragan asked about the Homestead Act to which Mr. Noblett suggested residents interested in benefiting from this should let the town know. Mayor Hendricks then pointed out that there is no bill yet and once it is official, the Council would have to look at what impact it would have on the town’s budget and then make a decision on whether or not the town would participate in the program.

Bob Anderson, a resident of Fern Trail, spoke on two accounts. The first was on behalf of the SM Library Board, which he is a member by calling up Karin Glendenning and presenting her as the new town Librarian. Roger Castleberry, a neighbor of Bob’s came forward and presented Mrs. Glendenning with a bouquet of flowers. She then received a resounding round of applause from the audience.

Mr. Anderson then brought up the subject of a rumor that land behind Shepherd Forest subdivision was being developed which included moving the Brow Road down near the creek which runs behind Fern Trail and then building condos that would overlook the valley. Next a resident of Shepherd Forest came forward and also complained of the plans pointing out that he had sold some of the property to the developer in the first place but was now unhappy with their plans. Finally Mr. Castleberry spoke again against the plan.

Mayor Hendricks responded that the town would listen to their concerns, however the subject of a development on the brow has not been brought to the PC to which he looked to the chairman, Dan Saieed and Lou Oliphant, in the audience who both shook their heads no, that indeed the PC had no knowledge of such development.

Another resident asked the Council to mail a questionnaire to all the residents of Signal Mountain asking their opinion on the Shackleford Ridge Overlay Zoning.

Polly Ragan spoke again saying that their should be places built on the mountain such as town houses or patio homes that are reasonably priced so residents can downsize. She said to the Council, “You are in the hot seat.”

Doug Conner spoke in praise of his friends Bob Linehart and Lizetta Paturalski in the time and effort they committed to the Town. He then went on to suggest the recall effort was curved and that personalities were taken into consideration; if not, then all the Councilmembers would have been recalled, not just two. He said, “I hate to see this town split.” He suggested the Councilmembers appoint someone to sit in the fifth seat who is not on one side of the issue or the other.

Racie Decosimo Miller congratulated the TC and said, “I believe the people have spoken and that’s what a democracy is about.” She went on, telling the Council, that in the past the people were not paying attention, “And now we are awake!”

Cathy Barker suggested the appointment of temporary committees made up of people who are interested in different subjects who could meet and bring to the Council their suggestions because, “There are some wonderful ideas out here.”

Barbara Smith spoke again saying the TC has a history of not getting the message of meetings out to the public.

Marian Netwig suggested looking into a “bluff ordinance” similar to the one used in Boone, NC to prohibit development on the brow.

Connie Jones addressed the audience thanking them for coming to the meeting and reminded them to, “Let’s keep our town.”

Mayor Hendricks thanked everyone for their comments and suggestions. Vice-mayor Dick responded by saying, “This is a great start.” And Councilmember Allen said, “We’re all on the same side – the side of Signal Mountain.”

The town manager asked residents to NOT rake their leaves into the street, just to the edge of the road. She reported that the fire department will be flushing fire hydrants soon. A discussion on door-to-door salesmen followed and what is legal and what is not. The Council agreed to have Mrs. Campbell draw up a resolution that updates the current permit for such sales including raising the cost of a permit. She agreed to meet with Mr. Noblett and present a resolution for approval at the next meeting.

Loretta Hopper reported that four trucks and extra help were making leaf pick-up stay on schedule. When asked if the town worked on Saturday, she responded yes. One round was almost complete and when they finished with Carriage Hill the trucks would be heading back to Old Towne to start around one more time.

Under discussion items, Councilmember Paturalski reported that rumors in emails of possible abductions of children were rampant to which Chief Veal responded that both incidents did not happen in the Town of Signal Mountain and both proved to be innocent and were not attempted kidnappings. She asked that everyone put behind what has happened and called for all to, “Focus on what unites us and not what divides us.”

Vice-mayor Dick said the new council is a great group but it needs the community’s prayers.

Mayor Hendricks suggested an alternative way to pick up their packets even suggesting all agenda items stop on Thursday. Mrs. Campbell reminded him that the Friday department meeting usually creates business items that need to be addressed at the meeting, however the council agreed that those items and any others will have to come before the Thursday deadline.

The mayor then asked the town manager on the status of the heat at MACC to which she said the repairmen are working on it this week.

He then went on to suggest creating advisory committees and would like to start with a communication committee to which the rest of the council agreed was a good idea. They will work on this committee at their next meeting, which is workshop with the Tennessee Municipal League where they will be trained for their service on the Town Council.

Finally Mayor Hendricks noted that there was an empty chair and a fifth member of the Town Council needed to be appointed. He reminded all that it was the Council’s responsibility to appoint that person and suggested a fair way to go about it would be to have people who are interested come to the Town and state it, then each candidate would meet with the Council who would have prepared questions for each person, and then make their decision, and then have that person sworn in and in place by the next Council meeting.

Although the rest of the Council agreed and thought this was a good idea, one member of the audience suggested the person who got the next highest number of votes was the logical choice. And David Evans suggested the Council needed to set a criterion for the candidate and had not thought out the process before suggesting it.

Mayor Hendricks disagreed. At a meeting on December 4th the Council will make their decision.

He then thanked the residents who elected him; his wife and family for supporting him; his treasurer, and his fellow Councilmembers for honoring him by electing him mayor. He then quoted from Ecclesiastes and James in the Bible and closed by saying, “We should all come together as a community.”

The meeting ended at 8:40 PM. The next regular Town Council meeting is Monday, December 11, 2006.
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