Bob Barber of the Orion Group told New Albany Aldermen during their July 5 meeting, “We have come to the end of the process.”
Barber referred to the work started five years ago to develop a comprehensive plan for the city. During 2018 the Board of Aldermen retained the Orion Group to take a professional look at the city’s zoning code and assist city leaders in anticipating and planning for the city’s future needs. The comprehensive plan was the first item on the board’s July 5 agenda.
Numerous meetings and more than $100,000 in professional fees to Orion Group went into the development of the highly detailed plan. Barber was telling the city board it was time to adopt the comprehensive plan that had been five years in development. The Orion Group had finished its work..
City attorney Regan Russell recommended that the board delay acting on the comprehensive plan until it resolved what the city’s position was going to be on the legal sale of marijuana. The city’s comprehensive zoning would have to specify where marijuana dispensaries could be located and other rules sellers of medical marijuana might be required to follow.
Marijuana was the second item on the July 5 agenda, which read “Cannabis hearing cancelled.” Several opponents of allowing medical marijuana to be sold in the city were present at the meeting, apparently believing they would be heard. It was unclear as to why the hearing was not held on July 5, but it was rescheduled for the August 1 meeting of the board.
District 3 State Senator Kathy Chism, a leader of the opposition to the legal sale of medical marijuana, asked for assurances that the hearing would be held in a room larger than the city council chambers, the occupancy of which is limited to 31 people. The board agreed that the marijuana hearing would be at the Magnolia Civic Center, which can accommodate many more people.
Thus went the first two items on the city board’s July 5 agenda.
Next on the agenda were hearings on condemned houses at 605 Baker Street, 610 Baker Street, 614 Baker Street and 609 Martin Street. Tiffany Johnson, who said she was an owner and manager of the four properties, asked the board for additional delay in tearing down the dilapidated houses. Ward 3 Alderman Kevin Dale White pointed out to Johnson that the city board had been patient for a couple of years and the time has come for the houses to be torn down. Johnson promised that the house at 614 Baker would be torn down by Sept. 30, 2022.
Eric Thomas, the city’s code enforcement officer, was honored last month as Mississippi’s “Building Official of the Year” by the Building Officials Association of Mississippi. He was recognized and commended by the board for this honor at the July 5 board meeting.
Bill Mattox, manager of the city-owned New Albany Lights, Gas, and Water, asked for and received approval for a payment of $356,014.25 to Roberts Construction for work done on the old Fred’s building, which is being renovated to serve as headquarters for NALGW and the New Albany Police Department.
Mattox also asked for and received approval for the purchase of one 2,500 KVA pad-mounted transformer from Arkansas Electric Cooperative for $67,207.
Chase Jeter, director of the New Albany Parks and Recreation Department, told the board the city had received two bids for building a “spray park” in the Park-Along-the-River. The board approved the lower bid of $194,738.
The board approved increases in two fees for services provided by the solid waste department. The fee for the weekend use of a “trash truck” was increased from $75 to $125. The monthly fee for residential garbage service was increased by two dollars to $11.95 per month.
The next meeting of the New Albany Board of Aldermen will be at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 1.
Original story about Eric Thomas being honored: https://newalbanyunionco.com/eric-thomas-honored-as-mississippi-building-official-of-the-year/
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