By DALE GRAHAM
The Kingston Springs City Commission met in regular session last Thursday. All members were present.
There was a public hearing before the meeting on the 2013 – 2014 Budget, and on the commission’s intent to exceed the certified tax rate, which was set at .8765 (rounded up to .88 per $100 of assessed value). There was no public comment from anyone.
When the items came up in the regular meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to amend the budget to reflect the certified tax rate and add 1 cent to it, making the town’s tax rate .89 per $100 of assessed valuation. See the chart for what the actual dollar difference is for you.
During the public forum portion of the meeting, longtime resident Andy Sullivan spoke to commissioners about the junk car ordinance. Sullivan has been ticketed by the town’s codes enforcer for being in violation of the new ordinance, and will be heard at municipal court next month. Town staff has been fielding complaints about the lot for 6 years or more. At his home on Mt. Pleasant Rd., Sullivan has a large number of cars and trucks outside, which is in direct violation of codes which require that they be kept inside a building. “I’m going to protest it, I don’t think it’s right”, Sullivan told commissioners. He added that the codes are too restrictive. “I’ve lived on that road since 1963, before there was a city”, he said, “I wanted to live there and do what I wanted to do”, he told the commission.
“I’m a car collector”, he said. He also said that he has purchased tags for about 20 of the vehicles. “I’m trying to preserve some of history, it’s my hobby, I love doing it”, he said. He also added that since the ordinance does not address “grandfathering”, perhaps he should be grandfathered in.
The language from the Kingston Springs ordinance states: “‘Junked motor vehicle’” is any motor vehicle, as defined by § 13-401(3), which does not have lawfully affixed thereto an unexpired license plate or the condition of which is wrecked, dismantled, partially dismantled, inoperative, abandoned or discarded, or constitutes a public nuisance and/or affecting the health and safety of the community as a whole”, so tagging the vehicles alone will not solve the problem.
For years residents have complained about the lot, but because the law didn’t really have any enforcement verbiage there wasn’t much the town could do. The current ordinance does have steps to rectify the situation. Once the owner has been notified of the problem, they are given a specific time frame to rectify the situation. The person can then request a hearing before a judge, which is what Sullivan has done, “for the purpose of defending the charges by the city”. If the judge affirms the violation, the next step is: “the city manager or his designee shall have the right to take possession of the junked motor vehicle and remove it from the premises. It shall be unlawful for any person to interfere with, hinder, or refuse to allow such person or persons to enter upon private property for the purpose of removing a vehicle under the provisions of this chapter and in no manner shall be deemed to be a trespass or unauthorized entry upon land.” The vehicles would then be stored and can be sold within 10 days at public auction.
In other business:
The state of Tennessee has approved an ordinance that makes it lawful to manufacture intoxicating liquors or drinks (distilleries) within the boundaries of certain jurisdictions. “It pre-empted local regulations”, Mayor Tony Campbell explained to commissioners. There is an opportunity for municipalities to ‘opt out’ of the new ordinance, and with the approval of Resolution 13-005 that’s exactly what the Town of Kingston Springs did. They can ‘opt in’ again at any time in the future.
The commission voted to approve obtaining bids for 2 separate projects: Mt. Pleasant Road paving project (projected cost is $227,975), and; box bridge replacement for Harpeth Hills Drive over Muddy Branch Creek, (projected cost is $44,885).
The beautiful carved tree on Main Street is doing what dead trees do no matter how beautiful they are, its rotting at its base. The creator of the sculpture, Lundy Cupp has told City Manager Laurie Cooper that cutting the tree at the base, lifting it and placing it on a concrete base will solve the problem. Cooper is moving along with finding the best, most economical way of saving the tree.
Have you noticed something stinky in downtown Kingston Springs? A group skunks has made themselves at home in a culvert there, and residents, (including Mayor Tony Campbell, Vice Mayor Gary Corlew, and Commissioner Tony Gross), have smelled enough. “I have some concerns because skunks are pretty bad about carrying rabies and a number of diseases”, Campbell said. He added that he had spoken to wildlife officers who suggested that people in the area remove the food source, (like dog food, food scraps, etc). Campbell is going to follow up with the TWRA officer for referrals for pest removal companies.
The Kingston Springs City Commission meets the third Thursday of each month at 7p.m. in the Beck Town Meeting Hall.