By NATHAN GREGORY
Members of the Starkville Board of Aldermen approved asking City Attorney Chris Latimer to conduct a title search to confirm ownership of the piped and covered section of the Carver Drive ditch in its meeting Tuesday.
The property owner will be notified to clean the property and mow the overgrown portion of the ditch that has already been piped and covered or the city can contemplate action under Mississippi Code Section 21-19-11. The measure clearly passed in a 5-0 vote. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver and Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk were absent for the vote. Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins moved to pass the measure on account of the area being in such a state of uncleanliness that it is a menace to the health and safety of the community.
The code section, which addresses the cleaning of private property, allows a governing authority of any municipality to â€śso act signed by a majority of the residents residing upon any street or alley within 300 feet of any parcel of land alleged to be in need of cleaning, to give notice to the property owner by United States registered mail or certified mail two weeks before the date of a hearing, or by service of notice as provided in this section by a police officer at least two weeks before the date of a hearing, or if the property owner be unknown or his address unknown, then by two weeksâ€™ notice in a newspaper having a general circulation in the municipality, of a hearing to determine whether or not any parcel of land is in such a state of uncleanliness as to be a menace to the public health and safety of the community.â€ť
Before the vote, Sistrunk moved that the board go into a closed session after an original motion Perkins made to use city employees and equipment to mow the ditch through that statute excluding all costs and penalties specified in the statute.
In other business, the board:
- Approved to include exemptions for non-conforming residential rebuilding requirements. This allows property owners to rebuild or repair their damaged buildings despite not conforming to their zoning district without having to ask the board for a conditional use permit. Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas was the lone dissenting vote as the measure passed 6-1.
- Held a public hearing on adopting a new ordinance to regulate the use of outdoor displays at businesses, outside storage and yard sales. The ordinance would require citizens have no more than six yard sales per year and would address areas in town where continual outside displays containing indoor items such as mattresses and clothes. Residents would also be asked to notify the city two days before having yard sales so they can be advertised on the cityâ€™s website.
- Fielded numerous citizen comments disputing the boardâ€™s decision last month to pass a public-private agreement for construction of a new city hall and renovation of the current city hall to turn it into an expanded police station. The citizens disputed the boardâ€™s approval of the $8 million project without holding a referendum and getting citizen input. The project, which does not affect ad valorem taxes, is to be funded with a combination of city cash, soon-to-be-retired debt and projected future tax revenue.