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Motion to override gate veto on agenda

October 16, 2012

The Starkville Board of Aldermen will consider overriding Mayor Parker Wiseman’s Oct. 4 veto of a decision to remove the emergency access gate at the west end of Douglas McArthur Drive during its 5:30 p.m. meeting today in the city hall courtroom.

On Sept. 18, five of the board’s seven members voted 3-2 in favor of removing the gate. Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk, Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins were the three votes in favor. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver and Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker cast ‘Nay’ votes. Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn abstained. Shortly after the vote was taken, Wiseman announced his intentions to veto the order to remove the gate. He did so on Oct. 4, two days after the board approved the Sept. 18 meeting minutes.

In a statement officially announcing his veto, Wiseman said his decision was based on the city’s ability to enforce the emergency-only signage in place if the gate were to be removed. He said after the board initially passed the resolution to close off public access to the west ends of Douglas McArthur Drive, Redbud Drive and Maple Drive, the city had difficulties enforcing the ordinance until the gate was installed.

“For a period of more than five years, efforts to enforce the limited emergency access at the intersection of Douglas McArthur and Stark Road proved ineffective. Therefore, the City installed a gate to ensure that traffic through the intersection would be limited to emergency vehicles,” Wiseman stated in the letter. “In the years following the installation of the emergency access gate, the law has been effectively enforced. Based on the thirteen year history of this issue, it is probable that if the gate was removed, non-emergency traffic through the intersection would again become an enforcement issue.”

The board is required to reach a super-majority, or five votes, to successfully override the veto.

Dumas said Monday that he will not repeat his abstention, but would not confirm on the record as to whether or not he would vote in favor of an override. Calls to Vaughn were not returned as of press time.

The board will also consider an interim replacement for outgoing City Planner Ben Griffith. Griffith, who served in that role for six years, announced last week at the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission meeting that his last day on the job would be Oct. 18.

Wiseman said last week that he expects the board to appoint Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill to perform city planning duties on a temporary basis while the board seeks a permanent replacement for Griffith.

Dumas said he plans to take an active role in the search for a new city planner.

“I’ll be putting a lot of thought and effort into how we move forward with the process of hiring a new city planner and I plan to present (the results) at the next board meeting (on Nov. 6),” Dumas said.

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