Two residents addressed the Huntsville City Council Monday night with requests.

Robert White, who lives in  Rockwood Heights (behind The Pantry) said that the narrow streets are a problem, especially when cars are parked on each side of the road. He described two problems he sees: no room for emergency vehicles to drive on the street and the danger to children playing who can’t see around the parked cars.

He added that the city has an ordinance that  prohibits parking on the lawn, and the driveways are too steep to park extra cars there, so that leaves the streets.

He suggested that “Caution, Children at Play” signs be put up.

Mayor Darrell Trahan said that he had driven on the streets, and agreed that they could be dangerous. He said that the city would put up the caution signs and also speed limit signs.

“They shouldn’t be over 15 miles per hour there,” he said.

Terry Thomas again addressed the council about ordinances on mobile homes.

“My understanding was that there were going to be some changes,” he told attorney Rusty Cain.

Cain answered that changes in the code will be presented to the council in an ordinance in January. It will require three separate readings, assuming that there are no objections.

Thomas argued that he wanted the council to act now since he came in March of last year and asked to put in a single wide and was told no because the code did not allow single wide structures at that time. At the May 2019 meeting, an ordinance was passed allowing a single wide with certain specifications, but the proposed Thomas home doesn’t meet all of the specifications.

“I have $12,600 rent lost, and am losing more each day. I submitted a permit two months ago,” he said.

Thomas asked council for an emergency meeting.

Cain advised that the council has the authority to declare an emergency, but that he doesn’t see an emergency in this situation.    

Trahan said the council was unable to take action at the meeting because they won’t have an ordinance to vote on until January.

The councilors unanimously passed the 2020 budget, and gave all employees a step increase of 3.3 percent raise in pay. The four lowest paid police officers received a two-step increase of about 6.6 percent. They also approved the transfer of three city accounts from one bank to another, due to fewer fees at the second bank.

The ordinance to change the city animal code passed on the third reading with an amendment that removed from the code change parts A, B, C, D and E of section 6.04.04.

Those sections involved actions concerning impounding a stray animal. Funding for a temporary building to house stray animals that has been discussed by the council was not included in the proposed 2020 city budget. The amendment was proposed by the Animal Code Review Committee and presented to councilors in an email.

In other business, Economic Development Director Nancy Marsh announced that the winner of the committee’s logo contest was Ben Soto. He received a hooded sweatshirt with the logo on it, and $100. Lisa Bauer, second place winner, received $50.

The council studied the winning logo, and discussed whether or not they wanted to replace the existing logo, created in 1976, with the new one. They proposed possible changes to the design. Marsh said that she would explore the possibilities.    

Directors’ reports highlights were:

• Police Chief Todd Thomas reported a successful drug sweep of schools at Elkins, St. Paul and Huntsville, coordinated with other local agencies. He also reported that the Madison County jail Commission met and talked about several options. One is a privately-owned regional jail. He said that option is being researched.

• Street Department Director Josh Murr said that his department plans to clean out  the Basham Building, trim trees and remove leaves from ditches this month.

• Water Department Director Larry Garrett told the group that McClelland Engineering has been awarded the contract for engineering on the water tank project. He also recommended that Guy Roden be appointed to another term on the water commission. He explained that both the computer and the printer at the department were out of order at billing time, so the bills were sent on paper, causing confusion to customers. He said that the computers are now fixed.

• Fire Chief Kevin Shinn reported that the annual Insurance Services Office (ISO) inspection is over, and the official report will be released in three to six months. He said that after talking with the inspector, he is optimistic about maintaining the department’s Class 4 rating, which puts the department in the top 16 percent of paid and volunteer fire departments in the nation.

The rating lowers insurance premiums for those living in the district. He said that they are continually striving to achieve a Class 3 rating, which would reduce homeowners’ insurance rates by a further 10 percent to 20 percent.

• Trahan praised all involved in the lighting of the square and the Christmas parade.

He reported that the city’s bond is two years ahead of schedule for pay-off because the sales tax revenue has been higher than was expected when the bond was purchased.

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