BEAN STATION – The Bean Station Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) approved a second reading of an ordinance to change several municipal codes.
A public hearing was held before the second reading.
Former Bean Station Mayor Terry Wolfe asked Bean Station Mayor Ben Waller to explain the changes the town would be making if the board approved the ordinance. Waller said the first change the ordinance would make would be to a yard sale ordinance that required residents to file for a permit to have a yard sale within town limits. Residents were also permitted to hold only three yard sales per year. Waller said the change would allow residents to have yard sales without having to file for a permit.
Wolfe said the ordinance was created because several people were holding continuous yard sales to the point it became a nuisance to neighbors. He also said it provided a loophole to those who wanted to eliminate sales tax. He said by eliminating the permit requirement and yard sale limit, it was opening the town to continuous yard sales.
Waller asked how many permits had been issued while Wolfe was in office. Wolfe said he didn’t know how many permits had been issued. He said the ordinance was “teeth in the law.” He said the board should use common sense and have something in the books to ensure “teeth” remained in the law in case anyone tried.
The second municipal code change allows residents to have swine within corporate limits. Swine were previously prohibited in town limits. Now residents may keep swine, fowl and other animals as long as they don’t come within 1,000 feet of a residence, place of business or public street. The ordinance also states any animal or fowl found running at large, or kept in violation of the ordinance, may be seized by a police officer or designated official.
Waller said, “We’re taking the word swine out where it’s prohibited ‘cause there’s still farmland in this community that was farmland before it was a city. I can’t tell the farmers that they can’t have swine.”
“Prohibited means you can’t have swine,” said Wolfe. “So, you’re saying they can’t have swine.”
Wolfe asked why swine were going to be prohibited if chickens were not and was informed by Alderman Mickey Ankrom chickens were included within the terminology “fowl” in the ordinance. Wolfe said there were chickens running around Phyllis Dr. Ankrom said the chickens had been running Phyllis Dr. for several years. Wolfe said if the board was going to enforce rules, it needed to enforce them, and if it was going to prohibit, it needed to prohibit.
Alderman Eddie Douglas asked if Wolfe was going to make a complaint about the chickens running around Phyllis Dr. Wolfe informed him he would file a complaint.
Wolfe said Bean Station is a rural town. He said if someone can’t have a pig in their backyard, there was something wrong with the situation. Waller asked if Wolfe’s opinion was people should be allowed to have pigs in their backyard in a subdivision.
Wolfe said, “Of course it is. It falls upon subdivision regulations.”
He said he was against the ordinance.
Waller said there would be no changes made to the junked motor vehicles ordinance, but a change would be made to the overgrown lots ordinance. Waller said the Town of Bean Station did not have the equipment or the manpower to maintain the lots.
“We go in and clean the lots. We do not have the manpower to keep going out there and keep that lot clean if there’s owners – its owners are deceased,” said Waller.
Wolfe said, “But it’s written in our zoning book. You have to charge the owners.”
“But if they’re deceased, who are you gonna charge? Their estate?” asked Waller.
Wolfe asked if someone could be hired to do it. Waller said during Wolfe’s term as Mayor he had never had the lots cleaned off. Wolfe said he did have them cleaned. Waller said the neighbors disagreed. Wolfe said the board should research the records to see how many letters were sent to owners needing to clean overgrown lots.
Douglas said the current board had written letters as well. He said the problem is physically going onto someone’s property and charging them to clean it up. He said there was too much liability. He asked what would happen if a septic tank was broken during cleanup or a waterline was broken or an employee was injured.
“We’re just saying we don’t want to put our people in jeopardy and put them on their property,” said Douglas.
Wolfe asked, “So, you’re taking the teeth out of the law then?”
Douglas said those who had an overgrown lot would receive a fine, but they would not be required to clean their property.
Changes were approved to the wording of codes regulating flood damage, beer sales and noise violations. In flood damage, the wording for zoning officer appointed to ordinance administrator was changed to street supervisor. In beer sales, Sunday sale hours were changed from midnight through noon to noon through midnight. Waller said the noise violation citations issued by the recorder was changed to the police chief, and noise violations service fees for private prosecutor pays the recorder was changed to the court clerk.
Waller asked if there were any further questions. Bean Station resident Carroll Wilder asked if junk vehicles and trash were included in the ordinance. Waller informed him there were no changes in the junked motor vehicles ordinance. Wilder’s wife Delores asked what the ordinance for junked motor vehicles read. Waller read the ordinance aloud.
Carroll said he had previously had issues with junked motor vehicles at the property behind his house. He said junk vehicles were parked to where he could not drive out of his driveway. He said it was a hassle to exit. He also said FedEx delivery trucks could no longer enter the driveway.
Waller suggested Carroll file a complaint with Police Chief John McMurray.
Ankrom made a motion to move forward with the changes to the municipal codes. Douglas seconded it. The motion passed with a 3-1 vote, Alderman Patsy Harrell casting the dissenting vote.
The next BMA meeting will take place Monday, August 24 at 5 p.m. at Bean Station Town Hall.