May 8, 2014

Questions raised at city county meeting

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Questions of conflicts of interest, the necessity of a Joint Planning and Zoning Commission and whether cellular towers belong in residential areas were hot topics during Monday night's City Council meeting.

Director Doug Gilbert, Director of Planning and Zoning for the City, briefed the council on a vote made by the Joint Planning and Zoning Commission regarding the construction of cell towers in residential areas.

According to Gilbert the Planning and Zoning Commission recently had an application from AT&T for the construction of a cell tower in a residential area on Liporote Way above the Benge Cemetery.  Gilbert requested that the Planning and Zoning Commission change the zone to a split zoning area but it was voted down.

Gilbert said that a representative from AT&T didn't agree that the zone needed to be changed and that a cellular tower is compatible with a residential area and  the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“I'm here to protect the city,” Gilbert said.  “I don't think it's compatible and I'm not going to agree with it.”

Several council members as well as Rudder expressed concerns about the placement of cellular towers in residential areas.

“Unless something changes then more than likely they'll have a cell tower and we'll be limited with what we can do with other cell towers,” Rudder said.  “If they said it was compatible with a residential area then that means a cell tower can go up just about anywhere.”

According to City Attorney Larry Bryson, all zoning takes place within city limits with the exception of subdivisions, which lead to several council members questioning the necessity of county representatives on the commission.

“My question would be, why does the City Council have people on a zoning thing that only effects the city,” asked Councilman Jim Hays.  “If it effects city property than it should be a city thing.  I don't know why we have a joint zoning commission if the county doesn't have any zoning.  Why are the county people on it to start with?  Cell towers are not compatible with residential areas and I don't care how many votes say otherwise.”

Hays called the joint commission a “problem that will need to be dealt with at a later time.”

Rudder said he would have Larry Bryson research the ordinance that established the joint planning and zoning commission.

“I believe it just takes a little notice and we can discontinue it,” Rudder said.

Concerns were also addressed regarding a possible conflict of interest in the case. 

“The problem in this is that the person representing AT&T, David Pike, is the same person doing the training for the Planning and Zoning Commission,” Bryson said. 

“It sounds like we have a definite conflict of interest there,” Councilman Danny Phelps said.

There will be a public hearing regarding the cellular tower at 6 p.m. on May 13 at City Hall.

Also during the meeting, a group of residents from the Sublimity Elementary School area spoke up to voice concerns of people speeding on the school roads putting children and pedestrians alike in danger.

“Absolutely people fly up that road,” said Connie Cook, a resident in the Sublimity area.  “I can't tell you how dangerous it is anymore.”

Cook asked the city council to consider putting rumble strips in the Sublimity area to help slow down those who drive a little too fast near the school and residential area.

According to Cook, motorcycles are the worst for breaking the speed limit.

“As far as the actual humps, those have been under question for quite some time,” said Mayor Troy Rudder.  “We've had some cities that said they have to actually pay for cars that bottom out on them. “

Rudder suggested looking in to the longer speed humps, like those found in Levi Jackson State Park as opposed to traditional speed bumps.

“If you don't have the city police do regular patrols there, all you're going to do is give motorcycles and cars a speed ramp because that's all they're going to use it for,” said Jack Riley, a retired State Police Trooper and current candidate for mayor.

Riley suggested that officers patrol the area at different times of day so that the people speeding in the area won't know when they're going to be there.

Rudder spoke with acting London Police Chief Derek House and asked that patrols be increased in the area.  The council also made a motion and approved the placement of speed bumps in the Sublimity area.

Hays presented the city with a resolution for a new tornado-warning siren within the city limits.

“One of the needs that I have seen and other city council members have seen as well is we have one tornado siren in the center of town, even some of the outlying fire departments don't have them but we have one area in our city that isn't served and that's Sublimity. 

Hays is working to get a grant from the Department of Homeland Security that would have a tornado siren placed in the area.

“Every time we've had a tornado it's either in East Bernstadt or the park, so we've had a lot of near misses out there,” Hays said.  “The chances look good that we'll get this.”

The commission also approved the Thursday Night Live and Cruisin' on Main schedule for the summer.  This will be the seventh season of Cruisin' on Main and the ninth season of Thursday Night Live.

“Nothing much is changing,” said London Downtown Executive Director Chris Robinson.  “The committee has decided after hearing from cruisers for quite some time now that 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. would be a little bit better than a mid-day show.”

Both events are fully funded through private sponsorships.  The city provides police protection and road cleaning services.

“Someone had mentioned to me that you could save the city a lot of money on street cleaning and set up by using the work release program,” Phelps said.

Rudder expressed interest in the idea, saying that if they could get the work release inmates he would support them being used to clean up after events.

“The problem with work release is being able to depend on them when you need them,” said Steve Edge, London's Public Works Director.  “If they have some kind of lock down they can’t come out.  I'd rather plan it in my schedule than to be called at the last minute saying 'we need help.'”

Mike Hamm was reappointed to the London Utility Commission and Ed Hyde of London was appointed to the Airport Board.

“Ed (Hyde) of Legacy City Nissan has expressed interest in serving on the Airport Board for quite some time,” Rudder said.  “He's a businessman and a pilot so I'm going to go ahead and appoint him to that board as well.”

The London City Council will next meet at 5:30 p.m. on June 9 at City Hall.

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