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Middlebourne Town Council Discusses Business Matters

By Staff | Sep 20, 2017

Several matters were addressed at the regular monthly Middlebourne town council meeting, held Monday, Sept. 11.

Under Old Business, council was set to have a second reading, for an amendment, of Chapter 26 Article 14 of the Middlebourne Municipal Code, concerning the storage of materials. Recorder Pelikan said she had issues with the ordinance, as it deals with metal only. “There is nothing about the tons of stuff that people can throw out in their yard.”

“The word metal is just too narrow; you need to broaden it – debris, clutter, rubble I don’t know what words we can use in there.”

Councilman Bill Jenkins suggested researching other cities’ codes regarding the ordinance.

Mayor Seago asked the city’s attorney, Gary Rymer, for advice on whether or not to pass the second reading.

Rymer recommended tabling the matter, which council did. Rymer noted that, with a nuisance ordinance, sometimes criteria for being “in violation” cannot be narrowed down specifically. Yet, if the ordinance simply says “storage or unsightly material,” neighbors could complain about one another, out of anger.

Council discussed one resident who has covered material in his yard with a tarp.

“That doesn’t take care of it,” Pelikan said.

Mayor Seago said the resident has assured town officials that he will get rid of the debris in his yard; however, neighbors have said otherwise.

“When you start having people throw stuff in their backyards, you have critters taking up housing, and mosquitoes. Those are issues we don’t want to deal with.”

Rymer said Middlebourne is not large enough to have a ward, or due process, to handle the issue. Rymer said the town needs to be able to send a notice, giving the resident 15 days to clean up the property, and have a way to enforce it.

However, Rymer noted, the town doesn’t have the personnel to do such.

It was note that the town’s law enforcement officer works about 20 hours a month and does not have time to “look through junk piles or make those kinds of decisions.”

Seago said he recently attended a meeting concerning dilapidated properties.

One suggestion is to implement a building code.

Rymer said there would need to be a building inspector to enforce the code. However, towns then have the risk of being accused of “targeted enforcement.”

Council agreed to table the matter until other towns’ ordinances could be researched.

In other matters, council passed a second reading to purchase property from Paul Keller.

Also, Mayor Steve Seago reported the town is making money, building savings in both water and sewer accounts.

As for citizens’ concerns, Mayor Seago reported that the people of Park Avenue have had concerns about a culvert not draining properly.

Recorder Sue Pelikan said the town had addressed the concern a month ago.

“Yes, the city crew worked on it, but apparently they didn’t get it all resolved,” Mayor Seago responded.

Council discussed possible issues with the culvert – whether a different sized pipe is needed, or whether a drain is plugged. Council agreed to research the matter further.

Also, council addressed the water/sewage rate increase. On Aug. 14 council had passed an ordinance, increasing water rates for customers served by the Middlebourne Water System. Rates were increased by 15 percent. According to town officials, the rate increase is necessary to amortize loan payments on a proposed water system improvement which has a project cost of $2,475,000 of which $2,000,000 is being borrowed from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Rymer expressed difficulties in getting the notice, of the ordinance’s passing, published. Rymer said the publication, notifying of a rate increase, is required for the rate increase to be enacted Rymer said the water rate increase may not occur in October because of this. However, Rymer said he was in contact with the Public Service Commission and was awaiting a response on the matter.

Rymer said the council may have to schedule a special meeting on the matter, or mail out notices regarding the increase.

In another matter, council discussed installing traffic signs in the alley beside the Boggs’ pizza restaurant. Council is concerned there will be a traffic accident, due to individuals coming out of the alley, on to Main Street.

Also, council approved Oct. 31, 6-7:30 p.m. for trick-or-treating; council also approved closing Main Street during the Tyler County High School Alumni parade on Oct. 14.

The next meeting of Middlebourne Town Council will be Oct. 9, 7 p.m.