“I wanted to provide very clear guidelines of when and where, under what circumstances, public works crews can help with recovery efforts on private property,” said City Manager Don Hoyt. “Obviously they can do things on the street, public property and so forth.”
Public Works Director Bob Dean said the new municipal law will allow crews to more effectively respond if storms or some other disaster strikes the community.
In the past, the crews were hampered in their efforts to clean up debris if it extended onto the property. They needed the permission of the owner before they could go on the property and if the owner wasn’t immediately available, they’d have to leave it, he said.
The new law allows the city “to waive procedure and formalities otherwise required by law pertaining to the performance of public work…and the appropriation and expenditure of public funds” in times of emergency.
That includes using city crews to help in clean up and rescue efforts, Dean said.
“It’s kind of like the fire department when they go to put out a fire,” Dean said. “They don’t ask for permission to get on the property.”
Dean said the most common problem the crews might deal with would be downed trees. The downed trees may be partially in the road and partially on private property. To completely remove the tree, the city workers would have to go on the private property, Dean said.
The crews would also be authorized to use the public equipment in their efforts, Dean said.
“We have specialized equipment and say if a tree fell on a house and say there’s occupants in that house,” Dean said. “We could just pull the tree off and assist that homeowner.”
Mayor Vaughn Stewart praised the new ordinance before the vote.
“It basically puts the city in a proactive status,” said Stewart.
The council members unanimously approved the ordinance.
In other business the City Council:
• Approved making the intersection of 7th Street and Highland Avenue a four-way stop. It’s now a two-way stop. Motorists’ speed on 7th Street was mentioned during a recent neighborhood meeting as a problem in the Hamilton Park area.
• Approved some administrative changes in the city’s revamped Economic Incentives Development Fund allowing the Revolving Loan Fund Board to have the final decision on loan approval.
• Approved the city’s participation in the state’s sales tax holiday for severe weather preparedness the weekend of Feb. 22.
• Approved the purchase of Monsanto Street, from Alabama 202 to West D Street, for $1 from Calhoun County. The purchase is one step in the process toward creating a bike trail park.
• Renewed the Elks Lodge’s permit to host Bingo.
• Denied a request by a resident for a street light near his property on Franklin Drive.
• Accepted bids from Sunny King Ford for a super cab truck for $21,250 and a crew cab truck for $23,600.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.