Eutaw City Council takes another step closer to zoning for industry on Sumter Veneer site

 By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

   At its regular meeting on Tuesday, August 24, 2010, the Eutaw City council by a vote of 4 to 2 took another step toward approving a change in zoning from M-1 (light industry) to M-2 (heavy industry) for the former Sumter Veneer site on Prairie Avenue adjoining the railroad in the city limits.

Elam Properties proposes to use the site to house a new scrap metal and tire recycling business.

The Eutaw City Council took this action despite the opposition of city residents who live near the site including people who live in the newly constructed Rosie Carpenter Haven. They complained of the potential noise and pollution to be generated by the new industry which will initially create only a small number of jobs.

When the item came up on the agenda, Mayor Steele asked the Council members who supported the zoning change if they had brought a written copy of the ordinance so the correct wording could be voted on by the Council.

Councilwoman Hattie Edwards said, “the majority of the Council voted for this ordinance at the last meeting and we thought you or Mike Smith, the City Attorney, would draw up the appropriate resolution for us to vote on at today’s meeting. This is the general procedure we have followed in the past so we thought you as Mayor would handle this for us”.

Mayor Steele who opposes the rezoning said that he didn’t prepare the resolution because he did not know what it should say.

Attorney Smith said he needed a legal description of the site to be re-zoned to prepare an ordinance. He was provided with a copy of the legal description.

 The Mayor read a news clipping from the Tuscaloosa News about a fire at a scrap yard in Tuscaloosa and said the proposed site in Eutaw was a dangerous and hazardous place to locate this kind of industry because of its closeness to adjoining residences.

Mayor Steele said he was not opposed to the new business but that it needed to be located somewhere else away from local residents. He said he had a petition from residents of O’Neal and Vera Vista Streets as well as Rosie Carpenter Haven opposing re-zoning of the location.

Hattie Edwards proposed a motion seconded by David Spencer that the City Attorney draw up the necessary ordinance for the re-zoning of the site for Elam Properties. This was approved by a 4-2 vote. With Edwards, Spencer, Ralph Liverman and Sheila Smith voting in favor and Joe L. Powell and Mayor Steele voting against. This means the City Council will be able to vote on the correct wording at its next meeting on September 7, 2010,  which slows down the company’s plans to move forward with the development.

 In the public comment period, several residents of the area spoke against the re-zoning. Mr. Thomas Morris of Rosie Carpenter Haven said, “ the proposed junkyard is unacceptable. It will keep us up all night with the noise and the smell. we do not need it but our voices are not being heard.”

 Ms. Linda Davis of O’Neal Street said to the Council, “search your hearts; would you want this facility in your neighborhood. Do you care how we feel; it only matters when we vote.” Woody Browder former owner of Sumter Veneer said, “ the use of the property by the new industry will be safer and less hazardous than Sumter Veneer.” Others said that a recycling business was needed to clear up waste, scrap and tires in the county.

Ms. Rosie Carpenter said, “This rezoning is ridiculous. You are putting this in a neighborhood where Black people live because you don’t care.”

In other business, the Eutaw City Council:

*Tabled action on water rates for Southfresh Catfish Processing until it could study data on setting commercial water rates in other municipalities.

*Approved a retail off premises beer and wine license for Humarah LLC, the new operator of the Eutaw Bait Shop.

* Tabled action on board appointments; and set a working meeting on this and other matters for Friday, September 10, 2010.

 * Agreed to advertise the position of part-time City Building Inspector, on an hourly fee basis, for no more than two days a week.

*Heard a report from the Mayor that the Boligee Sewer improvement project and the Eutaw sidewalks project, which are financed by Federal grants would begin soon.

 *Heard that the City’s application for six new police cars would be considered in the first round of funding in the 2011 Federal fiscal year which begins on October 1, 2010.

 *Heard a complaint from Ms. Jackie Allen in the public comments session that the Black section of the city cemetery on Mesopotamia Street was being neglected and not properly maintained. Allen who said she had relatives buried in the cemetery wanted it better kept so relatives and other members of the public could pay proper respect to the deceased.

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