The Maysville City Council voted Monday night not to move forward with adoption of regulations that would address property nuisances.
The Maysville Planning and Zoning Commission initiated an effort to request the city council adopt regulations regarding nuisance property.
After listening to a number of citizens from the crowd at the public hearing held Monday night speak in favor of the ordinance, and one citizen voicing opposition, the city council voted unanimously not to move forward with adoption of the proposed ordinance.
At a recent public hearing, the Maysville Planning and Zoning Commission approved recommendations for an ordinance that would require property owners to clean up dilapidated buildings and abandoned properties.
During a council work session held January 30, Mayor Richard Presley questioned how the planning and zoning commission proposes the city pay for improvements initiated by adoption of the regulations. Presley said a feasibility study has not been conducted by the board to determine what kind of money the city will be spending. If the nuisance ordinance was adopted and regulations were enforced, the city would ultimately be responsible for the upfront cost for demolition and improvements to bring certain properties up to code. The city would then have to take action against the property owner to re-coop the expense and this could take some time.
Presley said the city collected a little over $28,000 in property taxes last year.
“We struggle working a budget, to make that budget work with collecting no more taxes,” said Presley. “Everybody at this table would like to see a refurbishing of somewhat – but to put a burden on the people of the town, especially the elderly on a fixed income – I want some questions answered.”
Councilmember Kathleen Bush said the city’s priority at this time is to improve infrastructure such as paving streets and replacing an aging water system.
Banks County resident, Cliff Joliff said one of the visions the council approved in the city comprehensive plan is to have Maysville restored to a place where people want to come shop and eat and one of the items listed as ways to accomplish this is through nuisance and historic overlay regulations.
Joliff made reference to a downtown development authority and a historical committee that are no longer in existence. Joliff said these are two entities that could help the council with the nuisance and historic overlay issues.
Councilman Junior Hardy said he feels like the planning commission should present the council with a plan reflecting the location of lots in need of attention and a cost analysis for improvements.
During a public hearing held February 3, Maysville Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Vance Holifield agreed additional consideration will need to be given to the recommendations and how the city can pay for enforcing the ordinance, but the city needs to adopt some kind of regulations to require clean up of dilapidated buildings.
Holifield went on to say the 2018 comprehensive plan detailed specific areas and concerns regarding dilapidated and unsafe buildings. Holifield said the city is two years into the plan and no updates have been made and the proposed ordinance would address these issues.
Holifield said there are citizens willing to volunteer to help those property owners that were not financially or physically able to make improvements, but assistance from the city would also be required.
Trent Perry spoke in favor of the regulations. Perry, owner of a 164-year-old home, said he operates a business in his house and has more and more customers that are visiting his home. Perry said he would like for those customers to have the ability to drive to his property and not have to see some of the dilapidated and unsafe buildings along the way.
April Sutton, speaking on behalf of a group of citizens in support of the proposed nuisance ordinance, asked the council to adopt the regulations and encouraged citizens to come together as a community and work hand in hand with the city council to leave a legacy of community, prosperity and history for the next generation.
Quoting comments made by Mayor Presley prior to the recent city election, city resident Jenna Gray said Presley stated residential and industrial growth would be a top challenge for the council during the next 10 years and to be successful, the city would need a 10-year vision. Gray quoted Presley as saying five goals are needed in order to accomplish this vision. These goals include, creating a business-friendly environment to restore the economic potential of current businesses, protection of open spaces through conservation planning, preservation and celebration of Maysville’s small town heritage, redevelopment and improvement of the city infrastructure and last, development of community facilities to enhance quality of life for residents and visitors. Gray encouraged Presley to act upon his promises to preserve and restore Maysville.
Other citizens spoke of health hazards such as rodent and mosquito infestations, noting such issues can be handled by the health department through state health regulations.
One citizen spoke against the proposed regulations. Teri Trudnak said she is not in favor of raising property taxes to pay for improvements initiated by adoption of the nuisance regulations.
Councilman Scott Harper said, although something will eventually have to be done, now is not the time. Harper said there are people in the town that cannot pay their water bill and an additional property tax would be a burden to those citizens.
In the end, the council voted unanimously against adoption of nuisance regulations as presented by the planning commission.
The planning commission also recommends the city council approve a historical overlay district.
Holifield said the reason for recommendation of the historical overlay is because recent commercial construction in the city showed the lack of ability to direct building construction design.
The ordinance would create appropriate development and design guidelines to protect the historic appearance and character of the city. These regulations were not presented for consideration at this time in order for the board to receive additional citizen input.
HOME TOWN TAKEOVER
In other business, Maysville resident, Laura White, is on a mission to make Maysville the next project for Home Town Takeover. Producers of a sequel to the original series, Home Town, are conducting a nationwide search for a community in need of restoration and revitalization. White encouraged citizens to go to the Hometown Takeover website and submit requests for Maysville to be considered for a makeover. If selected, the crew would be in the city for about six months, filming a minimum of six episodes. To qualify, a city must have a population of less than 40,000 people with buildings and homes that are in need of some TLC. White said this is one way to help with some of the dilapidated buildings and houses in the city.
Other action by the council included,
•acceptance of a bid of $2,403 from James Outz to tint windows in the City Hall building.
•approval of an increase from $35 to $40 for Jackson County Sheriff’s Office jail housing fees.