Some Pendergrass residents used a Tuesday morning city council meeting to push for expanded fire protection for the city.

During discussion of the city’s comprehensive plan update July 28, citizens asked about a full-time fire department and more personnel serving the city.

One citizen noted a 30-minute response time to a recent fire.

Russell explained that Pendergrass is served by a fire district — North Jackson — of which the city has no control.

Russell, however, said a full-time fire department serving the city could be a possibility in the future.

“We really feel like as you guys put taxes in there (the fire district), that we will absolutely be able to get a full-time fire department,” Russell said. “We need it. We absolutely need it.”

But Russell also praised the current volunteer fire personnel.

“I’ve been in this city going on 16 years, and I’ll put our fire department up against anybody’s,” Russell said. “These guys are good. They care. They’re fast, and they do a good job.”

One audience member, who is a member of the volunteer fire department, noted that the fire district has an ISO rating of 3.

“You don’t get an ISO rating of 3 and have slow response times,” he said.

Russell said a meeting with the fire department and residents will be arranged to further discuss concerns.

The police department was also brought up. The city has a three-man force, down from four, but will look to fill that open position next year.

In a separate issue, the council fielded some complaints about grass-cutting and appearance of a city-owned rental property.

“I promise you we’ll address that,” Russell told one audience member.

Another citizen complained about grass cutting around her neighborhood and landscaping in the town.

As for the comprehensive plan update, Russell said one of the city’s objectives is to attract bigger businesses along Hwy. 129 and bring businesses into downtown district as well.

“Pendergrass’s rural character and small town charm are important, but there is a need to balance this bedroom community character in order to avoid appearing too small or too quiet to prospective businesses and residents,” Russell said, reading from a section of the comprehensive plan.

He also noted a need for more greenspaces and sidewalks in the city, to maintain a mixture of housing options and to encourage the development of stalled neighborhoods.

VOTE ON ZONING MAP DELAYED

The city council tabled a vote on an updated zoning map to allow for further review.

Mayor pro-tem Harlan Robinson told the crowd of about 40 people who attended the meeting that the city will present an updated map that reflects only current zonings of property within the city. The map will be ready in 90 days with more public hearings to follow.

The city also pulled an item concerning home occupation business licenses from the agenda for further discussion.

CITY PASSES IDENTICAL BUDGET TO LAST YEAR

Pendergrass adopted a $474,754 budget that is unchanged from last year. The budget was built around a millage rate of three, which hasn’t changed in 15 years.

Russell worried that the COVID-19 outbreak could hurt two of the city’s revenue sources — franchise fees and local option sales tax (LOST) dollars.

Russell said, “We’re going to keep our fingers crossed,” that the city will generate the budgeted income.

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS NEEDED

The council seeks citizens to serve on a advisory board regarding the land use management code, including zoning and land use items.

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