Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Slaughters Commission discusses nuisance properties

J-E News Editor
Slaughters Commission met for their regular monthly meeting last Tuesday. During the public appeals portion of the meeting, commissioners heard from Sheila Hughes, the custodian of a piece of property in the city. She reported that she recently received a letter from the city asking for the property to be mowed.

“We try to keep the property cleaned up and mowed,” Hughes said. “Earlier this year CSX dumped a load of gravel on our property. Some of it is pretty large. If I higher someone to come down and mow it, that gravel could do a lot of damage to their equipment. Damage that I would be responsible for.”
“We’re thankful that you came to us,” said Mayor Jeff Coomes. “What makes us nervous about the nuisance ordinance is when people fail to respond. We don’t want you to damage any equipment trying to get the property mowed.”
“I go through there all the time,” said commissioner Kenneth Wells. “You can see where CSX has been inching over onto that property.”
The commission ask that Hughes keep them in the loop as she tries to get the situation worked out with the railroad. She said that this is the second time she has had trouble with CSX. Following a train derailment in the area last year, railroad equipment caused some major damage to the property that also hindered the mowing process.
The commission spent several minutes looking at photos the mayor had taken of properties around Slaughters that were in violation of the nuisance ordinance. Most of them just needed to be mowed, but a went few beyond that.
According to Coomes, the odor at one property was so bad “you can smell it from the road.”
In other business, City Clerk Terri Link informed the commission that Slaughters had received a $35,000 park grant. That money can be used for park equipment and improvements. It will become available on July 1, 2014.
Commissioners had several ideas on how to use the money, but it was a suggestion from the mayor that seemed to catch the most attention.
“The city owns a piece of property across the creek from the park,” he reported. “We will never do anything with that half acre, but we have to mow it every year. If we could build a bridge across the creek we could add that to the park. We could put some swings over there and maybe even extend the walking trail.”
The commission decided to seek rough estimates on exactly how much such a bridge would cost.
In other business, the commission voted on the first reading of the 2014-2015 budget. Slaughters is looking at a balanced budget of around $326,600. The bulk of that is in the Water Department Fund, which will make up $200,000 of the budget.