RED SPRINGS — Action was taken Thursday on flooding mitigation on Thurlow Street, recouping the cost of cutting people’s lawns, pet control and chickens inside town limits, and goodbyes were said to the mayor and one commissioner during the Board of Commissioners meeting here.
Board members approved moving $5,800 out of the street maintenance budget in order to fund an environmental assessment that will dictate what action can be taken to prevent flooding on Thurlow Street.
“The assessment will determine if the land next to Thurlow Street is wetlands,” Town Manager James Bennett said.
A plan to mitigate the flooding can be developed once the wetlands issue is settled.
Bennett told board members the money will be reimbursed to streets maintenance once the $350,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency money is received. That money is coming to the town to fund rehabilitation of the town’s water plant, which was damaged by Hurricane Matthew.
In another money matter, board members approved imposing a fee on residents who do not repay the city the cost of cutting their poorly maintaned lawns.
The $25-a-day fee would be imposed beginning 10 days after payment had not been received, said Ernest Stephens, the town’s Planning and Zoning director, Codes Enforcement director and building inspector.
“Really, we’re putting something back in,” Mayor John McNeill said.
The penalty was in the old town ordinances book, McNeill said. But it was left out of the current book when it was printed years ago.
“We’ve had cases where people are complaining and we can send a letter, but there’s no teeth in the ordinance,” he said.
Language defining what it means to have a cat or dog “under control” and setting clearer regulations for keeping chickens inside town limits was approved by board members. The new language to be inserted into existed ordinances was proposed by Town Attorney Timothy Smith.
“There is no language defining what ‘under control’ means,” he said.
Inserted will be language that states a cat or dog, not inside a residence, is under control if the animal is chained, on a leash or being held by someone, Smith said.
The attorney proposed repealing the ordinance section that says no chickens can be kept inside town limits.
“We already have chickens in the town,” McNeill said. “And some are running free.”
The amended ordinance will stipulate chickens can’t run free, they and their shelters can’t be visible from the street, and they must be kept at least 30 feet from a neighboring residence.
In other business, the board:
— Tabled discussion of a fee schedule change to address whether or not a property owner will be charged for the collection of trash if the home is not inhabited throughout the year. Board members asked for more information on how many property owners the fee change might affect.
— Were told by Smith they are waiting on two property owners to return signed releases allowing the fire department to burn down two condemned structures.
— Approved a resolution honoring a lifelong Red Springs resident for her upcoming 100th birthday. They also gave Thelma Lewis, whose birthday is Nov. 18, a key to the city. Lewis was not at the meeting. Her son Robert accepted the resolution and key on her behalf.
After business was concluded, board members said goodbye to Commissioner Eula McNeill and Mayor McNeill. It was the final regular meeting for Commissioner McNeill, who has served on the board for 22 years. Mayor McNeill is retiring after 42 years of service as a board member and mayor.
“I have been overwhelmed by your support,” Commissioner McNeill said.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed serving,” Mayor McNeill said.
Board members spoke highly of the commissioner and mayor. A prominent theme in their words was the experience the board is losing.
“Lots of knowledge we’re going to lose on the board,” Commissioner Duron Burney said.
Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.