Local developer confronts city on road maintenance

The Magee Board of Aldermen heard from local developer Chris Lane about a road situation at their board meeting Tuesday night, Jan. 16. 

Lane became loud and boisterous during the meeting, stating that the city did not favor economic development because they would not maintain the roads in Cypress Point Estates, Lane’s subdivision off 11th Ave. NW. 

Lane presented a bill for $2,040 to the city from March 2017 and asked the city to reimburse him for gravel he had taken to the subdivision because residents’ vehicles were getting muddy making it to their homes.  Lane said he had deeded the road through the subdivision to the city and it is the city’s responsibility to maintain it.  Members had previously discussed whether the road had been built to standard before it was deeded to the city. 

They also discussed whether the subdivision conforms to fire and sewer codes.  Lane said he had paid to have it brought to standard, that city employees had provided the work and that he had provided the materials.

Board members agreed that as soon as they could after the winter weather that hit the area last week, they would send city equipment over to improve the roads.  Lane said that someone had texted him that the city had not acted on his request and that was the reason he had come to the meeting.

City Attorney Bruce Smith told Lane that the city could not pay for the gravel after the fact, but that if the road was in fact deeded to the city, then it is the city’s responsibility, not his. 

Mayor Dale Berry had placed the issue of food trucks selling products in Magee on the agenda, stating that a decision needed to be made on where they could operate and what the guidelines should be for their operation.  Because this is a new issue that has not been addressed by zoning, it would require a new ordinance, according to David Dunn, zoning administrator.  A workshop is planned for the city board to meet with the zoning board to discuss the issue.  The meeting is open to the public and is set for Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 6 p.m.

Signage issues also were discussed.  The city adopted new standards for signs when they adopted new zoning codes.  The maximum sign size is 160 square feet.  Carol Berry, who purchased industrial property on Highway 49 in the former industrial park, wanted a variance on his property for signage. 

Dunn cautioned the board about approving the noncompliant signage.  Other such requests have been denied, he said, and approving Berry’s sign could set the city up for potential lawsuits.  Dunn also told the board that requests of that nature should first come through the zoning board to the city. 

The board approved opening the Four North Voting Precinct for cold weather emergencies as a place for homeless people to shelter in the event that the temperature drops below 25 degrees.  The board discussed using the YMCA building for that purpose, but for the time being the police department was deemed a better option. 

The board approved a $50 fee for food vendors to set up during the Ride the Block event to be launched  March 2 and  continue for the next four months. 

The board approved hiring Lauren Welch as a certified parttime dispatcher for the Magee Police Department. 

The city is planning an auction for surplus equipment and seized vehicles.  They opted to allow May and Associates to sell the vehicles and Hollingsworth to sell the equipment. 

The board approved an action by Mayor Berry in hiring Kara Kimbrough of Magee for $500 to make application for a federal grant being administered by Sen. Thad Cochran’s office.  Berry said the city could have made application but that Kimbrough had made successful application for grants on behalf of the city in the past.  The board approved Berry’s action.

 Berry advocated that board members attend the annual Mississippi Municipal Alliance meeting on the Coast.  He suggested staying at the Hard Rock Hotel over the Beau Rivage. 

Berry said he was going to place the cost of curb and guttering on the agenda for the next meeting.  He said he believes the current charge of $8 per foot is too cheap and that it should be closer to $23 per foot, which is closer to the actual cost.