Monteagle Council Discusses Fire Department Needs and Rezoning at Workshop

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At a Feb. 15 town hall workshop, the Monteagle City Council discussed Monteagle Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) needs and the planning commission’s rezoning recommendation. Both are agenda items for the regular council meeting on Monday, Feb. 22. The council also addressed questions about the beer ordinance, repairs to a culvert drain basin, and a complaint from the local garden club.

Fireman Skyler Meeks requested permission to purchase three sets of turnout gear and to do hose repair on the engine. Skyler said one of the department’s eight sets of gear was “out of date” and two more would be soon. Alderman Nate Wilson asked for expiration date information on all the turnout gear for budgeting purposes. “We don’t want [fireman] out there with anything that might be out of date or harmful to them,” Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman said. Meeks will provide price quotes on the gear and hose repair for the Feb. 22 meeting. Meeks estimated the turnout gear cost at $2,500-$3,000 per set.

Rodman reported she spoke with David Green, former Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department Chief, who indicated willingness to help the MVFD with training. Wilson asked for a list of what the department needed help with to aid the council in writing a job description.

Regarding the two planning commission zoning recommendations, Rodman said a public hearing would be held and signage posted at the sites proposed for rezoning. One rezoning would facilitate RBT Enterprises constructing a 20-acre travel center catering to truck drivers. “I hope RBT will bring more detailed plans at the meeting next week that address homeowners’ concerns,” Wilson said.

Wilson brought up a request by Sarah Ambrose to change the beer ordinance. Ambrose plans to open a wine and cheese shop. She also wants to sell beer, but is prohibited from doing so because her location is located within 300 feet of a church property. City recorder Debbie Taylor said the city followed the state recommendation on liquor permits, but a city ordinance regulated beer sales. Rodman asked Taylor to seek advice from the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) on changing the beer ordinance.

Raising another resident’s question, Wilson asked if repair was planned for a culvert area on First Street behind Builders Supply “where the side of the road is sluffing off.” Street superintendent Keith Butner said the culvert would need to be dug up and a larger catch basin installed—“It should have been done different to start with,” he said.

Taking up a complaint from the garden club about destruction of flowers in Harton Park, Rodman said the garden club wanted a contract guaranteeing flowers planted wouldn’t be destroyed, $500 for soil and starter plants, and an apology. Alderwoman Jessica Favaloro explained the previous administration told the garden club their services were no longer needed when they complained about the flower destruction. Taylor confirmed the money could come from the Parks and Recreation budget. “I have no problem with an apology, even though we didn’t do it,” Rodman said.

With icy conditions in the forecast, the council discussed two severe winter weather issues. Butner said the city had a small salt spreader but lacked the manpower and equipment to salt all the streets. Police Chief Jack Hill raised a question about housing people needing shelter given COVID-19 distancing restrictions. Taylor will consult MTAS for advice.

The council accepted Rodman’s recommendation to postpone the question about deed restrictions at the ballpark. Wilson said more research was needed.

Rodman proposed a calendar listing city sponsored events to give businesses and residents an opportunity to choose what to donate to and volunteer for. The calendar would also include other events occurring in Monteagle.

Rodman also proposed a citizens’ committee to review city ordinances to tailor them to the city’s needs and increasing mayor and alderperson terms from two years to four years, with alderperson terms staggered. “You don’t get anything done in two years,” Rodman said. Alderwoman Dorraine Parmley noted staggered terms would provide for continuity on the council.

Favaloro announced books could not be recycled at the Monteagle convenience center, but could be taken to the Joyce Lane center in Winchester.