​Monteagle Council Appoints Alderman; Addresses Town Beautification

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At its July 31 meeting, the Monteagle Town Council voted to appoint Anna (Susie) Zeman to fill the remaining vacancy on the board of alderman. The council also addressed town beautification issues and passed a telecommunications ordinance and a budget amendment.
The board of alderman vacancies resulted from the resignation of Rusty Leonard and Delores Knott earlier in the year. At the June 26 meeting, the council appointed Chris Ladd to fill one of the two vacancies.
In discussion leading up to the appointment of Zeman, a resident complained the community had “no say so” in the appointment of Ladd and questioned his qualifications.
Ladd replied he was a sheriff’s deputy. “I don’t think you need a college degree to know how to care about people,” Ladd said.
Mayor David Sampley noted the council had the authority to appoint aldermen to serve for the remainder of the term when vacancies occurred.
Zeman worked for the police department for 25 years and previously served two terms as an alderman.
In a related matter, the council passed on first reading an ordinance altering alderman’s terms from four years to two years and eliminating staggering the terms. Aldermen elected to fill seats coming open in 2018 will serve for two years, as will alderman elected to fill seats coming open in 2020.
Turning to town beautification, Monteagle attorney Harvey Cameron presented an ordinance requiring “fencing to screen from view” any vehicles, boats, trailers, etc. “in a junked condition.” The city already had a junkyard fencing ordinance, Cameron explained, but this expanded the ordinance to include residences, wrecker services and other commercial enterprises.
“How long do they have to erect the fence?” asked Vice-Mayor Jessica Blalock.
Cameron suggested giving those in violation of the ordinance 30 days to comply.
The council approved on first reading the amended ordinance stating from the date of notification of violation property owners had 30 days to begin erecting a fence and 60 days to complete the fence, which must be at least six feet tall. There will be no grandfathering-in excluding established businesses from complying.
A resident who recently received a citation for a property maintenance violation objected she had been unfairly “singled out” since a neighboring residence had not been cited.
Building inspector Earl Geary explained that notices of violation “don’t all go out at the same time. It depends on how long it takes me to get contact information and a mailing address.”
Geary asked to be relieved of property maintenance violation enforcement responsibilities, but said he would continue with the duties of codes inspections and issuing building permits.
A visitor reminded the council that at the June meeting he recommended the council appoint someone to assist Geary with property maintenance violation issues.
Sampley said the expense “had not been budgeted for.”
The council approved on second reading a budget amendment removing expenses for projects the council didn’t wish to continue and addressing unbudgeted expenses.
Sampley cited the example of the contested mayoral election, which cost the town $11,000. (Note: Judge Thomas Graham dismissed the case filed by mayoral candidate Marilyn Campbell Rodman when Rodman failed to meet deadlines set for the hearing.)
The council also approved on second reading an ordinance setting standards for telecommunication businesses seeking to locate in Monteagle. In 2016, Geary denied a permit to a telecommunications business with a history of poor performance.
The council meets next on Monday, Aug. 28.