The Montevallo City Council met Monday, Nov. 9, for their regularly scheduled, biweekly meeting. The council met to discuss the set agenda topic as well as field the concerns of citizens who chose to attend the meeting. The council met both in person and via Zoom, with the meeting livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page.
During the meeting, Mayor Rusty Nix proclaimed the month of November as Runaway Prevention Month. Runaway Prevention Month was created by the National Runaway Safeline – a federally recognized national communication system for runaway and homeless youth. The month is meant to draw awareness to the issues that affect homeless youth, as well as educate the public on the role they play in ending youth homelessness.
During the citizens address portion of the meeting, Russell Bedsole, the Republican candidate for the Alabama House of Representatives District 49 seat, came before the council asking that they remind citizens to vote in the upcoming special election for the District 49 seat on Tuesday, Nov. 17. This election is between Bedsole and Democratic candidate Cheryl Patton. This District 49 seat has been vacant since former Republican representative, April Weaver, was appointed as a regional director in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. District 49 covers portions of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties.
The council also discussed a housing abatement consideration for 98 Western Drive. A complaint was filed in September that a mobile home had been moved onto the lot at 98 Western Drive. This lot lies in an area zoned by the city as a single-family residential district where manufactured homes are prohibited; a rule established in 2012 when the city changed zoning laws.
However, there was previously a mobile home on this lot before this zoning law was put into place. This mobile home sustained damage and needed to be replaced, and could’ve been replaced under the current zoning law if the owners had taken the action to do so within the span of a year. But, as Kristine Goddard, a planner with Shelby County Planning, pointed out, aerial photos of the area haven’t shown a mobile home structure on the property in question since 2017.
The city has received a letter from the doctor of the family who moved the mobile home onto the lot, Dr. Michael J. Turner, asking that the family be permitted to move the mobile home onto the property because of their son’s need for around-the-clock medical care. A family member had volunteered to provide this care and was planning on moving into the mobile home. It is unclear on whether the family in question is homeless or not.
Council members Leila Mitchell and Kenneth Dukes were the most vocal sympathizers with the family, with Mitchell saying, “I can sympathize with them. I haven’t been homeless before, but I know a lot of people who’ve been homeless,” and Dukes emphasizing that the family has a special situation and that there had previously been a mobile home on this lot for years.
After much discussion, the council voted to allow the mobile home to move onto the property.
The council also discussed reopening Parnell Memorial Library, which has been closed to the public because of COVID-19. While library director Savanah Kitchens assured the council that the library staff were “ready and willing” to reopen to the public, she requested the library delay reopening until the Alabama Department of Health has determined Shelby County to have a low COVID-19 risk in order to better protect the staff and patrons. Currently, Shelby County is categorized as very high risk.
Council member David King suggested a limited reopening schedule, where the library would be open to public for 50% of its normal operating hours. This idea was voted on and passed by the council. Mask wearing and social distancing will be mandatory within the library. The library will still offer curbside pick-up for patrons who do not wish to go into the library, as well as hold virtual events, such as virtual story times.
The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 23, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page. Citizens may also attend the meeting in person at City Hall, however there will be limited seating and social distancing protocols put in place.