By Cady Inabinett
The Montevallo City Council had a lengthy agenda at their Jan. 24 meeting, with three public hearings and an executive session occurring.
The first public hearing pertained to the modification of Article 23.06 to require business development landscape plans to be prepared by a landscape architect land planner, certified civil engineer or horticultural professional licensed by the state of Alabama in landscape design.
Council member David King spoke on the subject, saying that it gives businesses flexibility in landscape design planning, but still protects the city because committees still have to review plans.
No citizens spoke on the subject.
Later in the meeting, the council unanimously voted to approve the amendment.
The second public hearing was a request form Montevallo Police Officer Mike Wilder to declare a residence on Waller Street as a public nuisance due to multiple violations of the Montevallo Zoning Ordinance, including the improper storage of machinery in a residential area, improper storage of vehicles in the front yard of the residence and trash and debris in the front yard of the residence.
Wilder said that issues with the property have been occurring for over year, and that he has sent several certified letters informing the resident of his violations in addition to talking to the resident in person.
“I’ve seen him several time cleaning up, so I’d give him a little more time to get it done. But, sure enough, I’d come back and it’d be in a mess again,” Wilder said.
Montevallo resident C.P. Pierson spoke in favor of declaring the residence as a public nuisance, saying, “I agree with Officer Wilder, that particular area is a nuisance. Officer Wilder says it’s been about a year or so. It’s been longer than that. Okay, I used to— I retired— drive a school bus back in 2017. I used to drive in that particular area, and I was wondering, you know, what was going on over there. And, I’m not trying to talk bad about anyone or what have you. But you know, stuff like that shouldn’t be in our city.”
The property owner was not present at the meeting to speak on the matter.
City Clerk Steve Gilbert pointed out that, by declaring the residence as a nuisance, it will allow the property owner to be summoned to municipal court and to have legal action taken against him if he doesn’t comply with the judge’s orders.
Later in the meeting, the council unanimously voted to declare the residence a public nuisance.
The third public hearing regarded a violation of Montevallo’s zoning ordinance prohibiting the parking and storage of commercial vehicles weighing more than one ton in areas zoned as residential areas—in this case, an ambulance vehicle parked at a residence on Pineview Road. Additionally, there were claims that a gravel driveway had been installed to connect the residence to Ashville Road/Highway 119 without the Alabama Department of Transportation’s approval, as well as a business, a trucking company, operating out of the residence without a business license.
Wilder addressed the council on the issue, saying that two vehicles parked on the property have Alabama Search and Rescue tags and that, according to Austin Carpenter, the property owner, they’re used as emergency vehicles. He said that Carpenter would have to show that these vehicles have been designated as emergency vehicles by the Director of Public Safety or the police chief of an incorporated city.
Carpenter was present to discuss the issues with the council. He claimed to have not known about some of the issues, saying, “A lot of this stuff y’all brought up was not brought to my attention before I came today,” including the issues with the emergency vehicle designation.
“We’ve been a quasi-public rescue squad with the Alabama Association of Rescue Squads for over five years now,” Carpenter explained, “They are emergency vehicles. We do respond to law enforcement, state police, game warden, other calls. We have mutual aid agreements with multiple county sheriff’s departments and EMAs across the state. Nobody asked about this until just now.”
He also said that the vehicle in question is not a commercial vehicle, saying, “We’re not a business, we’re a non-profit rescue squad under the Alabama Association of Rescue Squads. The registration for the vehicle states that it’s a rescue vehicle. Alabama law states that a commercial motor vehicle is a vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds used for commerce. We do not use it for commerce. We’re a non-profit rescue squad, we do not charge for our services.”
Carpenter also claimed that he does not run a trucking company out of the residential location, saying that he had initially listed the residential address on paperwork, but had changed it several months ago.
Council members seemed skeptical of allowing Carpenter to keep the ambulance vehicle on the property. Council member Kenny Dukes remarked, “The relevancy of whether it’s commercial or not is just a part of the process. It wasn’t supposed to be there based off of our coding and zoning. So, I’m 100% in favor of having it moved.”
The council ultimately decided to ask Carpenter to go before the Zoning Board of Adjustments to discuss his challenges with the current zoning procedures.
The council also addressed stray dog issue in the Indian Highlands subdivision, voting to open the bidding process to animal control services to help catch the stray dogs that have been roaming the neighborhood.
Council member Sonya Swords spoke on the impact the dogs have had on the area, saying, “If you ride over in Indiana Highlands there are posters up about missing cats. Multiple missing cats. I’m not saying the dogs are doing it, but it’s an issue.”
Dukes asked if there was someone in the neighborhood feeding the dogs, to which Swords replied, “Yes. I can tell you where she lives.”
In a moment of levity, Mayor Rusty Nix declared, “I’ll give a hundred bucks if somebody’ll turn the dog in. And that’s my personal money. I’ll put up.”
Council members also commented on the dogs’ intelligence, with council member David King saying, “I mean, the fact that a private citizen hasn’t even taken care of it is amazing. It just tells you that that particular group of dogs is savvy,” and council member Martha Eisenberg saying, “They’re smart.”
The meeting concluded with the council moving into an executive session. Executive sessions are closed meeting that are not open to the public. The meeting agenda listed that the session was meant to discuss terms of an economic incentive package.
The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 14, 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.
Cady Inabinett is the managing editor of content for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies and generally just being pretentious in her free time.