Archived Story

Council hears from frustrated property owner

Published 1:42pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Property owner Ray Carlisle shared his frustrations with the city council Monday night, disputing the Alexander City Fire Department’s stance about his property on Washington Street – the old Special Service Vending building.

Carlisle, who is attempting to rent the building as a gymnastics center, said it was his opinion, as well as that of an architect he hired to inspect the property, that the 16,000-square-foot building should be classified as a “B” designation – thus removing him from the requirements of having a sprinkler system or fire walls installed. Carlisle said installing such items on a property that would not be highly populated would be “cost prohibitive.”

Council members asked Fire Chief Kem Jones to explain the situation from the fire department’s standpoint.

“It’s an assembly classification and an A3. With that being said, it classifies as an A3 no matter what,” Jones said. “You can’t just change it – I mean, a garage is a garage is a garage. You can’t put a garage in a business that houses something other than a garage. It’s still a garage.”

Carlisle said he was willing to enter into a legal agreement to release the city from any legal repercussions should accidents occur there, but Jones said this was not possible.

“My priority here in the city as a whole is to see the building occupied rather than not occupied,” Jones said. “But at the same time, the safety of the citizens and children in the community is what I’m charged with … We have to enforce the code. I don’t want you to be negative toward the city or the fire department because we try to enforce the rules as fairly as we can.”

“I’m done with this after tonight,” Carlisle said. “That sounds great, but that’s not what your actions have shown.”

The council also unanimously approved a resolution that will allow the city to provide software, training and support so citizens can pay their utilities online.

“Cost to the city is $500 flat fee per month. It will increase once we get above 500 online payments per month, but you will have an option to select an online version of the bill, which will save the city paper and postage,” said Finance Director Steve Hays.

Hays said once the agreement was completed with Springbrook Software, the city would test the software exclusively with its employees to work out any potential issues before opening it up to the public.

“We plan on testing this for city hall employees for at least three months to try to break the system and see what happens when we pay late … so we can make sure we know what’s going to happen when we give the product to the broad customer base,” Hays said.

The council also:

- unanimously voted to adopt new policies and procedures for the city cemetery, with the ordinance going into effect May 1

- amended the capital budget of the Alexander City Gas Department by $420,000 to cover the relocation of natural gas pipelines in the Scott Road area. City Engineer Gerard Brewer explained that the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation Improvement Program (ATRIP) grant requires guard rails to be installed because of other work being done in the Scott Road, Coley Creek Road and Sunny Level Cutoff areas, which would interfere with the current gas pipeline in that area.

- waived business licenses for two vendors for Alexander City Parks and Recreation Baseball/Softball’s Babe Ruth League opening day festivities

- amended gas service with Transco, as Transco had leakages at its Eminence Storage Field in Covington County, Ga., and was forced to close four of its seven caverns and can no longer deliver quantities of gas stated in its original contract. City officials said this will not affect Alexander City’s gas service or prices.

- awarded a bid for a new backhoe/loader for the gas department to Thompson Tractor of Opelika for 494,077

- rejected a bid from Peach State Ambulance of Tyrone, Ga., for a new ambulance for the fire department, and approved the purchasing agent to negotiate for the vehicle within the city’s budgeted amount of $110,000

- approved $11,700 to be added to the capital budget for the engineering department for an environmental assessment, wetlands survey, cultural resources and geologic research and seismic refraction survey for property near the old Avondale Mills area. Community Developer Randy Thomas said the city will consider purchasing the property if it meets the needs of the city.

“This is just another tool in our economic development toolbox, and I’m proud to see this,” said District 6 Councilman Tony Goss.

- approved Mayor Charles Shaw to execute a $99,000 engineering agreement with the firm of Engineering, Environmental and Forestry Services Company to evaluate three bridges/culverts which may be eligible for ATRIP grants

- awarded a bid to Holman Floor of Alexander City to carpet the main floor of city hall for $25,569

- appointed District 1 Councilman Bobby Tapley as voting delegate, District 2 Councilwoman Sherry Ellison-Simpson as first alternate voting delegate and District 5 Councilman Jim Spann as second alternate voting delegate for the May 20 annual business session of the Alabama League of Municipalities Convention

- granted a travel advance of $2,500 to the Alexander City Police Department so officer Tommy Lovett can attend the 253rd session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

- heard from Art 4 All Founder Hannah Walton, and Shaw declared March as Youth Art Month

- heard a request from Steve Harris, who asked the city to extend gas services to Dean and Rob roads. Council members said they would get the gas department to conduct a survey in the area to see if extending the line would be a fruitful option for the city.