Tree removal leaves Council with tough decision

By BUSTER WOLFE,

The question of whether to cut any of three trees next to a house inside a historical district in Hattiesburg was resolved Tuesday after a public hearing and lengthy deliberations when the City Council voted on the side of safety and said all three trees should be cut down.

The trees, which are located at 503 S. 22nd Ave., came into question when homeowner Don Brewster filed an appeal to have all three trees removed after the Hattiesburg Historic Conservation Commission voted on Aug. 9 that only two trees should be taken away.

The debate led to a public hearing Oct. 2 on the merits of saving the trees, when zoning, planning, historic commission and conservation officials testified along with local residents.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Board President Carter Carroll made a motion to approve the removal of the trees, changing the request to include all three trees.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden – who asked for a 15-day delay in a decision on removing the trees – said safety should be the primary concern. Brewster had testified that he was concerned for the safety of his son, who was living in the house.

“It’s been a difficult decision for me,” Dryden said. “I have a lot of respect for the Conservation Commission and its decision, so I am very hesitant about this. In this particular case, I have really studied a lot of aspects of this. The fact that the tree that would be left would be compromised by the removal of the other trees is a really deciding factor for me. … I am concerned that that tree would be more likely to fall.”

Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado said she agreed with Dryden.

“My challenge with that though is that we should always do what is in the best interest of the City of Hattiesburg,” she said. “Looking at the situation and listening to this petitioner, I just felt that in the interest of the safety of this child that those trees need to be removed. I didn’t want us to be in a position of choosing trees over life.”

In other business Tuesday, the City Council:

• Approved Minutes for the Sept. 5, 7, 14, 18 and 19 meetings of the City Council.

• Adopted Resolutions determining the following properties are in such a state of uncleanliness so as to be a menace to the health and safety of the community and providing a specified period of time, as recorded on the Resolutions, to remove violations per the recommendations of the Director of Urban Development. The Properties included, 535 W. Fourth St., 124 E. Seventh St., 601 E. Ninth St., 707 E. Ninth St., 700 Short Ninth St., 315 N. 20th Ave., 702 S. 22nd Ave., 305 Klondyke St., 307 Klondyke St., Golf Course Road, 809 N. 30th Ave., 201 Chestnut Ave., 210 Chestnut Ave., 212 Chestnut Ave., 603 E. Pine St., 2202 A Half Adeline St., 115 Harrell St. and1600 E. Hardy St. I and II.

• Adopted a Resolution establishing petty cash funds effective Oct. 1, and approved issuance of a manual check to each custodian as of Oct. 1.

• Approved a petition filed by Daniel Jussely, Applicant, on behalf of Rob O. Tatum, owner, to request a variance from Article 5, Section 5.3.N. Projecting Signs (A) which states the overall area allocation is 1 square foot per 1 foot of building width, which permits 71.5 square feet of sign area, and instead allow 162.5 square feet of sign area for a variance of 91 square feet of sign area; from Article 5, Section 5.3.N. Projecting Signs (B), which states the maximum sign height for a projecting sign on a building over 3 stories is 12 feet in height and instead allow 28.25 feet in height, for a variance of 16.25 feet in height; and from Article 5, Section 5.3.N. Projecting Signs (D) which states the maximum width of a projecting sign is 4 feet in width and instead allow 5.75 feet in width for a variance of 1.75 feet in width for a certain property located at 103 S. 30th Avenue (Indigo Hotel). The Board of Adjustments recommended to approve on Oct. 4.

•          Approved manpower adjustments for Urban Development Department in accordance with Ordinance No. 3154.

•          Approved creating a second Assistant Police Chief position in the amount of $75,340.

•          Authorized Mayor to execute multiple copies of contract with Precision Construction, LLC for the Pathway Improvements from Train Depot to Chain Park project awarded pending MDOT concurrence at MB 2017-113; plans and specifications approved at MB 2016-291.

•          Acknowledged receipt of appraised values for land parcels required for Temporary and Permanent Easements for the Forrest General - U. S. Highway 49 Project as detailed and approved as fair market value and just compensation; Authorized attorney Hugh Keating of Dukes, Dukes, Keating and Faneca, P. A. to make offers to owners and to execute Establishment of Just Compensation Offers on behalf of the City of Hattiesburg; Authorized issuance of manual checks upon acceptance of offers.

•          Acknowledged receipt of and accepted Mississippi Department of Transportation Grant offer dated Sept. 27 for the Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport Improvement Project in the amount of $56,492; Authorized Mayor to execute Offer Acceptance in triplicate.

•          Acknowledged receipt of Permanent Utility Easement from Eric N. Weill for part of County Tax Parcel No. 052A-03-004.045 for the COMSWIP Sewer Phase V project.

•          Acknowledged receipt of Permanent Utility Easement from Robert and Carolyn Johnson for part of Lot 7 of Block 'A' of Richburg Heights Subdivision (County Tax Parcel No. 052A-03-004.045) for the COMSWIP Sewer Phase V project.,

•          Acknowledged receipt of Notice of Adoption of the Motor Vehicle Assessment Schedule received from the Mississippi Department of Revenue and adopt same for the City of Hattiesburg for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2017 and ending Sept. 31, 2018; authorized publication of public notice setting a hearing for Nov. 20, 2017 before the council to hear complaints or objections to the adoption of the Motor Vehicle Assessment Schedule.

•          Ratified and confirmed the Mayor's appointment of Torsky Williams to the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission, for a five-year term beginning Oct. 17, 2017 and ending Oct. 16, 2022.

•          Ratified and confirmed the Mayor's appointment of Fei Xue to the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission beginning Oct. 17, 2017 and ending Feb. 16, 2020.

•          Ratified and confirmed the Mayor's appointment of Adrienne Hicks Garanich to the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission, for a five-year term beginning Oct. 17, 2017 and ending Oct. 16, 2022.

•          Acknowledged receipt of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development report of monitoring of the City of Hattiesburg's CDBG and Home programs, conducted on-site Aug. 29-31.

•          Authorized the Mayor to execute mutual aid agreement between Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center Fire Department and the City of Hattiesburg Fire Department for mutual aid in fire prevention and emergency services.

•          Authorized application to the U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Aviation Administration for a grant for the construction of Taxiway Extension Part 2 of the Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport; Authorized Mayor to execute multiple originals of preapplication and application.

•          Authorized Mayor to execute maintenance agreement with Blue Dolphin Pools, Inc for swimming pools and fountain maintenance at various locations owned by the City of Hattiesburg.

•          Acknowledged receipt of bid received on Sept. 28 for legal advertising for the City of Hattiesburg and accept the bid from The Hattiesburg Post as the best and only bid received.

•          Approve the sale of grave spaces.

•          Approved and authorized issuance of manual checks for CDBG Program Claims.

Approve claims docket for the period ending Oct. 13.

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