RECESS MEETING OF APRIL 16, 2019
Be it remembered that the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Ocean Springs met in a Recess Meeting at City Hall in the City of Ocean Springs at 6:00 p.m. on April 16, 2019. Mayor Dobson presiding, Aldermen Cox, Gill, Authement, Bellman, Papania, Blackman, and Impey were present. Also present were City Clerk Patty Gaston and City Attorney Kevin Melchi.
The Mayor called the meeting to order.
Alderman Papania gave the invocation and the Mayor led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to accept the Addendum to the Agenda.
Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Authement and unanimously carried to go into public hearing. Anastasia Zielinski, owner of the property located at 418 Martin Avenue, said that the property is for sale and they are negotiating with a potential buyer who would like to purchase and restore the home. She requested a thirty day extension to allow the possibility of selling the home. She would prefer that the property not be demolished but if it is, she would like to salvage the wood. The Planning/Grants Administrator explained that Archives & History would have to approve demolition and that she would begin the approval process with a notice of intent as a contingency if the potential sale of the property falls through. Alderman Blackman asked the owner to come back in thirty days to give an update.
Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to come out of Public Hearing.
Motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Blackman and unanimously carried to proceed with property clearing at 418 Martin Avenue but to give the homeowners thirty days to potentially sell the home.
Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Authement and unanimously carried to go into public hearing. Carolyn Brou Gautier, owner of the property located at 420 Jackson Avenue, said that she has had some work done on the home and while repairing the front porch it was determined that the entire porch would have to be replaced and she is trying to locate period cypress wood to match the existing materials. Work is currently halted as she has had problems with her contractor. Alderman Authement said that the neighbors have been complaining and want the exterior of the house repaired. She said she asked the Building Official about permits and he told her that she needs a building permit because there is structural damage but she has not applied for one. Alderman Authement said her contractor should know that she needs a permit and apply for one. She said she will contact her contractor about it. Alderman Authement said that he does not want the house demolished but repaired to look like the other houses in the neighborhood.
Brou Gautier, son of Carolyn Brou Gautier, said that his mother’s intent is to repair the house which was damaged in Hurricane Katrina. It will take some time to locate the period wood that is needed for the repairs. He and his siblings are committed to repair the house and help their mother return it back to its historical nature.
Motion made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to come out of Public Hearing.
Motion made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to proceed with property clearing at 420 Jackson Avenue and to give the homeowners thirty days to obtain a building permit to get work done due to a finding that the structure in its current state is a menace to public health, safety, and welfare.
Ms. Gautier said there are four sycamore trees on public property in front of her house that need to be trimmed or removed as the roots are destructive and a safety issue. The Mayor said he would look into it.
The City Attorney explained that the motion made regarding the lot cleaning at 418 Martin Avenue should include language with "a finding that the structure in its current state being a menace to public health, safety, and welfare.”
Motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Blackman and unanimously carried to rescind the motion to proceed with property clearing at 418 Martin Avenue but to give the homeowners thirty days to potentially sell the home.
Motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to proceed with property clearing at 418 Martin Avenue but to give the homeowners thirty days to potentially sell the home with a finding that the structure in its current state is a menace to public health, safety, and welfare.
Melvin Chipley, Technical Accounts Manager with AGJ Systems & Networks, gave an overview of the past 90 days of technical service. He explained that because Windows 7.0 is coming to end of life January 14, 2020, the city recently purchased sixty-six computers, forty-six monitors, seven Chrome books and four laptops to replace aging systems which will be installed before the end of the year. Security awareness training has been rolled out for all e-mail end users for anti-spam and anti-phishing. The Mayor commended their service.
The Code Enforcement Officer gave an update on 176 Linda Circle and said ten notices have been mailed in the last two years and four extensions have been granted to allow the owner to repair the house. No additional work has been completed since the issue was discussed last month. The homeowner, Mr. Jerry Goff, spoke and said that he has been ill but his health is improving and he can have the repairs done in a few weeks. Alderman Bellman said that if some progress on the repairs has not been made by the next meeting on May 7, 2019, the house will have to come down.
The Code Enforcement Officer gave an update on 1014 Robinson Street and said the house was damaged in a fire on November 22, 2016. A public hearing for lot cleaning of the property was held on August 1, 2017. The owner subsequently received a grant which was utilized to partially install the roof. Another public hearing for lot cleaning was held on January 15, 2019. The homeowner, Clarence Bolling, spoke and said that he lived in the house his whole life and does not want it to be torn down. He has not been able to work on the house and is having financial difficulty but has purchased windows. Alderman Gill requested that because there are a lot of downtown events and the house is an eyesore, that the front of the house be repaired. Alderman Authement asked how long it would take to make the repairs and Mr. Bolling said he will have to find workers. Alderman Cox suggested that he contact Greg Gipson for assistance and the Mayor asked Mr. Bolling to keep the city updated Alderman Authement said the outside of the house needs to be repaired and a building permit needs to be obtained which will give him 180 days to complete the project.
Alderman Gill began a discussion of appointments to the Tree Committee and said there are currently two vacancies on the committee which need to be filled so there can be a quorum. He suggested changing the ordinance to include two city employees as members of the committee. Alderman Blackman said there was discussion last year of composing Tree Committee of five city employees. Alderman Papania said there are currently several citizens serving on the committee and recommended allowing them to serve the remainder of their term and then fill the slots with city employees. The City Attorney said the change to the composition of the committee would necessitate an ordinance change which he will draft for the next board meeting. Alderman Gill said the remaining terms of the three citizens currently serving on the committee will expire in June 2019 and June 2020. Ray Bellande suggested that volunteers be paid to serve on the boards and commissions or the Aldermen could perform the duty and serve.
Alderman Authement began a discussion of advertising Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a Natural Disaster Consultant and Natural Storm Debris Monitor which he said would only be utilized in the event of a natural disaster. The City Clerk will compose the RFQ’s and said these services would only be deployed in a major storm. The Mayor asked if the RFQ could be written and advertised before the next meeting. The City Attorney recommended that a committee be formed consisting of the Mayor and two or three Aldermen to approve the RFQ’s before advertising. Following discussion, it was determined that the committee will be composed of the Mayor, Alderman Authement and Alderman Bellman. Motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to advertise for an RFQ for a Natural Disaster Consultant. Motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to advertise for an RFQ for a Natural Storm Debris Monitor.
The Planning/Grant Administrator explained the appeal of the stop work order of the Building Official for 112 Seaside Drive PID# 61466001.000 (Exhibit 5-a) and said the issue was considered by the Zoning & Adjustment Board which resulted in a tied vote. The developer, Chris Eaton, said that he has a building permit based on the plans and the guest house is decaying because of the stop work order. The City Planner said the order was issued based on the inquiry of a neighbor concerned that the accessory structure should be one level but is two levels. Mr. Eaton said that the structure is one level that is raised and the foundation is not shared.
Maureen Fusia, 111 Watersedge Drive, spoke and said there should have been a variance for the accessory structure and expressed concern that the breezeway is very tall and will be in her back yard.
Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Authement and unanimously carried to overturn the Zoning & Adjustment Board’s ruling to uphold the stop work order because Mr. Eaton relied on the assurances of the Building Official that the project was legal, he had expended great resources, and in the interest of fair dealing and good faith.
Jason Davis with Doric South Monuments presented a rendering of the proposed sign for the dog park which will be donated to the city (Exhibit 5-b). The Mayor and Aldermen thanked him for the donation of the sign. Motion was made by Alderman Papania, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to accept the donation of the sign from Doric Monuments for the dog park.
The Mayor led a discussion of a sponsorship opportunity for a fundraising event at the Ocean Springs Yacht Club on June 1, 2019 for Comeback Coolers which is an organization that was formed by Heather Eason in 2016 to aid individuals and families who have survived a severe storm event and are in the process of rebuilding their homes and lives (Exhibit 5-c). Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to donate $750.00 as a sponsorship from promotional funds with the finding that the Comeback Coolers organization is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization to match funds to promote and advertise the resources and opportunities of the city.
The Mayor suggested that it would be beneficial to form a Finance Committee for the upcoming budget. Alderman Gill said the Finance Committee was abolished because the full board should be involved in the decision making for the budget for the next year. He suggested having work sessions with the full board for the budget which is the way it was done last year. The City Clerk said the Finance Committee can do quite a bit of work before the work sessions with the full board. Alderman Papania said that he had served on the Finance Committee the year before last and supports Alderman Gill’s suggestion that the full board consider the budget which is more effective in his opinion although it probably is harder on the staff. The Mayor said that he wanted to get some clarity and formally ask the board before beginning the budget process. The City Clerk said that she and the Mayor will meet with each of the Department Heads to develop the budget which will be considered in work sessions with the entire board.
Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to approve the Consent Agenda with the exception of items 6-a and 6-b which were pulled by Alderman Blackman.
Alderman Blackman said that he pulled the approval of the contracts with Overstreet and Associates (Exhibit 6-a) and Brown, Mitchell & Alexander, Inc. (Exhibit 6-b) for city engineering services because in reviewing them he found that the contract for Overstreet was not submitted in the correct official format, the contracts should reflect a monthly cap such as $10,000.00 as discussed, the Overstreet contract includes charges for reimbursable expenses and overtime at time and a half which the City Attorney explained is only for reimbursement for disasters and Alderman Blackman said it should state that it is for disaster events only, both contracts state that payment must be made in 45 days from receipt which might should read 45 days after board approval, the City Clerk and City Attorney explained that payment must be made 45 days after receipt in accordance with state law, the Brown, Mitchell & Alexander contract is written for one year which is correct while the Overstreet contract is written for three years. The Brown, Mitchell & Alexander contract notates charging of 1% interest if not paid in 45 days which Alderman Authement and Gill said is standard, Alderman Blackman asked the City Attorney to see if this is typical or something that needs to be changed. The termination clause in the Brown, Mitchell & Alexander contract reflects 60 days and we have currently have has a 10 day notice of termination. The City Attorney responded that the contract as it is written is typical of a project based contract.
Alderman Gill said the current contract with Compton Engineering expires on Friday and asked the City Attorney if the recommended changes to the contracts for engineering services could be implemented and a special call meeting be scheduled for Friday for approval. The City Attorney said the engineering firms have not agreed to any of these changes so he cannot say that he would have them in place by the end of the week. The Mayor asked the City Attorney to check with the engineering firms tomorrow to alter the contracts to be approved at a Special
Call meeting early next week.
Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to approve the docket of claims (Exhibit 7-a).
Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to adjust the water/sewer accounts listed on Exhibit 7-b with the finding that the customers did not receive the benefit of the utility and the excess usages were due to unforeseen circumstances.
Debra Littlepage, 134 Siowan, inquired about her application for tree removal which was made over a month ago. She feels there needs to be a reliable tree committee. She spoke on the tree committee ordinance and wants intelligent people that understand the ordinance to make the final decisions. She added that she went to ladies room at the Little Children’s Park and the toilet was overflowing and didn’t know what to do. The Parks & Recreation Director responded that the Parks Department should be called and will double check that there is a sign at the park with the number listed.
Denis Hagbom said she has lived in Ocean Springs over 30 years and has taken over feeding the feral cats at Fort Maurepas. She has had issues of harassment since January 2019 and has made several complaints but only two reports have been filed. She is no longer able to feed the cats or go to the park without harassment. She wants to be heard and respected.
Mr. Raybon spoke about the bad behavior of the teens and young men hanging out at Fort Maurepas and their poor treatment of the women in the Feral Feline Coalition. He said things are getting extremely out of hand with illegal activity and he feels some drastic discipline needs to occur quickly.
Linda Cox said that Mr. Raybon’s son was part of the problem and when Mr. Raybon was made aware, they apologized and have been helping the coalition and making reparations. The teens have taken possession of the area and it has become a very bad situation. She also thanked Alderman Authement for going out and watching what was going on at the park. She said the Lion’s Club is working to combat animal cruelty in our community and holding an event Thursday at noon. She also commended the Chief of Police for his assistance. The Mayor said he has spoken to Police Department about increasing the police presence at Fort Maurepas. Alderman Authement said he witnessed firsthand the bad behavior happening.
Dr. Bill Moore addressed the board regarding the Tree Committee and said he previously wanted to be on the committee but the meeting time prevented him from joining. He said it is important to have community members serving in the committees. He does not want removal of public members. He suggested meeting at different times or weekends.
Alderman Gill said at 1336 Diller Road, a Pine tree has fallen onto an Oak tree over a homeowner’s bedroom on City property. City Attorney said it is actually not city property but state property, he needs to send a patent from the Secretary of State to the Chancery Court. Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to authorize City Attorney to request a new patent for patent 70827.
Alderman Gill added that people watching the live stream of the meetings are unable to hear the meetings well enough. Alderman Blackman said he and Alderman Authement would try to adjust some of the speakers to remedy the issue. Alderman Gill then inquired with the Mayor what has been done to fill the Building Official vacancy. The Mayor responded that the vacancy has been advertised for two weeks and will remain advertising for another week. To date we have received approximately twenty applicants. He said that twenty applicants was sufficient. The Human Resource Director responded that interview scheduling will begin. Alderman Gill asked Alderman Cox about Anderson Plumbing giving an estimate for the Dog Park. He responded that the estimate has been given to the Overstreet Engineering and plumbing cannot start until concrete is complete.
Alderman Authement thanked Public Works for the repair at Bechtel being done quickly, ahead of schedule and a great job was completed.
Alderman Cox reminded the board that there was previous discussion of removing Department Heads from Civil Service once the position becomes available. He requested the City Attorney draft an ordinance removing Civil Service from Department Heads and Assistants. He then reminded everyone that April 26th and 27th is the 1699 reenactment and requested Public Works erect tents and barricades on Friday afternoon. Alderman Cox added he has been approached about adding a veteran, Mr. Marshall Brewster Heffner, to the Merchant Marine Memorial at the beach. Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to allow the Board’s Executive Assistant to move forward in taking the steps to add Mr. Heffner to the Merchant Marine Memorial.
Alderman Blackman asked the Deputy Building Official to follow up with the Code Enforcement Officer about a property at Clear Springs. He said there is a property at Magnolia Bayou Boulevard at Redwood Lane put in a sump pump for drainage and is pumping water out to the street, he asked Public Works to investigate. He also asked the Public Works Director to keep him updated on the JCUA Groveland Road project. Alderman Blackman thanked the Police Chief for Lynette Drive. He then asked the Planning/Grants Administrator if there was an update on the Government Street sidewalk project. She responded that she will inquire and update as soon as she has more information. He announced, Tim Wold and his wife will be delivering smoked hams for Easter to the Mexico Beach Disaster Area and they are asking for donations.
Alderman Impey asked the Public Works Director about Jackson County paving projects, he responded that they are working on it but not finished. Alderman Impey reminded everyone about the Waste Pro Community Picnic at the Little Children’s Park this Saturday from 10:00 until 2:00, and said it is a great event for families. He also said that a local Brownie Troop will be planting a tree at Trentwood Park for Arbor Day at 6:00 p.m. He announced that the City’s most recent sales tax figures are up from comparing 2017 to 2018 October until April, sales tax increased 3.4% and 2% tax increased 9.3%.
The City Clerk announced the air conditioning units at the Mary C. O’Keefe building will be installed in the next couple of weeks. Alderman Authement asked about the lights still being on all night and should be on a timer now. The timers have been ordered but not received yet. He also thanked the Parks & Recreation Department for the success of the Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday. She in turn thanked the Police and Fire Department and Alderman Authement for his help.
Alderman Cox asked Public Works Director about the boom truck and street sweeper being broke down. He explained a lease to purchase proposal for a boom truck and street sweeper which is a bigger option than what is currently used. The City Clerk said that we should get enough from the last storm for debris to purchase or lease a boom truck. She and the Mayor will investigate the budget and lease or purchase options for boom truck and have information available for the next board meeting.
Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to go into closed session to determine the necessity of going into executive session.
The City Clerk returned to the meeting and announced a motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to remain in executive session to discuss personnel in the Public Works Department and personnel in the Parks Department.
Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to accept recommendation of Employee #2133 two day suspension.
Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to increase salary of Gwen Thigpen to $30,326.40.
Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to come out of executive session.
Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting until 6:00 p.m. on May 7, 2019.
Meeting ended at 9:13 p.m.
__/s/Patty Gaston________ ___/s/Shea Dobson______
City Clerk Mayor