City of Ocean Springs

    Minutes - July 5, 2017 - 6:00 p.m. Regular Meeting

    REGULAR MEETING OF JULY 5, 2017

    Be it remembered that the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Ocean Springs met in a Regular meeting at City Hall in the City of Ocean Springs at 6:00 p.m. on July 5, 2017.  The Mayor presiding, Aldermen Cox, Gill, Authement, Bellman, Papania, Blackman, and Impey were present.  Also present was City Clerk Shelly Ferguson and City Attorney Kevin Melchi.                      

    The Mayor called the meeting to order.

    Rev. Barnett gave the invocation and Alderman Impey led the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to add the Addendum to the Agenda.

    PUBLIC HEARING

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Authement and unanimously carried to go into Public Hearing.

    The Mayor stated the Public Hearing is in regards to an appeal of the Planning Commission’s recommendation for 435 East Beach Drive Use Permit for a Residential Short Term Rental owned by Scott & Trinity Walker.

    The Planning and Grants Administrator stated the information included in the packet includes the Planning Commission report and outcome of their vote as well as the reason given in their motion for denial which included previous and ongoing operations without a permit.

    The Mayor asked if there were any proponents to speak in favor of the permit.

    Attorney William Lee Guice, III of Rushing and Guice Law Firm located at 1000 Government Street.  Mr. Guice stated this is an appeal of an adverse ruling of the Planning Commission with respect to an application for a Short Term Rental at 435 East Beach Drive.  Mr. Guice said the application was made on March 30, 2016.  Mr. Guice is here to make a few short comments on behalf of Scott and Trinity Walker.

    Mr. Guice thought it would be helpful to go over the standard of review for the new board members.  Mr. Guice pointed out that the Planning Commission is an advisory board and not a decision making body.

    Mr. Guice stated he has some matters he would like introduced into the record; a) the Public Records search and hearing recordings of the matter with the Bed and Breakfast that was heard concerning Mr. Walker and is on appeal.  The purpose of this is to show there is discrimination in the application of laws in Ocean Springs, MS which is a grounds for reversal, hence it would be salient to complete his record; b) a Facebook notation from then Alderman McDonnell evidencing discriminatory intent is also information believed he contacted the Planning Commission prior to the last hearing; c) the Executive Session statute d) Planning Commission agenda request.  Mr. Guice is requesting this information be placed in the record along with all of the other information that has been provided with respect to the Public Hearing tonight including outside emails. 

    Mr. Guice said the Walker’s have complied with the application requirements and the requirements of the Short Term Rental Ordinance.  They have passed the inspections and are entitled to the Short Term Rental Permit as a matter of law.

    Mr. Guice talked about the Planning Commission meeting where it appears that the Walker’s were denied substantive due process in the course of the meeting.  The conduct of the meeting and what was advised and how it moved forward was contrary to what due process would allow.  The Planning Commission should have stayed consistent with the statute and not apply vague rules that were created to deny the Walker’s their permit. Mr. Guice also stated that the Planning Commission wrongfully went into Executive Session during the consideration of the Walker’s appeal and during the course of that Executive Session, based upon information and belief, discussed the position with respect of the Walker’s and violation of the open meeting law.

    Mr. Guice said the Mayor and Board of Aldermen are only able to consider the application presented tonight and whether or not the Walker’s have met the requirements of that application.

    Mr. Scott Walker congratulated each of the board members.

    Mr. Scott Walker, 435 East Beach Drive, is here to request the approval of the Short Term Rental Permit.  Mr. Walker stated he has never violated any rules over the last sixteen (16) months.  Mr. Walker said the Planning and Grants Administrator gave them direct authorization, whether right or wrong, to rent their home pending the approval of their B & B request since there is no way to regulate the situation.  Mr. Walker said his neighbors have been sending city planners photos, letters, and messages about their personal activities which is a direct violation of state privacy laws and an invasion of privacy.  Mr. Walker said even though they were not given any rules to follow they have do so out of respect for their neighbors.  He said in the correspondence that has been sent to the city planner there has never been more than eight (8) adults or six (6) vehicles at this home.  Mr. Walker said they just want to earn a living, pay their taxes, encourage tourism, and live peacefully which is their right.

    Mr. Walker added the law states that any issue pertaining to another city ordinance cannot trump the Short Term Rental Ordinance if there is a conflict.  The Short Term Rental request has been presented to you tonight and that is what you are required to rule on.  Mr. Walker added the law also states the Board must rule on this permit alone and whether or not he meets all criteria.  He further stated that neighborhood approval is not required.

    The Mayor asked if there were any opponents who wanted to speak against the permit.

    Mr. Joe Cloyd, 433 East Beach Drive, congratulated the Mayor and Board and stated he is looking forward to the great work ahead.  Mr. Cloyd stated he has been repeatedly put on the record that he is against the permit for a Short Term Rental and a Bed & Breakfast in his neighborhood.  Mr. Cloyd stated he is looking forward to hearing Mr. Guice’s final remarks.  Mr. Cloyd is asking in the final comments can Mr. Walker or his attorney, Mr. Guice, comment on whether or not they have had renters on the property over the weekend or currently have them now.  If they do not currently have any renters and that can be verified by the Building Official and the Planning & Grants Administrator then he would withdraw any objection he has.

    Mr. Douglas Roll, 105 Holcomb Blvd., congratulated the Mayor and Board.  Mr. Roll wanted to echo what Mr. Cloyd has said.  Mr. Roll hopes the Board will take into consideration that they live in a R1 zoned neighborhood.

    Mr. Dempsy Levi, 401 East Beach Drive, stated he has lived at this location since 1983.  Mr. Levi states he opposes the Short Term Rental.  Mr. Levi says that Mr. Walker’s claims are exaggerated.  He has violated rules by having dozens of cars there.  Mr. Levi is furious at the attempt to change the character of the neighborhood.  He does not want a hotel in his neighborhood. Mr. Levy said the board has a right to consider what the Planning Commission said, what their determination is, and what their advisory recommendation is.

    Mr. Guice replied to the opposing comments. He stated the objection is whether there is a Short Term Rental within a closed neighborhood or not.  The statute ordinance provides that you can have a Short Term Rental in any residential area of Ocean Springs expect for where it is foreclosed by the subdivision covenants.  Mr. Guice said he has been authorized by his client to state an offer he has made in writing to the previous aldermen and make sure each of the new board members understand. Mr. and Mrs. Walker upon their receipt of their permit for Short Term Rental without intervening appeal will withdraw all litigation with respect to the City of Ocean Springs and will enter into such releases as the City Attorney may deem appropriate in order to have a ceasing of all conflicts.  Mr. Guice stated the Board not only has an opportunity to do the right thing under the ordinance but to save the City of Ocean Springs a lot of money.

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Blackman and unanimously carried to come out of Public Hearing.

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to go into closed session to determine the necessity of remaining in Executive Session.

    The City Clerk returned and announced a motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to remain in Executive Session to discuss potential litigation regarding the denial of the Short Term Rental application for the property located at 435 East Beach Drive.

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to come out of Executive Session.

    Motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Papania to deny the appeal and uphold the recommendation of the Planning Commission of their meeting held on June 13, 2017 to deny the Short Term Rental application for the property located at 435 East Beach Drive owned by Scott & Trinity Walker. Aldermen Gill, Authement, Cox, Papania, Blackman, and Impey voting Aye and Alderman Bellman voting Nay. Motion passes.   

    Alderman Authement replied to comments that were made regarding the VRBO applications.  Alderman Authement stated some addresses processed for VRBO applications were not approved.

    Alderman Impey takes exception to Mr. Walker making disparaging comments regarding Ms. Carolyn Martin.  He stated Ms. Martin is a hard working employee. (Exhibit 3-a)

    OLD BUSINESS

    The Mayor asked the Interim Public Works Director for an update on the Colonial Estates Water Line Extension Project. The Interim Public Works Director stated the plans for the project are ready but waiting on the items listed in the Agenda to be approved in order to move forward.  He stated he needs the Memorandum of Agreement between Colonial Estates and the City of Ocean Springs in order to complete the package to submit to the Health Department.

    Alderman Cox asked how much of this project was going to be done in-house.  The Interim Public Works Director stated he does not have the time or manpower to do this project.  The Interim Public Works Director stated his guys can lay lines but doesn’t have the capability to bore in a 4” line, it would have to be done open cut.  The project will include 1250’ of directional boring.  Alderman Gill stated the county may be able to provide some in-kind services.

    Alderman Papania would like the policy to address procedure of bill payments from Colonial Estates to the City of Ocean Springs each month and the consequences for not paying or paying late.  The City Clerk states the City has a commercial water rate ordinance that Colonial Estates would fall under as far as rules and regulations. 

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to approve items (4 i-v) to include a statement that Colonial Estates will have to abide by all water ordinances of the City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

    The Interim Public Works Director asked to correct the wording in item (4-i) from Sixty Consecutive Days to Sixty Consecutive Months.   

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to approve the Memorandum of Agreement Colonial Estates #3 Water System, Inc. to purchase water upon availability for a minimum of sixty (60) consecutive months. (Exhibit 4-i)

    Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to approve the Memorandum of Agreement between Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi for the Colonial Estates Water Line Project (MOA #8200033497) pending final review from the City Attorney. (Exhibit 4-ii)

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to approve a budget amendment to indicate funding for the Colonial Estates Water Line Project to include $10,000.00 committed by the City, plus $35,000.00 contributed by Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. (Exhibit 4-iii)

    Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to approve the Resolution of the City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi to request a donation of land and utility easement from Jackson County for to provide water to Colonial Estates. (Exhibit –iv)     

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to authorize to advertise for bids for Colonial Estates Water Line Project pending conveyance of land and easement to the City. (Exhibit 4-v)

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to add Colonial Estates are to abide by all water ordinances regarding systems and regulations of the City of Ocean Springs.

    NEW BUSINESS AND ADDENDUM

    Robert Culumber with Culumber, Harvey & Associates, P.A. presented the Audited Financial Report for fiscal year ended September 30, 2016.  Mr. Culumber started with the summary of auditor’s results.  Mr. Culumber stated the type of auditor’s report issued is unmodified which is the highest level that can be received.  No material weaknesses were identified.  Mr. Culumber did say there was one significant deficiency identified which is the inefficient and ineffective accounting software.  The City has been using the same software for twenty (20) years.

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to approve the Financial Audit Report for the City of Ocean Springs for fiscal year ended September 30, 2016. (Exhibit A-1a)    

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Gill to adopt an Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 5-1972 by removing from the coverage afforded by the Civil Service System the position of "Executive Assistant to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen” of the City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

    Alderman Impey expressed his concern with this position being removed from any obligations to accept their ranking.  The Civil Service Commission ranks applicants based on the announcement and specific qualifications put out by the City and how well the applicant matches the description of the job advertised. Alderman Impey stated the Civil Service system has served the City well and he would like for this position stay in place.  

    The Mayor said it is his intent is to have this position removed from Civil Service in order to be more flexible with the individual and have more control.

    Alderman Authement asked the Human Resource Director if this position is removed from Civil Service can another department make the same recommendation.  The Human Resource Director said the position has to be vacated at the time of the request and decided on individually.

                       Alderman Gill                   Aye

                       Alderman Authement         Aye

                       Alderman Bellman             Aye

                       Alderman Cox                   Aye

                       Alderman Papania             Nay

                        Alderman Blackman           Aye

                       Alderman Impey               Nay 

    Motion passes. (Exhibit 5-a)

    PUBLIC COMMENT

    Bill Moore, 257 Holcomb Blvd., spoke about the homeless situation and the possibility of a modest proposal of providing monies with matching funds from the public.  Mr. Moore said he is looking forward to hearing what better ideas the new board comes up with.

    Alderman Cox stated the City Attorney has been asked to look into any and all liability issues involved and verifying what the budget may allow.

    CONSENT AGENDA

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Authement and unanimously carried to approve the Consent Agenda with the exception of items (c, d, p, and y).

    Alderman Impey pulled item (c) and stated that due to the holiday the minutes for the Recess Meeting June 20, 2017 are not complete at this time but will be ready for approval at the Regular Meeting July 5, 2017.

    Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to table item (c) until the Recess Meeting July 18, 2017.

    Alderman Papania pulled item (d) and requested to go into closed session to discuss pending litigation regarding an item to be paid on the docket of claims.

    Alderman Cox pulled item (p) to discuss with the Board that this was an item he pulled from the agenda two meetings ago in order to allow the new Board the opportunity to fill the Human Resource Assistant position.

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Blackman and unanimously carried to accept item (p) to approve the Human Resources Assistant position.

    Alderman Impey pulled item (y) to correct the original memorandum request to authorize out-of-state travel for Briani Liddell, Camp Coordinator, and Geri Straight, Director of Parks and Leisure Services, to attend the National Recreation & Parks Association Conference in New Orleans, LA on September 26-28, 2017 as budgeted.

    Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to accept item (y) to include Geri Straight along with Briani Liddell.

    DEPARTMENT REPORTS

    The Planning and Grants Administrator discussed the Schmidt Park Subdivision located south of Porter Avenue between Porter Avenue and Cleveland Avenue.  Ethel Circle was never originally platted.  In 1944 there was an ordinance passed by the Board that was vacating several streets.  The Planning and Grants Administrator wants to document with the Board in the minutes that the City concurs that the alleyways along with two (2) small segments were intended to be vacated in 1944 and get rectified with the county.

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to get confirmation of vacation of alleys as documented in Ordinance Number 5-1944 pertaining to Schmidt Park Subdivision. (Exhibit 8-a)

    The Planning and Grants Administrator gave an update on the Tideland Application for fiscal year 2019.  Three different Tidelands applications have been submitted as described. The Planning and Grants Administrator requested to make one correction to the application submitted for Front Beach Improvements modifying the requested amount from $165,000.00 to $240,000.00 in order to incorporate some of Allen Engineering designs to improve some of the outfalls in that area.

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to approve the Tidelands applications.

    ALDERMAN’S FORUM

    Alderman Gill talked about driveway ramps and the drainage issues they cause when the homeowners do not clean them out causing backups.  Alderman Gill requested the Building Official to draft a standard letter to apply to all homeowners giving them a ten (10) day warning to clean out.  The Interim Public Works Director said some research will need to be done as to whether the city or the homeowner put the driveway ramp in.

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to have the Building Official draft a standard letter addressing the problems with the driveway ramps. 

    Alderman Authement talked about a leak in a 15” sewer line at 1401 Hellmers Lane caused by a protected tree.  The Tree Protection Committee met today but did not have a quorum. Alderman Authement stated the homeowners are getting an arborist to save the tree.  The Building Official stated since the tree is in the right-of-way the Board can take action on an emergency basis. 

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Blackman and unanimously carried to appoint Chic Cody as liason to represent the City for Cruisin’ the Coast and Peter Anderson Festival Events.

    Alderman Cox had a request to paint paw prints on the route for the drop off area at Pecan Park School.  Alderman Cox does not support painting paw prints in the street but does support putting up signs and remove the signs after a month or two.

    Alderman Papania does not support paw prints painted on the streets but also supports signage.  Alderman Papania asked the Police Chief if there was a reason why they don’t use Saratoga Street instead of Jamaica.  The Police Chief stated it created too much traffic and bottlenecking.

    Alderman Cox asked the Police Chief to work with the principals and security at Pecan Park School on signage for the drop off route at the school.

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to have the Police Chief meet with the principal about signage.

    Alderman Cox discussed getting a Memorandum of Understanding with the Seabee’s to help with drainage in the outfields at Highway 57. Alderman Cox asked the City Clerk to get a MOU prepared for approval.

    Alderman Cox said he spoke to Supervisor Randy Bosarge about the roads at Highway 57.  Mr. Bosarge said they are going to look at the road that runs to the parking area at Highway 57 and it looks like they are on board to help muck out and possibly be able to bring in all the dirt which would reduce our cost.

    Alderman Cox told the Police Chief he wanted to give kudos to his officers for a few incidents that took place during the city’s 4th of July Fireworks event.  A constituent witnessed some unruly individuals who were very ugly toward his officers.  Alderman Cox said he was told the officers were very professional, did not get out of hand, addressed the situation and diffused the situation.

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Authement and unanimously carried to appoint Alderman Papania, Alderman Blackman and himself to the Finance Committee.

    Alderman Blackman asked the City Clerk to look into the legality issues regarding occasionally moving a Board meeting to the Civic Center several times a year for the citizens on the other side of town that are not able to make the meetings.

    Alderman Impey mentioned the outstanding annual appointments for attorney, auditors, engineers, judge, prosecutors, and mayor pro-temp.  The Board has 180 days to carry over but it’s something the Board needs to take care of.

    The Mayor thanked everyone for being patient with him during his first meeting as Mayor.

    EXECUTIVE SESSION

    Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to go into closed session to determine the necessity of remaining in executive session.

    The City Clerk return to the board room and announced motion was made by Alderman Papania, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to remain in Executive Session to discuss current litigation with JCUA.

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to come out of Executive Session and back into regular session.

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to approve to pull line item payment for JCUA.

    Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Cox to approve payment to Dogan and Wilkinson for work done regarding JCUA as described on the docket of claims.  Aldermen Gill, Authement, Bellman, Cox, Blackman, and Impey voting Aye and Alderman Papania voting Nay.  Motion passes.

    Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to recess to 6:00 p.m. on July 18, 2017.

    The meeting ended at 8:32.p.m.  

     

    /s/ Shelly Ferguson                                        /s/ Shea Dobson

    City Clerk                                                     Mayor

    8/2/2017                                                      8/2/2017

    Date                                                             Date