City of Ocean Springs

    Minutes - June 18, 2019 - 6:00 p.m. Recess Meeting

    RECESS MEETING OF JUNE 18, 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 June 18, 2019.  The Mayor 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.


    PROCLAMATION

    The Mayor presented a proclamation and thanked Fire Chief Jeffrey Ponson for 37 years of dedicated service to the city of Ocean Springs (Exhibit 3-a). Chief Ponson replied that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve the City of Ocean Springs. Former Fire Chief Mark Hare spoke about Chief Ponson’s early days as a fire fighter and said he was one of the last tailboard firefighters still working nationally. He also commended Chief Ponson on his superb handling of the transition to Chief after Fire Chief Pat Williams retired. 

    The Mayor presented a proclamation to Singing River Health System representatives for "Mississippi Community Transportation Awareness Day 2019” (Exhibit 3-b). The representatives thanked the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen for their continued support and said they have given 24,000 rides in the past year in Jackson County.


    ADDENDUM

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


    PUBLIC HEARING

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to go into public hearing to adopt an Ordinance; an amendment to the Unified Development Code for the City of Ocean Springs, MS amending Chapter 1, Section 20 regarding the Planning Commission.

    Alderman Blackman stated that the idea of having representation from each ward was started over a year ago and they want every ward to have a voice in the city in the Planning Commission. The process will be the same as it has always been, the only change is that each ward will be represented.

    Mike Illanne, 303 Front Beach Drive, spoke against the proposal for the change to the Planning Commission and the Tree Committee. He said he wants the application and selection process to be transparent and candidates not be hand selected by aldermen. 

    Scott Edwards, 409 Wulff Drive, said he has concerns but agrees that each ward should be represented. He said there needs to be checks and balances in the committees. He recommends that the committees be completely independent from the Board of Aldermen. He said that the Tree Committee should not be made up of city employees.

    Alderman Blackman responded that the primary changes of the Planning Commission and Tree Committee is that the advertisements will only be for selected wards, not city wide. Candidates will not be hand selected by the Aldermen but will follow the same process for applications as there is currently. He agreed that the Tree Committee should not be made up of city employees but that decision was made in a temporary emergency situation due to vacancies, which is being corrected now with representation from each ward.

    Alderman Papania also responded that all the Aldermen agree that the commissions should have representation from each ward. He said that they have been transparent with the application process as he has seen the notices on the website and in The Ocean Springs Record that we are accepting applications. He has no desire to handpick anyone. He said there were issues with the Tree Committee that needed immediate action; they are proposing this so that it will be made up of 100% citizens and from each ward.

    Karen Stennis, 399 Maginnis Avenue, said that she is for the application process and selections from each ward.

    Terry Armstrong, said every board and commission should have representation from each ward and Planning/Zoning especially should have knowledgeable individuals appointed.

    Carol Jones, 4007 Groveland Road, supports that all wards will be represented on the commissions and boards.

    Elizabeth Fader-Hosey, 2708 Walton Drive, said her biggest concern was the transparency issue. She wanted assurance that the Aldermen would vote collectively and not just appoint hand selected applicants. She wants to see the bylaws of the Planning Commission applied equally to each member. She said she is concerned of the limitation of qualified candidates to be able to apply by ward or have to wait years to apply. She feels that the Board of Aldermen are the equal representation for the city.

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

    Motion was made by Alderman Impey and seconded by Alderman Gill to adopt an Ordinance:  an Amendment to the Unified Development Code for the City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi amending Chapter 1, Section 20 Regarding the Planning Commission (Exhibit 4-a) removing "WHEREAS, the Alderman from each ward will nominate a prospective member or members from their respective wards, while the at-large Alderman will nominate the at-large Planning Commission member” and replaced with "WHEREAS, members of the Planning Commission shall be chosen from among those who have submitted written applications”. The motion carried with a roll call vote as follows:
      
       Alderman Gill                    Aye
       Alderman Authement        Aye
       Alderman Bellman            Aye   
       Alderman Cox                   Aye
       Alderman Papania             Aye
       Alderman Blackman         Aye
       Alderman Impey               Aye

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Blackman and unanimously carried to go into public hearing to adopt an Ordinance; an amendment to the Unified Development Code for the City of Ocean Springs, MS amending certain sections regarding Tree Protection and Tree Protection Committee.

    The City Attorney explained that the changes are mostly reorganizing the Tree Committee. The primary changes are to make it a seven member body of citizens from each ward and to make it a recommending body entirely to the Board of Aldermen, similar to the Planning Commission.

    Karen Stennis, 399 Maginnis Avenue, asked if there are not any changes then why is there an amendment and she does not want to see the Tree Committee answering to the Planning Commission. The City Attorney explained that they absolutely would not be a part of or answering to the Planning Commission. The amendment needs to be made to have representation from each ward and to make it a seven member board.

    Jacklyn Wrigley, 305 Beach Hill, said the proposed language of the Alderman of each ward to nominate a member should be changed to read as the Planning Commission change which was considered earlier. She suggested that the application process to remove a tree be reviewed in regard to the economic hardship of the applicant. She said the economic hardship should be evaluated from the point of someone that has a vested financial interest in the property. She asked about the Tree Committee becoming a recommending body and how the board will consider the committee’s recommendations without all of the information that the committee would have.

    Mike Randolph, 213 Front Beach Drive, said that he has requested repeatedly to be made aware of any issues regarding the Tree Committee but was not specifically notified about tonight. He said that item 7-w on the Consent Agenda, is to approve the Tree Committee minutes, but the minutes were not available to the public before they are to be approved. He requested that the wordage be changed from "approve” to "accept” the Tree Committee minutes.

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

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox and seconded by Alderman Bellman to adopt an Ordinance: an Amendment to the Unified Development Code for the City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi Amending certain sections regarding Tree Protection and the Tree Protection Committee (Exhibit 4-b); editing Section 2 – 1.18.1 "Each Alderman shall nominate one (1) or more candidates from his ward, or in the case of the Alderman-at-large from within the City” and replaced "nominate” with "Members shall be selected from among those ward residents who have submitted written applications” also a correct a typo in Section 7 – 4.12.10 B, change to "conditions of 4.12.10(A)”. The motion carried with a roll call vote as follows:
      
       Alderman Gill                      Aye
       Alderman Authement          Aye
       Alderman Bellman              Aye   
       Alderman Cox                     Aye
       Alderman Papania               Aye
       Alderman Blackman           Aye
       Alderman Impey                 Aye


    OLD BUSINESS

    Motion was made by Alderman Bellman, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to approve the purchase of a Knuckleboom truck for Public Works; awarding the bid to PAC-MAN Corporation in the amount of $131,800.00 with the funds to be distributed out of the water and sewer budget (Exhibit A - 1a).

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill and seconded by Alderman Cox to adopt an Ordinance: an Amendment to the Code of Ordinances of the City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi to prohibit parking on certain parts of Diller Road (Exhibit 5-a). The motion carried with a roll call vote as follows:
      
       Alderman Gill                      Aye
       Alderman Authement          Aye
       Alderman Bellman              Aye   
       Alderman Cox                     Aye
       Alderman Papania               Aye
       Alderman Blackman           Aye
       Alderman Impey                 Aye

    Alderman Papania spoke for the residents of 1061 Conley Circle in regard to their appeal of the Tree Committee decision. They need to cut a Magnolia tree in their back yard because the root ball is prohibiting the water from draining from their back patio/porch, especially during heavy rains. Motion was made by Alderman Papania, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to accept Mr. James Ballard, 1061 Conley Circle, appeal of the Tree Protection Committee decision and allow the removal of the Magnolia tree.


    NEW BUSINESS

    Brian Williams, the son of former Fire Chief Pat Williams, spoke on behalf of the family. He presented a check to the Parks & Recreation Director for the purchase of a bench to be placed at Freedom Field in the memory of brothers Mike, Joe and Pat Williams. He said it is an honor to have a place to sit and enjoy and remember the past family members that have passed. The Parks & Recreation Director thanked the family, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen and said she was touched working with Kathleen Duvall in bringing this to fruition. She said the bench will be placed at the southeast corner of Freedom Field Park and will sit directly across from the house where the Williams brothers grew up. Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to accept a monetary donation for a bench to be placed at Freedom Field, from the Family of Mike, Joe and Pat Williams. Aldermen Impey and Gill thanked the family and said it was an honor to work with Fire Chief Pat Williams.


    CONSENT AGENDA

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to approve the Consent Agenda with the exception of items 7 – b, t, w, aa, bb and cc.

    The Mayor removed item 7-b.

    Alderman Authement requested to table item 7-t until the next board meeting.

    Motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Blackman and unanimously carried to accept the Tree Protection Committee meeting minutes from June 11, 2019 (Exhibit 7-w).

    The Parks & Recreation Director the lease agreement termination dates for items 7-aa, 7-bb and 7-cc need to be changed to June 30, 2020. Motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to accept items 7-aa, 7-bb and 7-cc with the termination dates changed to June 30, 2020.


    DEPARTMENT REPORTS

    CITY CLERK:

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to approve the Docket of Claims (Exhibit 8-a).

    Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to accept the monthly budget report (Exhibit 8-b).

    Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to adjust the water/sewer accounts listed on Exhibit 8-c; except for 202 Audrey Circle and 3002 Trentwood Drive which were tabled; with the finding that the customers did not receive the benefit of the utility and the excess usages were due to unforeseen circumstances.

    The City Clerk explained the cost of the proposed pay scale to become effective in October 2019, the first pay period of fiscal year 19/20. The first years’ increase for just the salary scale and step increase will cost the city $285,605.85 more than previous year. There are additional costs but they would take place regardless of pay increases, which are PERS increase and medical insurance increase, which will be approximately $259,177.67. Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to approve the pay scale increase to become effective October 1, 2019.


    PUBLIC COMMENT

    Mr. Sam Sabagh’s assistant spoke on his behalf, 1223 Government Street, and said this is his twenty second year of doing business as Phoenician’s Gourmet Restaurant in Ocean Springs. He spoke against the recent passing of Ordinance 2019-10; he is against allowing  mobile food truck vendors to operate in the Downtown Arts and Entertainment District. He feels that the brick and mortar restaurants pay premium rents to be in the District between $15-29 per square foot. The mobile food vendors do not endure the same operation cost, overhead and tax burdens but sell food at the same price point as the brick and mortar restaurants. They ask the Mayor and Board of Aldermen to consider the vital role the Downtown restaurants play in the Ocean Springs economy such as bringing locals and visitors to the city, generating revenue and employment and consider rescinding Ordinance 2019-10.

    Katie Yow, 1219 Parktown Drive, needs her water meter checked. She also said she needed a tree by her driveway removed due to damaging cars and the drainage from the roots.

    Ken Williams, 101 Iberville Landing Drive, owns Mosaic Restaurant in Downtown Ocean Springs which employees 23-27 people and provides insurance for those employees. They feel as though they are an anchor business in Downtown Ocean Springs along with the other restaurants in Downtown. He expressed his opposition to food trucks operating Downtown.

    Mayor Dobson said the food truck ordinance is to help with enforcement and regulation of food trucks which don’t have any regulations on them now other than a permit.

    Fred Moran, 712 Washington Avenue, said he was recently made aware of the passing of the ordinance regarding food trucks. He is not opposed to food trucks in general in Ocean Springs but believes the ordinance does not address the concerns of the brick and mortar restaurants and will give the food trucks an unfair cost advantage. He said as a property developer and building owner in Ocean Springs, he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars developing the tax base of Ocean Springs. He asked the board to rescind the ordinance so that it can be reconsidered.

    Rodney Lancaster, 711 Washington Avenue, said he owns both a food truck and a brick and mortar restaurant Downtown. He expressed the financial burden it will put on the Downtown restaurants when a food truck can come on the weekends for minimum cost and take away thousands of dollars from the brick and mortar restaurants that have to operate every day of the week.

    Alderman Blackman asked Mr. Moran if he owns the building in which Boots and Spurs is located. He responded that he does. Alderman Blackman then asked if they are allowed to operate a taco push cart in the lot area, clarifying that it would need to be allowed by the property owner in the new ordinance. Mr. Moran replied that they are allowed to do so in their occupancy lease.

    John Rimmel, 708 Washington Avenue, said he is a manager of RAW Restaurant and spoke against the food truck ordinance and said they are strongly opposed to letting the food trucks operate within the Downtown District.

    Mr. Sam Sabagh’s Assistant asked about the rumor of a food truck court area Downtown. The Mayor said he would set up a meeting for business owners and citizens to talk about the food truck issues.

    Fred Moran then added that if the city does not reconsider this ordinance, he feels their only recourse is to file a lawsuit against the city. Alderman Papania said he is open to have a meeting to reconsider all options.

    Jackie Ladnier said that she owns businesses on Porter Avenue and Washington Avenue and asked that the board reconsider the food truck ordinance. She said she is already in competition with home bakers and now possibly food trucks.

     

    ALDERMEN’S FORUM 

    Alderman Authement said that a special event permit was completed for the Fallo-Pleasants parking lot for every Saturday for a farmer’s market. He said that there is already a farmer’s market in Downtown, the parking lot is needed and being more utilized, and finally at the last special event held there, which was a Crawfish Cookoff, the lot was left a mess and required the Fire Department to clean up and wash the lot because of the smell.

    Motion was made by Alderman Cox and seconded by Alderman Papania to move forward with the restrooms at the Dog Park and to approve Parks Superintendent Huffy Mayfield to begin construction of the restrooms immediately.  The motion passed with Aldermen Gill, Authement, Bellman, Cox, Papania and Blackman voting aye and Alderman Impey voting nay.

    Alderman Cox also stated that the Mississippi Municipal League annual conference is next week. The Mississippi Municipal Service Company is having a bridge run Wednesday, June 26th but did not complete a special events permit. Previously the fee has been waived for the run to take place. Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to waive the fee for the run and approve the use of the bridge on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.

    Alderman Papania said the Bonnet Carre Spillway has been opened for approximately 80 days and has greatly affected our Mississippi Gulf Coast. Motion was made by Alderman Papania, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to support Governor Phil Bryant’s Declaration of Federal Disaster Declaration by resolution.

    Alderman Papania said that Jackson County has potential funds for drainage projects in Ocean Springs but we need to submit a request. He has been advised that this needs to be a large substantial project. He used the previous drainage study and determined the best project to submit would be the "monster ditch” located between Halstead Road and Hanley Road. Alderman Impey said this is not new money, the county withdrew from the Pat Harrison Waterway and it has taken some time but the county has determined to give the Jackson County cities the funds directly that would have been given to the Pat Harrison Waterway. Motion was made by Alderman Papania, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to submit a letter to the Jackson County Board of Supervisors identifying the "monster ditch” as a drainage system to be upgraded.

    Alderman Blackman said the Dog Park engineering firm has given the same response of thirty to forty-five days as the remaining time left on the project for the last four months, thirty to forty-five days. He would like the firm to be put on notice that if no progress is seen in the next thirty days then he would like the firm to be removed from the project. Alderman Gill said there have been many changes that have delayed the project and feels like the engineer has been treated unfairly since becoming the City Engineer.

    Alderman Impey said that the Police Chief gave him a resignation letter from Police Officer Adam Carter. Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to accept the resignation of Police Officer Adam Carter on July 5, 2019 and begin the process of filling the vacant position.

    The City Clerk said the Debris Management Bid is going on but we have heard from the company advertising the bid inquiring as to how to post a bid bond since no money or hours are attached. The City Attorney said that a bid bond would not be needed for this RFP which is mainly used for a construction contract and this will be an hourly construction contract and a bid bond would not be needed. Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Authement and unanimously carried to waive the bid bond for the Debris Monitoring Management Contract.


    EXECUTIVE SESSION

    Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Authement 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 Papania, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to remain in executive session to discuss personnel in the Public Works Department and potential litigation regarding East Beach parking signs.

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill and seconded by Alderman Papania to suspend Employee #1841 for one day without pay. The motion passed with Aldermen Cox, Gill, Authement, Bellman, Papania and Impey voting aye; and Alderman Blackman voting nay.

    Motion was made by Alderman Papania and seconded by Alderman Impey to direct Public Works to remove the three no parking signs on East Beach in front of the Seaside subdivision and take them to Public Works. The motion passed with Aldermen Cox, Gill, Authement, Bellman, Papania and Impey voting aye; and Alderman Blackman voting nay.


    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to come out of executive session.

    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Blackman and unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting until 6:00 p.m. on July 2, 2019. 

    Meeting ended at 9:18 p.m.

     

    _/s/Patty Gaston _________                     __/s/Shea Dobson_________

     City Clerk                                                 Mayor

     

    _July 16, 2019___________                     __July 16, 2019___________

     Date                                                         Date