Board with 1 member can't OK request
by Chris Norwood
A Talladega woman looking to replace a burned out mobile home on Roosevelt Street is facing an unusual problem. The board that would need to approve the replacement has only one living member.

The Roosevelt Street resident explained that her lot is not large enough to situate the new mobile home so that the front door faces the street. According to city planner Joel Wiggins, this does constitute a legal hardship, which the Board of Adjustments and Appeals would have no problem approving.

However, the variance would require five members to establish a quorum, with four members voting in favor. Martha Jordan said she was currently “the only breathing member” of that body.

Jordan said she had joined the board 13 years ago, when a similar issue had arisen. “I was told that you couldn’t build a dog house in Talladega because there was no one on the variance board to approve it,” she said.

Council President Horace Patterson then made a public appeal for volunteers to serve on the board, with several presenting their names and addresses to the city clerk for formal applications. One volunteer said she lived in the police jurisdiction, and was thereby not eligible. Talladega City Board of Education member Shirley Simmons-Sims was told she was not eligible either because she is already an elected official, but Patterson pointed out that her husband could serve.

Business owners Keela Brown and Howard “Rip” Williams also volunteered, although it was not immediately clear if Williams would be eligible to serve due to his felony convictions when he was a member of the Talladega Water and Sewer Board.

All potential board members will have to make formal application with the city, with the members ultimately appointed by the council.

During the same meeting, the council heard an update on recent burglary statistics from Police Chief Alan Watson. According to a report submitted by City Manager Brian Muenger, there were 324 burglaries reported countywide during the first three months of the current year. Of those, 120 were in Talladega Police Department’s jurisdiction.

During the second quarter of the year, that figure was down to 46, a decline of 63 percent. Watson said of those, several were instances where nothing was stolen or only one or two specific items were taken, indicating the victim and the suspect were known to each other.

The major reason for the decrease is arrests made by Talladega police and other agencies. In the past eight months, 34 individuals have been arrested for burglary, the majority of those being out on bond or probation. Only three of the 34 were classified as “first time offenders.”

The report also indicates the city Police Department is losing officers at an alarming rate, with nine taking jobs at other agencies, five retiring, four being terminated and four taking private sector jobs.

The recommendation of acquiring a dual use trained dog and handler was positively received, but not acted on Monday evening.

Also Monday, the council:

• Held a public hearing regarding voting districts based on the 2010 census. The biggest changes will be in the boundary between District 5 and District 1.

• Saw Mayor Larry Barton issue a proclamation in appreciation of the contributions of business owner Rudolph Dennis.

• Announced that the city will be participating in the tax holiday the first weekend in August.

• Heard that contributions to the state Retirement System would be going up 1.27 percent in the coming fiscal year.

• Discussed, but took no action on, options for maintaining the 800 radio system.

• Increased the fine for violations of the weed abatement ordinance to $150.

• Lifted the citywide hiring freeze.

• Approved $300 for the Babe Ruth League team to attend the state tournament.

• Approved an agreement with the city schools to use buses for the Recreation Department Summer Camp.

• Approved a contract for capital improvements at Veterans Park totaling $754,000.

• Approved an $87,000 sewer inspection program around Brecon, Tenney Street and Sloan Avenue.

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© 2013