Cullman City Council reinstates Vintage Beverages’ liquor license; odor from Wastewater Treatment Plant addressed

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Amy Hasenbein Leonard

Photo shows Anthony Quattlebaum of Ryan Creek Subdivision

CULLMAN – The Cullman City Council met on Monday evening, making decisions on the future of the Larkwood Bridge, the liquor license of Vintage Beverages and the odor from the City Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is invading area subdivisions. All members were present with the exception of Councilman Johnny Cook, who was representing Mayor Max Townson and Council President Garlan Gudger at a Utilities Board meeting.

The council approved a plan for the Larkwood Bridge site after reviewing the four selections presented previously by CDG Engineers and Associates. The selected plan was the most economical of the choices and viewed as the most favorable by residents in the area during the community input meetings, according to CDG Engineer Matthew Burgess. Additionally, the plan will allow for the travel of firetrucks and rescue vehicles over the bridge which was not previously possible.

During the work session, Gudger noted, “Not only are we getting a bridge, but we’re also getting a recreation area and quality of life scenario and turning that catastrophe into a good opportunity.”

The selected plan will cost just over $600,000 plus the cost of designs and property procurement, which will be well under the budgeted amount of over $1 million. The plan will only require the procurement of one property opposed to four or more properties in some of the other proposed plans.

During the open comments portion of the meeting, the council heard from several Ryan Creek and Arbor East subdivision residents regarding the odor from the City Wastewater Treatment Plant, which has reportedly become staggering during the evenings in their neighborhoods. The plant was undergoing an upgrade and expansion when the Christmas Day floods hit last year. All progress was lost, but expansions and repairs are now underway. This will not provide an overnight fix for the odor, but in the long term, it will remedy the situation.

In the meantime, Gudger has been working diligently with Anthony Quattlebaum, an 8-year Ryan Creek resident, who stated that, when his family initially moved into the subdivision in 2008, there was an “occasional odor but not that bad.” Yet, in the past year to year-and-a-half, the odor “has gotten unbearable.”

Residents Bob Weston, also of Ryan Creek, and Leon Creek, an Arbor East homeowner since 1997, echoed Quattlebaum’s assessment, while local realtor Carol King shared that she will not show clients a home in the neighborhoods until the client asks for a specific address in the subdivisions.

Gudger reported looking into a company, Ecolo Odor Systems, which specializes in odor control solutions and has emailed information to the mayor and council members about the products and services available to the city to combat the issues in the subdivisions. The council agreed to review all of the materials and budget and be prepared to make a decision at the next council meeting. Likely to be chosen as the way to go, the company is expected to have their solutions at work within a month of the contract signing.

In other business, Kesa Johnston Dunn, a Roanoke, Alabama attorney and sister of DLD Enterprises owner Don DeJong, spoke to the council requesting the reinstatement of her brother’s liquor license for his business, Vintage Beverages. DeJong lost his license at the last council meeting due to his nonpayment of sales tax in addition to other offenses. Since that time, he has paid his dues in full.

After Dunn’s statement to the council, Gudger spoke directly to DeJong, who stood at his seat and spoke from the audience. Asking for DeJong’s word that he will take care of his business in the future, Gudger made a gentleman’s agreement of sorts with DeJong before the council voted to reinstate his liquor license. After the meeting, DeJong personally thanked every member of the council for their decision.

A request from My Sister’s Keeper to hold a two-day public awareness meeting at Depot Park on August 5-6 was approved, along with a request from Katelyn Dooley for United Way Depot Days to be held on August 20-21 at Depot Park. Also, a property on County Road 1335 along Lake George was annexed.

A bid from Wiregrass Construction for the South Taxiway Realignment and Rehabilitation at the Cullman Regional Airport was approved. The City’s portion of the project is less than $17,500 of the total cost project cost of $692,809. Of the total, 90 percent will be payable by the federal government, 5 percent by the state and the remaining 5 percent is split evenly between the City and County.

Lastly, a resolution to change the next council meeting date from July 25 to July 19 at 7 p.m. was approved. That meeting will take place in the Cullman City Hall Auditorium and is open to the public.