Hanceville amends zoning ordinance, prepares to act on neighborhood issues

W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune

The Hanceville City Council on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE – On Thursday evening, the Hanceville City Council worked through a busy agenda during a protracted session at city hall, addressing topics ranging from zoning regulations and more property cleanups, to neighborhood traffic and a new after-school activity for kids.

The council voted to amend its zoning ordinance.  Highlights of the four-page amendment include:

  • omitting floor space requirements in the shopping district
  • allowing upstairs loft apartments in business districts (B1 and B2)
  • limiting fireworks stands to business districts
  • permitting home occupation in all zones, subject to certain provisions
  • requiring the purchase of a license from the City before the establishment of a manufactured home (mobile home) park
  • regulations for the zoning of newly annexed land, including preliminary public hearings scheduled by the planning commission and city council, and advertising locally ahead of time
  • requiring burials to take place in established cemeteries
  • banning unattended donation boxes from “any district or zone.”  After discussion by the council, a recently approved self-serve emergency food pantry project will be allowed to go forward, since it was approved well before the ordinance change.
  • requiring detached accessory buildings in residential districts to be located at least 5 feet inside property lines
  • requiring outdoor pools to be located at least 10 feet inside property lines, and to be fenced in
  • requiring the issuance of a city building permit before commencing any construction, including preparatory earthwork, installation of mobile homes, storing building materials and setting up temporary field offices
  • cancellation of building permits after one year, and requiring the issuance of a new permit for work not completed under the original permit
  • a fine of up to $1,000 for violations of the ordinance, including each day in which a violation continues as a separate offense

The council considered a request to install a speed bump on Edmondson Road east of its intersection with Alabama Highway 91.  Noting that speeding on the road seems to have increased since recent repaving, they heard a warning from Bart Absher of Hanceville Fire & Rescue that speed bumps that slow down personal vehicles would also slow down emergency vehicles.  After discussion, the council took no action, but requested that the police department increase patrols on Edmondson to target and ticket speeders.

City Revenue Officer John Wayne Fore made a request that the council allow him to proceed with testing for asbestos of a derelict property at 301 Commercial St. SW, in preparation for the possible demolition of the building by the City.  The owner has been notified, and the deadline for response has passed. The council approved the testing, but Fore will report again before any further action can be taken. Testing is expected to cost around $600, and a lien could be placed on the land to cover the cost.

The council considered a measure that could offer big savings to the City by giving financial incentives to City employees to drop their City insurance policies if they have insurance from another source such as a spouse’s employer.  Any employee who opts out of the insurance, which costs Hanceville $5,000 per year for individual plans and $10,000 for family plans, would receive the equivalent of a $2,000 annual bonus prorated across paychecks through the year. Council members Kim Brown and Justin Pruett voiced concerns about the somewhat loosely-defined plan and asked for it to be presented to the council in a more formal proposal with the details laid out.  The motion was tabled for the time being, while the plan is drawn up.

The council also heard from a representative of Scholastic 3-D Archery (S3DA), a national scholastic archery program founded by the same people who started the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) widely used in Cullman County and city schools, along with a representative of First Baptist Church Hanceville, which sponsors the local S3DA team.  S3DA differs from NASP in that it offers competition with three-dimensional hunting targets in addition to regular targets, and multiple classes that allow the use of different styles of bows. The group has been meeting in the basement of the Cullman Civic Center but has outgrown the space due to increasing student participation.  After the presentation and discussion, the council approved the group’s request to use the Ray Talley Building at the Hanceville Civic Center on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for practice.

The council announced that it will be working on the upcoming City budget in two sessions, preparation for an approval vote to take place before Oct. 1, and it voted to change its meeting times from 6:30 to 6 p.m., and its work sessions to 5:30.

The next Hanceville City Council meeting will take place on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Hanceville City Hall auditorium, with work session at 5:30.  The public is invited to attend.

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