Keeping it tidy
May 3—HOLLY POND — A new ordinance approved by the town of Holly Pond to regulate the operations of junkyards, automotive wrecking yards and recycling facilities within the town limits, could be the first in a series of municipal regulations mayor Carla Hart said are designed to "keep the town tidy."
On Monday, May 1, Hart presented the council with a new ordinance which defines and outlines the operational conditions that any junkyard, recycling facility or automotive wrecking yard within the town limits must maintain. Hart said the ordinance does not apply to any of the town's existing businesses that she was aware of, but would be the "beginning of a series of ordinances I'd like to see the town do."
"What I'd like to do is to start here and let's pass some rules on some certain things that are coming to our town maybe in the future. Maybe do another ordinance or so to keep our town tidy with no eyesores. You know businesses, storefronts, maybe residences within so many feet of our municipal buildings need to be kept tidy. It's a reflection on us," Hart said.
The town's attorney, Dan Willingham, said the Alabama Highway Beatification Act already places state regulated enforcements on these types of businesses operating within 1,000 ft. of an interstate or primary highway, but the presented ordinance expands upon those regulations by adding additional criteria businesses must meet, and allows for enforcement anywhere within the town limits.
Willingham mentioned his family's business, Willingham Salvage, while describing the need for regulating the appearance and operations of the facilities mentioned in the ordinance.
"Sometimes junkyards aren't beautiful. I hate to say that because I was raised in one," Willingham said.
Councilmember Charles Holcomb expressed his approval of the use of decorative elements at Willingham Salvage to distract from the more unsightly business operations. "When I go by y'all's place [Willingham Salvage] your attention is diverted to your flag or to your antique cannon out front. So, you don't pay attention to [the junk]," Holcomb said.
If a business is found to be in violation of any of the general operating requirements listed in the ordinance — such as surrounding any areas where junk is kept with a wall or fence no shorter than 8 ft., not allowing for any standing water to remain on the property and keeping weeds and grass cut below 4 inches tall — it will be subject to receive a fine of $100 per day for each continued violation.
The ordinance also restricts the hours these businesses are allowed to operate to between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. and details the process of applying for a business license. This process includes an investigation of the premises performed by the town clerk and a public hearing to be held within 45 days of the town receiving the application, during which any person will be allowed to speak on any issue relevant to the granting or refusal of the license.
Holcomb made a motion to suspend the rules requiring two public readings of a new ordinance before it is allowed to be acted on which was met with hesitancy from councilmember Ricky Carr. Carr noted that he "didn't feel comfortable" seeing as how he was presented with the seven-page ordinance just before the meeting began, but ultimately voted in agreement with the other members of the council to approve the ordinance.
Holcomb met Carr's reluctancy with understanding, but said the ordinance could be revisited or modified in the future if any issues arise.
"We gotta start somewhere. We can come back and modify the ordinance at some point in time, but this draws a line in the sand and we can get started with other stuff," Holcomb said.
Hart, who last month informed members of the Holly Pond Town Council of complaints from residents about the newly installed signage regarding the town's two most recent ordinances against the use of engine suppression brakes and littering, said the ordinance does not apply to any of the town's existing businesses and viewed its passing as a "courtesy" requested to the community.
"I try not to be a mean person, I try to be cordial. It's the same with our speed limit signs and braking and all this, we ask these things as a courtesy to our community and our town. That's the way I will approach people if need be and then move on from there. I'm all about treating people with kindness," Hart said.
Willingham stated that he is currently in the process of drafting an additional ordinance to address "dilapidated housing" which is expected to be presented to the council upon its completion.