The Mobile City Council Tuesday approved the newly amended litter ordinance, but tabled a vote on new regulations for temporary signs.
The existing litter ordinance was further amended by council to allow business owners a “two-strike” system before enforcing a provision of the law referring to dumpsters.
Councilman John Williams, who suggested the amendment, said the new requirements stipulate that a business owner be required to either pay a fine, or comply with the ordinance by building a three-sided enclosure around a dumpster, or attaching a gravity lock to it, if an owner is ticketed for a litter offense the first time. If the owner is cited again, then the owner must pay the fine and take the necessary steps to comply with the ordinance.
Another change to the ordinance requires each dumpster be labeled to identify the party responsible for compliance.
Meanwhile, the administration has taken steps of its own to help enforce the ordinance. Enforcement is expected to more substantive by larger possible fines, additional code enforcement officers and the promotion of David Daughenbaugh from to the new position of deputy director of property maintenance, which pays $55,900 per year.
In a separate action, the council decided to table a vote on new regulations for temporary signs and move them under the sign ordinance, instead of the litter ordinance. The changes will regulate the placement of temporary signs in public rights-of-way to designated times during weekends. Temporary signs, including directional signs for real estate open houses, would be allowed in rights-of-way between Friday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m.
Councilors tabled the ordinance after attorney Jim Rossler told them of a pending decision in a U.S. Supreme Court First Amendment regarding sign regulations in Arizona. Rossler said the Court’s term ends on Tuesday, June 30 and the decision will most likely have an effect on what the council is trying to do.
“I recommend we do nothing until then,” Rossler advised. “Either we hold it over or table it until the Supreme Court decision.”
The council ultimately voted 7-0 to table a portion of the ordinance. A single section of the ordinance, dealing with special events directional signs — like the “open house” signs — was approved by a 6-1 vote as another amendment to the litter ordinance. Councilman Joel Daves was the lone dissenting vote on the issue. He said he would prefer to stick with the status quo and not change anything until the Supreme Court rules.
“If we need to wait to hear from the Supreme Court, then we need to wait to hear from the Supreme Court,” he said.
Following a suggestion from Councilwoman Bess Rich, the Council further amended the section to strike the word “permitted,” as to not require those placing the signs to obtain a permit for them.
City Attorney Ricardo Woods cautioned that removing the word “permitted” from the amendment would prevent the city from ticketing owners for signs left for an extended period of time.
Councilors argued the city has never enforced the sign ordinance, which was last expanded in 1988.
Africatown comprehensive plan
The council approved a $49,000 contract with KPS Group for the development of a revitalization plan for the Africatown historic district and neighborhood.
Several residents of the Plateau and Africatown communities were in attendance at the meeting, including Cleon Jones, who hopes the plan will bring everyone in the city closer together to help revitalize and develop it.
“The only way a city can grow and flourish is for the entire city to grow and flourish,” he said. “We’ve been on the outside looking in. Hopefully with this, everyone can grow together.”
Nashid Rushdan, a member of the Africatown Community Development Corporation, said he was excited to see what would happen with the agenda item.
“This is the first time this has happened to the community,” he said. “The community will be able to get the recognition it deserves.”
Rushdan said he hopes the revitalization effort helps the neighborhood attract more tourists and preserve its history. He said he would like to see the small neighborhood regarded as another Fort Morgan, Fort Conde or even historic Williamsburg, Virginia.
The revitalization plan, with residents’ suggestions, will help outline future land use for the neighborhood, as well as look at fair housing, Community Development Director Nigel Roberts said before the meeting.
Councilman Levon Manzie, who represents the Plateau and Africatown community, assured residents they would be involved in the process.
In other business
The council approved a $1 million appropriation for roof repair and improvements to a hangar at the Brookley Aeroplex used by VT Systems Engineering for airplane rehabilitation.
The work comes about as an agreement between the city, Mobile County and the Mobile Airport Authority. The item was endorsed by Mayor Sandy Stimpson at the meeting.
Stimpson said VT has provided 1,200 jobs and has been a part of the city for 20 years. He called the money, provided from the city’s economic development fund, an “investment” in the facility.
Stimpson also announced two upcoming public planning meetings. The first is at 6 p.m. at The Temple Downtown to present the findings of a study to consider bicycle and pedestrian safety and connectivity throughout the downtown area. This meeting will include information on the city’s Tiger IV grant application for $13.6 million to revitalize Broad and Beauregard streets.
The city will also hold a workshop for its Map for Mobile comprehensive planning process. The workshop will take place Monday through Thursday at The Grounds.