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Boy Scouts Q&A with city council

No action taken Tuesday on project ‘Big Fish’

Posted: January 25, 2018 4:21 p.m.
Updated: January 26, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Camden City Council had to answer some questions Tuesday evening. They weren’t especially tough, and they came from two young citizens, Ahmel Hicks and Craig Jeffers, of Cub Scout Pack 113.

Scoutmaster Phil Jeffers explained that the boys appeared at city council as part of their troop-based civics training in order to “learn what you do” as city council members.

Ahmel asked whether or not council conducted business every day.

Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford explained that council meets twice a month, on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m.

Craig asked if anyone on council had been in the Boy Scouts. Councilwomen Joanna Craig and Deborah Davis said they were in Girl Scouts. Councilman Jeffrey Graham said not only had he been a Boy Scout, but an Eagle Scout, which appeared to impress the young scout.

Ahmel then asked what kinds of things on which council decides.

Councilman Stephen Smoak went over the items council took up that evening.

“So, we sometimes pass regulations for the city that affect the people that live here and the property that’s located here,” Smoak said.

“And sometimes we pass things that have to do with special events that are going on,” Councilwoman Craig added.

Also, Drakeford said council members represent the city at various functions and with other organizations by attending “meetings on top of meetings on top of meetings,” generating a chuckle from the rest of council.

The toughest question, perhaps, came from young Craig, who asked about gym facilities at the new Camden Elementary School under construction. Smoak suggested he check in with the school district.

“The next time you see (Superintendent) Dr. Frank Morgan, you need to ask him that,” he said.

Finally, Ahmel asked about how one gets to be a council member.

“You are elected by the people,” Drakeford explained. “You fill out the forms applying to the election commission that you want to run for council or mayor. Currently, we need to have signatures, about 300 signatures -- it’s a percentage of the population … in order to be considered to have your name on the ballot.”

The mayor further explained that elections are held in even numbered years. This year, Graham and Davis will be up for re-election, if they choose to run again. Mayor Drakeford and council members Craig and Smoak were elected in 2016 and will run again, if they choose, in 2020.

Councilwoman Craig noted the full process of getting on the ballot takes place each time someone runs for re-election.

Earlier in the meeting, the two Cub Scouts and others watched as council conducted a public hearing on changes to the city’s land development regulations as they relate to the need for digital plats, and the U.S. Postal Services’ focus on what are known as cluster mailbox units (CMU).

“As you know, when a development is completed, they have to have a final plat approved which shows the final lot boundaries and all the improvements they’ve made, including utilities before they can begin selling lots,” City Planner Shawn Putnam said. “This would require developers to submit a digital version of that in addition to the hard copy for us to import into our geographic information systems. This will help us incorporate utility data into the system at a much faster rate, if the developers provide it first rather than us going back after the fact.”

The mailbox part, Putnam said, is based on the fact that the postal service is moving to the CMU model for new developments because they have experienced a significant increase in the number of addresses to service and yet need to stay on budget.

“This would require developers to consult with the postal service about what type of mail delivery the postal service would like prior to them submitting a preliminary plat for planning commission approval. That way, the mail service delivery would be determined and if the postal service has requested centralized mail box units, the developers would then have the opportunity to incorporate the design of that into their preliminary plat,” Putnam said, adding that this would only be required for new developments, not existing ones.

He said that, in turn, would prevent issues where, after the development is approved, a developer would have to go back after the fact in order to provide handicap access and parking places. Putnam said this policy is already in effect and is being done in communities across the country.

No one from the public spoke and council closed the public hearing. Members will take up the proposed changes during a future meeting.

Council also unanimously passed first reading of an ordinance formally annexing a 1-acre piece of property next to I-20 Exit 98 owned by Dilmar Oil Company. Council accepted a petition for annexation back in December. If the ordinance passes second and final reading in February, council will confer interim zoning as commercial mixed use. The matter will then pass back to the Camden Planning Commission in order to recommend final zoning before being sent a second time to council for final consideration.

Council also met in executive session for about 25 to 30 minutes to discuss economic development matters relating to project “Big Fish.” Members took no action after returning to open session, thereby keeping the mystery under wraps for now.

In other business, Drakeford mentioned Cabela’s upcoming King Kat Tournament set for April 28.

Also, City Manager Mel Pearson spoke about a power outage that occurred Tuesday. Pearson said the widespread outage was due to an accident at Dicey Ford and Jumelle Springs roads where a vehicle struck a pole and blew the transformer.

“That fed through two circuits, and tripped out the Chesnut circuit (and) the Broad Street circuit,” Pearson said.

At that point in the meeting, Pearson said he thought the majority of the affected area would be back up shortly, with the last portion being repaired and energized being along Dicey Creek/Dicey Ford Road to approximately the Pine Creek subdivision  

Council will next meet on Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., in Camden. All meetings are open to the public.


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