Controversy over culverts

A driveway culvert example that meets city code.

The Rainsville City Council on Monday discussed a concern from citizens who found driveway code enforcement signs in their yards this month.

The signs, placed at various properties in Rainsville, stated driveways “must meet city code 60 days after installation.”

During the council workshop, Councilman Rickey Byrum, the Public Works liaison for the city council, described the incident as a safety precaution for the city.

“This is protecting property owners, as well as protecting the city of Rainsville because that right of way belongs to the city of Rainsville,” Byrum said. “We’re trying to get control over mosquito beds, over drainage, over culverts. It’s dangerous.”

Byrum said when the tiles at the end of a driveway do not meet city code, they have the possibility of not draining, which can lead to deterioration or clogging, which allows for cave-ins and the growth of the mosquito population.

A dilapidated driveway tile collapsed underneath a car on Nick Street recently because, in the past, different materials were used to make the tiles, many of which do not hold up as they should, he said.

Byrum said residents did not think the 60-day notice was long enough to comply.

“Our ordinances don’t even come close to any other ordinances in the county, not even close,” Byrum said. “All we’re trying to do is maintain and fix the drainage to where our roads last longer. I can assure you that at $50,000 to $60,0000 a mile on road paving, you want to make sure your infrastructure is fixed before you start trying to fix the roads.”

Councilman Marshall Stiefel expressed his concern for the “selectively” placed signs in yards.

“I got no problem with the ordinance the way it was,” Stiefel said. “The problem was when you told [Ricky] Dobbins, ‘Hey, go put these signs out that say you’ve got 60 days to comply.’ [The ordinance] didn’t say that and people freaked out, naturally. I mean, who’s going to want to be building something and the city comes out and does that?”

Stiefel said the strategically placed signs did not affect Councilman Bejan Taheri’s “road,” Scott Avenue, where he said he saw code violations and no signs.

The ordinance in question, 3-20-2017, states that it is to “lessen the burden put on the city for maintenance and upgrades, as well as, increase the value of the subdivisions within the city.” However, the past ordinance does not give a specified time frame for residents or contractors to have the necessary corrections made.

Byrum said the ordinance would be amended at a future meeting to meet the 60-day notice given to residents this month.

During the council meeting:

• a two percent raise for city employees was approved.

• the sewer line at the Orchard subdivision was approved for repairs at approximately $7,800.

• 48 items of equipment from the police and fire departments were approved to be set as surplus.

• the DeKalb County Children’s Advocacy Center sponsorship was renewed at $1,000.

• a special meeting was set for January 3, 2019, at 5 p.m.

• an Evidence Control System for the police department was approved for purchase at $2,162.21 earned through donations.

• a bank account was approved to be opened to consolidate all monies seized from drug-related cases.

• the budgeted communications updates for the police and fire departments was approved for $123,253.77. This includes all new communications systems, i.e. radios, towers, etc.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Jan. 7, 2019 at 5 p.m. and the workshop begins at 4:15 p.m.

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