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Sewer issues main topic for Highland City Council

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A sewer hook-up problem, the possibility of the city taking over property owned by the Hidden Valley Property Owners Association, a new software system, new pagers for the Highland Fire Department and possible weight limits on Turkey Pen Road were the main topics of discussion at the Jan. 12 meeting of the Highland City Council.

City Attorney Jon Abele spoke to members of city council regarding two residents of Highland who have not hooked up to the city sewer. Abele explained the city's options in regard to the two. He told council that they can take the property owners to court if they don't agree to hook up to the utility, one which was a free hook up initially. He said the property owners would be responsible for court costs as well as a 20 percent penalty and the city can then put a lien on the homes and sell the houses. This very serious possibility has been posed to the property owners according to members of city council on three different occasions. Abele said after the work on the project begins; the city cannot accept any type of payment plan and also said the city is under the obligation to begin the project in a timely manner. Norwood said he has no problem setting up a payment plan but can only do so up to the time when the work begins.

According to Highland Mayor Jerome Norwood, one of the property owners, W. James Stokes refuses to hook up to the utility and the other, Steve Polston, has had some past problems with the contractors. The council agreed to let Alderman Larry Allen attempt to serve as a mediator with Stokes regarding the issue. Allen said he would hate to see someone lose their home over the sewer system.

In new business, Members were present with the Hidden Valley Property Owners Association (POA). The POA would like the city of Highland to take over 23.09 acres of property with numerous provisions to avoid eventual bankruptcy issues. The requests are that none of the property can be sold for 10 years, the club house and grounds be named for J.R. Looney and be made into a community center with a director appointed and POA members be allowed to use it for functions. In addition, the POA would like the city of Highland to develop the park and make it a public area as well as clean and maintaining the helicopter pad at the club house and provide public access to the lakes. They would also like the city to consider opening a swimming area near the club house and give consideration for street work in Hidden Valley as well as a possible RV park in the area.

Discussion ensued and after consulting with Abele who suggested performing a title search and utilizing the services of a title insurance company in obtaining a clear title to the property, it was agreed by the POA that they would cover the expense. A motion was made by Alderman Larry Allen that if they city can obtain a clear title to the land, the city should take over the property. The motion was seconded by Alderman Joe Black and carried. The city agreed to wait on the findings of the title search prior to voting on the issue.

In other new business, a proposed weight limit on Turkey Pen Road was discussed. Because the county utilizes the road for hauling gravel and dirt and a landscaping business has regular loads of stone delivered, it seemed hard for council to come up with a desired limit. Allen said, "Don't pass a law you can't enforce." And Alderman David Harris agreed. The issue was tabled.

The city voted unanimously to purchase LaserFiche Document Imaging software for the city. The software would be utilized to scan and digitally save documents for the city on a central server.

Highland Fire Chief Steven Davis was given permission by council to purchase five new pagers for his department. Stevens told council he would receive a discount because the Highland Fire Department will be placing an order with the Spring River Ambulance Service.

Prior to adjournment, Norwood announced the Open House of the Highland Fire Department will be held Feb. 5 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The date will commemorate the two year anniversary of the tornado that destroyed the fire station. During the reception type ceremony, the Boy Scouts will be present as well as the American Red Cross Bloodmobile. Alderman Harris was also granted permission to feed the Boy Scouts at Frederick's in exchange for the community service in picking up trash in Highland prior to the Open House ceremony.

Highland City Council will have a public meeting Feb. 9 in the form of hearing for the sewer revenue bonds. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed immediately by the regular city council meeting at 7 p.m.

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