Hardy city council met in their regular bi-monthly session April 20. Topics on the agenda included a building variance, the possibility of Riverbend Park getting water and a children's food program during the summer months.
Following roll call and the approval of prior minutes, Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton welcomed discussion on the upcoming liquor issue. Thornton leaves this on each month's agenda for either public or council comments and suggestions of ways in which to deal with the issue if the county were to become wet in the upcoming election. The only comments on the issue were from one audience member who posed the question of whether or not the city could pass an ordinance regarding the issue before it is actually passed. Thornton said that was a possibility and could be done to not have any delays if it were to become wet. The audience member was also a downtown business owner and said that parking in the downtown area was at a premium and told Thornton that if the county were to become wet, and one of the downtown businesses were to get a liquor license, the possibility of patrons of the establishment selling liquor could cause problems with downtown parking.
The next item on the old business portion of the agenda was tabled because Hardy Road Superintendant Billy Gilbreath was not present.
Thornton then announced that Virgil Griffin had announced that Riverbend Property owners had agreed to pay the past due water bill and a deposit to ensure the owners water once again be turned on. For more on this story, see the separate article in last week's edition of the Villager Journal.
Carolyn Groves, Hardy Recorder/Treasurer then presented to council the findings of her summertime food program for area children. The project, which Groves created and will oversee, is to help area children. Groves, a long time educator, said she had struggled to find a location to serve a hot meal to area children during the summer months. She said she had finally reached an agreement with McDonalds of Hardy. She said because 85 percent of Hardy's population is below poverty level the children qualify for this lunchtime meal that will be provided free of charge from June 5 -- July 30. Groves said many kids do not get the adequate food they need after they are out of school for the summer and she would volunteer her time to not only ensure the children have this need met, but also to give of herself in helping them learn things such as manners. Groves said she would like the children to be able to sit down and learn proper manners. She said parents are invited to bring their children, up to the age of 17, for the meal, which will be held at the Hardy Gym beginning June 5. The children are welcome to come by five days a week to take part in this free state funded program, that is implemented by Groves. She said further information will be published in the Villager Journal at a later date. She stressed that she will not be a baby sitter or tutor, but will help feed them at the gym. She also said the children participating in the summer reading program hosted by the library are welcome to come to the free lunch daily.
A No Smoking Law was also considered on the old business portion of the agenda. It was brought to council's attention by Mayor Thornton that during events, complaints have been voiced about patrons having to walk through smoke upon entering the Old Hardy Gym. Because the state statute refers only to indoor air, it was unclear what kind of guidelines the city must consider in implementing a law on outdoor smoking in regard to distance from buildings. Council agreed to research the options and tabled the discussion until the next meeting.
Another topic that brought forth a lot of discussion was a building variance. The proposed topic was to consider changing certain residential areas in Hardy to commercial to promote growth of business. Hardy Alderman Margaret Hartness, who lives in the area, said changing some areas could pose issues in regard to traffic and said she would be concerned with the types of business going into the area. She said she feels granting business licenses should be on a case by case basis and must be preapproved by council.
Audience member and fellow Hardy business owner Greg Bess discussed that the city had passed an ordinance in 1996 which referred to ways to handle building variances. He said the ordinance states that it requires a six member panel, two thirds of which are not members of the city council and further discussed the process of approving a home in regard to what he says is stated in the ordinance as "good planning and zoning practices."
In the last order of Old Business Ordinance 2004-02 was discussed. This ordinance was in reference to some unsightly homes that have been in a state of disrepair for a lengthy amount of time despite numerous attempts by the city to persuade the land owners to complete their building project or clean up the area. The Ordinance gives the city authority to condemn certain properties. One particular property in question is one the city has received numerous complaints against. Council agreed to exercise their rights set forth by the ordinance and follow proper procedure by mailing a certified letter to the owner and lien holder of the property stating that it will be condemned and when it will be heard by council. The property in question is located on Third and Johnson Streets. Thornton said the topic will be heard by Hardy City Council on June 6.
This brought forth more discussion regarding other properties which audience members said had been a problem far longer, specifically burned out buildings. Members of council and Thornton said they had received more complaints on this specific location, but stressed this would make others aware that the city has full authority to enforce the ordinance.
In new business, the Iberia Bank Building was discussed; Thornton said the building will be closed soon, as the bank is moving to another location. Thornton asked council's permission to ask the bank to donate the building to the city. She said due to the problems with flooding at the current city hall building, this building would make an excellent location. She said, although it has flooded in the past, it is not in a flood zone or a flood plain, according to the map. Council voted unanimously to allow Thornton on behalf of the city to ask if the bank building could be donated to the city.
Prior to adjournment, announcements of upcoming events were read, including Tourism Day to be held May 15 at Dr. Thompson Park and the amphitheater and the Wilburn Brother's tribute May 29.
Hardy City Council holds their regular bi-monthly meetings the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 7 p.m. The public is always welcome to attend these meetings. Each month a time is set aside for discussion on the liquor issue. Anyone wishing to ask questions, voice concerns, or have ideas related to this issue is invited to speak..