Salted with Sharks

Plan B… October Council Meeting Report

In Politics on November 15, 2011 at 12:41 am

By Emily Votruba

October 20, 2011

MARCIA STOBIE, district 3 county commissioner, said they’ve hired a county administrator, Chris Olson. “He’s from Bear Lake,” Marcia said, “so he knows about losing to Benzie Central and Frankfort.” The county is negotiating with three unions over changes to municipal worker health care packages mandated by Public Act 54 and State Senate bill no. 7. Employees may have to bear 100% of the increase in health insurance costs. The commission has offered Tom Longenbach his old job as equalization officer, and he’ll start November 14. Benzie has a little over a million dollars in EDC money and TC has about $2 million. Lansing is mandating that those funds be combined to cover one large 10-county EDC, from the Mackinac Bridge to Manistee. “This was federal money but because there were so many strings attached it was hard to lend it out,” Marcia said. (The Garden Theater received an EDC loan.) The commission reappointed Marcia LaTour to the Maples board.

Lee Blahnik of Furnace Ave. spoke on the continuing speeding problem on 168. He said he went to the sheriff’s office, the county road commission, and local law enforcement, and has looked into temporary speedbumps and active speed monitors à la the Summer Assembly’s. “Rather than the guy who can’t or won’t do anything, I’m looking for the guy that will.” Reg asked Marcia to take the concern to the county commission. Jonathan Drury suggested pedestrian crossing areas with hi-viz cones in the road, à la Frankfort’s. Reg said once we take over 168 we’ll take steps. Matt Stapleton said he’d be happy to sit down with Lee and Jon and anyone else to look at possible solutions. Council will reexamine the terms of Two Porta-John services, in the wake of complaints. The September bills were approved. Receipts were $33,326.36. Expenditures were: accounting, $57,070.44; payroll, $11,089.61; Parks & Rec expenses: $1,161.39. Total expenditures: $69,321.44.

The last Lifesaving Station rental this year is Thanksgiving weekend, and DPW Ken Bonney asked if council wanted the station closed down for the winter. Reg said we need to compare the cost of leaving it open vs. shutting it down and then reopening if there’s another Winter Whine in the Park event, for example. Matt Stapleton asked how often people request to rent the Station during the winter, citing potential revenue. Sharyn Bower said we get very few requests. Ken Holmes suggested the Community Building for winter events. Diane Jenks said, “It’s not big enough and it doesn’t have a kitchen.” Ken Bonney said the beach boardwalks are both put away as of mid-November, and the salt and sand are mixed. A general moment of Ken Bonney love ensued. Reg remarked that the back of the Village Office has been totally revamped where there used to be a lot of trash. Ken Holmes said, “I don’t think we could ask for a better DPW.”

Jinx commended the council for not putting the water board through hell on the water rate increase. Ken Holmes said we still need another licensed operator at the plant. “The flow is down and everybody’s complaining.” Elberta is now generating 22,000 to 27,000 gallons, down from 100,000. Sharyn said the Village sometimes used to pay $8,000 a month for water and sewer. Ken Holmes blames the low flow in part on the high grade drainage system installed with the new 168.

Reg clarified that if Ken Bonney does Park and Rec related work he’s on the Village clock, and his wage is not paidby Park and Rec.

Reg is concerned about the huge amount of algae on the beach this year. He asked Ross Thorsen if some agency can be notified. Ross suggested we document it and will ask around.

Ken Bonney surveyed property owners surrounding the proposed dog park and all rejected the proposal. Reg said the Dog Park Committee should start work on the second choice, the field behind the Community Building. Aubrey Ann Parker, one of the Dog Park organizers, said a public forum would have been helpful so that the community could discuss the issue and its pros and cons for the Village.

Linda Manville asked whether the Village is in compliance with the new state health care contributions rules for public employees. According to treasurer Laura Manville the hard cap allows an average payment of $5,500 per employee for health care; some Village employees get more than this and some less, but we’re under the limit with an annual premium for three employees at $15,901. Linda corresponded with the Michigan Municipal League, who said that because the Village gets revenue sharing (for major and local streets) we need to make sure we remain in compliance, or face penalties. In any event, the law allows us to continue with our current plan until it runs out. Reg said council would examine the issue in August before the plan expires in September. Jinx suggested looking at it during the budget meetings ahead of setting our budget in February. Linda said she would like to see the options and the plan brought before council. Approval of thecurrent health plans came through adoption of the budget, and there was no general discussion of what was best for the employees and taxpayers, she said.

Council spent the remainder of the two-hour meeting discussing the proposed tall grass and weed ordinance. Reg stated his intention to make a decision that night, since it was now the third time council had discussed the issue. “The first month, somebody complained, the second month we reviewed Frankfort’s ordinance and said it was kind of vague, and now we’ve got another ordinance in front of us tonight. This ordinance has been in the Village office for at least two weeks that I know of, and has been
in the Village packet since Monday.” [In fact, the completion of the ordinance was not made known to the public as promised, and this reporter was not notified that the ordinance was available, despite two inquiries. I picked up a copy of the ordinance on the Tuesday before the meeting and immediately posted it online. No notice of public hearing was given in the post office, just in the Record Patriot, and the wording was not otherwise made available to the public.—Ed.]

Linda Manville said that in similar ordinances she found online, the term “turf” was used instead of “grass,” which she suggested was better. “[Turf] is an area of the yard that is predominantly grass but mayhave some weeds growing in it; that to me is offensive. If someone has a natural grass area that is designed and set out as a garden, and it doesn’t obstruct views or interfere with anything, I don’t have a problem with it.” She also pointed out an inaccurate number reference to another law and other wording problems in the ordinance as presented. Reg said council needed to consider preserving individual freedom as well as the problem of enforcement. “[The way this ordinance is worded], I hope you don’t have to have a degree in botany to go by someone’s lawn and figure out what’s a weed and what’s a grass.”

Ken Holmes said, “I’d also consider that a lot of people don’t give one damn what their yard looks like and instead of enhancing their property, their next-door neighbors are fighting a needless battle.” Lengthy, heated public comment ensued, until Matt Stapleton argued successfully that the wording should be revised back to something vaguer, like Frankfort’s; that city also has an appeal process, which the proposed ordinance does not provide for. A public hearing on the new wording will be held at 7 before the regular council meeting on November 17.

SPECIAL WEB-ONLY BONUS … Transcript of public comment on the lawn ordinance

Linda Manville: This was available in the office for a couple of weeks. Was there anything posted in the post office saying we were going to be looking at this?

Sharyn Bower: It’s in the minutes from last meeting that it would be available in the office at least a week before the vote. The minutes were posted, and Emily has a copy.

Emily Votruba: That’s not true. I did not have a copy of the minutes.

Ken Holmes: All you had to do is ask for them.

EV: I actually did ask for a copy of the ordinance repeatedly and did not receive a copy. I sent Sharyn an e-mail about it and got no response and I called and talked to Laura. I got a copy because I went down to the office Tuesday morning [the week of the meeting] and I picked up a copy. The wording of this ordinance was not made publicly known.

Ken Holmes: That is the reason we brought it up now, so come next spring people will know that they’ve at least got to take care of their yard. Some people don’t care about it anyway. And as far as Reggie mentioned…with ordinances, it seems this town is run pretty freely. We have ordinances but they don’t seem to be covered very often. We just went through a new zoning ordinance for almost three years, we’re making a new city map, but if you’re not going to enforce the stuff, why did we spend all the time—why? We have a lot of people spent a lot of hours going over this stuff. There’s no excuse that we can’t keep our ordinance[s] in accordance with any other town.

[Member of the public who did not identify herself] : I didn’t think it was time for us to speak, but since she did [referring to Emily Votruba]. We all like to be proud of Elberta, but when you’re going down the street, and you have a place that looks like a junkyard, you can’t be proud of your village. We try to be as nice as Frankfort because they look over at us sometimes and say, oh that’s Elberta. we can’t be proud if half of it looks like it’s trashed.

Reg Manville: Can we open this up to public comment then?

Aubrey Parker of Frankfort: I read the ordinance the other day, and I just had a couple of questions about different things that were in there, some things that I thought weren’t clear actually. One thing was the fact that grass is mentioned, but like you [Linda Manville] were saying, it’s fine for people to have native grasses if it’s part of a garden, but the only time the word garden is mentioned [in the proposed ordinance] is in connection with a “flower garden” or it also says food—corn, things like that. So I would say you’d definitely want to have some sort of a section or add in there that you can have native grasses and it doesn’t have to be in a flower garden.

KH: It provides for that in the ordinance, a garden or whatever you want…

AP: Yeah I would just ask that it be changed because the way that it’s worded, it could be interpreted that you’re only allowed to have tall grasses if they are in a flower garden. That’s how I read that. And then also, I was wondering about people’s rights and things. And I haven’t read other ordinances so I don’t know, if this is just standard practice, but it just sort of came as a shock to me that the enforcement officer is allowed to come on your property without your consent and that you can’t molest them or have violence toward them…and then the other problem I had was that if something is damaged on your property while they’re on your property, that the Village isn’t liable. Again, I haven’t read other ordinances, I just read yours today. Those are just things that came as a shock to me. And the last thing was that public health was mentioned a couple of times in there, and I was just wondering what public health has to do with tall grass.

KH: Do you have a sinus problem? Ragweed? My wife can’t hardly stand the smoke in town let alone the weeds. But I’ll get back to people coming on your property. The Village has the right to send their people on your property to investigate whatever needs to be investigated at any time, at reasonable hours. It has nothing to do with this ordinance, really.

RM: Well, I’d like a resolution on this, because this could go on forever.

Marcia Stobie: I just had a question. What is the procedure for adopting an ordinance like this? Do you have to have a public meeting? Is this the public meeting? I know with zoning we have to have a hearing. You don’t?

Sharyn Bower: No.

Marcia Stobie: OK. Just a question.

KH: If it needs to be squeeshed a little bit, fine, but the thing of it is, let’s get it over with, let’s get it done.

EV: Are you going to squeesh it after you’ve adopted this ordinance? You’re going to change the wording after you’ve already approved the wording?

KH: I’m saying it could be. Anything can be amended. It says in this, one portion that did not apply had nothing to do with the rest of it. [presumably referring to Section 10, Severability: “The several provisions of this ordinance are declared to be separate; if any Court shall hold that any section or provision hereof is invalid, such holding shall not affect or impair the validity of any other section or provision of this ordinance.”] Read it!

EV: I did read it. Are we still in public comment, or is that closed now?

RM: You can go ahead.

EV: I have a few questions. If a resident—Emily Votruba, southwest corner of Bigley and Washington Avenue—if a resident decides to put up a fence, so that the yard cannot be seen, does that make a difference?

KH: Excuse me, but you need to get a permit to put anything over a four-foot fence on your property—

EV: OK if the fence is within compliance and is OK with the zoning board and everything—

KH: You still have to take care of your yard. You just can’t hide it, you still gotta—

EV: So that was my question. So, behind the fence, if it’s suspected that there’s a violation, the Village agent could still enter the property and remediate the situation according to this ordinance?

RM: Yes. As far as I know we’ve been able to do that in any instance where we feel there might be a problem.

EV: OK. I have a couple other questions. If a resident has a plan for a garden, is it possible, is there any sort of procedure the resident can go through to present this plan to someone and get it approved so that there won’t be any misunderstanding about whether what they’re doing is in violation or not. I mean because this ordinance, because it’s fairly broad and specifies only “gardens,” “vegetable gardens” and “flower gardens,” will there be any sort of committee or something that you can appeal to and say, here is my landscape plan, do I have permission for this landscape plan, will there be any sort of appeal process? Or—whose decision will it be? Who’s the one who says, “This person is in violation.”

KH: Whoever we send to look at it. Our Village employee.

EV: So it’s going to be up to the Village employee to make a determination as to whether somebody’s in compliance or not.

KH: If that’s what the Village wants.

EV: Is that the answer?

RM: Our superintendent enforces our ordinances, so if he sees a violation, he can enforce it.

EV: So it’s up to him to decide whether something’s a garden or not.

RM: If we adopt this ordinance.

EV: OK. So it’s up to the DPW to say, this person’s collection of native grasses is not a garden.

RM: See, this is why, personally, I feel that this ordinance, or any ordinance, trying to regulate what you can grow on your property is going to be hard to enforce. That’s my personal opinion. This can happen. We have people right now with rock gardens on their property, we have people who don’t cut their lawn, we have a whole lot of different properties in our Village that would be in violation with this ordinance. And I think those are the things we have to look at.

Linda Manville: I’d like to make one other comment, Reggie, too, as I mentioned on that other ordinance, MBL 247.61, there’s a reference to a Commissioner of Noxious Weeds—this is the state law. “Appointment…term…removal…report…” One thing that they said in that section is that the Commissioner of Noxious Weeds is to be “qualified.” What’s “qualified”? When I went back and looked at the website today it said he had to be qualified.

RM: Qualified for what?

LM: Qualified to make a determination, I guess. I’m just telling you what I read. I don’t know.

KH: So if you don’t want zoning in Elberta, vote it out. If you want zoning in Elberta let’s get things going.

Diane Jenks: Well, one of the things I’d like to comment on, was the fence issue. If somebody has a yard that they determine is what they want it to be and the Village doesn’t determine it’s what they want it to be, and they comply with all the fencing laws, I don’t…I have a problem saying we want to tell you what’s on the other side of your fence. The thing is, we’re saying, we don’t want to go down the street and look at somebody’s yard that has tall weeds and grass, but what if we’re not? What if we’re going down the street looking at a fence?

KH: Do you want to look at a fence instead of a yard everyplace you go? Is that what you want in Elberta?

DJ: Well we already have fences and fence ordinances, and if they comply with the fence ordinance, then I don’t see how we can say well you’re complying with that, but beyond that fence…

KH: There’s only a certain portion of your property that you can fence in.

DJ: Well then, that’s the portion of your property that you can have the tall grass in.

KH: You can pull this apart all you want—

DJ: I’m not pulling it apart—

KH: We can discuss it all we want, the whole Village can, but it seems like in this village for some reason or other if there’s an ordinance that comes up that someone doesn’t like, or they want to pick it apart… You use the best of your ability on anything and you gauge that. Just because it says such and such and such there…there’s nobody in this village that’s going to go around someone’s yard and pick it apart. But I do object to places that haven’t been mowed in years.

Linda Manville: Going back to Reggie’s statement about enforcing our ordinances, we have to face that there’s a lot that don’t get enforced, and there’s things that I see around our village that have been there for a long time and nothing’s happened. Will we put ourselves in any kind of liability situation where we deem that someone is in violation and three doors down somebody has something that’s a quarter of an inch taller and we don’t do it. I like to mow my lawn, I mean, I like my yard to look nice, I’m just saying…

KH: Like I said you can pick the yard ordinance apart…

DJ: It would be nice to have the best of both worlds. So that everybody in the village is happy.

KH: Yeah how do you do that?

DJ: Well, build a compliable fence, and grow stuff on the other side of it.

Matt Stapleton: Did you say we have had a lawn ordinance before?

RM: We have junk ordinances.

KH: A lot of this is in our junk ordinance, and we had one heck of a time getting that done…

DJ: The grass isn’t in the junk ordinance.

KH: You should take some time to read it, that junk ordinance…

DJ: I did read it. It didn’t say anything about grass.

Bill Soper: So we don’t have tall grass in the ordinance right now?

RM: The basic thing is we’re trying to create a value system that everybody can live under, and that’s very difficult, because people have different values, that’s all.

Matt Stapleton: These unmaintained residences that you’re referring to, have you had any problems with compliance when you’ve asked them to cut their lawn? Let’s say the lawn hasn’t been cut in two years and it’s obvious it’s not because they’re trying to create some natural…they’ve got two trucks and eight feet of lawn there…and the Village knocks on the door and says, your property looks horrible and number one it could be a violation of the junk ordinance, and number two, we’d like to ask you to mow your lawn. Have we had a lot of that where they’ve said no, I’m not going to cut my lawn?

KH: No, we haven’t had that where they’ve said they won’t do it they just don’t. We have no control of telling anyone to do anything in their yard unless you get an ordinance.

Matt Stapleton: Well, I understand that, I’m just saying, I mean, in the situation you’re referring to, where you have a piece of property…where that approach is taken, have people said no?

KH: No. My biggest problem is when you have people who want to make their neighborhood look nice and you’ve got one sore thumb. In fact your wife has made that comment on that one house, how she doesn’t like it because it looks like nobody’s living in it. That’s another place that’s never taken care of.

Matt Stapleton: Yeah, but I mean, let’s say somebody’s actually living there…if they were asked to maintain it, have we had a lot of refusals. I just didn’t know the history of it.

Sharyn Bower: We’ve had some grass situations before and I’ve been instructed just to write a nice letter…

Matt Stapleton: Did they respond?

SB: Yes. And they mowed their lawn.

KH: We’ve mowed places. And put it on their bill.

Lee Blahnik: I haven’t looked at your lawn ordinance—apparently you don’t have one—and I hope you don’t have issues with my place, but I’m saying, you’ve got a lot of gray area here. You’ve got a lot of gray area. I mean, you can go over here and say this guy’s grass is too high, and you can go over here and say well this guy’s house isn’t quite the way we’d like it to be, and this guy has too many bicycles and toys in their yard. How about old people who maybe can’t get out in their yard, or people who don’t live here in town. These are considerations. There are people who only get here maybe once every two or three weeks, but when they get here, they mow…. You can bash the people as much as you want but, maybe a guy can’t afford to mow his lawn…

KH: How many people in this town can’t afford to take care of their yard?

LB: I don’t know, you tell me.

KH: Very few.

LB: What about the people who don’t live here continuously?

KH: A lot of them have people who take care of it.

DJ: You still have a responsibility…

LB: I agree, but then that needs to be in here… You say there’s no enforcement but well who enforces it? You guys do, right?

EV: Kenny!

LB: All you guys gotta do is go there and say hey mow your lawn and then if the guy doesn’t do it, then you take action.

DJ: That’s in there. They’re told they have 15 or 20 days or whatever before anything’s done.

LB: You’re just causing yourselves problems getting mad when a guy doesn’t mow his lawn. You’re just causing yourselves high blood pressure.

KH: But you see, the whole thing is, we’ve got a big share of people in town that don’t believe in an ordinance at all anyway. And you know it yourself. They think the Village is twisting their arm to clean up or do this or do that. And they resist 100 percent.

LB: I’m just saying get out there and try and work with them a little bit.

RM: Anybody else out there have anything to say?

Liz Padalino, Frankfort: I’ve been in the natural resources conservation field for about five years now and one of the things we always bring up to people we’re talking to is that lawns are pretty harmful environmentally, and so, I’m kind of worried that this would maybe encourage people to mow their lawns, maybe up to the water level, and that could impact the health of our water and Betsie Bay and beyond. So that’s kind of something to think about. Encouraging lawns might not be the best thing, so. And in the wording of the ordinance, maybe it would be good to not focus on lawns so much? And then just, from a personal point of view, I think that the long lawns and the kind of weedy look of Elberta is kind of charming.

EV: I have one more question. Since the stated purpose of this ordinance is to secure the public health, safety, and welfare of the residents and property owners of the Village, I would like to request that there be an amendment to the ordinance that would protect the public from the exhaust fumes from power mowers, which use more greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels than automobiles do and that there be some provision regarding the use of insecticides and herbicides in people’s lawns which are known to be carcinogenic, such that if someone is going to apply Chemlawn or an insecticide or herbicide on their property that they be required to notify their immediate neighbors to that effect, perhaps 24 hours in advance, so that their neighbor can get their pets out of the yard, or whatever else they feel they need to do. Also that there be a provision against noise nuisance, maybe something to the effect that you can’t mow between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. I just feel like if we’re going to have a public health and safety ordinance, that it should reflect all sides of the lawn care issue.

KH: So far tonight we went through everything except tall grass. Isn’t that something?

EV: I’m sorry, I don’t understand.

KH: You come up with insecticides and mowing times and all that. We just want people to keep their yard tidy. That’s all it amounts to.

EV: It’s much more complicated than that.

DJ: It shouldn’t have to be.


Bill Soper: Just quickly Reggie. I really don’t see a need for this ordinance. It’s pretty much common sense. If you have a problem with somebody, just go and talk to them.

KH: Never works here in this town. You know.

Bill Soper: Basically all I have to say is I don’t think we need another law to try to enforce, for people to skirt around. And I don’t see—the village is in fairly decent shape, sure there are issues.

RM: I would like a roll call vote on this. Somebody makes a motion, then we go around the table.

DJ: I don’t think we can.

RM: We can’t? We’ve done it in the past.

Matt Stapleton: I’ve got a question for the lady in the back.

AP: Yeah.

Matt Stapleton: How do you maintain your lawn?

AP: That’s a good question. So our grass occasionally gets too long and we do get a notice from Josh Mills and we promptly mow the grass after he tells us to. That happened once this summer I think, and it happened once last summer, and we took care of it the same day we got the e-mail or the phone call or whatever. And that’s partly because, as Liz said, half our backyard is a nice garden that we do have edible plants in, and the rest of it, we don’t like to mow our lawn, or as minimally as possible. We like to keep a low impact on the area.

Matt Stapleton: This ordinance [before council] as you reviewed it, is similar to the one in Frankfort?

RM: No, we had that ordinance in front of us at the last meeting. This one is very different.

Matt Stapleton: Do you feel that the ordinance you have over there impedes on the privacy of your lawn and your decision making?

AP: No because I like the vague wording as opposed to the more strict wording in this one. I like the fact that in the Frankfort one, as Emily was saying, if you want to you can petition the city for a certain garden style, because I asked Josh about this earlier in the year. In your front yard if you’re not going to do A, B, or C, you have to petition the city to do D, E, or F. We haven’t done that, but there’s a way to do that.

Matt Stapleton: And do you feel like, when you’ve been requested to mow your lawn, that that’s a big pain in the rear, or is it just like, OK, the city’s telling me to do something, I’ll be in compliance.

AP: Yeah, we’re compliant. I think that part of that is that in our case, we’re not trying to do—we haven’t planted for example, specific tall native grasses that are meant to be grown tall. If we were to do that, the city would be OK with that, because it fits within A, B, or C.

Matt Stapleton: Do you feel like the ordinance is working for Frankfort? In your opinion.

AP: I think it works to the end that people in the city who made the ordinance want it to. I think that’s true. What I’m saying is, I agree with Liz. I don’t think we should have short lawns. So, but for the way it was intended, which was to keep people’s lawns a certain way, yes, it is working. But I don’t necessarily believe personally that we should have lawns. That we should focus so much time and energy on lawns.

Matt Stapleton: But you think that your city looks nice and that it’s working the way it was intended.

AP: Yes.

Matt Stapleton: Are you going to move, anytime soon? I mean, does the ordinance put you in a position where you don’t want to live there anymore?

AP: No, because it’s vague enough. There are differences between that ordinance and your ordinance that I think are quite substantial.

Matt Stapleton: Thank you. I really appreciate your answers.

KH: We’ve been at this for over an hour now.

RM: Sharyn, how can we take this vote then?

SB: We can’t do a roll call because it doesn’t involve money.

Matt Stapleton: Here’s how it works. You have a motion, then you open it for discussion and then you have a second and then you have a vote and if you don’t have a second then it stays here.

RM: I’d like to try to get this resolved.

Matt Stapleton: I understand but I’m just saying, you don’t have to make it into something it’s not…. I’ll say for the record that I agree with Ken’s comments and those of some people in the front row that we have an obligation to have a community that looks good. It’s good for people coming in, especially looking at property, however, I don’t know that we have to get into … I think vague in this ordinance is not a bad thing. I think vague is a good thing because Ken, what you’re referring to…people not mowing for years, and you can’t take care of that without an ordinance, but I think the benefit of a vague ordinance is that there’s still some creativity in your yard, you still have an opportunity if you don’t want to have the 1984 lawn and have everything perfect that you can still…that it’s still your yard. That’s different than us sending someone over to your yard to make sure it’s perfectly maintained. So I think we can accomplish both if we have it a bit more vague. Vague’s not bad. Because it’s the people who need to have their lawn cut because it looks horrible, and it’s been that way for six months and maybe they need someone to mow their lawn for them because they don’t have a lawn mower and they don’t have any money, the Village can maybe help them out with that. And then, if Emily wants to be creative in her yard and have wild mustard, and it looks nice, then she can do that. I don’t think we have to specify every plant, pesticide, let’s just have something where we have some backing if we do have to knock on a door.

KH: So what are you going to do if they say kiss off?

Matt Stapleton: Did you hear what I said? I think the ordinance is a good thing. It just doesn’t have to be so specific. Apparently it’s working in Frankfort, that’s all. I don’t see why we have to be so much different from there.

KH: If you want to go by the Frankfort ordinance then so be it.

Matt Stapleton: We’re not going to deal with this until the spring, so I don’t see why we couldn’t have the opportunity  to make something that works for everyone.

Linda Manville: I’d like to agree with Matt on that. If this is going to be our first stab at this grass thing, we need to have something where we have the right to say to a resident either mow your lawn, or put up a fence, or get a plan or something. I’d rather start there than put us in a situation where Kenny has to decide that one’s OK but that one’s not OK kind of a deal. I’d rather start out easy. We have enough trouble, so let’s not put a noose around our necks.

Matt Stapleton: We’d have to send Ken to botany school.

KH: We need to have something that’s got teeth in it, that can be taken care of. We need something to go by.

Matt Stapleton: I completely agree. I don’t know if the answer is the opportunity to come together before the next meeting to look at the Frankfort ordinance or bring the Frankfort ordinance, plug that in here with a few changes, but that all will have to be reviewed by the public, and we put [a notice of] a hearing in the news before our meeting. I think it’s possible to get this done at the next meeting without trying to cram the thing through. We’re not going anywhere. Let’s tweak it.

KH: The thing is, something has to be done. This town has been very notable, probably the only one around, that doesn’t adhere to our ordinances.

RM: I would say if you want to table it… We had the Frankfort ordinance in front of us. People didn’t like that. Then we went to this one. I’m still not sure what the vote would be, but we can’t agree on this, but I don’t think this one would pass. We can table it, and bring it up again, but I don’t want to kick this can down the road…

Matt Stapleton: I don’t think we have to. But I think there’s some desire to have a hearing.

Diane Jenks: We have to go through protocol for a public hearing.

SB: We don’t have to; we can pass an ordinance at a regular meetng.

Matt Stapleton: All I’m saying is, how can we do this so we don’t have to spin our wheels—form committee? Have an open meeting?

SB: We can advertise that we’ll have a public hearing before the meeting where we can hear what people have to say.

EV: Is that going to be posted in the post office?

SB: Yes.

Notice was given on Monday, November 14, of a public hearing at 7 pm before the November 17 meeting, to be followed by the regular meeting. According to Sharyn, the Frankfort ordinance and the other, longer ordinance were put in the council members’ packets for review at the meeting.

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