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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Rockford Town Council saw very little action, with the meeting lasting only 10 minutes and only one nonreoccuring item receiving a vote.
The council took action regarding the final vote of an ordinance that the council reviewed as first brought up at last month’s meeting. The ordinance, number R-TL-2023-09-04, was stated to repeal the town’s old tax and levy ordinance.
The ordinance reads “Be it ordained by the Town Council of Rockford, Alabama, as follows: Town of Rockford Ordinance No. 64, Leaving [sic] and Collection of Taxes September 18, 2001, repeals the following ordinances. They are now null and void and are deleted in their entirety.”
The ordinance goes on to list 15 ordinances that are repealed, including “Ordinance no number” from September 1979. Others range from 1984 through 1996.
The list of repealed ordinances are 503; 502, listed twice with two different dates; 526; 536; 538; 540; 546; 547; 551; 552; 554; 556; and 559.
With no discussion, the council, with member Cordarius Lee absent, unanimously approved and adopted Ordinance R-TL-2023-09-04.
Other agenda items that received votes were standard procedural items, with the council also unanimously approving the financial statements and the September 19 meeting minutes.
The only other two agenda items did not receive a vote or any action and were discussion items only.
Emily Riddle with Nancy Kirby Law Office addressed the council on behalf of the Rockford Utilities Board regarding potential amendments and considerations relating to ordinance MC-2023-08-SC-01, which the council approved during its September meeting.
That ordinance is for “cutting of street or right of way requirements,” with Riddle mentioning that the Alabama Department of Transportation has various specifications and standards depending on the project type. She stated that they do not think it is a “one size fits all” situation and asked the council to consider amending its specifications.
Riddle provided the council with a copy of the proposed amendments, and regarding the section of “street cut requirements,” she proposed that the town consider removing that portion or adopting the specifications and requirements as laid out in the “Alabama Department of Transportation: Standard Specifications for Highway Construction” by reference.
Regarding the permits section of the ordinance, she asked the council to consider adding a renewal provision, suggesting the following from Foley, “A permittee may request an extension of the permit by contacting the clerk’s office for the Town of Rockford before the completion date required by the initial permit. In the case of long-term projects, further extensions may be granted on a project by project basis.”
Riddle further mentioned the permit fee for the Town of Rockford, with the town’s ordinance specifying a $50 permit fee. She stated that many towns and cities do not require a permit fee and said that the ones that do are larger cities or towns than Rockford.
Some she provided as examples were Sylacauga, Wetumpka and Geneva, all which charge no permit fee; Elba which has a $1 permit fee; Hoover which has a $5 permit fee; Vestavia Hills with a $100 permit fee; and Millbrook which has a $200 permit fee.
She also stated that “emergency” is not defined in the ordinance and suggested that needed to be made clear. She provided the council with two examples from Wetumpka and Foley that provided definitions for the term “emergency” for Rockford’s consideration.
Riddle also asked the council to reassess the criminal penalty, again using Foley’s as an example, which reads, “Any person, firm, corporation, or other organization commencing any work without a prior valid written permit or contrary to the provisions of this section shall be fined upon conviction not less than $50 and not more than $100 and cost of court for each offense. No further permits shall be issued to a party in violation of this section until all prior fines are paid.”
In addition to providing copies of the proposed amendments to the council, Riddle also provided a copy to town attorney Tom Young. She stated that the amendments were for their review and discussion, adding that they did not expect the council to make a decision that night.
Young took the floor and said that he would review the concerns as passed on from the Rockford Utilities Board and its attorney.
“We certainly will look at all aspects of language in there,” Young said. “We want to be fair with it.”
He stated that he would see if any of the proposed amendments were applicable to Rockford and then make a legal recommendation to the council for it to determine whether to amend the ordinance or any of its provisions.
In other business, Glen Fuller with Crossroads restaurant addressed the council asking for an update regarding the entertainment license. As reported last month, during its September 19 meeting the council approved tabling the matter in order to write up something pertaining to an entertainment license since the town does not currently have a provision in its business licenses for an entertainment license.
Young again took the floor and stated that the town was “still working on it,” adding that there were other provisions to consider with an “entertainment venue,” such as public safety. He stated that he had looked at language on a number of various entertainment licenses that cover multiple things such as security and seating.
“I’ve asked the mayor and council to consider whether they want to have any kind of public forum on this to determine what the citizens would like to have in the downtown area in the form of a lounge or entertainment venue,” Young stated. “There are other considerations that are far above what you look at as a shoe store. It’s a little bit different circumstance, so we’re working on it.”
Fuller asked about how much longer they thought it might take. Young stated that if the town determines it does want to hold a town hall meeting for public input, then it would depend on when that could be arranged, being unable to provide a time frame for when the entertainment license will be written up as approved from last month’s meeting.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Rockford Town Council will be held at 6 p.m. November 21.