BY SARAH STEPHENS – OWNER/EDITOR
The Millbrook City Council met for their regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 22 and unanimously passed a proposed $15.7 million budget to cover city operations for the next year.
It is the largest budget ever since the city was formed in 1977 and includes a large surplus to cover purchases for equipment and needs that could arise from the multiple departments. It also includes a 5 percent merit raise for all employees, if approved by their department head.
For a link to see specific details of this budget, visit the story we posted last week when it was still proposed. The budget was passed as earlier reported with no major changes. The link is https://elmoreautauganews.com/2019/10/16/millbrooks-proposed-budget-of-15-7-million-includes-raises-for-all-employees-council-to-vote-oct-22/.
In other business, Mayor Al Kelley said he was very happy to let the council and guests know that work has begun on the Waffle House, which was announced some time back. It will be located in previously platted out parcel of Grandview Pines Shopping Center, which includes Marvin’s and Tractor Supply. “We have been working on this for four years now, and I am very happy to see progress has started. Workers began tearing up the asphalt (Tuesday) and a fence has been put in place around the property,” Mayor Kelley said. “Sometimes it is hard to understand why these things can take so long, but everyone needs to remember this is not a city project. This is from a developer. Even when something is announced, there is a timeline in place that we do not control. We are just very happy to see it moving forward, and that the city will have an additional sit-down restaurant option hopefully around the first of the year.”
Both Kelley and City Engineer Stuart Peters said it could take up to four months for the Waffle House to be completed, but that will also be impacted by weather conditions.
In other business, council members heard from Pamela Trammel, with the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission with good news. On behalf of the city, Trammel wrote a grant asking for assistance to make improvements at Kids Kingdom, specifically for large umbrellas to offer more shade in seating areas and over the playground area on hot summer days.
Originally, the city requested a $15,000 grant, but was approved for $8,929.
“We will take it,” said Mayor Al Kelley. “Every little bit helps.”
The cost of the project will be $21,875. The city will pay the total cost, but will be partially reimbursed from the grant money.
“We really appreciate all of the hard work on behalf of Pamela and Gina Williams, our Chief Financial Officer,” Mayor Kelley said. Both Trammel and Williams attended workshops concerning the grant.
Parks and Recreation Director Scott Davis explained that when major renovations were made to Kids Kingdom, a lot of trees had to be removed to allow for new playground equipment. Many of those trees had serious issues, and posed a public safety issue, and were removed. In doing so, it took away shaded areas where parents could sit and watch over their children. When the new equipment is installed, that will be a huge benefit, as well as adding more shade over some of the playground equipment.
In other business, City Attorney Kelly Lee updated the council members on Ordinance 19-02 which deals with handling of unsafe structures, property and dangerous buildings within the city. The first reading was done during the meeting. It is based on similar ordinances used in other cities to fit the needs of Millbrook and has been tested in court cases.
“This is something we have been discussing for a few years now,” Council President Michael Gay said. “We hired a professional law firm to work with our City Attorney to draft this. We have taken our time on this, to make sure everything is legal.”
In essence, it outlines how the city can go after property owners who allow their property, including buildings, to become unsafe. This will strengthen the city’s ability to take action for a variety of issues, including public nuisances, as it pertains to public safety and if it could affect economic development in the area. This includes removal of the building when necessary.
In other business, the council had its first reading of A19-02, involving the annexation of the Hartkoff Property on Hwy. 14. The property is located between Circle K and Jack’s Restaurant and is currently an open lot. The council also held a public hearing for zoning of the property. Greg Gilliam, with Larry Speaks and Associates presented a map of the property in question. There were no speakers present opposed to the rezoning.
“There had been an offer on this property for a few months, but since then the business has put in another offer for a separate property which is within city limits, thankfully. There was an issue about the entrance to this particular property, and we are going to work on this to make that property more accessible for future development. I expect this property to go very quickly once it is annexed into the city,” Mayor Kelley said.
The Council then addressed a similar ordinance, A19-03 in a first reading. It concerns annexation of the Robertson-Schram Property on Grandview Road behind Dooley’s Bar and the Quick Shop. The Planning and Zoning Board will review this request. It will then be presented to the Council.
“We have a person that is interested in building a retail establishment there, and that property has never been annexed into the city,” Kelley said.
Details of what the business or businesses could be was not discussed during the meeting, but we expect more information to be released soon and will update with any announcements.
The council also approved an ABC License request for Grits Café and held a public hearing. Archie Maggert, an owner of the restaurant with his wife Patricia, requested their license be altered to include beer. The license already included wine. There were no objections during the public hearing, and the issue passed.
Grits Café is located on Deatsville Highway in the same parking lot as Lucretia Cauthen Realty. It operates from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and recently also began opening on Friday evenings.
“I just have to say that my wife and I visited Grits Café this past weekend, and the food and service was excellent,” Mayor Kelley said. “I had the best shrimp and grits I have ever eaten, and the French Toast was wonderful.”
Kelley said it is extremely important for area residents to support businesses that locate within the city.
“They can come here and build a new business, but if they don’t get the support from the community, they will not succeed,” Mayor Kelley said. “We are often asked to bring in new restaurants and/or other businesses. First of all, that is not up to us. Our Economic Development staff is constantly reaching out to potential businesses. The point is, when we have local businesses already operational, we need to make sure they are supported and successful. That will draw in new business interest all by itself.”
In Department Head reports, Millbrook Police Chief reminded the council and audience that Halloween is coming soon. He said the city is asking for all Trick or Treating in residential areas to be completed by 8 p.m. He also asked that parents go with their children Trick or Treating.
“We will have a huge amount of traffic Halloween night in general, and there are also a multitude of churches and organizations having Trunk or Treat events,” Chief Johnson said. “Watch your little ones, make sure they have reflective clothing and flashlights. Check their candy before it is consumed, because while I hate to even have to say it, there could be people out there who could tamper with the candy.”
Johnson also stressed that vehicles with improper lighting will be stopped and the driver told to remove it from the public roadway.
“Some of you may remember that many years ago we had an incident up on Myrick Road that involved a hayride that was not property lit. There was an accident with injuries, that could have been a lot worse,” he said. “Make sure any vehicles on the roadway are legal and have a lot of lighting. We want everyone to enjoy Halloween with no serious incidents. We will have extra police patrols that evening, and we want everyone to have a good time. It is not about harassing anyone, but it is about keeping everyone safe.”
Parks and Recreation Director Scott Davis and Johnson both reminded the crowd about BooFest coming Saturday, Oct. 26 to the Village Green from 10 a.m. until Noon. This is a FREE event hosted by the City Parks and Recreation Department for Trick or Treating, Games, and family fun. There will be a food vendor on site with items for sale as well.
“This event has grown considerably over the years,” Johnson said. “We hope everyone will come out with their kids, grandkids and the family and have a great time.”
The park is already decorated for the season, with large spiders and spider web, a scarecrow and other decorations. Stop by the park and see the creativity that went behind these decorations. You may have also noted decorations at the Five Points area on Grandview Road, within Village Green and on Deatsville Highway. These were constructed by members of the Millbrook Street Department for the community’s enjoyment.