Durbin Council erupts over ordinance
Councilmembers and members of the audience were sent into an uproar over the town's building and trailer permit ordinance and Durbin mayor Donald Peck was forced to bang his hands on the table several times to keep order during the council meeting Monday night.
Peck explained the situation, which began in April with resident Helen White, who purchased a trailer to place behind her house for storage.
White applied to council for a trailer permit and placed the trailer on her property on April 20, prior to having the permit approved by council.
The ordinance states that three members of the council must sign the permit before a building can be placed in the town.
"Helen explained that it had been done before in this town and it has, through other councils," Peck said. "This council here is trying to do everything the right way. We pulled the ordinance and explained to Helen that she was wrong. After she pulled the trailer into town, she came over and got the permit and filled it out on April 24. Before she parked it, the council didn't look at the site and they didn't sign the permit."
Before the issue was brought to the council meeting, councilmembers John Osborne and Gloria Ransom, as well as mayor Peck and town recorder Paul Ransom, visited the Whites to explain the dispute over the trailer.
Unsatisfied by the results of the encounter, the Whites attended the meeting to further discuss the issue with council.
Haunted by decisions of councils past, Osborne tried to explain that the town is trying to enforce the ordinance.
"This was never signed by anyone," he stated, pointing at the permit. "They moved the trailer in without being approved by any councilmembers. It might have been done before, but, are we going to enforce the ordinances or are we going to allow anybody to do what they want to do? It doesn't matter what was done before."
Fellow councilmember Paula Dilley argued that the town needs to update the ordinance to ensure that this never happens again.
"I think the town is at fault because the ordinance is not up-to-date," she said. "It sounds to me like they are singled out."
Osborne countered by pointing out the 1997 version of the ordinance, which Dilley signed into law when she was mayor. He asked Dilley if she enforced the ordinances when she was mayor.
"We're not getting into that John,ﾔ Dilley replied. "We did enforce them, no, we didn't pick and choose. I'm trying to be fair. Why cut her off and say 'get your trailer out of there' when we have other people doing it?"
As frustration and anger became palpable in the town hall, Osborne made his stand and asserted his opinion on the way things have been done in the past.
"This council really needs to wake up and stop allowing this garbage to go back and forth about 'he said, she said,'" he stated. "This happened 10 years ago, this happened six months ago. It's black and white. Here is an application that comes in front of us. We deal with this. It has nothing to do with Joe Blow or Mary Sue across the street. It has to do with this right here. This is going against the town ordinance, plain and simple.
"The bottom line is, you have to stick to the subject at hand," he continued. "It has nothing to do with what happened years ago. The ordinance states what it states and beyond that, it's simple. The application has to be approved. It was never approved so you can't go ahead and do anything until you have the signature. It hasn't been approved, they broke the law simply by doing something prior to approval."
Despite council's assertion to enforce the ordinances and uphold the law, Dilley and fellow councilmember Emma Grace Nottingham signed the permit. Osborne refused to sign. Gloria Ransom and Don Jennings were not in attendance.
Peck scheduled an ordinance meeting for Tuesday to revise the building and trailer permit ordinance.
In other action:
ﾕ Council approved hiring accountant Christy Tribble on a temporary basis as accountant for the town.
ﾕ After a discussion about insurance for Durbin Days Heritage Festival, council agreed to have the town cover the festival under its insurance. The town receives $1,000 from Dramas, Fairs and Festivals to use for insurance during the week-long event.
ﾕ Council approved signing an 11-year lease for the bunkhouse through the rail authority.
ﾕ Resident and business owner Buster Varner asked council for permission to build an enclosure for the trash cans at his restaurant, Station 2. Varner said he thought the cans were on town property and wanted to ask permission before building anything. He said members of the Durbin Mennonite Church have to walk past the cans in order to attend services and Varner would like to make the area more visually appealing.
Council agreed they didn't have a problem with Varner building an enclosure and Osborne said he would like to see the location of the cans to visualize Varner's plan.