Corps of Engineers evaluating floodwall project
Mayor Dennis Driscoll had a lot of important events to tell council about during his report at the September 8 council meeting.
First, the mayor informed council that the Army Corps of Engineers will visit Marlinton on September 14-15 to conduct an inspection of the flood protection project area.
"They want to do a walking tour of the project and then have a meeting and get questions, probably among themselves, and maybe from us," he said.
The inspection is part of a peer review process for all Corps projects, required by Congress after the failure of New Orleans' flood protection during Hurricane Katrina.
Marlinton flood control project coordinator Robin Mutscheller said there would be no public meeting during the visit.
"It's part of the independent peer review process," she said. "It's not a public meeting to give an update or anything. It's to bring the evaluation team here. They're going to walk the alignments of the levee and they're supposed to meet with me Wednesday afternoon."
Second, Driscoll told council that lawyers with the firm Steptoe and Johnson, representing the town, will meet with state elected officials and representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Charleston on September 13 to request removal of newly-imposed phosphorus discharge limits from the town sewage plant's discharge permit.
Third, the mayor informed council that a Department of Highway (DOH) engineer will examine the intersection at Third Avenue and Sixth Street sometime in the next 10 days to determine the need for a stop sign, which the council had requested.
Council also discussed whether to request a "no right on red" sign at Route 219 northbound at the Greenbrier River bridge.
Driscoll and councilmember Joe Smith said there had been some close calls when northbound traffic, turning right on red, did not yield to southbound traffic turning left on the green arrow.
Town resident William Miller told council it would be "ridiculous" to change the traffic pattern.
"When you make a right turn on red, you stop at the red and, if nobody's coming, is when you go," he said.
"The problem is - we apparently have some people who don't understand that," the mayor said.
Councilmember David Zorn said a few incidents are insufficient reason to change the traffic rules for everybody.
"Why should everybody be denied a right turn on red just because of the few people who don't follow the rules?" he said.
The council agreed to put the issue on the October meeting agenda, when it will vote on whether to request the change from the DOH.
Finally, the mayor informed council there will be a circuit court hearing on October 15ﾠ at 9 a.m. to determine ownership of a portion of Courtney Avenue. John Mallow claims ownership of the street adjacent to his property, which the town disputes.
Water rate changes in the works
The council conducted the first reading of a new water rate ordinance, which will make significant changes to the town's water billing, if approved after a second reading.
The monthly minimum charge will increase to $51.73 per two months for a 5/8" meter and $77.60 for a 3/4" meter. The metered rate will increase to $12.93 per 1,000 gallons.
Owners of apartment buildings and other multiple occupancy buildings, with a single meter, will pay a minimum of the number of units times $51.73. Motels and hotels will pay according to the size of meter.
Water service for sprinkler systems and private fire hydrants will be billed under the new ordinance. Two-inch water service will cost $24 per two months, ranging up to $600 per two months for a 10-inch line.
Council voted 4-2 to approve the ordinance. Joe Smith and Louise Barnisky voted nay.
Smith said the minimum charge for multi-unit, single-meter buildings didn't make sense and that owners should pay the metered rate, like everybody else.
Interested persons are invited to a public hearing on October 14, 8 a.m. at the council chamber, at which time they may voice their opinions of the new ordinance.
Council also discussed changes to town garbage rates. Smith chairs a committee that includes Zorn and councilmember Loretta Malcomb. The committee has not met, but Smith said he has done some preliminary fact finding.
"I will tell you we found a lot of discrepancies and a lot of problems with the businesses," he said. "The businesses are the only thing we are looking at. There are businesses that are not billed. There are businesses in the wrong categories."
Smith said the rate structure had not been adjusted since 1997 and the committee's goal was to have a new ordinance drafted for council review by January.
In other business, council:
-- unanimously approved construction of an information kiosk, donated to the town from county Parks and Recreation, at the Mini-Park in Marlinton.
-- rejected a bid of $1,407 for the town's former police car. The bid was the only bid received and less than the reserve price established by council. The council will decide what to do with the car at its next meeting.