Commissioners unanimously approved an amendment Thursday night at the Soddy Daisy Commission meeting which simplified wording to the city’s sign ordinance. The size of digital advertising signs is now specified to be no larger than 45 square feet.
The final reading for a zoning change to property at 155 and 157 Depot St. was also given approval.
The tracts that are now zoned to R-2 Urban Residential were previously zoned R-2, A-1 Agricultural and C-2 Local Business. The owner expects to build three houses on the property.
The majority of the meeting was used for citizen participation. Curtis Cecil, the founder of the Soddy Daisy Community Library, updated the commissioners on the current status of the facility after a pause due to the COVID pandemic. Use of the library has slowed during the pandemic, he said. Before it began, 1,000 books were being checked out weekly. Since the pandemic that number has dropped to around 600. But in January, he said the library celebrated its third anniversary. Updates include adding 10 Chromebooks which are available for use and on Saturdays there will be computer training offered. The library has partnered with the Treehouse learning program for free training classes until June. Another service provided will be a summer reading program for both adults and children.
Last year the library held its first annual community literacy day with 300 people safely participating. This year, the second annual event will be held on Sept. 18 at Veterans Park. It is not a fundraiser, said Mr. Cecil, it is a free event and all local non-profit organizations will be invited to participate.
Mr. Cecil also acknowledged with appreciation the donation from the wife of Jim Adams, longtime commissioner and mayor of Soddy Daisy. Mr. Adams’ entire library was donated to the library, which added many travel books from the man who, he said, “loved the world.”
Several citizens came to the commission meeting asking for help. A resident who has lived in the city for a year said, “It is a beautiful place, but just don’t look down.” He said the garbage and litter is disgusting. Besides litter, he said he has seen old mattresses and TVs sitting on the sides of the roads, and that affects property values.
Mayor Rick Nunley said there is an enforcement issue. There is a fine for littering, but it is hard for the police to catch people throwing things out of car widows in the middle of the night or catching the act on video. The city has gone so far as to look through garbage bags in an attempt to find addresses, he said. One incident of garbage being scattered came from a garbage truck that had a tear in the protective netting to hold it in the truck, said City Manager Burt Johnson.
Another resident who is organizing a group of volunteers who are looking for a way to help clean up the city said that he has seen that most of the debris is litter from fast food restaurants, not garbage that fell off a truck. He has a large group of citizens who are ready to help.
Another lifelong resident of Soddy Daisy has been navigating problems associated with sewer/septic systems at her hair salon business. The problems became apparent after she moved into an old building that was originally a gas station, and has caused her to close down the business. She has attempted to get help and advice from Hamilton County and the WWTA, and she told the commissioners that everyone is passing the buck. Commissioner Gene Shipley and Public Works Director Steve Grant will talk to both to seek help to solve the problems.
City-owned right-of-way in front of the Sunset Estates subdivision has been leveled and the developer was allowed to move the dirt to use as fill at other building sites, the commission was told. In disturbing that land, he also removed and burned many trees that had been there. The whole process has also redirected stormwater which overwhelms the current drainage system on Sequoyah Access Road. This has left an eyesore for people living in houses that face it, and has devalued his house, said one property owner, who asked when the property will be restored. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has issued violations to the builder, and City Attorney Sam Elliott said stormwater issues should be taken to Hamilton County which regulates construction sites. Additionally, Mr. Grant will ask the builder to replace trees before the subdivision is built out.
City Manager Johnson received approval for several expenditures Thursday night. Emergency lights for three new police vehicles at $6,839 each were authorized by the commissioners. And the low bid for fencing two baseball fields at South Park at the cost of $84,430 was approved. The board also declared as surplus items from the police department including vehicles and equipment.
The city will move forward planning for having a July 4th celebration and car shows in September and October, both at Veterans Park.
Because all Hamilton County Schools are not allowing use of drinking fountains, in order to prevent spread of the COVID virus, the schools need to have bottled water. The Firefighters Association has been buying it and distributing it to the elementary school, said Commissioner Jim Coleman. Donations of more bottled water are being requested.