Harris City Council briefs

The following actions and discussion points were addressed at the May 8 Harris City Council meeting.

Rental ordinance
One of the items on the agenda at the Harris City Council meeting was a revision to the rental ordinance.
The Planning Commission had reviewed the old ordinance, held a public hearing and prepared the revisions for the council to review and act on. But during the discussions of the ordinance, many questions came up.
The county has the ability to do the required inspections per the revised ordinance. Every property would have to file an application and pay the required fees. The proposed fees would be enough to cover both the city’s administrative costs and the county’s inspection fee.
The main issue was enforcement. The example used was that if a house was presently being rented and an inspection was done that resulted in the property not being suitable for rental property, would the residents be evicted?
It was decided that more information concerning the enforcement of the ordinance needed to be done. A workshop that will include members of the council and members of the Planning Commission will be held. After the parameters of the enforcement of the ordinance have been worked out, the ordinance will be revisited.

Water town cleaning, inspection
The city is in the process of working out the details of having the water tower cleaned and inspected. While the inspection is being done, the water supplied to the city will have to come directly from the pump. To make sure that there are no issues during the project, the city is taking precautions concerning the water pump and motor.
Bids were put out to pull the pump, televise the well to look for flaws, replace the pump with a new one, and rebuild the old pump as a spare.
One consideration was to pull the existing pump, have it inspected and do any repairs and reinstall. This would save the cost of a new pump. Council Member Dan Sculley pointed out that the existing pump is 20 years old. The existing pump could be inspected, repaired, and installed. At that age, three months later, the existing pump could freeze up. Because of the cost of the work done, and that a new pump is only approximately $2,000 on every bid, it was decided to pull, inspect, replace and repair.

Cemetery easement
The city clerk, Joanne Dargay, has been dealing with the easement issue at the cemetery.
After a survey was done, it was discovered that five grave markers have been placed beyond the property line and the city has been mowing and taking care of that area for more than 20 years. Dargay had contacted the property owner who asked to look at the area before any decision was made as to what the property owner would do. That was in October; Dargay sent a letter in January and again in March. The property owner has not contacted her again. Dargay contacted the city attorney to get advice as to what to do next. The city attorney suggested the option of “adverse possession.” This would require certain criteria to be met before the use of the property could be established. Per the attorney, the city’s continuous maintenance of the area, along with other requirements that had been met, the city presently does have “adverse possession” of the area. Because of this, the City Council decided to stop any further action until such time as it was necessary.

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