Palmyra council hears complaints about property

by Mark Cheffey

The Palmyra City Council last Thursday listened to citizen concerns about a nuisance property and expressed assurance the situation was being dealt with.

Several residents came to the meeting to find out what progress was being made to address  issues with the property at 223 E. Church Street.

The council was told of pest problems coming from the property that have been on going for the past three and a half months.

Mayor Loren Graham said he has been in communication with the owner who rents out the property, and expressed hope the issues would be addressed.  

He said the owner planned to fumigate the house in the coming days.

Graham also said the council is considering passage of a new infestation ordinance that could be used to address the issues at the property as well as others in the future.

Neighbors also expressed concern about slow progress in addressing the property and why it was taking so long.

They were told a legal process has to be followed in notifying the property owner of problems while providing a specific amount of time before further city code enforcement can take place.

However, council members themselves expressed dismay about the time it has been taking.

“It has gone on a long time, and our code enforcer needs to be more aggressive,” said council member, Brock Fahy. “If we let things slide, it just gets worse.” 

Council member Ellen Goodwin, who chairs the Ordinance Committee set a committee meeting, to consider the infestation ordinance put forward by City Attorney James Lemon.

If recommended by the committee, the ordinance could have the first of a required two readings at the Oct. 1 council meeting and receive final approval Oct. 15.

The mayor and council members all said they had not been made aware of the nuisance property issue until a few days before Thursday’s meeting, and expressed a desire for citizens to let them know about such issues sooner.

In following up on an ongoing issue, the council came to consensus to have Lemon inform American Tower the city would not agree to the company’s proposed 15-year ground lease extension for the communications tower on the city’s water plant property.

But Lemon also informed the council would be interested in negotiating a new lease under different terms.

The current lease will end in September of next year, and American Tower wanted to extend the lease for 15 more years at the same monthly fee of $400, but with the addition of a $15,000 lump-sum payment at the start of the extension.

Council members were in favor of extending the lease for 15 years at the same rate, but were open to a new lease for as long as 10 years, but with a higher monthly payment.

Lemons, who indicated he was unfamiliar with such ground lease agreements, said he would do some research along with seeking to negotiate  one. 

Lemon reported progress in transferring the municipal court to the Marion County Associate Circuit Court.

“It’s moving forward, but with COVID-19, its kind of slowing us down a bit,” Lemons told the council.

He said the process includes making notifications including one to the Missouri Supreme Court as well as other requirements.

Lemons said municipal courts in general are being held up by the pandemic, noting that Hannibal is three weeks behind in hearing cases.

He did assure the council that transfer of Palmyra’s court should be completed by November.  

The council took the next step in seeking Federal Community Development Block Grant funding for bridge projects by voting 6-0 to have the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments be the administrator of the grant if the city receives it.

The council also voted to unanimously to accept the lone bid of $47,985 from Knapheide for a new truck bed and equipment.

Street Commissioner Austen Dornberger said the bid came in “a hair more than what we planned,” for the budgeted item.