During the Tuesday evening council meeting Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester provided the council with an update on the latest legislation from state lawmakers in Charleston, spawned by the lack of oversight of above ground tanks following the chemical spill which occurred earlier this year. Initially the legislature required municipalities to provide an additional source of fresh water as a safety measure against another such event, a steep assignment for many localities around the state.
About the same time, the mayor said, the city of White Sulphur Springs reached out to Lewisburg to discuss ways to comply with the state requirements by using their two water systems, with the possible option of joining up with the system used by The Greenbrier resort. While that option was under consideration, the state legislature took a second look at the second water source requirement and has since backed away from any legislature on that front.
Manchester then said he’d just received a letter from WSS Mayor Lloyd Haynes stating the Spa City has reconsidered their offer to join the two water systems. As a result, the mayor said it did not make sense to join up with The Greenbrier’s system at this time. So as of now, the mayor still hopes to develop a source water protection plan. Toward that end, the City is actively developing a new water intake location to be sited above the landfill on the Greenbrier River.
In other business:
• Mayor Manchester announced that the levy rates for the City of Lewisburg will remain the same as last year. The levy rates are as follows: Class I – $12.50/$100; Class II – $25/$100; Class IV – $50/$ 100. The excess levy rates are as follows: Class I – $6.25/$100; Class II – $12.50/$100; Class IV – $25/$100.
• Ordinance 240 received its second reading for the use of tents as a sales accessory to local businesses on site. The annual fee for tent use is $25. That ordinance was approved.
Three other ordinances were read by City Recorder Shannon Beatty: 1) Ordinance 241 amends article 737.09 of the codified ordinances of the City to impose a municipal business and occupation tax on contractors, which if passed will go into affect after July 1, 2014; 2) Ordinance 242 repeals the present building code for the City with an increase from $3 to $6 per each $1,000 value, with a minimum of $25. 3) Ordinance 243 simplifies business license fee categories. The second readings and public hearings for all three ordinances will be heard at the May council meeting.
• The mayor announced that 16 Home Rule slots are available for cities around the state. Lewisburg has applied to be one of those designated cities. A planning meeting will be held in the Paul R. Cooley Council Chambers at City Hall on Thursday, May 1 at 7 p.m. and will include a public hearing on the topic.
• Lewisburg’s new comprehensive plan is still undergoing working sessions aided by the West Virginia University law school team. The next meeting is set for Wednesday, May 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the Paul R. Cooley Council Chambers at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend with their concerns and ideas.
• Eight thousand people were estimated to have attended Lewisburg Chocolate Festival held last weekend. The event was judged a success.
• The mayor gave an update on the progress of re-pointing the mortar around the brickwork on City Hall’s east wall (facing the Green Space). Also Historic Landmarks Commission architect Michael Mills is overseeing the repairs and painting ongoing in the first floor lobby, including painting the tin ceiling and adding new track lighting. The project should be finished by the first week in May, the mayor said.
• The Parks Commission heard citizen requests for a dog park within city limits. Barbara Phillips and Janine Lazarus have been looking at various properties around the city and meeting with property owners in their pursuit of a dog park. They are interested in leasing land unless sufficient acreage owned by the City is found.
• The Public Works Committee was asked to consider whether or not to eliminate the City’s free recycling program. Costs are rising significantly and the City is looking into how and where to save. Upon review, the cost to collect and sort recycled items is $244 per customer per year. The committee members opted to retain the same recycling services for residential customers, but agreed to eliminate commercial cardboard collection. All commercial customers will be given a letter explaining to them that the City will no longer pick up commercial cardboard. In addition, the recycle bags will go from yellow to clear so that the recycle crew can view the bag’s contents. If the wrong kind of plastic (anything other than #1 & #2) is included, they will not pick up the bag. Correct recycling policies will be forthcoming to recycling customers, the mayor said.