First, council passed a second reading of an ordinance expanding the city limits to a 162.17-acre property on Big Draft Road. The property is owned by the city, but according to county maps, has never been annexed into the city.
The city plans to deed the property to Hope Village, a planned housing development consisting of 40 homes that will house people who lost their homes in the June flooding disaster. Mayor Lloyd Haynes reiterated during the meeting that the city is not annexing any other property on Big Draft Road other than the property already owned by the city.
Council voted unanimously to annex the property (Councilman G.P. Parker was not in attendance.)
Next, council voted unanimously to approve the second reading of an amendment allowing emergency temporary housing, in the form of FEMA trailers, to be placed within city limits until January 31, 2018. City zoning laws typically allow mobile homes to only exist in mobile home parks, but Haynes said that allowing FEMA trailers to be placed in other landowner-approved properties will give White Sulphur residents a place to live.
“These folks that will be housed (in the FEMA trailers) are your neighbors,” Haynes said, indicating that the people moving into the trailers are residents who simply have nowhere else to go. The FEMA trailers are, he said, “ an answer to an existing problem.”
There are currently three FEMA trailers in place, and a total of five trailers are expected to be placed in city limits. “They don’t look bad–they’re not an eyesore,” said Haynes.
Councilman Larry Wayne Wakeford asked the mayor if more FEMA trailers are expected to be placed in the Spa City.
“FEMA will arrange that,” said Haynes, should there be a need for more temporary housing. Arrangements to place temporary trailers in town are made by FEMA with individual property owners, he said, and will be subject to the zoning amendment passed Wednesday night, in that they will be required to be removed from the city after Jan. 2018.
Finally, council passed a resolution to borrow $759,107 in the form of a Community Disaster Loan, also arranged by FEMA.
The loan may be reassessed as a grant and not need to be paid back, said City Hall employee Linda Coleman. Should the loan need to be repaid, the city will begin repayment in two years, she said.