By Sarah Richardson
The White Sulphur Springs City Council met this week with a crowded chambers as members of the public attended to make their voices heard regarding a proposed lease agreement between the City of White Sulphur and 50 East, a restaurant located on Main Street.
It has recently come to light that part of an expansion added to the restaurant last spring is encroaching onto city property, but city officials are unsure of by how much.
Area resident Thomas Taylor spoke to council, thanking them for allowing a public comment period, and explaining his disagreement with the basis of the lease agreement.
“Hopefully with this lease agreement that’s before you, you’ll be able to turn on your moral and ethical compass and make that decision for yourself as to if this is right or wrong,” he said. He noted the importance of “fairness and transparency” within government, and explained that “legally, he [Tom Crabtree] should be bound to remove what he has built on this property owned by the city. That’s the way I see it.”
Bobby White said that a survey needs to be completed to check all the boundaries, and that the building’s owner should have attained a building permit.
Speaking of the proposed lease agreement, Mayor Bruce Bowling said, “I came up with this, City Attorney Fred Giggenbach and I, and basically I got no direction from anybody on what they wanted to do, so it could be changed. This is for your all’s discussion.”
Councilmember Audrey Van Buren asked if a building permit was obtained for the addition, saying “that’s an important thing. If you are in the City of White Sulphur, I don’t care who you are […] you’re supposed to come apply for a building permit before you do any improvements. That’s the first step. And if he didn’t do it, then that’s totally wrong on their part.”
Mayor Bowling said that he wasn’t sure whether or not a building permit was obtained, but he was going to look into it.
Councilmember Chris Hanna asked exactly how much of the structure is on city property, with Bowling answering, “We don’t exactly know, we’d need a survey, and that costs around $1,000.” Councilmember Van Buren said a survey was necessary, and other members noted that it appears the business owner should be responsible for covering that cost.
Councilmember G.P. Parker motioned to table the item until the details of the process of construction are checked, which was met with agreement via a unanimous vote.
In other news, public hearings on the proposed updates to the city zoning ordinances will be held on Jan. 26, one at 10 a.m. and another at 6 p.m. Councilmember Hanna said a copy of the ordinances is available at City Hall, and it runs around 100 pages.
Mayor Bowling also acknowledged the City of Lewisburg and thanked them for their recent donation of a police cruiser after one of White Sulphur’s cruisers broke down. “They could have sold it, but they gave it to us. I really appreciate working with our other communities,” he said.