Enforcing nuisance and parking violations in Mt. Sterling

(Posted March 17, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Mount Sterling village council is working to put more teeth into enforcement of nuisance and parking violations.

At the March 8 council meeting, Becky Martin, chair of council’s nuisance and abatement committee, reported that the village solicitor has put together a form letter to send to anyone who violates nuisance laws. Examples of violations are properties with overgrown grass and weeds, broken-down cars parked in the yard, and accumulated trash. Neglected buildings also can be cited for building code violations.

“There are several buildings in town that are in really bad shape, that are getting to the point of dangerous,” Martin said, adding that the village soon will send letters to the most obvious violators.

Martin also brought up the topic of parking violations. The village has ongoing issues with residents leaving cars parked on streets during snow emergencies, as well as violating posted two-hour parking limits around town.

The two-hour parking violations are a problem especially for downtown businesses, she said.

“We’ve had years and years and years of no enforcement of it,” she commented.

Deputy Jack Dill said the Madison County Sheriff’s Office can write tickets for such violations, but that the fine is $180 and goes to the county. As an alternative, he suggested that the village create its own parking violation bureau. The Sheriff’s Office would still write the tickets, but the village would set the fine amount (likely much lower than $180), and the money would go to the village instead of the county. Martin said village leaders are looking into this.

In other reports, council member Andy Drake, chair of the finance committee, said the group is holding several special sessions to talk about everything from capital improvements and infrastructure to public safety and the village’s management structure. One of the next big discussions, he said, involves the old water tower. It is due for inspection and cleaning. The inspection could yield a recommendation to patch or replace the tower.

Council member David Timmons, chair of the safety/block watch committee, said the group has been discussing the pros and cons of reestablishing the village’s police department. Currently, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office provides safety services to the village.

House fire

Mayor Marci Darlington, fiscal officer Courtney Bricker and other members of council urged the community to pitch in to help a local family. The Stage family, who lives on Market Street, lost everything, including their five dogs, in a house fire on March 6.

James Burgoon, a relative, has coordinated a fundraiser to help the family. Details can be found by searching for “Stage Family” at gofundme.com. Additionally, donated items can be placed in a collection box at Dollar General, 10850 Third St., Mount Sterling. The family is in need of food, clothing and other necessities.

Utilities window opens

The village has reopened its utilities window for in-person bill payments at town hall. The window is open on Wednesdays only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors must wear masks and practice social distancing.

Residents also have the option to pay their bills online or drop payments off in the lockbox located inside the town hall lobby.

In other news

  • The village of West Jefferson provides building and zoning services to Mount Sterling. Council approved a change to the contract. Now, Tom Hale, the building and zoning inspector, will perform only building and zoning work. Previously, he also was paid for “additional duties as assigned,” including administrative work. With the change, Mount Sterling now pays West Jefferson $10,000 per year instead of $25,000 per year.
  • Martin confirmed that the village’s spring clean-up day will take place on May 8 and start at approximately 9 a.m. The village and Mount Sterling First Church of the Nazarene are partnering on the project.
  • Members of the parks and recreation committee sold candy bars and donated the $900 in proceeds to the parks and recreation department. Council voted to accept the donation.
  • Jay Pettey, council president, invited community residents to attend committee and council meetings to give input on a variety of village issues.

“Please give your opinion in our meetings in public. I get it: Facebook is easier to go on, but show up–be a part of the solution. I think that’s going to help us really strive,” he said.

The public is welcome to attend all committee and council meetings. Most meetings take place at village hall, 1 S. London St. Meeting days and times are as follows.

Finance–second Monday of each month at 8 a.m.;

Water/Wastewater–first Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m.

Streets–first Wednesday of the month at 8 a.m.;

Nuisance and Abatement–first Wednesday of the month at 2:30 p.m.;

Parks and Recreation–first Monday of the month at 8 a.m.;

Safety/Block Watch–second Thursday of the month at 4 p.m.;

Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals–first and third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m.

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