Madison City Council hears progress of stormwater project

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By Nick Nunn

Staff Writer

During the City of Madison Mayor and Council called meeting on July 22, the council heard an update regarding the procurement of easements for the city’s stormwater project.

According to Planning Director Monica Callahan, the city is still working to obtain easements on properties, which would allow the city to develop stormwater drainage systems, keeping streets and properties on Pearl, Eliza Morris and Mapp streets from flooding.

David Nunn, city manager, stated that the city is seeking easements from five property owners, and, as of Tuesday, only one of the five was “signed and done.”

Although the council discussed the possible reservations of the property owners, including devaluation of the properties, Callahan stated that “the design of the project was specifically to go down property lines and say outside of the building envelope to assure the maximum possible build-out for any person owning property.” The city’s grant allows for the compensation of the property owners who allow the easements, although, according to Nunn, the city has been able to obtain larger easements in the past with no such compensation.

“We want things to pretty much stay the way they are, but this is going to be huge improvement in the way stormwater is handled in the areas,” said Nunn. “There will be a legal document defining where that drainage system is, and it is a part of the bundle of rights for that property,” continued Nunn. “I thought the offers on the easements were very fair.”

Council Member Joe DiLetto asked what options the city would have if these property owners continued to refuse the easements, and Attorney Joseph Reitman informed him that condemnation, or eminent domain, was a possibility.

“If this isn’t a public issue, I don’t know what is,” stated Reitman.

Council Members Fred Perriman and Michael Naples announced that they will visit the owners of the properties in question in the hopes that they will be able to convince them to allow the easements.

The council approved an application for a pouring license at 139 E. Jefferson Street for Dana Kibbey and her restaurant Ricky D’s.

According to Kibbey, who spoke at the meeting, Ricky D’s will be a three-part business. The restaurant in the front of the building will be open seven days a week from lunch until dinner, while the movie theater and bar farther back in the building will only be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Kibbey stated that tickets will be around $7 a piece, and that the theater will be showing documentaries, classics, foreign and art films.

Kibbey hopes Ricky D’s will open sometime in September.

The council also approved an application to appoint Ashley Parker Nichols to the Greenspace Commission.

Callahan noted that there is still a vacancy for the Greenspace Commission and recommended that anyone interested apply for the seat on the commission.

Laura Butler, president of the Morgan County chapter of the NAACP, announced that a celebration will be held for Pearl High Day this Saturday, July 27.

After a luncheon in the conference room of the ChopHouse at 11:30 a.m., there will be a revealing of the “Dual Systems of Education” bicentennial marker at 1 p.m. at the site near where the Burney Street school stood.

A “grown folks” party will be held at the Pearl Burney Alumni Center, 1261 Flat Rock Road, from 8-12 p.m. Music will be sponsored by Rufus Hope, Jr.

Butler invites the public to come out and celebrate the day with them.

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