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Officials set sights on old station
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The city is one step closer to potentially tearing down the old Miner’s gas station at the corner of Hwys. 17 and 144.

In November, Councilman Jimmy Hires asked city attorney Ray Smith to find a way to do it. Smith came back at the Feb. 19 city council meeting with the first reading of an updated abatement ordinance which could potentially give the city the power to retain the rights to Miner’s as well as other dilapidated properties in the city.

"There’s been an ongoing thing with the Miner site and we’ve given them ample time to do something about it," Hires said. "It’s an issue that many members of council have been asked to do something about from the public, and we just need to get all our legal ducks in a row before we can take action. And it’s not just Miner’s; this abatement ordinance is being created so we can have all the legal steps in order when dealing with other properties."

Betty Miner said the property is owned by her daughters and referred questions to Sheila Galbreath.

Galbreath could not be reached.

Hires said an abatement order can come about upon a recommendation from the city manager followed by a vote by council.

Among the points of the ordinance discussed were the fact that council will ultimately decide what properties to condemn and the fact that selling property will not stop an abatement order.

City Manager Mike Melton said there is an abatement ordinance, but it was written in the 1960’s "and the state law has changed since that time. If we were to try to apply our current ordinance, we’d probably have some problems."

Melton said there will most likely be a reading of the updated ordinance at the next council meeting. He said the abatement process could lead to the city tearing down a dilapidated property in order to clean up the city and then filing a lien against the property owner for the cost of the demolition.

In other business:

- Larry Barker was reappointed as Chairman of the Richmond Hill Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Reappointed to the CVB Board were Aimee Harris, Daniel Brown, Kenny Patel and Keith Page while Danny Butler and Brandy Williams were appointed to replace Pam Shores and Julie Seckinger.

- The contract naming Waste Management the new garbage collector for the city was approved. Mayor Richard Davis said he is pleased with the change because of ongoing littering problem with the current provider, Republic.

The WM contract includes a clause that assures the city that debris flying out of the trucks will be kept to a minimum. The change in providers was made due to the fact that the Republic contract was up for renewal and the mayor and council said they have had too many problems with Republic, whom they have contracted with for the last ten years. WM will take over in March.

- The December financial report for the city was approved. Finance Director Bob Whitmarsh said 97 percent of the general funds were dipped into in 2007 which adds up to "a very good financial year."

- The construction of a ten foot deck scaling the perimeter of the outside plant market was approved.

- Council approved the lease purchase of four city vehicles – three for the police department and one for the fire department.

- The site plans and building elevations were approved for the new Richmond Hill Pals Childcare Center on Harris Trail Road in order add a shade for the children, Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar said.

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