Tuesday’s meeting of the Richmond Hill City Council heated up at the tail end of the session.
Two residents signed up and addressed the council about problems they are experiencing in the city. One said someone had stolen political signs from their lawn while the other claimed a neighboring development is causing a drainage nightmare.
On the sign issue, Richmond Place resident Charles Sukhdeo claimed Richmond Place Homeowner’s Association Vice President Michael Braver trespassed on his property and stole political signs endorsing Richmond Hill City Council candidates Marilyn Hodges and Jimmy Hires.
Sukhdeo, along with several other Richmond Place residents who spoke at the meeting, said Braver has a history of bullying Richmond Place residents and they were at the council meeting for advice in the matter.
"Many residents feel that they are being misrepresented and mistreated (by the present homeowner’s association hierarchy), and are being singled out and harassed because they question financial issues and certain decision making," Sukhdeo said.
RHPD Chief Billy Reynolds, who was in attendance, said if the political signs were stolen, police action could be taken. Reynolds also said he would visit Braver to speak to him about the alleged incident.
Reynolds said he visited Braver the next day.
"Mr. Braver was under the impression he could pick up the signs if they were near the sidewalk," Reynolds said.
Reynolds also said he let Braver know he needs to follow proper methods in the future regarding property removal and that he will have an officer present at the next homeowner’s meeting in an effort to maintain order between the two parties.
Braver said Sukhdeo distorted the truth during his presentation to council.
At the meeting, Sukhdeo hit a chord with council members and Mayor Richard Davis when he said Braver would remove any kind of signs – including the American flag.
Braver said he never discussed the flag with Sukhdeo and would not remove an American flag from anyone’s property. Braver also said signs can put up at Richmond Place but only after a resident applies to the Architectural Review Board and is granted approval.
Braver added that Sukhdeo was V.P. before him and is well aware of the existing by-law in the subdivision’s covenant. He said Sukhdeo did not apply.
Braver also said he has not been confronted by anyone other than Sukhdeo and his son-in-law, fellow Richmond Place resident Terrance Cella, about being harassed and mistreated.
He also pointed to an RHPD police report where Cella confronted Braver at his place of business.The mayor, council, and City Manager Mike Melton said they would look into the matter further and schedule a date in which to sit down with and mediate between the two parties.
Next up at the council meeting was county resident Angie Foss, who lives in The Cove subdivision. Foss said whenever it rains, her property retains a large quantity of water. She said it also affects other homes in her subdivision and in the Rabbit Hill area and this is being caused by the neighboring city subdivision River Oaks.
Foss said the city has failed to enforce DNR Special Permit 500.
Melton rebutted that it is a coastal marshlands permit, enforceable only by the Department of Natural Resources. He further said there are no drainage issues caused by the development of River Oaks.
City Inspections Supervisor Randy Dykes, who had investigated the claim, appeared before council and said he thoroughly inspected the site and could not find where any water was draining into Foss’s property from River Oaks. He said he would continue to monitor the area however.
In other business:
- Davis swore in assistant city clerk Linda Phillips as the city’s absentee ballot clerk.
- A height variance from 35 to 50 feet was approved for McDonald’s owner Gary Dodd’s proposed mixed-use development. The three-story building is slated to be built between McDonald’s and Burger King – the current site of a dilapidated gas station.
- Site plans and building elevations were approved for Richmond Hill Church of Christ to add an appliance room and additional parking.
- Fireworks displays were approved for the Seafood Festival and also Oct. 27 at Ford Plantation.
- Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar announced that RHPD officer Chaley Davis is giving up the badge to join his department. She will now be a code enforcement officer. Scholar said he looks forward to having her "aggressively enforce the city codes."