BY JEFF CLARK
The Columbus City Council unanimously approved a recommendation from the planning commission to rezone 801 Tuscaloosa Road from A-1 (General Agriculture) to C-3 (Highway Commercial). The rezoning will allow Dollar General to relocate its current store from 930 Tuscaloosa Road to the new site, which is 1.37 acres.
The request was made by building inspector Kenny Wiegel on behalf of the planning commission. The commission on May 13 voted unanimously to make the recommendation to the council.
“The Dollar General on Highway 50 is a 7,100-square-foot store,” said Mitch King of Mike Rozier Construction of Greenwood. “We are trying to get everything in order for the rezoning because Dollar General is planning to put a larger store to meet the needs of the people at 12,480 square feet.”
Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box made the motion to approve the zoning request.
“Mr. Mayor, that’s is in my ward, and due to the change in the neighborhood and our need for additional retail, I welcome it,” Box said.
During the citizens input portion of the meeting, Cherry Williams discussed her issues with 18-wheelers allegedly driving up and down Eighth Street North.
“This situation has been going ever since 2012,” Williams said. “I have contacted the Columbus Police Department and the Chief of Police (Selvain McQueen) has been very diligent in helping me.”
Williams said the owner of the vehicle had been ticketed many times, and she accused Municipal Court Judge Nicole Clinkscales of destroying the citations.
“This person was given tickets and citations,” Williams said. “He continues to park his 18-wheeler there (in front of Genesis Church.) I found out these tickets were torn up. I have a petition signed by the people on the street — we don’t want these 18-wheelers on our street. We know Columbus doesn’t have any money. We don’t need any more potholes. We are not happy about this. The police department did their job. The judge tore the tickets up. Those tickets should not have been torn up. Why are you going to have laws if you are not enforcing them?”
Although Clinkscales was polite in her response to Williams, she firmly denied destroying any tickets.
“I believe we are talking about Anthony Billups, are we not,” Clinkscales said. “He has had one citation that has come before me. He actually went to trial and was found not guilty at that time. There have been no other citations before me. So if you got any information, you got misinformation. The chief called me and asked me about it and I told him to write the citation. If it’s not on my docket, there’s nothing I can do about it. My job is hear the cases that come before me. If they don’t come before me, there is nothing I can do about it.”
Although McQueen said there may have been some miscommunication on the numbers of citations issued, Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem challenged McQueen on the tickets.
“Mrs Williams is under the impression several tickets have been written, and so there is some misinformation,” Karriem said.
Box concurred with Karriem.
“I agree with Councilman Karriem — I don’t see how the trucks get down in those narrow streets,” Box said.
McQueen said the truck was not always in violation of the law.
“The times I have gone out that has not been the case,” McQueen said. “The truck was parked on the side of the road and was not blocking the road.”
City Attorney Jeff Turnage also chimed in on the legalities of where the truck was parked.
“In absence of an affidavit from property owner, there’s nothing the city can do,” Turnage said.
The council also took the following actions:
• A request from Kroger to remove eight Bradford Pear trees was tabled.
• A request from contractor and developer Chris Chain to amend the city’s fire code regarding the installation of automatic sprinklers was tabled until June 4.
• Approval was given for the city to apply for a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant for Columbus Light and Water. It will require a 50/50 match from the utility company, half of which can be paid in in kind services. The grant is for a water and sewer project on MLK in Ward 4. The grant is at no cost to the city.
• Approval was given to advertise the wind cone project for GTR Airport and a change order was approved for the Fuel Farm Rehabilitation Project. Both are contingent upon airport board approval.
• Tommy Ross appeared before the council and complained about police brutality.