City board to tour proposed scrap site

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen tabled a request from a local businessman to store scrap metal in the Falk Steel Road area until members can tour the proposed site and try to work out a compromise with those in the neighborhood opposed to the expansion. Robert Keyes, owner and operator of Keyes Recycling on U.S. 61 North, was denied a special exemption by the zoning board on Sept. 2 to store recyclables on 45 acres of property he has purchased at 330 Falk Steel Road.

As when Keyes approached the zoning board, about 20 residents and members of two churches in the nearby area attended Monday’s meeting to voice their opposition.

“The property is zoned L2, and he has the right to operate the business there from a legal standpoint. If we deny his request today and he takes it to circuit court it’s going to be approved,” speculated Mayor Laurence Leyens. “Our opportunity here is to establish a special exemption and try to address the public objection, and maybe we could make this a win-win situation.”

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South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman noted the scrap business is not legal except by special exception, but went along with the mayor and North Ward Aldermen Michael Mayfield in voting to table the issue until the Oct. 20 regular board meeting.

Leyens invited Beauman and Mayfield to join him in touring the area where Keyes is proposing to store recyclables. Although Keyes had told the zoning board he intended to store metal, plastic, cardboard and other recyclables on the site, his son, Robert Keyes Jr., told the board Monday his family had decided they would only store scrap metal on the property. Keyes has also maintained the business would not be open to the public, and there would be no crushing of recyclables on the premises or any other noisy, mechanical operations. 

Byron Maxwell, pastor of the nearby Cool Spring M.B. Church, said he worries if scrap storage is allowed on Falk Steel Road, the business could expand over time to include crushing operations.

“We cannot get a clear understanding of what exactly Mr. Keyes and his son want to do with this property,” said Maxwell.

Other objectors said they were concerned about safety on Falk Steel Road, which is not quite two lanes wide and often has children biking on or playing near the narrow road. Others pointed out problems, such as noise, smell and litter, from an existing recycling center in the neighborhood and said they did not want the problems to compound with the addition of another scrap yard.  

“The reality is we have a lot of heavy industrial in that area as well as residential, and they just don’t mix well,” said Leyens.

The issue will come before the board again on Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. during a regular board meeting.

On the agenda

On Monday, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen:

• Received a sealed bid for a standby generator system for the police department from Electro-Mech Inc. of Ridgland for $138,265. 

• Received sealed bids for an enclosed trailer for the police department from Mountain Coach Company Inc. of Palmetto, Ga., for $40,000, and from Midway Trailer Inc. of Benton, Mo., for $29,970.

• Rescinded a motion from Sept. 15 authorizing the city clerk to advertise for sealed bids for the 2008 erosion control projects on Bowmar Avenue and the Hillcrest Subdivision.

• Approved a request from the Fostoria Neighborhood Association to close Dewitt Street between Cherry and Drummund streets on Sunday, Oct. 12, between the hours of 4 and 9 p.m. for a neighborhood block party.

• Approved a request for $2,085 to purchase radio advertising in October, November and December as sponsors for the Vicksburg 4th Annual Christmas Caroling Contest, which will be Dec. 1-6.

• Approved a budget amendment to increase the airport fund in the amount of $200,000 for capital improvements.

• Tabled approving the City of Vicksburg’s organizational chart to include the Vicksburg Municipal Airport as an official department.

• Designated Marcia Weaver as the city’s designated agent for Hurricane Gustav public assistance reimbursement.

• Accepted a Justice Assistance Grant of $18,968 from the U.S. Department of Justice.

• Accepted a fiscal year 2008 Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws grant of $6,000.

• Discussed two dilapidated buildings and overgrown lots and approved Building and Inspection Director Victor Gray-Lewis to proceed to cut, clean and/or demolish two properties and allow for a 90-day extension on one property.

• Accepted a letter establishing special assessment, and adopted a resolution for the cutting and site clearing of the following properties: 1508 First East St., owned by Joseph Hall and Timothy Young; 1517 Grove St., owned by Carolyn C. Mason; 1101 Polk St., owned by Shelby Sanders; 2938 Park Ave., owned by Herman Douglas Smtih; Roosevelt Avenue, owned by the State of Mississippi; Springfield Drive, owned by Elvin E. and Pamela D. McFerrin; Roosevelt Avenue, owned by the State of Mississippi; Roosevelt Avenue, owned by the State of Mississippi; 2714 Drummund St., owned by the State of Mississippi; and 1429 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., owned by St. Luke Baptist Church.

• Approved Vicksburg Main Street Program’s October 2008 advertising in the amount of $3,102.25.

• Approved a request for issuance of petty cash in the amount of $3,500 to the Vicksburg Police Department.

• Approved two additions to the employee driving list in the street department, Joseph Boler and Freddie Smith.

• Authorized the city clerk to advertise sealed bids for the NRCS drainage channel repair and improvements at Hissly of the Valley and Halls Ferry Road. 

In closed session, the board:

• Accepted the retirement of one employee in the fire department.

• Approved the hiring of one employee in the street department.

• Approved pay adjustments for 10 employees in the court services, fire (2), gas (3), street (2), water maintenance and water treatment departments.

• Approved the promotion of one employee in the fire department.

• Approved the resignation of one employee in each the street and purchasing department.

• Accepted the termination of 18 employees in the sewer and recreation (17) departments.

• Discussed one litigation matter.

The next board meeting is Friday at 10 a.m. in the City Hall Annex at 1415 Walnut St.