By Alison James
The city council Tuesday held a straightforward meeting during which the council approved “in concept” the Carver-Jeter master plan developed by Market + Main and heard a citizen complaint from Suzanne Montgomery.
The Carver-Jeter master plan has been a months-long effort, spearheaded by Market+Main, to develop strategies to “preserve and revitalize the City’s in-town neighborhoods located in direct proximity to the historic downtown area,” according Tuesday’s resolution. Led by M+M’s Aaron Fortner, along with a focus group of community members and city leaders, numerous public meetings and community workshops have engage the community to initiate a set of plans to improve these areas of Opelika. Including everything from street art to new housing, the plan is designed to be implemented in stages over the course of several years.
During the citizens communication portion of the evening, which is open to citizens at every council meeting, Suzanne Montgomery addressed the council in regards to the condition of a house across from property she and her brother own on South Eighth Street in the historical district.
“The house is unoccupied except for cats, which are feral and breeding horribly,” “It continues to be a problem … They have attempted at one point to try and restore the roof … There’s all kinds of issues going on down there.”
Repeatedly describing the house as deplorable, Montgomery’s request to the city nevertheless was this: don’t get involved.
“I look at that house on a regular basis; I have for a long time now,” Montgomery said. “My brother and I are the ones being harmed. I don’t see this as a historical commission issue; I see this as a property rights issue. I don’t approve of the commission … I would plead with the council: please, let’s respect this man (the property owner). I would rather see this house remain in that condition than to see you all take action as a city, as a council, as a government, as the arm of force, to press this man to do something against his will, because I … we may win this battle, but we will lose our liberties.”
Montgomery urged the city to let the matter go through the courts, through the legal system, rather than taking action.
“I don’t feel the city has a dog in this fight,” she said.
The council also:
– approved street closures for Veterans Day and for EAMC’s Gainshare Day event.
– held public hearings for, and subsequently approved, costs of weed abatements at 502 Martin Luther King Blvd., and 706 Geneva St.
– approved expense reports, expenditures of public funds by OPS and the library and routine appropriation contracts with Valley Haven School, the Alabama Council on Human Relations, Keep Opelika Beautiful and the Lee County Humane Society.
– voted in favor of gift agreements with the Opelika Kiwanis and Rotary clubs for the Rockybrook Rocket.