Opelika Council Repeals Rental Registration Ordinance

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BY MICHELLE KEY AND
HANNAH LESTER

OPELIKA —

The Opelika City Council voted unanimously to repeal the Residential Rental Registration and Inspection ordinance during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

The ordinance was up for first reading, but the council voted to suspend the rules and vote on the issue during the meeting.

The ordinance was suspended in September of 2022, following a decision by the Alabama Supreme Court declaring that a similar ordinance in Center Pointe, Alabama could not stand against state law already in place.

“The city of Opelika’s Residential Rental Property Registration and Inspection Ordinance was intended to keep residents of the city of Opelika in safe and comfortable residential rental dwelling units,” said a statement from the city following the suspension.

The program allowed the city to check rental properties before being rented for things such as heating, hot water, fire escapes and more.

“Whenever a residential rental dwelling unit becomes vacant, the property shall be inspected for compliance and a new rental occupancy certificate shall be issued,” the ordinance said. “No residential rental dwelling unit shall be occupied if it does not have a valid rental occupancy certificate.”

Periodic inspections were also allowed under the ordinance.

“We are extremely disappointed and have deep concerns for the tenants in some of our rental properties,” said Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller when the ordinance was suspended. “We are grateful that we do have many landlords who do the right thing.”

On Tuesday night, Fuller also assured the community that the city will do everything it can legally do under the state’s existing landlord and tenant laws to ensure that the citizens live in safe and decent housing.

The repeal also allows for the refund of the fees collected, some $13,865, since it was passed in September of 2021 and took effect in January of 2022.

Refunds will be issued from the unassigned fund balance, city documents said.

AWARDS AND RECONGITIONS

Several city employees were recongized with service awards during the meeting. Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey recongized Kole Pagan as Dispatcher of
the Year.

Opelika Fire Chief Shane
Boyd recongized Phillip Bell
and Michael Clifton as 2022
Firefighter of the Year and
Battalion Chief Dennis
Hanson as the Firefighter of
the Year.

OTHER BUSINESS:

– The council approved a retail liquor and retail beer on premise license for Butcher Paper BBQ d/b/a Butcher Paper BBQ.

– The council approved a a retail liquor class 1 and retail beer on premise license for Rock N’ Roll Pinball LLC d/b/a The Jailhouse Lounge.

– The council approved a retail liquor and retail beer on premise license for The New Turning Point LLC d/b/a Zen Steak And Sushi Restaurant

– The council held a public hearing for and approved a weed abatement assessment for 1733 1st Ave.

– The council held a public hearing for and approved a weed abatement assessment for 504 S. 4th St.

– The council approved a bid for T&C Speciality Distributors Inc. for a 15KV primary underground distribution cable for Opelika Power Services.

– The council approved a bid for Howard Industries, Inc. for single-phase pad mounted transformers and single-phase pole mounted transformers for Opelika Power Services.

– The council approved expense reports for city of Opelika employees in various departments.

– The council canceled the purchase of a HD rotary cutter for the Public Works Department.

– The council approved the purchase of a 2023 Dodge Ram 1500 quad-cab truck from Stivers Ford Lincoln for more than $37,900.

– The council approved the purchase of a 2024 Mack MD7 Loader with Hardox boom extension from Gulf Coast Truck & Equipment Co. Inc. for more than $190,600.

– The council approved the purchase of 22 2023 Chevrolet Tahoes from Donohoo Chevrolet LLC for more than $769,600 and also approved the following equipment necessary to outfit the vehicles for use by the police department:

• police package emergency lighting by Haynes for more than $410,600,

• car radios from Motorola Solutions for more than $150,200,

•  in-car camera systems for Motorola Solutions for more than $135,800 and

•  Eagle 3 Radar Systems from Kustom Signals Inc. for more than $42,500.

– The council approved a resolution to convert four part-time library assistant 1 positions to two full-time library assistant 1 positions.

– The council approved a contract for Pepperell Creekline Trail Improvements with Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

– The council approved a contract to waive building and construction permit fees related to the Indian Pine Golf Course improvements that will soon take place.

– The council approved annual appropriation contracts for FY 2023 with the following organizations:

• Alabama Cooperative Extension System,

• Art Haus,

• Christian Care Ministries,

• Christian Women’s Job Corps of Lee County,

• East Alabama Services for the Elderly Inc.,

• Envision Opelika Foundation,

• J.W. Darden Foundation,

• Lee County Humane Society,

• Lee County Rabies Officer,

• Lee County Youth Development Center,

• Opelika First Class Pre-K Academy,

• Opelika Industrial Development Authority,

• Opelika Main Street and 

• Valley Haven School.

– The council voted to approve a special appropriation for the The 2022 Nutcracker Performance by East Alabama Community Ballet.

– The council approved a special appropriation from Ward 2 Council Member Erica Baker-Norris’s discretionary funds for the PACE organization.

– The council voted to suspend the rules and vote on an ordinance for a Bond Issue and Go Warrants for the new sixth grade academy to be built by Opelika City Schools. Approving the ordinance during Tuesday night’s meeting allowed the city to lock in an interest rate of 4.11% on the nearly $10 million project.

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