uesday evening, June 11, Highland residents saw an example of how well a city government can look after the interests of its residents when it has the freedom of local control and they saw the struggles and frustrations that come when a city is inhibited by the lack of local control.
During the City Council’s regular meeting the council voted on several actions that will greatly affect life and business in Highland.
In the case of a new ordinance requiring non-residential properties on major roadways to underground utilities, Highland residents and prospective business owners Patrick and Jacqueline Earthly voiced concerns for small businesses.
Undergrounding is preferred for because it is safer and more visually appealing, but it is also more costly than using utility poles.
The Earthlys are in the process of restoring an abandoned drive-thru on Base Line to open a new soul food restaurant. They shared that the costs associated with undergrounding utilities would be prohibitive and likely force them to abandon their efforts.
They asked that an exemption process be created for those wanting to restore existing structures for small businesses.
After discussion, the council voiced the desire to support and not restrain revitalization of dilapidated sections of the city, particularly those on major roadways. The council approved the ordinance with instructions for city staff to include an exemption for the restoration of small businesses that are not going to include significant expansion.
The city’s new and less restrictive ordinance for accessory dwellings built on single-family properties was also passed, in order to comply with recent state legislation.
Here the council voiced frustration and a feeling of being forced to retract ordinances it had passed to protect Highland’s neighborhoods and residents from the problems that can arise from having multiple families living on properties meant for single-family dwellings.
These problems can range from parking issues, utilities issues, landlord issues and making it more challenging for city’s code enforcement to ensure the safe living conditions of its residents.
The city seems to have done the most it is able to to protect its neighborhoods under the state’s new law.
The state’s been moving toward more local control for school districts. It would be nice to see the same for city governments.