Manila City Council members took no action on a variance request from a Manila resident to keep a pet goat. Kenneth Wallace and his attorney, Mikki Connealy, were present at the July council meeting to once again request a variance. They attended the June meeting asking for an ordinance variance concerning Wallace's pet goat. Wallace had been cited for being in violation of a city ordinance forbidding goats, pigs or any other hoofed animals from being kept inside the city limits.
During the June meeting photographs and addresses were submitted of other animals suspected to be kept in violation of the ordinance. Also at the June meeting, Connealy told the Council it was not legal to apply an ordinance to one person and not everyone else.
Wallace said he had talked to all of the neighbors, except one, and they did not have any problem with the goat.
Mayor Clifford Veach asked City Attorney Wayne Wagner if he had checked out the animals in question.
Wagner said in general one related to a horse in the city limits and a variance had been given sometime in the 1990s, the only other goat in question had been returned to the country, another horse has been returned to the country and has not been in the city limits since spring.
"The property my horses are kept on is not in the city limits," Wagner said. "Most of the property of the councilman's animals questioned is not in the city limits. That is why he can't get streets or sewer there. The pigeons are locked in cages and this ordinance does not address pigeons. There are actually clubs that raise pigeons. The ordinance in question does not fall under this ordinance."
Wagner said there had been a complaint about the chickens. The owners will be served.
Councilman Dwight Booth said he had only been involved in a variance request concerning buildings during his time on the council and no variance was allowed if there was an objection by neighbors.
Connealy said her client was only asking for a variance for the life of his pet goat.
"He would not replace the goat with another or with other animals," she said. "The request is just for the life of the goat or until his children lose interest in the goat."
Council member Linda Donovan said she felt like the council needed 100 percent support from the neighbors before a variance is considered.
No action was taken by the council.
"No action taken means the ordinance stands and no variance is given," Veach said.
Mayor Veach gave council members copies of the ordinance codification book with the changes.
"Take it home and look it over so we can be ready to act on it at the next meeting," Veach said.
Veach also discussed the cost of providing sewer to six houses on Costner Road. He said in the 1990s Jewell Engineers did a cost survey and aerial view of the properties. Veach said the information was still in their files and he had the cost updated. The cost to provide sewer to the houses would be $123,801.
"The cost killed the project before and it is still a big factor," Veach said. "I've checked with the person who writes grants and she is looking but so far she has not found any. I talked to the engineers about an alternative plan but was told the cost would be about the same. I'd like to see these people have sewer. I've always felt that way. We are not in the sewer business to make money but we are in the business to serve our customers without penalizing other customers. We don't have that kind of money. The sewer account now has $148,000 and we have to have a cushion. If we spent the money we would have to raise the rates all over town."
Mayor Veach said the new fire station is coming along. The city contributed $150,000 to the project; Manila Industries contributed $50,000; Manila Industries agreed to loan the city up to $125,000 for the project and Rural Development added $85,000 to fund the $400,000 project. Veach said he is looking now at the difference in the cost of asphalt and concrete.
"We are a first class city and we want to have a first class fire department," Veach said.
Veach said Mississippi County Judge Steve McGuire and the mayors of the First Class cities recently met. Judge McGuire wants the cities to consider their county clean-up dates. Veach said the cities would be given a break on fees. The county's clean-up dates are the last weekend in April and the last weekend in September.
"We need to work with them and consider offering free dumping to our citizens one Saturday in September and starting our spring clean-up the last weekend in April," Veach said.
Veach announced the next phase of the airport work will be widening the runway. He explained the airport received $1.5 million in grants for ongoing projects. The runway will be widened from 60 feet to 75 feet.
Councilman Larry Davis said the runway was extended from 3,200 to 4,200 feet and FAA recommends widening it as a safety issue. Davis said the Manila Airport can handle about any business jet.
"When the general public sees the asphalt trucks going out there when work is being needed in other parts of town they question it," Davis said. "I hope they realize the money spent there cannot be spent anywhere else."
The council voted unanimously to allow Mayor Veach to acquire an engineering contract for the airport runway project.
The city council meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Monday of each month at city hall.