Jan. 28--A first reading of an ordinance to allow cell phone reception devices on billboards in London was approved at a special city council meeting Friday.
The ordinance came after a proposal was made to the city council earlier this month to add cell phone dishes to an existing billboard on Hwy. 192.
London Building Inspector Doug Gilbert, along with William Kendrick and Lynn Haney with Appalachian Wireless, came before the city council to see if it would be permissible for them to build six cell phone antennae and one microwave dish on an existing billboard to improve cell phone signal in the area. Kendrick told the council the billboard was an advertising device, not a broadcasting device, so it was not defined in existing ordinances.
An ordinance was passed in 1999 that forbade the building of any new billboards, but existing billboards in the London area were "grandfathered in," according to Kendrick. Kendrick made it clear they were simply adding cell phone antennae to an existing billboard.
No motion was made at this meeting, and time was requested for an ordinance to be drafted to cover this issue.
A second reading will be required before the city council before the ordinance can be approved.
The city council also selected Summit Engineering out of Lexington to engineer the Sampson Branch Watershed Project. Sampson Branch, another flood hazard along 5th Street, was discussed in the council meeting.
According to London Public Safety Director Rick Cochrane, a drainage pipe collapsed and the ensuing flood collapsed two buildings. The owners of these buildings sued the city, and the city lost. The pipe has to be fixed, and these repairs will begin once engineering for the project has been completed.
The first reading for an ordinance to change the name of Nami Plaza Street to Fortress Properties Street was approved. This came about after request by Barbra Causey with Fortress Properties, LLC. A second reading must take place for the ordinance to be approved.
The bid for the Whitley Branch Site II project was changed. In the city council meeting earlier this month, the council approved a bid from HIll-Don of Burksvile to begin work tearing up the intersection of Hwy. 1006 and Mill Street. However, according to London Mayor Troy Rudder, company representative Don Davis passed away shortly after the bid was awarded. The company asked to withdraw the bid, and it went to the second place bidder, Irvine Contracting LLC of London.
Whitley Branch is a creek in the city that has caused problems with flooding in the past, according to London Public Safety Director Rick Cochrane. The city began a project to widen the pipes running under the city from 24 inches to 48 inches in order to relieve the problem for good. Cochrane said they received a Hazard Mitigation Grant from FEMA for around $700,000 to widen the area's drainage pipes after the city had already spent $1.7 million trying to fix the existing pipes.
To pay for the Whitley Branch Hazard Mitigation Project, a revolving line of credit was approved. The project is funded by a grant in which the city pays the expenses for the project, then submits an expense report and is reimbursed. Rudder said that in order to avoid dipping into the city's general fund, a revolving line of credit was approved. He also said that the council was in the process of acquiring interest rates from local lending agencies in order to choose the best rate.
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