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Committees to review billboard law, blight


Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner

Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner



Nathan Gregory



Advertising on billboard signs in city rights of way is against the law in Columbus, but a committee appointed during Tuesday's city council meeting will review the code and may suggest lessening restrictions. 


An agenda item dubbed "Discuss/Approve Use of Jumbotrons" was introduced by councilman Marty Turner before Mayor Smith suggested forming a committee to review the current moratorium. A vote on implementing the mayor's idea passed unanimously. Councilmen Turner, Bill Gavin and Joseph Mickens were then appointed to the committee, along with chief operations officer David Armstrong.  


As it stands now, the ordinance only allows businesses to have signs on their own property. Mickens said a change could equate to revenue for the city. 


"If we could get this downtown I think it would be an enhancement to the city with revenues coming in," Mickens said. "I think it would be an asset. It's worth looking into. If we can bring revenues into the city, we need to look into it because we need all the taxes and revenues we can get at this time." 


The first discussion of reviewing signage and billboards was brought up during a retreat held earlier this month for councilmen and department heads. 




Task force to address vacated lots 


Councilman Kabir Karriem asked his colleagues to approve a committee to focus on dilapidated properties and vacated lots. This would be an effort to abate blighted areas and explore incentives to redevelop them and get them back on city tax rolls, he said. Councilmen also unanimously passed his motion.  


"We have a lot of areas in the city of Columbus that are just vacant and it's like they're dying on the vine," Karriem said. "I hope that with the minds we have inside the city that we can come together and create some type of programs that will help rebuild our city." 


Karriem, Turner and Gene Taylor will serve on the task force along with Armstrong, city building official Kenny Wiegel, federal programs director Travis Jones, former federal programs director George Irby and code enforcement officer Tamaris Jones. City planner Christina Berry, community resources officer Glenda Buckhalter, fire chief Ken Moore and police chief Selvain McQueen will also serve on the committee. 




C-Spire to locate sixth tower in city 


Councilmen also voted to allow cellular phone company C-Spire to erect a 150-foot tower at 717 Pine St. in Ward 1 at the former site of Glenn Machine Works. 


The city's planning commission held a meeting Dec. 9 where the request was first discussed. Only four of the commission's nine members were present, meaning there wasn't a quorum that could vote to recommend the council approve C-Spire's request, but one was not necessary for approval. No one at Tuesday's meeting spoke in support or objection to the request. 




In other business: 


■ Smith swore in Kenneth Brewer, Zachariah Borthwick and Joshua McCain as full-time police officers and Natashea Coleman-Brown as a part-time officer; 


■ The council approved a request for an animal control officer to attend a conference in Nashville, Tenn., and to reimburse an estimated $1,592.78 for the trip; 


■ The council approved a request to pay a motorcycle instructor $1,106 to train officers to drive newly purchased motorcycles; 


■ Councilmen approved a request for the fire training chief to attend a conference in Henderson, Nev. and reimburse an estimated $3,091.25 for the trip; 


■ The council reappointed Smith to the Golden Triangle Regional Solid Waste Management Authority board; 


■ The council approved a request to place an all-way stop at Third Street and Third Avenue South.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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