CALERA – An apprehensive Town Council authorized a limit of six utility trailers per residence for a proposed Planning & Zoning Commission ordinance, during the council’s Tuesday meeting.
The issue brought up the age-old struggle between municipal regulatory power over private property versus personal freedom. In the end, the council chose a higher number of utility trailers due to the rural nature of the town’s setting.
The Planning & Zoning Commission has been busy trying to update and modernize the town’s regulations on such matters. On Tuesday, they discussed the utility trailer issue as well as a proposed ordinance restricting the use of travel trailers (RVs) as permanent residences.
The council was mostly unified in their position on both issues, favoring personal freedoms over the regulations, while recognizing the need for those regulations.
“It’s hard for me to find the balance between nitpicking people and finding order,” said Council member Vicki Barkley. “I’m breaking this (proposed utility trailer) ordinance now, as it reads.”
The proposed ordinance, which still must be passed by two levels of Calera’s town leadership, only limits the number of utility trailers in the front yards of homes. It is modeled after rules in larger municipalities, some of which ban utility trailers altogether and require off-site storage.
Council member David Westbrook pulled no punches on his opinion of limiting people’s rights to store such trailers on their property, after the commission chairman suggested a limit of two.
“I could justify four trailers: a camping trailer, a utility trailer, a car hauler and an enclosed trailer, he said.” Much later in the discussion, Westbrook added “Oh I left out the boat.”
The issue will be discussed at Calera Planning & Zoning Commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. this coming Monday.
In other business, the Calera Council discussed the following issues:
A two-mile stretch of US 69/75 south of Calera was re-annexed after a “time discrepancy” forced the council to re-visit the issue after a previous annexation attempt. A public hearing was held, and the city attorney explained that only the highway and its right-of-way were being annexed, not the property along the two-mile stretch.
Thus, the city will need to respond to accidents on this portion of highway, and Calera Police may patrol it, but businesses and residences along this stretch of road will still be under Bryan County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction and will not receive city services (except fire protection, which is already in place).
Calera Police will soon have new Ford “Police Interceptors,” among the first in the state after the auto maker discontinued the legendary Crown Victoria recently. September police activity included the first arrest for possession of synthetic marijuana under a new city ordinance, as well as an alarmingly high eight arrests for driving under the influence.
A landline-based telephone alert system is now up and running, according to Calera EOC Director Butch Scalf. However, Calera residents who use cellphones exclusively will need to call his office at 434-6014 to sign up for the messaging service. Scalf also said he sent out letters to various groups, churches and people who helped the town after a windstorm brought widespread damage this summer.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the council has moved up the times for its November and December meetings to 1 p.m. on both Nov. 13 and Dec. 11.