By NATHAN GREGORY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen voted to amend the city’s code of ordinances to allow transient vendors to set up temporary facilities and sell goods on public property in its meeting Tuesday.
The amendment gives vendors the ability to set up a stand in a public parking space and sell goods such as food and clothing.
Section 30-31 of the amendment originally stated vendors could not leave their businesses parked and unattended while occupying any public space for a period longer than 30 minutes. The time limit was changed to one hour before the amendment was moved to the consent agenda.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said having the ordinance in place opens opportunities for locals — particularly during weekends of high traffic volume in the city — to offer their services to residents and visitors of Starkville.
“The general idea behind this is food vendors. It’s my hope that we can open up the process so more progressive-type individuals can explore the options of restaurant development,” Dumas said. “It helps on business incubation and food options around town. It’s happening across the nation, and we hope we can get some type of establishment here.”
The board also heard from Kimley-Horn and Associates Project Manager Wain Gaskins regarding a traffic study the consulting firm recently conducted along South Montgomery Street. The assessment was initiated in order to address concerns about traffic volumes growing on the corridor extending from Poor House Road to Academy Drive and causing congestion during peak travel hours. He presented capacity analyses for each intersection on the corridor’s service abilities to drivers and the projected abilities if no improvements are made to those intersections by 2035. Most of the corridor consists of a two-lane rural cross section.
Though he ultimately voted in favor of allowing them to attend, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins disputed approval for Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman’s and Starkville Electric Department General Manager Terry Kemp’s travel to the American Public Power Association annual meeting this June in Seattle, Wash., using city funds. The measure, which was originally on the consent agenda and pulled at Perkins’ request, passed unanimously.
Kemp said the conference is beneficial for getting the latest information on utility practices and being able to bring it back home and use it to help customers.
“The meeting creates tremendous opportunity to talk to representatives, learn the best practices and be able to bring those back home,” Kemp said.
“We need to be more conservative and cognizant (of city funds) ... It is overkill to send two people from city of Starkville almost to Canada. I’ve been to Seattle before but not at the taxpayer’s expense. One person should be substantial to get the information. As we move forward … hopefully in the future we’ll start streamlining these requests. These are not friendly skies, these are expensive skies,” Perkins said. “We have people struggling … the economy is tough and we’re spending money to send people to Seattle ... I just want to say in the future hopefully we’ll cut this plus traveling. Just because we have it budget doesn’t mean we have to spend it. This money belongs to the taxpayers and rate payers.”
The board also approved amending job descriptions for all supervisory positions in the water/sewer and construction/rehab divisions of the city’s public services to include a requirement for all future hires to have Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality operator II-C within one year of acceptance. The measure passed 4-2 with Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn opposed.
Starkville Public Works Director Doug Devlin said the need for certification came as a result of conversations with MDEQ during its annual inspection of the city’s water treatment systems.
“I think it’s important our supervisors and foremen have that face-to-face relationship with MDEQ each year,” Devlin said. “If we have a good relationship with them and do what we have to do there’s no fear. We have to be transparent and honest. I would sleep better knowing the people in these supervisory positions are qualified.”