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Council addresses west Paris issues

City Manager John Godwin
City Manager John Godwin

Monday’s City Council session dealt largely with West Paris.

Council members denied two requests for mobile homes. The first was from Charles Braswell for an empty lot on Maple Avenue. The Planning & Zoning Commission and staff recommended denial.

Braswell said his inlaws own the property; he planned to put the mobile home there as rental property.

“It’s not junk. There’s a mobile home park approximately three houses from where I propose to put this. From Maple Avenue to 19th, there are mobile homes scattered through there,” he said. “I’m trying to put something on the lot that’s taxable. I don’t think it’ll hurt the neighborhood.”

Others disagreed. James Price asked the council to deny the request, asking why west Paris is the only area with mobile homes.

“Get off our backs in District 2. We love our land over there,” he said. “Put it over in Morningside. I bet you won’t do that, will you?”

Mary Davenport, who lives one street over, worried about the precedent it might set if this request was approved.

“I live in an area where there are several vacant lots. My concern is if this is zoned here one street over, who’s to say the lots across the street from me will not be bought and someone will try to put a mobile home there?” she said. “West Paris does not need any more run down. We need build up, and we need clean up.”

Ray Banks said he opposed it even though it was “nowhere even close to me.”

“We keep saying west Paris needs to be improved,” he said. “We cannot improve west Paris if we keep putting rental mobile homes there.”

Councilman Edwin Pickle said he thought the city had adopted a policy concerning mobile homes, but City Attorney Kent McIlyar said it had been discussed without ever being approved.

The Planning & Zoning Commission is looking at a moratorium on all mobile homes for several months while a subcommittee looks at a policy, Engineering Director Shawn Napier said.

The second request needed to be denied or tabled because it was an incomplete submission, City Planner Alan Efrussy said. The applicant, Terry Arnold, planned to get the zoning and permission for a mobile home and then buy one to place on West Campbell, but a specific use permit does not allow for that approach, he said.

Both request were unanimously denied.

In other business, Councilwoman Sue Lancaster said the city needs to take care of drainage ditches. They were a problem before the ice storm and worse after, she said. A heavy rainstorm or two could start flooding homes.

“Those drainage ditches were put there for a purpose,” she said. “Paris has flooded, and we strongly urge that all these little drainage areas that were put in – they have been there a long time – they need to be cleaned out so we don’t have to worry about flooding.”

Councilman Benny Plata asked if any work is being done now to clean out the ditches. City Manager John Godwin said there is some, but the parks department is primarily busy working on parks. The city got behind in cleaning up after the ice storm and has remained backlogged, he said. Godwin promised to bring a report to the next council meeting.

Lancaster also sought to have the city mow along the “Safe Sidewalks for Kids.”

“We built these Safe Sidewalks going to the elementary schools to keep kids out of the streets,” she said. “We had a young man killed on Graham because he was riding his bicycle in the street going to school. The problem is we are seeing really high weeds growing all along there, and I’m seeing some children avoiding that and going in the street.”

Godwin said it would be taken care of.

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