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Loftis Expresses Concerns About Fencing Ordinance

By Michelle Strubeck

City Council holds Tuesday meeting

The Ava City Council held their meeting on Tuesday, August 24th with Mayor Burrely Loftin calling the meeting to order, approving the agenda and minutes from the August 10 meeting.

The issues discussed are as follows:

1) The request for qualifications for the trail and sidewalk grant was approved and the work will be
completed by the engineering firm of Bartlett and West.

2) Mayor Loftin is inquiring about prices for security cameras. The cameras would be installed in the
town square and at the cemetery. He is hoping to have more information at the next meeting.

3) A clarifier was replaced at the WWTP.

4) Peggy Porter set up a separate account for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). There are five air
conditioning units at the community center they are trying to replace. Money from ARPA would be
used for new units.

5) Bids are currently being taken for a robotic inspection on the four water towers.

6) A new box culvert will be delivered on September 8th. Mayor Loftin said he is working with the county
to schedule a time to do the work and have it completed with in one week, while trying not to disrupt
the bus route too much.

7) There was a public address to the board from the Loftis family. Michael Loftis was the family
spokesperson. He addressed the board in regards to an ordinance that was put in place in 2007. The ordinance has to do with ornamental dividers and fencing. Mr. Loftis began by saying this is the first time he and his family have lived within the city limits and the number one reason he is speaking up is for the safety of his four children. Mr. Loftis stated that his family lives at a busy intersection and the reason for installing the ornamental divider is to keep his family safe. He said he and his wife chose a French style gothic picket fence that matches their house and it is see through at forty two inches tall. This would give his children a safe area to play, while maintaining a safe distance from the street. He said that the fencing ordinance is vague and it is up for interpretation. He isn’t trying to break the rules, but follow the ordinance. According to the ordinance an ornamental divider or like materials shall not be considered a fence, instead it would serve as an ornamental or decorative divider. There was some discussion as to whether or not his ornamental divider is considered an obstruction and Mr. Loftis feels arbitrary reasons against his ornamental divider are not acceptable to him

John Spurlock, a representative from family courts, agreed the ordinance is sufficiently vague and has some wiggle room. He stated it is important to have this community conversation because the outcome of this issue will affect other families in the future. He asked the board to set aside the stop work order and allow the Loftis family to have their ornamental divider, as well as their peace. Mr. Loftis said this issue is giving him stress and he has lost sleep because of it, causing him to wonder whether or not he is doing the right thing.

In the end good, valid points were made and East Ward Alderman Keith Jones made a motion to table the issue, apply for a variance and schedule a time for Planning and Zoning to do an inspection and propose some options. All parties agreed and the motion was approved.