02/04/04 — Fremont board

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Fremont board

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on February 4, 2004 2:00 PM

FREMONT -- The Fremont town board decided Tuesday night in a special meeting at Town Hall to revisit a thorny mobile home issue that has been debated for almost six months.

The six-man board agreed to rescind the zoning amendment that was passed by the outgoing board in November and readvertise another amendment at a public hearing.

The issue surfaced in August when the town's Planning Board refused to let James Barnes replace a burned, 40-year-old mobile home at 505 Vance St. with a new home in an area not zoned for mobile homes.

The home had been allowed to remain as a non-conforming use because it was in place before the zoning ordinance was passed in 1998.

Alderman Leon Mooring suggested that the board do one of three things -- send the matter back to the Planning Board, readvertise the original amendment submitted by Town Administrator Tom Barnes or advertise former Alderman Sam Pierce's amendment that was passed.

During the discussion, Mooring hinted that the town should follow the Planning Board's recommendation.

"That's why you have a planning board," he said. "If you don't follow their recommendation, what's the reason for having one?"

With assistance from a community planner, Barnes had designed a compromise amendment that would have allowed the replacement of a non-conforming residential mobile home that was more than 75 percent damaged.

Pierce's motion would have allowed not only the replacement of unusable residential mobile homes but also businesses.

Neil Mallory, the board's adviser, had cautioned the group that the ordinance could be challenged in court if what was adopted was not advertised in a public hearing. He said the board could legally do less than it advertised, but not more.

"You'll be one of the few" government bodies "to remove the non-conforming provision from your zoning ordinance," Mallory said.

Then the board agreed unanimously to readvertise Tom Barnes' compromise amendment. Barnes said he would find out when a public hearing could be held.

Board appointments

Filling two vacant seats on the Planning Board also took an unusual turn. When two candidates tied with two votes each for the second seat, Mallory suggested several ways to break the tie. One way was to pull a name from a hat. An audience member, Nancy Cobb, pulled out the name of the Rev. Robert Langley, a losing candidate in the November mayor's race. Sam Pierce, who had lost in November to Mooring for a town board seat, was the other candidate.

Earlier, Joyce Coley Reid had received four votes and earned the other spot.

The name of the fourth announced candidate, Paul Jeffreys, another losing candidate for the town board, was not put in nomination.

Disaster plan

The board also received from Mallory a copy of a hazard mitigation plan required by the state on how to deal with natural and manmade disasters. The plan is similar to the Wayne County plan.

Mallory explained that the federal government was providing money to local governments to rebuild after disasters. But when Washington discovered that some governments were doing nothing to protect themselves, the federal agencies decided towns and counties should have plans for areas subject to damages from hurricanes, tornadoes and snow storms.

Mallory said the proposed town plan addresses all items that the state and federal governments say should be in it. A section of the plan, he said, should include what the police, fire and rescue departments and town officials would do in the event of an emergency.

"One day you'll need this plan," Mallory said, "because something will happen. ƒ You have to make sure that everyone knows what they're supposed to do."

New sidewalks

Construction of new sidewalks on the first block of East Main Street is being delayed until more electrical work is finished, Tom Barnes said. The phone company has moved its lines, he said. Barnes also showed several patterns for the sidewalks that will be concrete but will look like brick.

New street lamps also have been ordered but have not arrived, Barnes said.

The sidewalk improvements are part of a $433,000 project that also included the renovation of Town Hall.