City Council Revisits Zoning Issues
Written by Mark Chreene on April 6, 2022
It was a lengthy agenda and meeting for the Minden City Council on Monday, as well as a good bit of tension. Before the meeting began, the council voted to add two items on the agenda, the first was to give the City Clerk authority to advertise for bids for the construction of a new Animal Shelter. The city has been approved for a $75,000 grant from the state for construction, but must be spent before June 30, 2022. According to the discussion on the agenda, the money would allow for architectural drawings, and dirt work on the site (the current location of the animal shelter) and begin plumbing and concrete work. Additional monies are planned to be sought through grants and private donations. The motion, however failed to be added, as the vote was 4-1 with Vincen Bradford voting against it, a unanimous vote is required to add an item to the agenda. The council also failed to add a resolution designating the week of April 11-15 as National Community Development Week by a 3-2 vote, with Terika Walker and Vincen Bradfrod voting against. Since Mayor Terry Gardner allowed comments on the agenda items prior to the council taking action, the council actually didn’t take any action on an agenda item until an hour after starting. The bulk of the discussion was on two agenda items, both involving the Minden Planning Commission. While a few comments were directed at the appeal to the planning commission’s decision regarding the MGM Development Group’s proposal to rezone property on Germantown Road from R-1, Single Family Residential, to R-2, mutli-family residential, to build a 50 unit, gated senior adult retirement community. The commission denied the request in December and the Council took no action at the February meeting. However, the council after much discussion, voted unanimously to remand the matter back to the Minden Planning Commission for reconsideration and for clarification. The council also heard multiple comments from the audience in regards to the Planning Commission’s denial of a zoning variance of the former Grace Estate Bed and Breakfast. Huffman Management, LLC, the option holder, wanted a variance to make the property available for rental for use of weddings, business gatherings, family reunions and other such catered events. The Huffman’s were looking for the council to overturn the decision and had acknowledged that they had since amended some of the requests made in the original proposal in an attempt to be more respectful to those in the surrounding neighborhood. The council, after hearing the lengthy discussion among the audience, took no action on the matter as it failed to get a motion made on the issue.
In other business:
- The Council approved several police department promotions
- Officer First Class Brandon Shane Griffith to Sergeant (4-1 with Walker voting against)
- Officer First Class Michael Shawn Griffith to Sergeant (4-1 with Walker voting against)
- Officer First Class Jason Smith to Sergeant (4-1, with Walker voting against)
- Officer Jason Lee to Officer First Class (Unanimous vote)
- Approved appointment of Diane Silvis (Dist. C) to the Minden Main Street/Downtown Development Commission to replace Deborah Cooksey, with term to expire on September 8, 2023.
- Appointed Teresa Little to replace Alica Adams to the Minden Main Street/Downtown Development Commission with term expiring September 8, 2024.
- Reappointed Lauren Davidson (Dist. E) and Larry Gipson (Dist. A) to the Minden Downtown Development Commission. Davidson’s term ending September 8, 2023, and Gipson’s September 8, 2024.
- Approved authorizing the Mayor to retain services of outside legal counsel regarding the city employee manual.
- Approved the Mayor to enter into a Low Income Household Water Assistance Vendor Agreement with the Louisiana Housing Corporation.
- Adopted a resolution of support for the development of passenger rail service from Fort Worth, Texas through the City of Minden, Louisiana to Atlanta, Georgia along the I-20 corridor.
- Adopted a resolution giving signatory power to Heather Feeback, Assistant City Clerk.
- Approved authority for City Clerk to advertise for bids on new 6/8 Yard Dump Truck
The Council heard from Acting City Clerk, Michael Fluhr, who gave the Febraury financial report. Fluhr reported that sales tax numbers continue to do well, recording $574,410 in February, up from $477,051 in 2021. Total funds for the city are at $18.4 million up from $18 million in 2021 and not counting the $2.1 million in American Rescue plan funds. Fluhr reported that the city audit is complete and will be presented at the May meeting, and also strongly admonished the council to reconsider the $75,000 grant for the animal shelter.
Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper gave his March report:
Calls for service–561 (1,035 with STEP)
2-out of district
Cropper reported 25 traffic accidents were worked in March as well.
During comments, Councilwoman Terika Walker read a letter from “concerned citizen” about the hiring of a part-time officer that was reported to be running for police chief at the next election. When Walker finished reading the letter, she expressed concern, as the council does not approve part-time hires. Cropper asked to respond, saying that with the short fall of officers, he welcomes anyone who is POST certified and able to work part-time to help fill the needs in the department.
The next meeting of the Minden City Council is scheduled for Monday, May 2nd at 5:30 pm.