Durbin Council plows through snow removal issue

At the January 14 Durbin Town Council meeting, a debate was held about snow removal in the town.

Along with plowing the streets and alleys, town worker Doug Currence also plows private parking lots including the Bartow-Frank-Durbin Fire Department’s lot and the parking area beside councilmember Mike Vance’s business.

Mayor Donald Peck explained that he had received several complaints about the town plowing out Vance’s lot, but said it has always been cleared because it is used by the town and visitors.

“In the past when we had snow, we always plowed on this side of the old firehouse [Vance’s business] and the upper side for people to park and turn,” Peck said.

Councilmember Danielle Findley agreed that the lot is used by more businesses than Vance’s and said she thought it is useful to the whole town.

“The way you worded that it sounds kind of like that’s his business, he needs to take care of his business, but at the same time, his customers aren’t the only ones that use that,” Findley said. “The church across the street parks there on Sunday morning and Wednesday, and some on Friday evening. People do turn around there. I’ve had to turn around there. Habitat volunteers park there. So if the issue is that it’s a private business, that it would be up to the business owner, then that is not entirely the case.”

Vance explained that the town plows that area, and did so before he owned it, because it is a good place to put all the excess snow when the town is plowed.

“The reason we plow it out is because when we have a deep snow, we’ve got no place to put it,” Vance said. “If we had to quit plowing, we’d have to get dump trucks in here and haul it all out. That’s going to cost us $1,000, probably $2,000 every time. It’s been pushed up there for thirty years that I know of. It’s a non-issue.”

Resident and former councilmember Kenny Lehman argued that it is not fair to individuals who do not get their lots plowed by the town. He added that there are other parts of town that are being plowed that shouldn’t be done by the town worker.

“I think it’s an issue because it was not always plowed,” Lehman said. “It is a private business. The post office has to pay to have their parking lot plowed. The fire department – they pay to mow their grass, they should pay to have their snow removed. It’s not fair that everybody in this town has to get out and clean their driveway and he doesn’t have to.”

In regards to the post office, Vance explained that the post office has a contract for snow removal along with several other post offices in the upper end of the county. He said the post office asked the town to stop plowing its lot.

With the fire department, Findley said she saw it as an important service to provide for the volunteers who serve the town.

“I’m not worried about them getting the fire trucks out or the ambulance out, that may not even be an issue, but when our guys and girls who are volunteers are trying to get in there, it needs to be safe for them,” she said. “[Treasurer Veronica Lane] said they pay a maintenance bill, as well, and I’m not saying that to say that we shouldn’t all be paying for that snow plowing, but I think about my home and my children, and my neighbors who are ultimately volunteering their time to go and be there. I want them to be able to get in there and get the truck they need to go help. That’s what it boils down to.”

Lehman adamantly stated that he believes that all private lots should be plowed by the owners or workers instead of the town.

“My issue is that it is a private parking lot and I think it is unethical,” he said. “The mayor of Beckley just had to resign over misuse of city funds. That is, to me, a misuse of town funds.”

Findley suggested that the council table the issue until the next meeting to give the council time to draw up a list of places the town plows so they can review that list before making a decision.

The issue was tabled for the next meeting.

In other action:

• Christmas Lighting contest winners are: first place, Paula Wood; second place, Paul Lambert and third place, Kenny Mick.

• Council approved hiring Mary White as a part-time employee to replace Vance who had to resign when he was appointed to council.

• Council approved the second readings of the revised garbage ordinance, maintenance ordinance and curfew ordinance.

• Jason Bauserman gave council an update on the Durbin Community Library project and asked council to include the library in budget requests to the state when the budget is reviewed.
Durbin Town Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Durbin Town Hall.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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