Fireworks at Elmo Town Council Meeting
At the July 22 Elmo Town Meeting, a letter of resignation was read from Councilman Howard Van Wagoner. The letter stated that due to business and personal circumstances, he has been forced to relocate and thus is handing in his resignation.
Mayor Daryl Wilcox reported that Judy Lang, from Neighborhood Watch had been in contact with him and requested that the town update their maps. The maps needed are to reflect the residents' names, addresses, phone numbers and the number of people living at that address.
Mayor Wilcox stated also that the council had been in discussion concerning the request for an OHV ordinance. With several dozen residents present, Mayor Wilcox received a good sampling of their opinions. Also, he has been in discussion with the county concerning the 400 East cleanup. The school district owns 40 acres in Elmo and has offered to lease it to the town. After discussion from the council and comments from the residents, the decision was made not to accept the offer.
The next agenda item was concerning a building permit that had been issued and the transfer of water shares. Mayor Wilcox had leased the town 13 water shares and had requested the shares be returned. In turn, he was giving them to his daughter to give back to the town for the required number of shares to acquire her building permit. Many of the residents present at the meeting were concerned about the legality of these actions. Some felt that the building permit had been issued unlawfully.
Mayor Wilcox added that when he had requested the return of the shares, he had consulted with the water district and had been told that an executive order would need to be written. As mayor, Wilcox could write that order. Wilcox then wrote the order on July 7, to have the shares released and turned over to his daughter.
Dave Blackwell, attorney for the town, stated that he had reviewed the actions of the mayor and it was his opinion that the actions of the mayor were not against the law, that the mayor had done what was required by town ordinance. The only thing Blackwell suggested was to have the town council ratify the executive order.
After much discussion and input from the residents, the council voted to ratify the executive order Mayor Wilcox had written.
The last agenda item was discussion of a 1985 town ordinance that requires each dwelling to turn in 14 shares of water to the town to be granted a building permit. Mayor Wilcox stated that for the past several years, he and City Recorder Delena Fish, have worked to assemble and organize all the ordinances pertaining to Elmo. These ordinances were assembled and made available to Elmo residents to view in the library in 2000.
It was discovered that in 1985, an ordinance was passed that required a person to turn over 10 secondary and four culinary water shares before a building permit could be issued.
Mayor Wilcox stated that some disputes have arisen concerning multiple dwelling units and whether this 1985 ordinance should be enforced covering the multiple unit dwellings that are presently in the town. Those units were only required to have the 14 necessary shares for a water connection, and not 14 shares for each dwelling unit.
At the time the building permits were issued for these multiple unit structures in the 1990s, no one was aware of the 1985 ordinance. The person who issued the permits has since passed away.
After much discussion from both sides of the issue, Councilman Dennis Jones said that he feels that the council does not have enough information about the legality of the situation. As a council, they would be required to consult an outside attorney for investigation and legal advice. Blackwell stated that as the county attorney and also Elmo town attorney, he would have to step aside and all parties involved in this matter would need to consult their own outside council.
Blackwell stated that if charges are brought by any side, that his position as county attorney would take precedent over representing the town. It was approved by the council to table the discussion and decision for two months to allow all sides to get legal council and more investigation to be made.
The next meeting for the Elmo Town Council will be held Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the city library.