Council waiting for new officials to tackle gating ordinance
AMENDMENTS TO Jackson’s public access gating ordinance continue to be on hold, and will likely be that way until the new council takes seat and new committee assignments are named.
Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote had been working to amend the city’s gating ordinance for months.
In April, he was hoping the council would vote his amendments out of the rules committee, so they could be brought to the full council for a vote.
However, outgoing Ward Seven Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon introduced her own set of amendments at the last minute, and both sets of amendments were tabled for further study.
Barrett-Simon’s amendments placed greater restrictions on where public access gates could be placed, and increased the percentage of support neighborhoods must receive before gates could be installed.
With municipal elections in May and June, the council refused to take up either set of amendments for consideration, holding off to allow the new administration to make a decision.
“We’ve got to get the new committees set. Hopefully we can do that at the meeting on the 5th or the 18th,” Foote said.
Foote was referring to the council’s regular scheduled meetings on July 5 and July 18.
On July 3, a new mayor and two new council members will be sworn into office: Virgi Lindsay in Ward Seven, Aaron Banks in Ward Six, and Chokwe Antar Lumumba as mayor.
Other members, including Foote, retained their seats.
With two new council members, Foote said the rules committee will have a new look.
Both outgoing Ward Six Councilman Tyrone Hendrix and Barrett-Simon are members of the sub-group, as are Foote, Councilman Melvin Priester and Councilman De’Keither Stamps.
When new ordinances or amendments to ordinances are introduced, they are referred to a committee, a public hearing is held and the items are voted out. Once they’re out of committee, a majority of the full council must vote on them before they become part of city code.
The council updated its gating ordinance in 2016, allowing all neighborhoods in the city to have access to the devices.
The gates are popular, because they control traffic and increase security. Motorists hoping to enter a neighborhood protected by the gates, must drive up and wait for the device to open before entering or exiting. The theory is crooks looking for a quick getaway from a crime scene aren’t going to want to wait at a gate.
The city stopped taking applications for gates shortly after the ordinance was passed, though, arguing that those opposed to the devices were not allowed due process.
Foote had worked with the department of planning for months, and was hoping his revisions would be voted out of rules in April.
However, Barrett-Simon introduced her own proposals the day of the vote.
Among modifications, Barrett-Simon’s amendments limited where gates can be installed to intersections at a subdivision’s platted entrance.
Foote, on the other hand, proposed including original plats, as well as the boundaries of homeowners associations.
“Jackson’s been here for 150 years, and it’s changed over time. Some of the plats go back to the 1910s and 1920s, neighborhoods changed over that time period,” he said.
Both Foote and Barrett-Simon are proposing requiring 75 percent of homeowners to sign on in support of gates. Foote’s proposal included 75 percent in the affected area, while Barrett-Simon’s included the same percentage of homeowners in original “platted subdivision,” which could be a much larger territory.