Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

October 22, 2013

City council OKs graffiti ordinance

TAHLEQUAH — Members of the Tahlequah City Council passed an ordinance Monday night that addresses the removal of unauthorized graffiti on public and private property.

During the council’s special meeting Monday night, Mayor Jason Nichols said he “fumbled pretty badly” when he introduced the ordinance at the last council meeting.

Nichols said the ordinance isn’t a new rule, but instead weakens current code by introducing a 20-day waiting period for removing unauthorized graffiti.

He said he hopes placing the graffiti issue in the forefront of public discussion will also benefit future projects. Nichols said he has spoken with several local groups about helping to remove graffiti around Tahlequah at little or no cost to property owners or the city.

“We all understand the property owner is the victim,” Nichols said. “[With the ordinance], we’ve weakened the rules and actually slowed down the process. I think it was misunderstood that we were putting a new rule in place.”

Nichols said the new ordinance is an attempt at being “fair, lenient, and still get the job done.”

The ordinance outlines graffiti-removal standards and prohibits unauthorized graffiti from remaining in place for more than 20 days. After 20 days, the city’s code enforcement officer can give the property owner 10 days’ notice to take action before city officials can do the work and charge the property owner.

During Monday’s special meeting, city councilors also approved of an ordinance that allows up to a $500 fine for those who illegally park in handicapped parking zones. Nichols said the violations are an “epidemic.”

If Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King feels inclined, he may choose to create a volunteer citizen-enforcement group that could help find infractions and provide photographic evidence for use in prosecution.

King told councilors he expects the traffic violations to be addressed more in the future because of the new ordinance.

City asked to amend Dumpster ordinance

Tahlequah business owner Bryce Felts approached councilors Monday evening and asked them to amend an “unfunded mandate” passed earlier this year, which set guidelines on business owners who use Dumpsters.

Felts said the ordinance did not provide a “grandfather” clause for existing businesses.

Felts said he received estimates on the materials and labor needed to comply with the new ordinance, and discovered he could spend $1,322 to $1,804 per Dumpster to meet the new standards by the end of this year. Estimates indicated he could pay $34,138 to upgrade his 24 Dumpsters.

Felts told councilors there are more than 1,500 Dumpsters in the city, and the ordinance could cost business owners just shy of $2 million.

“We have national tenants and small mom-and-pop businesses,” Felts said of his property business.

“This ordinance will place an undue burden on the smaller businesses because they will have short-term leases of one to three years, where national chains are 10, 15 to 20 years.”

Felts said the costs associated with ordinance compliance will be first passed along to the small-business owners, who will see their leases come up for renewal ahead of the national chains.

“We have no way to pass on this cost to our national tenants, so this ordinance favors the national tenants at the cost of small mom-and-pop businesses,” Felts argued.

Felts also said enclosing Dumpsters could lead to safety problems and introduce new hiding spots for criminal activity.

During the discussion, Nichols and Les Ford, head of the city’s solid waste services, explained that Felts would not be required to install concrete pads for his Dumpsters under the requirements of the ordinance, so some of his costs would be reduced.

Ward 4 Councilor Linda Spyres suggested the city could consider extending the deadline for businesses to be in compliance – but said she otherwise supports the ordinance.

“I can see where having it done by the first of the year could be a little troublesome for you,” Spyres said. “But after seeing this on the agenda, I drove around town and looked at the Dumpsters, and it looks like crap, quite honestly. They are overflowing, there’s stuff coming out of them, and it needs to be hidden.”

Felts said he would appreciate any assistance the city can offer that helps defray costs, but said he ultimately opposes the ordinance for placing unfunded mandates on businesses.

No action could be taken on Felts’ proposed amendment, but Nichols promised it would appear for possible action on the next agenda.

WHAT’S NEXT

Th next regular meeting of the Tahlequah City Council will be held at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 4, in council chambers of city hall.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Stocks