The Rockingham City Council on Tuesday adopted amendments to the city’s Taxicab Permit Ordinance, designed to make certain that permits are only in the hands of law-abiding drivers.
The tougher rules are the result of a request of council made by Police Chief Billy Kelly.
When Kelly became chief earlier this year, he began studying the city’s numerous rules, regulations, ordinances and so on and “there were weaknesses he found in the taxi cab ordinance,” City Manager Monty Crump said.
Kelly had requested the proposed rules as they relate to reporting charges and convictions by taxicab permit holders to the Police Department.
Crump said the existing ordinance had no mechanism to deal with taxi drivers who ran afoul of the law.
Under the new language, the ordinance will now require taxi permit holders to report within 3 days if they are charged or convicted of a crime, and will allow the police chief to temporarily revoke a license while a criminal case is pending.
Also in the amendment, “… a permit may be revoked for three (3) years upon conviction of larceny.”
Crump said the city attorney, upon review of the proposed amendments to the Taxicab Permit Ordinance, discovered it had no appeals process. The attorney suggested the council add an appeals procedure into the ordinance. The final adopted version now includes a way for a permit holder to appeal a decision made by the police chief to the city manager.
The vote to adopt the amended taxicab ordinance was unanimous.
Councilman Gene Willard was absent, as he recently had surgery. Crump reported that the surgery “went well.”
In another matter on Tuesday night, councilmen discussed possible appointments to a steering committee to oversee updating of the city’s overall land use plan.
The land use plan, “Shaping Our Future: 2012,” was adopted in July 2002 and expires this year. It served as the guide or blueprint for most land use related decisions and many special projects over the last decade in the city, and is in need of updating.
City Planning Director John Massey is recommending creation of a 16-member steering committee that includes all eight Planning Board members.
“There’s eight members right off,” Massey said Tuesday. Current Planning Board members are: John Stevenson, Wilson Moore, Anne Edwards, Tom Ingle, Jerry Goodman, Terry Greene, Paul Prelipp and Ryland Wilbun.
Massey told council that Tim Hayden and Eric Thompson have both expressed an interest in serving on the steering committee.
Mayor Pro Tem John Hutchinson suggested Jim Wallace be appointed to the committee. Wallace is a Rockingham businessman who is a former member of the Planning Board, he said.
“He was a good Planning Board member — he served for nine years,” Massey said.
Councilman Steven Morris suggested Mark Tyler, Ellen Covington and Ed Chism. Morris said he’s spoken with all three and they expressed a willingness to serve.
Councilman Bennett Deane III suggested Steve Davis, his brother Jason Deane, and Dr. Jerry Murphy.
No appointments were voted on by the council, and those mentioned as possible members will be contacted by Massey and councilmen to see if they are willing to serve.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council:
• Applauded the accomplishment of Police Lt. Creed Freeman, who was presented an Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate by Police Chief Kelly and the mayor.
• Approved an update to the city’s Sewer Use Ordinance.
• Heard a complaint from a resident who rents a house in the 100 block of West Avenue, Pee Dee, about a large tree that fell onto his truck. He said he’d been told the tree was on city property and he wanted the city to remove the downed tree. City officials told the man it was on private property and was his responsibility. He told councilmen he can’t afford to have someone help him remove the tree.
• Accepted $20,000 in federal funds to be used by the police department for highway safety enforcement.
• Learned that the Rockingham Fire Department has been re-certified in several levels of rescue and emergency procedures.
• Councilman Deane wanted to warn city residents that the Rockingham Fire Department never solicits monetary contributions, and that he’s heard of attempts made by groups to “misled” people into donating money that allegedly would go to support the fire department.
— Editor John Charles Robbins can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 13, or by email at email@example.com.