Mayor / Board keep fire sprinkler requirements

Wow. That’s all I can say after the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting tonight. We thought it was a done deal – that money was buying the termination of the city’s existing sprinkler ordinance. We thought that the lives of our residents and fire fighters meant less to this Board of Mayor and Aldermen than the campaign contributions made by builders.

But we were wrong. And when we are wrong, we’ll admit it. The Board voted for the safety of residents in three important measures at the meeting tonight in what appears to be a huge reversal in their previous positions.

When the ordinance came up to remove the requirements for sprinkler systems to be installed in all new construction, Alderman Tom Broeker moved to DENY the ordinance. Alderman Calvin Jones seconded the motion, which was then approved in a 3-2 vote. Okay, that’s confusing. The motion to DENY the ordinance was approved, thereby putting an end to the ordinance that would have ended the sprinkler requirement. Mayor Dennis Waldron joined Aldermen Broeker and Jones to deny the ordinance, therefore we are keeping the sprinkler ordinance. Aldermen Sherry Green and Melisa Brown voted against the measure.

The second ordinance would remove the 5,000-square ft requirement for sprinklers in new commercial and industrial buildings, essentially increasing the requirement to 12,000-square ft before a sprinkler system is required. Again Alderman Broeker moved to deny and it was seconded by … we didn’t catch who seconded it. But the motion was approved in a 5-0 vote. Therefore new buildings (especially HUGE buildings) will still be required to have sprinkler systems.

The third ordinance that showed our elected officials really care about the safety of citizens was the denial of the rezoning request on land located on Blair Road to high density residential zoning (currently light industrial). The developer wants to build a huge apartment complex that would have added hundreds of cars on the curvy, hilly road. While the city does need more affordable housing options, the road is already pretty dangerous. Residents (for the second time in less than 12 months) spoke against the rezoning request and for the second time in less than 12 months, elected officials listened.

I want to congratulate this Board of Mayor and Aldermen for their actions tonight. Hats off to you for doing the right thing. Your decisions tonight should save lives. It could be a firefighter’s life. It could be the life of a child. It could be your neighbor. It could be your family. But tonight you did good and I want to thank you for your noble actions.

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