BAKER — Residents affected by the August 2016 flood could have until May to remove mobile or manufactured homes from the city under a proposed ordinance the City Council introduced Tuesday.
In September 2016, the city temporarily suspended the ban on mobile homes in response to the flood; the original deadline for removal of the homes was the end of January.
“Many municipalities across the state are granting extensions (to the mobile home exceptions),” City Attorney Ken Fabre said.
The council also heard from John Russell, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who has been working with the city since May on a recovery plan.
Russell presented to the council the nearly completed plan, which includes a number of projects developed in partnership with residents and city officials.
Some of the projects outlined in the plan are related to the August flooding, such as drainage issues and affordable housing, and others are simply ways the community can be improved, like creating bike paths.
Each project has a champion in charge of the implementation, and they will continue to meet and report on their progress, Russell said.
The City Council also unanimously voted to require residents to have at least 5-inch-high address numbers posted on their houses.
“With people moving back into their homes after the flooding, this is a good time to do this,” Councilwoman Glenda Bryant said.
“This is one of the most serious ordinances we have adopted. If the police are running up and down the street trying to find your house, they can’t help you. Same for the Fire Department,” Councilman Pete Heine said.
City law has required the address numbers on residences for years, but people have become lax about painting over or simply not posting numbers, he said.
The new ordinance adds the 5-inch height requirement for the residential address numbers and a $50 fine for noncompliance.
City officials will help residents comply with the law and go to people’s houses on a volunteer basis, especially those who are elderly, to help them post numbers if needed, Fabre said.
The Police Department will evaluate houses on a case by case basis, only citing residents if numbers cannot be seen or read, he said.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to renew property, sales and other city taxes for 2018.
Mayor Darnell Waites, who was not present at the meeting due to illness, reported during a telephone interview Tuesday that the 2016-17 city audit was turned in to the state legislative auditor by the Jan. 15 deadline and that the city was not placed on the state noncompliance list.
The city had obtained an extension from the state for submitting the audit, which was originally due Dec. 31.
Last year, the state placed the city on its noncompliance list due to the lateness of the 2015-16 audit as well as bookkeeping problems.
Councilman Charles Vincent announced that a free viewing and discussion of the documentary "Slavery by Another Name" will be held Feb. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Baker Branch Library, 3501 Groom Road.
The Heritage Choral Ensemble will perform from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 18 at the First Baptist Church of Baker, 3213 Groom Road, Councilwoman Doris Alexander told the council. The event is being held to raise money for the Baker High Band to perform at Carnegie Hall.
Due to Mardi Gras, the council voted to move their next meeting to 6 p.m. Feb. 14.