Mayor, Council, Community to Work Together on Storm Water Revisions

Updated 27 weeks ago by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Mayor, Council, Community to Work Together on Storm Water Revisions

Having a chamber full of citizens planning to speak their dissatisfaction for the proposed stormwater start up ordinance, Mayor Steve Williams responded to public input and announced that the administration formed a work group panel to recommend a new proposal. At the same time, City Council referred the current proposal to the Finance Committee.

Although the prospect of the administration and council each presenting their own proposal worried some citizens, newly reelected council chairman Mark Bates explained that the Finance Committee referral did not mean it would act independently of the mayor's efforts. Instead, the referral will likely remain tabled in the Finance Committee until the Mayor presents the new recommendation. Based on this scenario, the Mayor through communications director Brian Chambers indicated he was "pleased with the outcome."

But, the discussion of the storm water ordinance began with councilman David Ball proposing the Finance Committee referral. Williams then passionately vowed he will not allow the matter to be kicked down the road again.

Mayor, Council, Community to Work Together on Storm Water Revisions

“Give it back to me so that we can fix this.” However, he warned, “We have to do something. We are not going to walk away,” referring to the 67 years which the issue has hovered over the city.

Alluding to the possibility that inaction will lead to an order from Charleston or Washington, Williams continued, “This is a Huntington issue that will be dealt with by Huntington individuals.”

Councilman Gary Bunn immediately applauded Williams for “leadership. You are doing the right thing.”

Councilman Rick Simmons added, “He (the mayor) listened to the people. That man just showed some guts and passion for the city.”

Councilmen Rick Simmons, Pete Gillespie
Councilmen Rick Simmons, Pete Gillespie

Audience members who came to mostly express opposition then found themselves in a procedural dilemma. With the finance committee motion before the body, comments were limited to a committee referral or letting the mayor take it back and fix it. After two speakers were declared out of order for drifting into the merits of the ordinance --- not the referral --- newly elected vice chair of council Scott Caserta asked for a three minute recess to cool tempers.

After the time out and an explanation by Bates, many speakers supported allowing the mayor an opportunity to fix the problem.

Council voted 9-1 (Sandra Clements voted no) to make the committee referral, but Bates explanation of procedure after the meeting reenforced that all would work together.

Members of the Mayor's storm water work group include Williams, Chris Miller, Alex Vence, Pastor Ed Harper and representatives from the following entities: Southwestern District Labor Council, Construction Trades, Steel of West Virginia, Marshall University, St. Mary's Medical Center, Cabell Huntington Hospital, Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, two members from the Neighborhood Institutes, and one member of City Council.

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