Longtime Mount Carmel employee honored by BMA

Jeff Bobo • Jan 2, 2020 at 9:30 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — Although he wasn’t able to attend the Dec. 19 meeting due to illness, public works employee John “David” Wallen was honored for his 32 years of service to the city with a plaque that was to be presented to him or his family.

Wallen, 58, passed away Dec. 22 following a lengthy illness.

“We really appreciate all he’s done as an employee,” Williams said. “He’s been an outstanding employee, and I think a lot of people can attest to his friendliness and how well he’s treated people.”

City Manager Mike Housewright added, “David has been a fantastic employee. David is the type of person who, in the course of doing what he does, there’s certain things they can do and certain things they can’t do. David is the type of person that if he butted up against something the city couldn’t do, he’d go back on his own time and do that. I think undoubtedly David exemplifies what it is to be a community servant.”

Alderman Wanda Davidson said she visited Wallen in the intensive care unit the night before the Dec. 19 meeting.

“He said to thank everyone in town for being so good to him, and that he missed everybody,” Davidson said. “When I was senior center director, he did so much for the seniors and helped me out so much. He’s well-liked in town, and he’s went beyond his call of duty. He’s going to be missed.”

Hope for land-locked property owners

Also on Dec. 19 the BMA approved the first reading of an ordinance that might give owners of landlocked parcels of land an avenue to build there someday.

Mount Carmel currently requires property to have at least 50 feet of street frontage before the owner can build on it, or 40 feet if it is a flag lot.

An ordinance approved during the Dec. 19 BMA meeting gives the Board of Zoning Appeals the ability to make special exceptions for landlocked parcels that have a recorded easement to a public right-of-way.

“The Planning Commission voted to approve this because right now if you’ve got a parcel of land that has no frontage to a street, in Mount Carmel you cannot build on it automatically because of the ordinances that are in place,” said Vice Mayor Jennifer Williams. “Some people buy land, and they find out they can’t do anything with it.”

Williams added,“It doesn’t mean it will be automatically approved, but at least it gives individual land owners a right or an opportunity to have an appeal process, rather than just saying there’s nothing we can do about it.”

City Attorney John Pevy noted that the easement has to be recorded already, and all adjoining property owners would be notified and have an opportunity to voice their opinion about such requests before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

“The ordinance itself is very strict about what you have to be able to demonstrate to the Board of Zoning Appeals before they can even say yes,” Pevy said. “And they’re not even required to say yes if you demonstrate all those things. I think it’s worthwhile. It’s going to be a rare occasion thing. It’s not going to happen a lot. But in the event it does come up, I think it’s good that people have the opportunity.”

The first reading was approved 6-0.

Surplus library books

The BMA agreed to declare approximately 520 books from the Mount Carmel Public Library as surplus.

Williams noted that the books became surplus after the library created a new Christian fiction section.

Alderman Pat Stilwell asked that Virginia Library, located in an economically depressed area where the library donated books previously, be given first chance to receive the latest surplus books.

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