Demopolis City Council addresses hit-and-runs, tax abatements in Thursday meeting


In response to the two hit-and-run accidents on Bell Grayson Road in the last three weeks, the City of Demopolis has taken steps to try to increase safe driving along the road.

The city council learned Thursday at its meeting that one new street light has been installed, and city police are increasing patrols.

However, Bell Grayson is a county road in the city limits. Chief Tommie Reese said the Marengo County Commission will be asked to add more lighting along the street and to add striping for better visibility.

On the request of Yvonne Walker and Anita Rushing, the council voted to change the business license category for massage therapist from professional services to health spa and gym. That will lower the license fee from $300 to $150.

The council also voted to refund any businesses in that category that have already paid their license fee for 2016.

Montgomery Smith asked to speak before the council about a tax abatement for his new restaurant which will open in the former Hall’s Seafood on Highway 80 West. He said he has been trying to get on the council agenda since September but was told he had to get a business license before applying for the abatement.

He questioned whether that policy is being followed uniformly since Mayor Mike Grayson received an abatement before taking out a business license earlier this year for his restaurant.

Councilman Bill Meador said the city didn’t have policies and procedures for tax abatement in place at that time. He recommended Smith’s request come before the next Finance Committee meeting to be approved for consideration at the next council meeting.

“The whole basis of this is to attract business to Demopolis,” said Grayson. “There shouldn’t be a bunch of hoops to jump through.”

City attorney Bill Poole said two dilapidated properties have been demolished. The first, at 801 2nd Ave., cost $3,905, and the owners have paid back the cost. The second, at 814 A St., cost $7,355. No reimbursement has been made, and the next step is foreclosure and sale of property to satisfy the city’s lien.

A third property, the partially burned house at 605 W. Pettus St., received no bids for demolition. Chief Reese will consult with the Fire Department to see if the property can be used for fire training or simply be burned to the ground.

Patricia Moore, director of the West Alabama Mental Health Agency, appeared again to request the city deed over the property and building where the agency is housed. She was told that by Alabama League of Municipalities rules the city cannot give the property away. Grayson said, however, that the property can be sold at the appraised value.

Moore said the building needs renovations and upgrading and that her agency needs more room to handle the greater number of cases it handles. She will consult with the agency board to determine any further action.

Attorney Poole was directed by the council to determine the property owners along Roman Alley as the next step toward alleviating the congestion along the narrow one-way dead-end street. Chief Reese said emergency vehicles cannot enter at the same time since there is no space to turn around.

A cul-de-sac would be the least expensive solution to the problem, or the city could cut through to Pettus or Fields street, but both actions would require taking some property.

Chief Reese announced his department had sold four surplus vehicles for $8,626.86.