Beverly votes on amended ordinances

BEVERLY — The Beverly Town Council voted to approve the first reading of two recently amended town ordinances this week.

Following concerns raised regarding the town’s water and sanitary board ordinances, the Beverly Town Council voted in a March meeting to amend the two ordinances — both established nearly 40 years ago. During their regular meeting Tuesday, the town council voted on the first reading of the revised ordinances.

During a special utility board meeting in March, Mayor Cindy Karelis explained a review of ordinances raised questions regarding how the town’s water and sewer boards should be operating, adding the language in the ordinances regarding residency requirements of the board members was unclear.

In response to concerns, John Stump of the Steptoe and Johnson law firm advised town officials and council members, explaining an amendment could be made to the ordinance directly addressing the residency requirement.

Council members then agreed they would prefer to keep their sitting water and sanitary board members and amend their current ordinances as necessary. However, during Tuesday’s regular meeting, council members expressed displeasure with the adjustments to the ordinances made by town attorney Rob Chenoweth.

Referencing minutes from a previous meeting, Councilwoman Connie Pingley said, “‘A motion was made by Mrs. Pingley to have the respective ordinances amended to show the person may reside,’ and that’s not what I said. I said, ‘The resident may reside on the boards as long as they are on the town’s utility services,’ and the motion was seconded by Mr. (Rob) Cooper.”

Pingley prepared her own amended version of both the water board ordinance and sanitary board ordinance. Pingley noted she made amendments to section one of the ordinance drafted by Chenoweth, and no other amendments were made.

Addressing the residency concern, the approved water ordinance read, “There is hereby created a water board of the town which shall be composed of the mayor and two persons appointed by the common council who shall be residents of the area serviced by the town’s water utility. During any construction phase, one of the appointed members shall be a professional engineer only when a licensed professional engineer is not under contract for a project.”

Pingley noted she used the same wording in her amendments to the sanitary board ordinance, only replacing “water board” with “sanitary board.”

Council members Pingley, Becky Weese, Matt Lewis and Rob Cooper voted to approve the reading. Tena Pritt was not present for the meeting and therefore did not vote.

Despite concern raised by Karelis, council members in attendance agreed to move forward with a motion without receiving further advice from the city attorney. It was noted by members of council that ordinances have been adopted in the past without receiving an opinion from the town’s attorney.

During their next regular meeting, a second and final reading of the ordinances will be brought to the council for vote. This meeting is set for May 13.

Also during Tuesday’s regular meeting, the council was presented with a resignation letter from Pritt. Council accepted the resignation and voted to appoint Dave Harper to fill the position. Harper formerly served as mayor of Beverly.