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By Dave Taylor
Thursday’s Lewisport City Council meeting saw the approval of a new insurance premium tax and slightly higher property tax rates, but the main debates centered on removal of decorative trees and the status of a city road that turned out to be private.
Mayor Chad Gregory told the council that decorative oak trees lining both sides of the entrance of Hancock Park along Bluegrass Drive would be removed and not replaced, which began a discussion on whether to replace them.
“Out there at the entrance to Hancock Park, those trees have become rather a burden out there,” Gregory said. “Limbs fall in the street all the time. We’re going to go ahead and get those removed.”
The city would get creative, he said, and take the 10 trees from each side and sell them as logs once they’re cut, and the area would then be seeded in grass.
When there was no mention of replacing the trees, the council members began to ask what was next.
“Are we going to plant?” asked councilwoman Mary Margaret Hawkins.
“That’s what I was getting ready to say,” said councilman Wes Pate, who grew up in the subdivision and now lives there with his wife and children.
“I live in Hancock Park, been there my entire life,” he said, “but some of the neighbors thought that it’d be a cool thing for the kids to plant, if those trees ever were removed…”
“No, there ain’t nothing going back,” said Gregory. “No, we ain’t doing that.”
“Why?” asked Pate.
“Because I don’t want to,” Gregory said.
The two jokingly debated it, with Gregory suggesting they could plant oranges, but other members joined in on the side of putting back something. “I don’t believe in taking trees down unless you have to and unless you’re going to replant something,” said Hawkins.
“Put a few trees, maybe not as many,” added councilwoman Josephine Hagan. “Put maybe just one on each side, or something.”
“Well I mean we can put something back,” Gregory conceded. “I’d say I wouldn’t do no more than maybe four.
“Well we’ll decide that, but first we’ve got to get those trees out of there,” he said. “So let’s just get the mess cleaned up first.”
The council also discussed Melanie Lane, the road leading past Lewisport Cemetery and toward the former Dal-Tile, which was always believed to be a city road until the sale of the plant revealed that it was in fact not.
“Melanie Lane, the street going in to the tile plant, it was never officially, legally dedicated all them years ago,” said Gregory. “So we’re going to have to do a little housekeeping and get that legally dedicated.”
The road has been surveyed and shows a 40-foot right of way, widening to 50 feet and back down to 40, according to Charlie Kamuf, Jr., the city’s attorney.
“I think the dimensions are sufficient such that it encompasses any existing easements as well as the ability to maintain those ditches for drainage,” he said.
Hawkins pointed out that the road would largely have to remain the dimensions it is now because it had been widened at some point in the past, which actually got over into the cemetery and eliminated some plots, including some of her own family’s.
When her aunt was buried there, her plot was just at the edge of the ditch line.
“And there’s supposed to be another grave on the other side of that that we had but it’s not there. It’s in the road,” she said. “My aunt and my uncle have got a spot there but there’s no place for my uncle so he was buried in Louisville.”
Taking over the road won’t mean any more work for the city, said public works administrator Jason Roberts, because everyone already thought it was a city road.
“The only thing changing is paperwork,” he said. “We’ve always maintained it, we’ve always plowed it in the snow.”
The council also took the following actions:
• Held the second reading of and voted to approved Ordinance 20-4, which sets up an insurance premium tax of 10 percent on most insurance policies besides health and life insurance.
*Held the second reading of Ordinance 20-5, which sets the ad valorem property tax rates for fiscal year 2020-2021. The rate for real property increases slightly to .208 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from .204. The rate for tangible property is .3028 cents per $100 of assessed value.