Committee meets on beefing up ordinances

Published 11:36 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A committee charged with the responsibility of strengthening the city’s historic ordinances wants the city of Selma to leave a lasting impression on tourists who come through town.

But to do that, they need to update the city’s historic ordinances and make them easier to enforce.

The committee met Monday to focus on enforcement and penalties after brainstorming ideas a few weeks ago.

Councilman Greg Bjelke, who is heading up the committee, said the biggest difference between the current ordinance that was put into place in 2003 and the original ordinance that was put into place in 1979 is penalties for not abiding by the regulations.

“Our main target was the part of the ordinance about the penalties if someone doesn’t comply. This is just what needs to be done if we want this town to look good,” Bjelke said.

Bjelke said with more and more tourists coming to Selma due to the attention it got from the release of Selma the movie and the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the city needs to work on cleaning up and making buildings and homes look more presentable to visitors.

Bjelke said the committee’s meeting on Monday also focused on banners and signs on downtown businesses. Bjelke said the committee needs to tighten the requirements for banners and signs and how they can be put up and how long they can be up for.

The committee would also like to make updates for technological additions to homes like satellite dishes that did not exist when the original ordinance was written. The committee is also working to specify who is responsible for enforcing the ordinances and handing out notices and penalties for violations.

“It’s not specific on the penalties and we need to be specific on who is the person that is going to knock on the door and say nicely, ‘Hey, you’re not in compliance. You need to help keep the town clean and be compliant,’” Bjelke said.

Bjelke said they are also working on restoring some of the responsibility to the historic commission when it comes to making decisions on updates.

Bjelke said there may be some resistance to homeowners and business owners, but people need to come together to clean up the city.

“When people come into town they don’t want to see a banner hung up by a bungee chord,” Bjelke said. “That is just the beginning of it. We want to clean up deteriorating buildings or buildings with the wrong paint color.”

Bjelke said the committee hopes to have the ordinance beefed up by Feb. 1.