Cemetery hearing set Tuesday

Monday, April 11, 2011
Solar panels similar to these are proposed for city-owned locations in Lewisburg and local businessmen are reportedly interested in having them on their properties to have a revenue stream from the sale of electricity.

Another public hearing on grave decoration rules is to be held next week in City Hall where Lewisburg councilmen have reconsidered a contract for placement of solar panels at the business park on Mooresville Highway.

Revocation of some cemetery rules is the subject of the public hearing to start at 5:50 p.m. Tuesday. A proposal for solar panels that could create a revenue stream for the city was considered during a non-voting council workshop on April 1. The Goats Music and More Festival, and a "feline problem" are on the agenda.

A chief concern, among survivors of those buried at Lone Oak and other city cemeteries, is a prohibition against outlining graves in a way that prevents people from walking over the deceased. Such structures of wood, decorative stone, garden edging and the like prevent efficient mowing of grass. Decorations such as stone angels and a wide variety of other decorative memorials, mementoes and such are also prohibited by rules recommended by the Cemetery Board and adopted last year by the council. Enforcement in late winter before mowing season included removal of the decorations, prompting objections during a long council meeting and, last week, at the Cemetery Board meeting.

"I don't see a reason to limit them," the number of people speaking at the hearing, Mayor Barbara Woods said Thursday. "The councilmen don't seem to want to limit the number of people who get to talk. If it goes long, we'll just start the council meeting late but we will have to keep the time limited and it probably will run over the time when the council would start its meeting.

"People need to come prepared to say what they want to say and be as brief as possible... to be courteous to other people who want to speak," Woods said.

During the non-voting council workshop on April 1, Tim Hayes, one of the Franklin-based partners of Vis-Solis LLC, displayed plans for solar panels at the Lewisburg Business Park.

Placement of the panels on city property between Globe Creek and Mooresville Highway was suggested, as well as placement of them on the city-constructed building at the back of the business park in hopes that a business would buy it and employ local residents.

Vis-Solis generates electricity with the panels and uses an act of Congress requiring power companies, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, to buy the electricity. A portion of the proceeds of those sales would be shared with the city and any other property owner when the panels are located.

However, Susan Sellars of Mooresville Highway objects to the appearance of the solar panels that would be across the street from her home if the city permitted them on the land in front of the business park.

Furthermore, Councilman Ronald McRady researched previous council action when the business park was developed. Sellars objected then, too, as did others and the city agreed to create a passive park on the land between the creek and the highway. The city should honor its agreement with the residents, McRady said.

While the solar panel issue is not on the agenda, discussion during the April 1 workshop indicated the council might be addressing the issue on Tuesday.

Friday, there were indications that the matter might not even be brought up.

"I don't think that's going to work because of the restrictions," the mayor said. "When you ... read them, it's probably not going to come to fruition at that particular site."

There are "a whole lot of restrictions on the park," she said.

Lewisburg Industrial Development Director Greg Lowe said Thursday that the idea of having solar panels at the Business Park might just be dropped, thereby indicating the decision might be made by default.

Vis-Solis officials indicated they were interested in a high profile location to be a showcase for their program in Tennessee.

Meanwhile, councilmen are scheduled to discuss the Goats Music and More Festival that's been held on the second weekend of October for years. Retirement of Eddie Fuller as city manager a few weeks after the festival last year raised questions about who would oversee the festival's organization. Fuller's personal interest in music and sound systems was seen as an important factor in developing the festival over the years.

As for the scheduled discussion about a "feline problem within the city," City Recorder Brenda Brewer reported Thursday that Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart advised that residents have called her about a growing number of stray cats having litters.

Furthermore, the animal shelter doesn't take cats, Brewer noted.