Wilson County officials praised the work of the Wilson County Road Commission in handling the aftermath of last week’s winter storm and addressed a pair of zoning code changes.
“We have five trucks and one small truck. We’re not really equipped to handle an event like that,” said Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. “We’re in the paving business, not necessarily in the snow moving business.”
Hutto said the road commission worked hard to clear main roads prior to Tuesday’s second wave of ice and snow, but were ill equipped to handle the unusual amounts of ice on the various county roads.
“Talking to some people, this is the worst thing we’ve had in a while,” Hutto said. “It’s a tough scenario. Everybody wants it done right now, but continue to do your best to handle your people and give us calls here in the office. Our guys are working around the clock. We’re limited at what we can do. If you think of 1,600 [county road] miles at 20 mph, it takes you awhile to get across.”
Hutto also praised Wilson County Emergency Management Agency and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department for their work during the storm.
Joey Cooper, Wilson County Emergency Management Agency director, reported the state attributed 26 deaths to the winter storm, and Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said the department responded to more than 200 weather-related calls during a four-day period last week.
“Anything we called and asked of the road commission or WEMA, Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Watertown or Middle Tennessee Electric, they answered and came,” Bryan said. “That’s what it’s all about – working together to keep people safe.”
“We will do our best to have a press conference of some kind the next time something like this happens,” Hutto said.
The commission approved a pair of changes to the county’s zoning ordinance in relation to height allowance of certain structures.
On Friday, the Wilson County Planning Commission voted to increase the county’s height allowance on accessory or freestanding structures to 22 feet from 16 feet in rural and suburban residential and agricultural districts. Agricultural districts previously had variance from the zoning ordinance’s regulations on accessory structures for barns and other structures. The change would not change that variance.
The commission also voted to include any structure above 22 feet must match the predominant roof pitch angle of the residence. The structure must also be the same material as the residence if above 22 feet.
The Wilson County Board of Zoning Appeals has seen an increase in the number of cases relating to the height of structures in residential areas since last year. Many residents sought variances for two-story structures such as garages or pool houses that may have exceeded the 16-foot limit when a roof was added.
The second change to the zoning ordinance pushes the accessory structure setback 5 feet to 10 feet from the property line in rear yards in rural and suburban and agricultural districts.
The commission deferred votes on two resolutions until next month.
The first regarded Wilson County attorney Mike Jennings who sought advice from current state Attorney General Herbert Slatery III on how to address the county’s two new approved school board districts.
An amendment made to the private act submitted by the county prior to the August election received changes from the state legislature by Rep. Matthew Hill of District 7 prior to its passage, specifying the bill would apply beginning with the August 2016 election and that members will be elected, not appointed.
Jennings said Slatery requested having questions prepared and sent to him prior to the meeting. Jennings asked commissioners to submit any questions to him.
The commission also deferred a vote on a resolution that would establish regulations and requirements for the operation of patient transport services within the county and grant WEMA exclusive rights for ambulance patient transport.