There was a packed house in Kuttawa City Hall Monday evening as residents showed up to weigh in on whether the City Council should give its blessing for the grassy lot across from Hu-B's to be paved.
The discussion began in Old Business with Mayor Jimmy Campbell, who had been tasked at the last Kuttawa City Council meeting with rounding up all of the facts about the possibility of paving the lot, which is already used for overflow and event parking.
Campbell said one of his first concerns about the project was insurance liability. He told the council he spoke with a representative from the insurance provider (the Kentucky League of Cities), who told him liability for the lot would be covered under the umbrella policy.
Another major concern was whether there would be any issues paving the space under the terms of the lease the city holds on the land, which is owned by the Corps of Engineers.
Campbell turned the floor over to City Attorney Jay Matheny to tackle that issue, and Matheny read the actual language of a portion of the lease, before explaining it to the attendees. The gist of this area of concern was this: It's possible the Corps, upon termination of the lease (which is currently set to run through 2026) could decide the city had to restore that property to its original condition. That means the city could have to remove the pavement at its expense, though there is no guarantee the Corps would ask that of them.
After the mayor presented his findings, the floor was opened for public comments; and there were no shortage of them.
The room was nearly evenly split, with around an hour of passionate, but mostly civil, discussion on the matter.
Some citizens rallied for the parking lot as a way for the city to move forward and grow; many of them emphasizing that the parking lot could be created in such a way that it complemented the area, rather than took away from the beauty of the lake view.
"You try to keep Old Kuttawa old and it's going to die," said Ed Jones, one of the many members of the public who expressed they were in favor of paving the lot. "You can't stay stagnant."
The opposing side spoke just as strongly about keeping the area green and seeking out other options for expanding parking around the marina.
One of those in favor of keeping the lot as it currently sits was Bill Young, who formerly served as Kuttawa city attorney. Young's property is adjacent to the lot.
Young argued that the lot was fine as-is, and that it could continue to serve its function as overflow parking without having to cover the green space with blacktop. He also expressed concern the area, if paved, could attract nefarious activity, which he implied could include drug deals.
After further discussion from both the public and members of the council, including a conversation about alternative options for parking on either the street or the marina side of Lake Barkley Drive, a motion was made by council member Sean Cotham that the council acknowledge the request made by Hu-B's owner Wayne Breedlove to pave the lot and write a letter to the Corps of Engineers in support of the project, which would allow it to move forward.
As with the last vote on the subject, the council was split down the middle and the vote tied at 3-3 (with Sandra Stark, Tom Simpson, and Skyla Stark voting 'no,' and Cotham, Kimberly Clapp, and Kenny Ames voting 'yes.').
That left Campbell to break the tie, and his 'no' vote officially killed the motion. Campbell did, however, express that this vote did not close the door on exploring other parking options.
Other business conducted at the meeting included:
• The council passed the first reading of the annual Watercraft Tax Ordinance, which sets the watercraft tax rate at 22 cents per $100 of assessed property, which is unchanged from where the rate has been for several years.
• The council also held the first reading of the 2019 Property Tax Ordinance. They voted 4-2 (with Grief and Simpson voting 'no') to change the original proposed ordinance, which would have had the city choose the compensating rate recommended by PADD (a slightly higher rate which is adjusted from the previous year to factor in cost of living/ inflation). Instead of the compensating rate, they opted to keep the tax rate the same from 2018: 17.6-cents per $100 of assessed property for Real Estate, and 36.92-cents per $100 of assessed property for Personal Property. Both this and the watercraft ordinance will require a second reading and vote at their next meeting before they are officially adopted.
• The council voted to table until their next meeting an ordinance that would establish regulations for food trucks in the city limits. These regulations would include things like operating hours, allowed locations, permitting, and rules relating to the sale of alcohol.
The Kuttawa City Council meets the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at Kuttawa City Hall. Its next regular meeting will be Sept. 9.