| By Jason C. Mattox
Batesville aldermen voted 3-1 to deny a variance request from Edith Cole to allow a mobile home on Patton Lane. It was her fifth trip before the board.
Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley was the only vote in favor of the variance.
Rosharwin Williams, a Clarksdale attorney, spoke on behalf of Cole and her family.
"This is a modular home, and it will be placed on a concrete slab," Williams explained.
Aldermen had continued the matter from their October 3 meeting to research the "modular home."
During that meeting, aldermen asked Cole to provide photographs of the home.
After examining the photos, aldermen determined the home in question should still be considered a mobile home.
"It has the roof line and appearance of a mobile home," Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said.
Manley voiced his support for Cole’s variance request by making the motion to allow it.
"We have spent hours discussing this, and I would like to see us allow it and move on," he said.
Pounders further clarified her reasons for rejecting the variance.
"That might be what’s considered a modular home, but it’s just not what I thought it would look like," she said. "It looks like a mobile home."
After Cole, her family members and attorney left the board room, assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell said the board needs to adopt some procedures for public hearings.
Mitchell explained that the last public hearing to discuss Cole’s matter could have been handled better.
"Every time they talked about the date of the fire with [Code Enforcement Office administrator] Pam [Comer], the date changed," he said.
The fire Mitchell was referring to was mentioned several times during the five hearings Cole had with the aldermen. Cole had a trailer on her property on Patton Lane that burned and if a trailer had been placed there within a year following the fire, the process could have been avoided.
"The last public hearing to discuss this was probably the worst one I have ever seen," Mitchell said. "I don’t mean that as a reflection on the board, but I think you might need some kind of procedures to follow to avoid people speaking out of turn or from the audience."
Mitchell said by having the public hearings become more formal, it would let city leaders know who was addressing them.
"Everyone who wishes to speak will have to sign in and go up to the podium to speak, that way you know who is speaking to you," he said.
Manley said he believed the change would be a plus.
"We are really considered the supreme court of this town," he said. "It’s probably a good idea that we get a little more formal."
Mitchell echoed those sentiments saying, "We have really outgrown the small town ways, and this was a good wake-up call letting us know that."
After the discussion, aldermen voted to allow Mitchell to draw up a new procedure for public hearings.