Jemison property owner has issues with loitering

Published 2:14 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A property owner in the city of Jemison is having issues with loitering and approached the Jemison City Council on Monday for guidance.

Mike Wesley, an owner of Cobb Plaza in Jemison, told the council he has had issues with individuals parking in his lot.

“We have had all sorts of things happen,” Wesley said. “There have been windows broken, graffiti painted on people’s walls, possible drugs deals, kids throwing out trash and congregating in the shopping center at all hours of the night.”

Wesley said his family invested in the shopping center, which has businesses such as the Red Zone Sports Grill, Piggly Wiggly and Hayes Drug and Gift Shop.

“The shopping center helps pay people’s salaries, buys police cars and brings in a lot of revenue for this city,” Wesley said. “The shopping center is also right across from the police station, and yet I never see any police over there. I just want to know what can be done.”

Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed said Wesley had the city’s sympathy, but the city had spoken with their attorney and were told there was nothing the city could do.

“It is a private lot,” Reed said. “It is used to help customers park there. Unless there is a break-in, the police department can not issue citations on private property.”

Wesley said he had driven in the parking lot at late night hours to check and see what was going on in the shopping center and was never stopped by a police officer with the JPD to ask what he was doing.

“Jemison’s police department is a small department,” Reed said. “They do the best they can. The only thing you can do is write down a tag number from a car you see in the parking lot and take it over to the police department and issue a warrant. The police can then go over to that car and ask them to leave.”

Wesley said he was frustrated with the lack of control the city had to enforce laws to prevent the type of activity happening at the shopping center.

“I understand your frustrations, but there is very little we can do,” Reed said. “The best thing for you to do is write down the tag numbers of the cars you see, and bring it over to the police department.”

After a lengthy discussion, Wesley said he would start keeping track of the cars in the parking lot and bringing tag numbers to the police department.

Reed said in the meantime the city’s attorney was researching to see if there was an ordinance that could help with the situation.

“We certainly want to stop whatever type of activity is going on over there,” Reed said. “It is a bad reflection on this city to have things like this going on, but unfortunately because it is private property there is very little we can do. The police department can provide a presence, but unless they have the ability to issue a warrant, they can not do very much.”

In other news, the council:

•Voted to approve a dead end road sign to be placed on County Road 848. Councilman Robert Morris made the motion due to many motorists traveling the detours currently in place on County Road 42 and finding that they can’t travel on County Road 848 due to the dead end.

•Approved April 25-29 to be spring-clean up week throughout the city. The event gives residents the opportunity to throw away any unwanted household items, such as old furniture, building materials or piles of junk that pile up throughout the year in a shed or a garage. The city garbage department will come by and pick up any of the unwanted materials placed in front of residential homes and take the county’s materials to the transfer station at no cost to the residents. The city will not pick up items such as old refrigerators, rubber tires, car batteries, paint or hazardous chemicals. The clean-up efforts were started to encourage residents to keep Jemison clean. Reed said the city would have pamphlets available at Jemison City Hall for individuals who needed more information on what types of items would be acceptable to be picked up during the spring-clean up week.

•Heard from councilman George Brasher who suggested that better detour signs needed to be placed on County Road 42. Brasher said the current signs that were in place did not give motorists a clear idea of where to drive on the detour, and there weren’t enough signs in place. Reed said he agreed with Brasher and would try to speak with a representative of ALDOT about the need for additional detour signs.