Lakeland to vote on signs, projects March 10

CITYSEAL.clr.transparent_pngLakeland is taking steps to control litter, amend the city extensive signage code, get financial advice, and make progress on two construction projects.

Among their plans is a change to the usual agenda, moving citizens’ public commentary much higher in the meeting timetable to make meetings more convenient for Lakeland’s residents.

At the March 3 work session, the board reviewed these and other agenda items for the March 10 business meeting. (Work sessions are held only for discussion purposes and cannot include voting.)

Construction and development

The board had favorable discussions of two resolutions pending for the March 10 business meeting. One will instruct the city manager and/or city attorney to obtain the necessary easements and right-of-ways for the construction of New Canada Road by negotiation an or/condemnation proceedings. The resolution would also authorize the attorney to file and pursue condemnation proceedings concerning Tract 29. (See a project document and the proposed resolution online.)

The other resolution would authorize Mayor Wyatt Bunker to execute a residential subdivision development contract with TLB LLC for a 20-lot subdivision to be known as Oakwood Grove Subdivision Phase 1. (See the staff recommendations and the proposed resolution online.)

Major signage changes

Citizens can expect major revisions to the city’s 56 pages of code dealing with signage, sign zones and temporary signage at the March 10 board meeting. The focus will now be more on the overall impact of signs rather than minute details.

The amendments will clarify window displays, change the frequency and duration that businesses can display temporary signs, and include other edits.

Bunker also asked for the revisions to include a total ban of neon (lighted) signs visible on the exterior of the business.

See the staff report online (including details explaining the color coding for the proposed revisions) and the proposed revisions to the city’s signage code.

Budget news

In response to a board member’s inquiry about budgetary progress, the city’s finance director, Jessica Millspaugh, said the city’s department heads will submit their budget requests by March 21 and she will craft a balanced budget proposal from their input for the board’s approval.

A first budget reading will be scheduled in May, with a second reading in June.

I-40 Interchange

The board is expected next week to approve issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for a small area plan at the I-40 Interchange.

City Manager Jim Atkinson’s staff report on the topic noted that the condition of the Huff N Puff Road corridor has gathered plenty of discussion, along with how improvements to the area are necessary, given the proximity to the interchange and the associated high traffic volume.

A planning study would examine all four corners of the interchange and create recommendations and designs that could be adopted by the city. The adopted plan would be a clear guiding document that would dictate how development and redevelopment of the area would occur as envisioned by the city. (See the staff report and the proposed resolution online.)

Mowing news

The mayor questioned a proposal to contract with low bidder Delta Lawn and Landscaping for mowing services and asked for details on how this outsourcing will free up maintenance crew to address deferred maintenance projects or other work.

Board member Sherri Gallick also asked for a cost comparision of using in-house vs. outsourced labor for the work.

Board member Clark Plunk asked for the city engineer to provide a report after the first cutting, if the company does mowing for Lakeland. (See the staff report online for an analysis of the financial impact, and also see the proposed resolution.)

Financial advice

The board hopes to pass a resolution next week that will let the mayor sign an agreement with Public Financial Management Inc. (PFM) for financial advisory services.

The goal will be for PFM to “develop and assist in implementing strategies to meet its current and long-term operations, financial obligations, capital financing needs, and render assistance in respect to debt transactions.”

The consultation will be for a baseline $3,000 per quarter and may include recommendations for some refinancing of city debt.

Bunker asked that the consultation have a defined time period, not an indefinite arrangement. (See the proposed contract and resolution online.)


  • Tree work: Atkinson said a higher-up at MLGW reviewed what some Lakeland residents are calling the “MLGW Chainsaw Massacre” of trees trimmed unattractively near power lines, particularly on Seed Tick Road. He is negotiating with the company on what additional trims and stump removals they will complete.
  • Litter changes: He also presented a first draft of a four-point plan of education, collection, enforcement and partnerships to control the city’s growing litter problem. The plan identifies an initial 19 segments of roadways that need particular attention, with certain segments prioritized higher. New signage also will remind residents and passersby that “Lakeland’s not your dumpster.” A new part of the litter control plan will require property owners to pick up litter on the right-of-way adjacent to their homes, not just on their property. The board had a positive reaction to the proposed new litter pickup requirement, which will go to vote at the March 10 city board meeting. (See the staff recommendations and the proposed ordinance online.)
  • Median progress: Gallick and Plunk also were concerned and frustrated with slow or no progress on improving median landscaping at the city’s entry points. Atkinson projected that some improvements will be visible within the next 30 days.
  • KLB change: In other news about Lakeland’s beautification initiatives, the board plans to vote next week on establishing Keep Lakeland Beautiful (KLB) as an advisory board rather than a committee.