Randolph County will soon have a new economic committee, which is actually an old, defunct economic committee, and it will meet once and then disband itself.

Sound unusual?

It is, but it's a necessary part of completing a long-standing deal between the City of Roanoke and SteelFab regarding the land on which the Roanoke SteelFab plant sits.

When SteelFab set up shop in Roanoke in 1997, the company made a deal with the city's Industrial Development Board to lease the 22 acres on which it built its original plant, on the condition that once that lease was complete, SteelFab would have the option to buy the land for $10.

The deal was made as a way to entice the company to choose Roanoke as its newest location.

That Industrial Development Board still currently owns the land, but the board no longer exists. It evolved from a city entity to a county entity, which eventually became the current Randolph County Economic Development Authority (RCEDA).

However, RCEDA does not legally have the authority to sign over the deed to the property because it technically does not own it.

So Monday, Roanoke City Council agreed to temporarily re-form the Industrial Development Board for the sole purpose of taking the necessary measure to sign over the deed to the land to SteelFab.

"We have to have the authority to sign that deed," city attorney Clay Tinney told the council Monday. "The council cannot [sign] it."

The seven-member board will be Paula Lambert, Trae Foster, Paula Hicks, Mark Jordan, Jessica Brown, Lacretia Nunez and Dandricus Daniel.

According to Tinney, the board will meet, agree to sign the property over to SteelFab, and then formally disband - a final step that apparently was never taken by the original board.

These machinations are important because SteelFab has a legal right to own the property based on its original contract, and would have the grounds for a lawsuit against the city if it failed to act to satisfy that right.

Bishop steps down

Councilmember Bronwyn Bishop has resigned her seat on Roanoke City Council, citing the fact that she has purchased a home outside of her district.

Bishop represented District 3 and was recently re-elected in the 2020 council elections.

Bishop received a plaque from Mayor Jill Patterson-Hicks Monday commemorating her time on the council, and Bishop spoke briefly, thanking her constituents, her fellow council members and the employees of the city for their work and cooperation during time on the council.

Mayor Jill Patterson-Hicks declared Bishop's seat vacant Monday. The council will vote to appoint a replacement for Bishop at next week's council meeting.

Grant writer

The council voted Monday to hire Community Consultants Inc., a municipal grant-consulting firm out of Huntsville, as its grant writer. The city ended its relationship with East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission as its grant writer earlier this year, citing the fact that that commission also represents several other nearby municipalities that often compete for some of the same grants.

The council also agreed to use three engineering firms - Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood; Harmon Engineering; and Engineers of the South - to fulfill the city's legal requirement of having an engineer evaluate any projects that may be completed using grant money. Engineers provide maps, cost estimates and supporting documents - among other things - that assure that projects are being completed in a safe and thorough manner.

The city will rotate among the three engineering firms on a project-by-project basis.

Nuisance properties

The city placed a lien of $840 on a nuisance property on Seymour Drive after the city used its resources and workers to clear the property.

Charles Ester spoke at the council meeting as a representative of the property owner, and asked the council for a $20,000 payout after claiming the city tore down the wrong structure on the property.

Ester said he has spoken with an attorney. Mayor Jill Patterson-Hicks recommended Ester have his attorney contact city attorney Clay Tinney in order to address his claims and any sort of compensation.

The council also issued a 45-day extension to the owners of another nuisance property at the corner of Henry and Reed streets.

The property is in the district of council member Tammi Holley, and Holley said she has received multiple complaints from residents in the neighborhood.

Owner Linda Paige Morgan appeared before the council and asked for more time to get the property cleaned up, and the council granted that request.

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