|The meeting opened with the posting of the colors by the Murfreesboro Fire Department's Color Guard, winners of the 2012 National Honor Guard Competition Championship.
Mayor Tommy Bragg then recognized former Vice Mayor Chris Bratcher for his 24 years of service on the council.
"I'm not going to give you the keys to the city, because then we'd have to change all the locks," Bragg joked. "But I do want to thank you tonight for your 24 years of service to this city and present to you a proclamation in honor of your hard work."
Bragg also announced that a bridge crossing the railroad near McFadden Elementary School, where Bratcher grew up, will be named in his honor, and presented him with a smaller version of the road sign that will grace the bridge in the near future.
During his own comments, Bratcher said Bragg is the "greatest mayor we have ever had" and expressed his pride in Murfreesboro's growth throughout his tenure.
Discussion then moved to a change in the way the city's water and sewer bills are calculated for customers.
Murfreesboro Water and Sewer Director Joe Kirchner recommended reducing minimum consumption to 50 cubic feet minimum from 100 cubic feet, which currently must be reached before a customer is charged more than the $8.22 basic monthly charge for service.
"This is not a rate increase, it is simply a reduction of the amount of free water that customers get for the minimum $8.22 charge," he said.
Kirchner notified the council that the recommendation was the result of a study by an independent consultant studying the manner in which the department manages its cash flow.
The council then conducted a public hearing to consider an two amendments to an existing Planned Residential Development containing 22.6 acres along Florence Road by applicant John Floyd of Ole South Properties.
Floyd requested changing the 35-foot setback for garages to the 25-foot setback stipulated for the main homes on each of the lots, and to add HardiPlank to the list of acceptable building materials for the fronts of the homes.
"Folks change their tastes over the years, and HardiPlank has become a very desirable building material which is also an expensive product - its not cheap," Floyd said. "The setbacks are also problematic because the lots are only 92 feet in depth, which severely limits our options when trying to build desirable homes on the property."
Councilman Eddie Smotherman expressed concern that a garage setback reduction would limit parking for residents in the development, and force them to park in the street.
Planning Director Joseph Aydelott explained that a 25-foot setback would still be just enough space for two cars to be parked in tandem in each driveway, in addition to two cars in each garage.
Councilman Toby Gilley echoed Smotherman's comments, but added that the change in setback would also allow for larger back yards, which, he said, customers might find more desirable.
Doug Young motioned for approval of the changes, Smotherman seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.
Councilman Shane McFarland raised an issue during the "Other Business" portion of the meeting cocerning excessive panhandling in the city.
"I received yet another phone call today about someone who was complaining and also fearful of panhandlers on the side of the street," he said. "We've seen an increase in this and I've had so many phone calls over the last few weeks that I think its something we need to address."
He asked City Attorney Susan McGannon to research the issue and "see how other communities have dealt with this problem."
McGannon responded the most important thing to do is for citizens to report each instance of "aggressive panhandling" to local police because other communities have had problems implementing measures to deal with the issue without "specific facts to support" the move.
She said solicitors are not allowed to enter roadways under current law, but police officers are not reasonably able to monitor the roadways at all times.
McGannon advised council members to urge their constituents in reporting each case of "aggressive panhandling" appropriately so that the city has documented cases to justify any measures to be taken.