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Moving forward in the City of Progress: ‘Open for business’ is council’s commitment – The Southeast Sun

Note: The Enterprise mayor and city council held several strategic planning sessions after being sworn into office in November 2020 for the purpose of determining top priorities going into the next four years. The is the fourth in a series outlining the council’s goals and accomplishment.

Adding an entertainment district, more downtown parking, allowing food trucks and developing a more “business friendly” business license ordinance were all issues that the Enterprise mayor and city council brought to the table at multiple work sessions after taking office 10 months ago.

“Welcome to a city always in motion,” said Enterprise City Administrator Jonathan Tullos with a smile.

Tullos has served as the first person to hold the newly created position of city administrator since March. It is a position that evolved after the mayor and new council did a reevaluation of the existing staff responsibilities. “The city administrator was created to be a chief operating officer,” Tullos told those attending a recent Enterprise Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs breakfast meeting. “I don’t have any authority, I don’t vote. The mayor is still the chief executive officer of the city. For the military folks here, a city administrator is more like your chief of staff that helps all the other departments on a day to day basis continue to run and execute the policy and directives that the mayor and the city council provide. That’s my role.

“I have been working with Mayor Cooper, a great team of city department heads, the Industrial Development Board, the Wiregrass Economic Development Corporation and other committees and groups since March when I became city administrator,” Tullos said. “I have been impressed and proud of their commitment to work together for the common good of our city and in the best interests of our citizens.

“The momentum was never lost, not even during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tullos said. “Businesses certainly suffered and struggled but most survived. Where we lost some, we have also continued to gain others to help offset the pandemic casualties.

“In fact, the city issued 533 new business licenses in 2020, reflecting an increase of 134 from 2019,” he added. “Six new businesses opened in our historic downtown area during the pandemic and a major building renovation that will result in a multi-business complex is in the works, which will add even more character to downtown. Meanwhile a recently approved ordinance creating an entertainment district in the downtown area will also economically benefit downtown businesses.

Entertainment District created

The council created an entertainment district within city limits in the downtown area July 20. Under the ordinance, an area of one-half mile by one-half mile downtown is designated as an entertainment district and will be in effect during the hours of 1 a.m. until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and from 5 until 11 p.m. on other days of the week, except Sunday. The entertainment district designation will not be in effect on Sundays.

An entertainment district designation allows customers to take an open container of alcohol outside of an establishment as long as the customer stays within the limits of the district. The ordinance prohibits a consumer from entering a licensed premises with an open or closed container of alcoholic beverages acquired elsewhere.

Additionally, to leave a licensed premises within the entertainment district with an alcoholic beverage, the beverage is required to be in a shatterproof container.

Limited parking in the downtown area has been talked about for years. Part of the issue is that the part of Main Street that runs through downtown is a state highway and as such does not “belong” to the city but to the Alabama Department of Transportation. A second issue was that the city did not have any parking ordinance in place.

Enterprise City Engineer and Director of Public Works Barry Mott recently told Enterprise Rotarians that ALDOT plans for the first quarter of next year include resurfacing of Main Street from the east end of Highway 84 Bypass to the west side of the bypass and Plaza Drive.

Mott also said that a grant has been received to put in a new sidewalk on Daleville Avenue and will be spending $150,000 to repair sidewalks in downtown Enterprise.

New downtown parking lot

The city is refurbishing the empty lot on the corner of East Lee Street and South Edwards Street behind the old Yancey Parker’s building in downtown Enterprise. Construction began Aug. 25.

The city has a long term lease with the current owner who agreed to help with the lack of parking spaces downtown. Barricades were put up to keep anyone from parking on the lot until the project is finished. 

Downtown parking ordinance

In July, after receiving input from the Enterprise Area Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Main Street, the Downtown Merchants Association and downtown restaurant owners, the city council passed an ordinance prohibiting parking on certain streets before, during and after certain downtown events.

Citing citizen safety, the ordinance says that at least one-hour prior of an event in downtown Enterprise where the city council has approved road closures, no vehicles are permitted to park on Main Street, College Street and Railroad Street. This “no parking” status will remain in effect until at least one hour after the end of the event.

Violation of the ordinance can result in a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500 per violation. In addition, the chief of police is authorized to have vehicles parked in violation of this ordinance to be towed at the owner’s expense.

Food trucks

A new ordinance introduced at the Aug. 17 council meeting was reviewed and discussed at the Sept. 7 council meeting allows the operation of food trucks within the city limits.

Under the ordinance, the city will require food truck operators to obtain a health department permit and business license, provide trash disposal for customers, eliminate trash before departing a location and provide proof of insurance.

The one location restriction is that food trucks may not operate within 150 feet of an existing restaurant.

Under the ordinance, food trucks can operate in parking spaces within “the public right-of-way within the corporate limits and on city-owned property, at locations and times as may be approved by the city and in other areas, including private property, with the permission of the owner and as permitted by the city’s zoning ordinance.”

Food trucks will also be allowed to operate in city parks, providing that they follow the park rules, obtain a permit and pay a permit fee in an amount to be established by the city parks and rec department not to exceed $150 per year.

Under the ordinance, food trucks may only operate between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. unless operating in the Enterprise Downtown Entertainment District in which case they must comply with the same hours that bars and restaurants operate within that area.

Updated business license schedule

Also introduced at the at the Aug. 17 council meeting was a 49-page updated business license ordinance.

The year 2007 was the last time there was an update in the business license ordinance and that update was done to align the North American Industry Classification System Code with what was passed by the state regulators. No business license fees were changed at that time.

In 2019 an update was discussed again but correcting misclassifications in the system at that time and reports from staff that the city’s computer operating system could not handle an escalating fee structure put the issue on hold.

The issue was reopened again during several strategic planning meetings held by the mayor and city council after they took office in November 2020.

The proposed business license fee ordinance was disseminated to their membership by the Enterprise Area Chamber of Commerce following the Aug. 17 council meeting to solicit stakeholder opinions.

“You’ll find Enterprise is a developing community, but not in the sense that it is new. Enterprise became a town in 1896 with 250 people,” Tullos said. “We consider ourselves a developing community because, like photographers who enlarge and enhance their photos to create a more appealing image, Enterprise leaders never stop working to create pleasing surroundings and quality services that make life in Enterprise a beautiful and well-balanced landscape.

“From an economic development standpoint within the city, and in working with Coffee County leaders and others in the region, we see the future of Enterprise only getting brighter,” Tullos said. “Pixels in the photos we envision for our city are going to become more and more in focus and the picture-perfect landscape of our city will continue to develop.”