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Council OKs 'Red Flags' and zoning variance

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cherokee's City Council approved a "Red Flag" Identity Theft Prevention Policy, a program designed to detect, prevent, and mitigate Identity Theft, on Oct. 14, in connection with the opening and maintenance of certain utility (city water and sewer) accounts.

The program is pursuant to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) "Red Flag Rule," which implements Section 114 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003.

A "Red Flag" is a pattern, practice, or specific activity that indicates the possible existence of Identity Theft. In order to identify relevant Red Flags, the Utility considered the types of accounts that it offers and maintains, the methods it provides to open its accounts, the methods it provides to access its accounts, and its previous experiences with Identity theft.

The Utility (City) identifies the following Red Flags - suspicious documents, suspicious personal identifying information, unusual use of or suspicious activity related to an account, and notice regarding possible Identity Theft.

If such an activity is suspected for any new or existing accounts, the City (Utility) then follows a series of investigation and verification techniques to identify and resolve any problems that might result.

In other business, Council member Mick Mallory took exception to a recent Board of Adjustment ruling that would allow a variance for a Cherokee home owner to move a 10X14 shed onto his property on North Craig Drive. City Code states accessory buildings over 10x12 must be sided with material similar to that of the principal structure, and that roof pitch and material shouuld also be similar to the principal structure. The utility structure in question has steel siding and roofing and is two feet longer than the Code allows.

After considerable Council discussion, Mallory found fault with the BOA for allowing the variance and moved to send the variance back to the BOA. Council member Jim Peck voted with Mallory, while Council members Bob Leach and Greg Stieneke voted "no." Council member Linda Burkhart abstained from the discussion and the vote, saying that she works with the property owner involved.

The resulting 2-2 vote means Mallory's motion failed and that the variance will be granted, according to City Attorney Wally Miller Jr. Mayor Pam Pierce cannot vote to break a Council stalemate.

The Council also approved to remove another troublesome node resulting from the City's downtown renovation/beautification program. The node is located on the Southwest corner of South 5th and West Main streets, with South 5th being on the designated Truck Route. Vehicles have trouble making the turn south off West Main and the wheels cross and damage the node.

Because of a similar problem, the node at South 4th and West Main streets was removed by the City a few weeks ago. The Council authorized removal of the node Tuesday night, which will be done by the City Street Department in the near future. The tree planted in the node will be replanted in the Bacon Aquatics Center/Gillette Park area.

In other business, the Council discussed a water service line at 400 Sequoia that at times freezes up in the winter. Last winter, the home owner didn't have water service for a six-week period.

City Attorney Wally Miller Jr. advised the property owner that the line was installed in 1955 and probably wasn't installed deep enough to avoid freezing. Today's existing ordinances require the lines to be buried 5 1/2 feet below grade to avoid such a problem, but that wasn't the case in 1955, said Miller, so the responsibility of the service line falls on the home owner.

City Water Department chief Mark Napier said this problem is not uncommon to many properties in town and the only options are to install a new, deeper service line, or, perhaps, let water trickle from the faucet during the cold snaps to keep the line from freezing up.

The old practice of thawing the line by heating it with welding apparatus has ceased because the issue became one of liability, as the direct electrical current of the welding apparatus would sometimes travel in the pipes and adversely affect neighboring electrical properties.

The Council also voted to close Willow Street from 1st to 2nd streets for the annual Cherokee Downtown Christmas Parade, and approved a resolution for the City to participate in the implementation of a statewide Internet reporting system.

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