Lanett discusses property ownership between city and school district

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, March 9, 2022

LANETT — Prior to Monday’s meeting of the Lanett City Council a work session took place to discuss who owns what between the city and the city school system. They are separate entities. The city was chartered in 1895 and the city school district in 1898.

School properties would appear to be limited to W.O. Lance Elementary School and playground, the Lanett High/Lanett Junior High building and the school administration building in the downtown area.

There is a gray area here, though. It’s possible for city-owned property to have been allowed for school purposes.

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City Attorney Stanley Gray would like for this to be clarified. “We need to know who owns what, the school system or the city?” he said. “My main concern is liability. We need to have insurance for everything we own.”

Gray suggested for the council and school board to have a joint meeting and discuss what they wanted to do. What it appears to come down to is whether the school district wants to own – and be fully responsible for – all properties that are in school district use.

“When I first came to the Lanett system,” said Mayor Jamie Heard, “I was told that the school buildings were owned by the city school system.”

Who owns what would have to be definitively known before Lanett could ever participate in a countywide consolidation effort if that’s what Lanett residents wanted.

Mayor Heard said he didn’t want anyone to jump to conclusions. “We are not considering closing any schools,” he said. “We just want to know for sure who owns what.”

On another topic, Council Member Tony Malone said that the city should consider giving a discount on garbage bills due to the poor service that has been provided by AmWaste. Mayor Heard said he’d recently met with AmWaste officials and had been told that they had been short of staff and this was the main reason the service had fallen short of expectations. They asked for more time to get this straightened out. “I gave them two weeks to see improvement,” Heard said.

Heard said there had been some improvement. “It’s not 100 percent better, but we are not getting the same level of complaints we had been getting,” he said.

Council Member Charles Looser asked if there were any rules on people running a business out of their home. The only form of at-home business that’s currently allowed under the city’s zoning ordinance is for businesses that are strictly online. All other businesses must be in areas that are zoned commercial.

City Inspector Teddy Morris said this is clear but that there are some people “who don’t know the rules.”

“Unless it’s an online business, it has to be in a commercial zone,” he said. “You can’t sell products from your house.”

Looser said he’d known of people who were running beauty shops in their homes and had to close them because they were not in a commercial zone.

Council Member Angelia Thomas said the council might be wise to consider updating some city ordinances. “Some have gotten out of date,” she said. “We need to look at amending them. This is especially true when it comes to pets.”