New single-member districts took another step in becoming a reality as the final reading was passed at the regular meeting of the Orange City Council Tuesday morning.

The first reading was passed at the council’s meeting on Dec. 13 after District Map D was selected over previous maps during a several month process. One of the maps was rejected at the November meeting after attorney and map architect Alan Bojorquez informed the city he had received new input relative to the project and he was in the process of drawing another map— ultimately Map D.

Mayor Brown Claybar said at Tuesday morning’s meeting passing the final reading was the last of the process.

“I think the process has worked. Hiring Mr. Bojorquez was a good hire,” he said. “I think we have a good map that meets the criteria of the citizens and meets the criteria of the Justice Department.”

New district maps became necessary after the 2010 Census was completed and the city of Orange was found to be out of standards of the One Person, One Vote requirement.

The council conducted a public hearing on the proposed increase to street reconstruction from community development block grants. The projects in the East Town area are as follows:

• $112,742 to $170,351 for water sewer improvements
• $78,532 to $79,915 for water sewer improvements
• $56,515 reduction of funds for water sewer rehab
• $2,487 reduction of funds for Heaven’s Serenity House

Resident Essie Bellfield asked during the public hearing if these projects would eliminate flooding in the area. Jimmie Lewis, director of planning and zoning, answered these projects won’t alleviate the flooding, but he anticipates flooding will be alleviated possibly when Cooper’s Gully is lined with concrete.

The council tabled an ordinance allowing a building and fence for Signal International at 65 Green Avenue to encroach into the Green Avenue right-of-way over legal and aesthetic questions.

The ordinance will also allow a fence at the west right-of-way line of Pier Road.
The fencing is for the overall security program.

Jarvis Buckley, owner of Buckley and Sons at 65 Green, suffered major damage from Hurricane Rita to his shop building. He wishes to rebuild a larger shop building at the property. The original building encroached into the right-of-way. If his request is granted, the new building will allow additional encroachment of 23 feet.

Buckley sold the property to Signal since 2005.

Signal is requesting an easement variance.

Councilman Cullin Smith asked how long the easement variance request would be valid. City Attorney Andrew Culpepper said he would have to research the matter.

Councilwoman Theresa Beauchamp asked if weeds and overgrowth on the fence could be maintained by Signal International.

Grant funding in the amount of $38,000 from the Department of Homeland Security for firefighter safety equipment was approved.

The city will match funds for $2,000 to replace an air compressor that was lost to Hurricane Ike.

Deputy Chief Jerry Ziller of the Orange Fire Department said this is a national grant and highly competitive to receive. The equipment will be placed in the new Central Fire Station being built.

Residents Bellfield and Henry Lowe requested during the citizen comments portion of the meeting they would like to see the old Meals on Wheels building on Turret Street near Solomon Johnson Park made into a museum honoring achievements of African-American residents and other races of Orange.

Lowe said it would be unique for Orange to have such a museum since some larger cities in the South don’t have an African-American museum. He believes it would bring in tourists traveling Interstate 10 into the city and the Stark Foundation could assist with the museum.

City Manager Shawn Oubre announced the schedule for neighborhood meetings in the city.
The first will be held Feb. 27 at the Orange Navy Homes Center. The second meeting will be on Feb. 28 at the #3 Fire Station. The next will be at the National Guard Armory on Feb. 29 and the last will be on March 1 at Cove Baptist Church.