May 20, 2004
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Pro-tem Johnson with Councilman Waller leading in prayer. The minutes of the May 6, 2004 meeting were reviewed with Councilman Waller making a motion to approve said minutes. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson advised the citizens that Mayor Rozier was not able to attend and that he would be conducting the meeting tonight.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson recognized Judge Michael Barker who had requested that he be allowed to introduce himself to council and the citizens and speak about his candidacy for the position of Chief Magistrate Judge for the Chatham County Magistrate Court. Judge Barker reported that he has served as an Associate Judge with the Superior Court of Chatham County for sixteen years and commented that Chatham County’s Magistrate Court is the busiest in the state. Judge Barker stated that he feels he has the experience to handle the position due to his years of service and exposure to the high volume of cases he has worked in the past. Judge Barker reported that the appeals to his decisions were approximately 4% over a four month period and feels that this record indicates he is capable of making good decisions on behalf of the citizens. Judge Barker asked for the support of the citizens and encouraged everyone to vote.
Council was advised that the City has not yet received the quit claim deeds from the New Hope Baptist Church or Charles Rogers and Issac LaRoache that are needed to complete the dedication of Cregor Street.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson reported that Roger Allen has provided the Board of Education with a copy of the sketch showing the location of the road proposed by the City to be constructed behind the Bloomingdale Elementary School. Council discussed the need to obtain some cost estimates so when the City received approval from the Board we would have these on hand when making a decision on the road’s construction. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson pointed out that one of the concerns expressed by Mr. Bowen with the Board of Education was to make sure the road would be passable in wet weather so we were going to need to consider the use of crush and run or wash-out materials. Councilman Wedincamp asked how we planned to handle drainage for the roadway and was advised that although there were no ditches on Church Street there was one on Pine Street that could be used. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson stated that the committee felt Ernie and Buddy could determine the best way to drain the road to avoid having to secure the services of an engineer. Ernest Grizzard stated that there was a drainage ditch at the end of Church Street that the City could probably use by getting permission from the adjoining property owner, Carol Love, to dig a connecting ditch across her property from Church Street to the ditch. Council was advised that there will have to be another 8’ culvert added on Pine Street for turning onto the road and a few trees would need to be removed. The actual construction of the road would have to wait until we have received official approval from the Board of Education, but according to Mr. Bowen he felt this plan would meet with their approval. Council agreed for the General Services Committee to work with the maintenance department to get some prices for the road’s construction. Councilman Wedincamp reported that the wash-out materials cost $50 per load which included delivery to the site and the material could be spread with a bulldozer and graded.
Council was advised that Council members Johnson and Tyler would meet with Donny Tuten before the next meeting to discuss with him his plans for the disconnection of water services to the three residences on Tuten Ave.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson informed council that the Third Amendment to the Pooler/Bloomingdale Waste Water Treatment Facility Agreement has been signed by the Mayor and will be forwarded to the City of Pooler. It was noted that the Agreement requires that the City of Bloomingdale send Pooler a Letter of Credit by June 1, 2004 in the amount of $1,176,154.00 to cover its portion of the cost of the plant upgrade. The City will also be responsible for it’s pro rata share of the construction interest and its 28.57% portion of closing costs. Council was advised that the City currently has certificates of deposit totaling $1.2 million with First Chatham Bank that will not mature until June 28, 2004 and First Chatham Bank has agreed to provide the Letter of Credit using the certificates as collateral. The initial LOC must be renewed with a new one-year LOC by June of each year. After a brief discussion, Councilman Waller made a motion to secure the LOC from First Chatham Bank using the certificates of deposit totaling $1.2 million and to authorize the Mayor to execute the documents related to securing the LOC. Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
The council was advised that the Mayor was working with the DOT to secure matching funds for the paving projects as discussed at the April 15th meeting and council needs to approve the recommendations from the General Services Committee presented at that meeting. The streets that were presented were as follows: 1) Church Street, 2) Lynn Street, and 3) Stagecoach Road. Councilman Ray stated that he still felt that Main Street needed to be paved ahead of Stagecoach Road or at least the portions where residences abutted the road. Councilman Ray pointed out that Russell Lee had been requesting the portion in front of his home be paved for a couple of years and he felt the older part of town should be addressed before annexed areas. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson stated that according to information from Mayor Rozier, the DOT wanted the City to pave down the center of the old railroad bed rather than continuing the one-way sections of Main Street and put in driveway culverts from the street across the old right of way to each residence. The General Services Committee had discussed the information submitted by the Mayor and felt that the paving of Main was going to be very costly so it was not listed as one of the top three streets. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson pointed out that there were also safety concerns on Stagecoach Road. Some council members stated that the problems on Stagecoach Road were not created by the City of Bloomingdale. Councilman Tyler made a motion to accept the General Services Committee’s recommendation to pave Church Street, Lynn Street, and Stagecoach Road and the motion was seconded by Councilman Wedincamp. Councilmen Tyler and Wedincamp voted for the motion, but the motion failed when Councilmen Myrick, Ray, and Waller voted against it. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson asked if council would consider approving the paving of the first two streets on the priority list—Church Street & Lynn Street. Councilman Tyler made a motion to approve the recommendation for the paving of 1) Church Street and 2) Lynn Street. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson asked if council had any questions regarding the changes to the Municipal Utilities and Sewer Ordinances that had been prepared by Attorney Gerard as requested by council. After a brief discussion, council members agreed that they would like to act on the changes to the ordinances tonight. Citizen Billy Strozier asked what changes were being proposed to these ordinances. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson informed him that there had been some questions raised about the wording of the ordinances concerning whose responsibility it was to run the water and/or sewer mains and since there were different interpretations by different attorneys council felt we needed to make some changes in the wording of the ordinances to make it clear that any costs related to the extensions to the water and sewer mains would be the responsibility of the developer rather than the City unless the City felt it was in the best interest of the City and financially feasible to run the mains at their expense. Councilman Tyler made a motion to approve the first reading of the amendments to the Municipal Utilities and Sewer Ordinances regarding the extensions of water and sewer mains and their costs, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Councilman Ray made a motion to dispense with the second reading, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the changes to the Municipal Utilities and Sewer Ordinances as outlined in the amendments prepared by Attorney Gerard, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson recognized Ms. Lillian Brune who lives at #1008 E. Hwy 80 and had asked to address council regarding the heavy vegetation along the drainage ditch behind her residence. Ms. Brune wanted to know why the maintenance department would not maintain the ditch. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson stated that he had gone with Buddy Burke to look at the problem and because there was no room for equipment to travel between the ditch and her fence the only way they could maintain it would be for her to move the fence. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson pointed out that the vegetation in the ditch included large bushes and small trees and it would take the use of equipment to clear this out. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson stated that not only was the vegetation too large to be done by hand the City’s crews did not have the time to maintain the ditch by hand. Ms. Brune stated that she had been trying to get Mr. Burke to clean the ditch for a couple of years, but to no avail and now it had gotten out of hand. Ernest Grizzard stated that some maintenance work had been done in this area but it was done from the other side of the ditch. Ms. Brune advised council that years ago the ditch was cleaned with a tractor and by hand, but now the bank was eroding on her side of the ditch and there would be a problem cleaning it from her side. Councilman Myrick pointed out that, in the past, the county had used prison labor to do this kind of work by hand, but the use of prisoners was no longer allowed. Ms. Brune asked if she could use weed killer in the ditch and was cautioned by Mayor Pro-tem Johnson about using weed killers that could cause problems in the ditch or the canal. Ms Brune stated that she was not expecting the larger growth to be removed, but needed some help in getting rid the vines that were growing on her fence and tearing it down. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson advised her that he would get with Mr. Burke and look into the situation again, but could make no promises that they could do anything with the ditch without her moving the fence. Ms. Brune stated that the owners of the residence beside her had allowed the hedge between the two houses to become overgrown and she wanted to know if the City could make them cut it. Mayor Pro-tem Johnson stated that this would be a civil matter between her and the owner and suggested that she try to contact them about the problem. It was noted that the property belonged to the Westside Christian Church and Ms. Brune stated she would try to talk with the pastor about cutting the hedges.
Council was advised the City had received a request from Kiley Murray about obtaining a home occupation license but since he was not present the matter was postponed until the June 17th council meeting.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson stated that the City had received a request from Ellis Phillips to talk with council about the lots he was developing at Moore & Hickory Streets, but the matter was not discussed because Mr. Phillips was not at the meeting.
The council discussed the payment of the bill from Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. in the amount of $13,245.33 for Attorney Gallo’s services during the month of March, 2004 related to the water rights dispute with Georgia EPD. It was noted that these legal fees were not budgeted. Council was advised that there were some retained earnings on hand in the Water and Sewer Fund that the City could use for this expense, but the budget would have to be amended and the funds were currently in certificates of deposit so payment may have to be made from the General Fund until the monies were available. Council discussed the matter and agreed that this payment, along with monies to cover additional legal costs related to this dispute generated between now and the end of June, 2004, needed to be included in the budget amendment. After additional discussion, Councilman Tyler made a motion to amend the water and sewer budget up to $50,000 to cover legal expenses related to the water rights dispute between Bloomingdale and the Georgia EPD through June, 2004 with the revenues to come from the Water/Sewer Fund’s retained earnings and, if necessary, to pay the bills through the General Fund until a certificate of deposit matures. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson reported that in the executive session of a called council meeting held this afternoon, the Mayor and Council met with the City’s auditor to discuss some information that the auditor needs from the Bloomingdale Police Department to use in determining if the department is able to generate a balanced accounts receivable total for the monies owed to the police department. Councilman Myrick reported that it has been difficult to provide this information with the system currently being used, but the department has been directed to run the accounts receivable reports for the next two months as requested by the auditor and the Chief is handling the responsibility of seeing that this information is provided. Councilman Myrick pointed out that if the information is right, we should be in good shape, but if there are any problems, we will have to go from there to see what can be done to obtain the information needed by the auditor. Citizen Sherry Mast asked if providing this information had anything to do with the ordering of the vests for the police officers and Chief Gossett advised her that it did not have anything to do with this equipment and the vests were currently on order.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson stated that in the same executive session, the Mayor and Council discussed the receipt of a letter of resignation from the City’s Attorney James P. Gerard and regretfully accepted Attorney Gerard’s resignation. The Mayor and Council had agreed to appoint Raymond Dickey to serve on a temporary basis as the City’s Attorney starting with the June 17, 2004 council meeting until the City could advertise for, interview, and secure the services of a City Attorney.
Council was advised that the Planning & Zoning Commission would be conducting another work session on June 8, 2004 at 7:00pm to discuss proposed amendments to the Walls and Fences Ordinances. Councilman Wedincamp reported that the members were trying to reword the ordinance to make the guidelines easier for citizens to follow. It was noted that the workshop would be held at the City Hall and all of the council was invited to attend.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson reported that Courtney Powers with Integrated Science & Engineering, Inc. was scheduled to meet with City representatives on Monday, May 24th at 2:00pm to begin preparation of Bloomingdale’s Community-specific Stormwater Management Plan and he encouraged not only the members of the General Services Committee to attend but also the other members of council due to the importance of this matter.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson recognized former City of Pooler Mayor, Buddy Carter, and asked if he had anything he would like to say, but Mr. Carter stated he was merely listening and apologized for coming in late.
The accounts payable were reviewed. Councilman Waller made a motion to pay the bills, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Citizen Mary Mitchell asked if council was going to address the information provided to them at the last meeting regarding the development at Douglas Court and was advised by Mayor Pro-tem Johnson that council was reviewing this information and the matter was being placed on the June 17th agenda.
Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. The meeting adjourned at 7:40pm.
Mayor Pro-tem Karl Johnson and Councilmen Myrick, Ray, Tyler, Waller and Wedincamp were present at the meeting.