November 16, 2006
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton with Councilman Ray leading in prayer. A motion was made by Councilman Ray to approve the minutes of the November 2, 2006 meeting and the November 7, 2006 called council meeting. The motion was seconded by Councilman Strozier and passed with five affirmative votes. Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the agenda for the November 16, 2006 meeting with an amendment requested by Attorney Dickey to add discussions related to land acquisition to the executive session. Councilman Waller seconded the motion with the requested amendment and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton recognized Councilman Ray who presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Dolores Waller from the City of Bloomingdale for her many acts of kindness and service to the bereaved, sick, elderly and homebound citizens thereby contributing to the “Betterment of the City of Bloomingdale”. Councilman Ray expressed his personal appreciation to Ms. Waller for the help she gave to him and his family during the illness and death of his father, Julian Ray. Councilman Ray pointed out that Ms. Waller has been helping Bloomingdale citizens for years and he felt that she was very deserving of this award.
Council was advised that a request was submitted from Latrelle Kling offering corrections for minutes of the council meeting
dated October 19, 2006. The Mayor recognized Ms. Kling who outlined for council these corrections and stated that she felt these were minor changes, but was asking that council consider adjusting the minutes to reflect this information. Mayor Tipton asked Attorney Dickey to provide any information he may have relevant to Ms. Kling’s request. Attorney Dickey explained that section 50-14-1 of the state code notes that minutes of a meeting, as a minimum, shall include the names of the members present, a description of each motion or other proposal made, and a record of all votes. Attorney Dickey stated that additional information has usually been included, but it is not required, and he felt that the City of Bloomingdale’s recorded minutes go well beyond those required by state law. There was no action taken by council to amend the minutes of the October 19, 2006 meeting.
Councilman Strozier reported that the City has received verification from EPD that the City’s groundwater withdrawal permit has been increased by 100,000 gpd.
Attorney Dickey stated that he had reviewed additional information submitted by EMC Engineering regarding their bid for the design work for the paving of Stagecoach Road and after comparing the total costs from each engineering firm the bid from EMC was slightly lower than those submitted by Thomas & Hutton and Stephenson & Palmer. After a brief discussion, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to table action on acceptance of the bid until the next meeting to allow for input from Councilman Myrick, the Chairman of the General Services Committee. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Councilman Strozier reported that the problems with the smell at the lift station that had been reported at the last meeting was due to the failure of an employee to properly handle the changing of the tank that dispenses the chemicals that help to alleviate the odor. The maintenance department is currently monitoring the station on a daily basis and on weekends and, hopefully, this will help to eliminate similar problems in the future. The Mayor recognized Citizen Butch Godbee who stated that the odor had decreased considerably and expressed his appreciation to the City for taking care of the problem. Mayor Tipton asked Mr. Godbee to contact the City if he noticed this problem again in the future.
Mayor Tipton reported that Latrelle Kling has requested she be placed on tonight’s agenda to discuss items contained in her letter to the Mayor and Council dated November 7, 2006. Ms. Kling also requested the following items be discussed: Chatham County SPLOST 2003-2008; disputed ownership of Central of GA Right-of-Way; Engineering contracted costs related to current drainage and other city projects; and the need for regulation/guidelines for attractive nuisances such as swimming pools and barrow pits. The Mayor introduced Ms. Kling who asked questions related to engineering expenses included in past audits and was advised that this information would have to be researched, but if she would submit an open record’s request outlining her specific questions, these would be answered as soon as possible. Ms. Kling asked questions related to the ownership of the old railroad bed and these were referred to Attorney Dickey. Attorney Dickey asked if Ms. Kling had legal representation and she stated that she did have an attorney. Ms. Kling then indicated that she would not pursue discussion of the issue of the ownership of the railroad bed at tonight’s meeting. Ms. Kling expressed her concern about the need for ordinances requiring the fencing of barrow pits and swimming pools and asked for council’s consideration in adopting these type ordinances. Ms. Kling asked Attorney Dickey to explain what defined a public meeting. Attorney Dickey questioned Ms. Kling as to whether she had a particular meeting in mind and she stated that she understood there had been only one meeting held to discuss the drainage plan and only a few citizens were made aware of that meeting. Attorney Dickey stated that a meeting had been held with those citizens who would have been involved in the granting of a maintenance easement on the north side of the drainage ditch, but since there was some opposition to this proposal, the design had been changed with the ditch to be maintained from the south side. Attorney Dickey pointed out discussions on the proposed drainage plan had been held during council meetings that were open to the public, but there had not been a public hearing held on the plan. Ms. Kling advised council that she had obtained a canal maintenance schedule from Chatham County and asked if a similar tracking plan was available from Bloomingdale. The Mayor advised her that we do have a maintenance program in place and if she requested this information through the City Hall we could provide her with what we have available. Ms. Kling questioned the costs related to the canal maintenance and asked if these would be addressed in intergovernmental agreements. The Mayor advised Ms. Kling that an agreement would have to be worked out between the county and the city for future maintenance. Ms. Kling asked if the City had funds on hand to complete both phases of the drainage plan. The Mayor advised her that monies were on hand for Phase 1 of the plan with funds for Phase 2 to come from the recently approved SPLOST referendum. Ms. Kling stated that she could not find where the plan had actually been approved by council and was advised that the plan was approved by council in January, 2006 with the only change being the shifting of the ditch as previously discussed. Ms. Kling advised the Mayor she would like to meet with him to discuss other issues and he stated that she could call to set up an appointment.
Mayor Tipton stated that a public hearing had been scheduled for tonight’s meeting to discuss proposed changes to the Occupational License Ordinance related to fees and to receive citizen input on these changes. The Mayor recognized Councilman Rawlings, the Chairman of the Planning & Licensing Committee, who stated that adjustments were needed in our rates to bring them in line with neighboring cities. Councilman Strozier pointed out that there had not been any increases in our occupational license fees since the state made changes to the laws about ten or twelve years ago. There were no comments from the citizens present at the meeting. Being no further discussion, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to approve the recommendation from the Planning & Licensing Committee to amend the Occupational License Ordinance to increase the occupational license fees effective January, 2007 and each year thereafter as follows:
# of Employees Liability
$ 25 base charge, plus
1 $ 75
2 $ 100
3 - 9 $ 100 + $25 per employee over 2
10 - 99 $ 275 + $25 per employee over 9
100 - 499 $ 2525 + $25 per employee over 99
500 & over $12525 + $25 per employee over 499
Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Note: Just prior to the adjournment of the meeting, council discussed the need to go ahead and consider the second reading of the amendment to the occupational license fee ordinance at tonight’s meeting so the invoices for 2007 could be mailed out in early December. Councilman Ray made a motion to dispense with the second reading, Councilman Rawlings seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Councilman Rawlings then made a motion to approve the amendment to the Occupational License Ordinance to include increases in the rates beginning in January, 2007, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Council was then advised that in previous years the City had agreed to allow those businesses that purchased first time occupational licenses in December to obtain their license for the upcoming year. After a brief discussion, Councilman Waller made a motion to allow first time businesses that obtained occupational licenses in December, 2006 to be issued a license for 2007. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Council reviewed an application for a home occupation license from Don Amerson to operate the “office only” of a mobile welding business from his residence located at #411 Poplar Street. Mr. Amerson stated that he would be the only employee and there would be no outside traffic related to the business coming to the residence. Mr. Amerson also stated that the only vehicle being used in the business would be a pickup truck with a trailer for the welding machine and some hand tools and these would be parked in his garage. Councilman Ray made a motion to waive the public hearing requirement and issue the home occupation license to Mr. Amerson for the mobile welding business, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
A request for a home occupation license from Michael Deal and Dallas Lamb was reviewed by council. The license would be for the “office only” of a HVAC installation and repair business to be operated from #325 Conaway Road. Mr. Deal stated that he and Mr. Lamb would be the only employees and all of the work would be done at job sites. Mr. Deal advised council that there would be no outside traffic related to the business coming to the residence. Being no further discussion, Councilman Strozier made a motion to waive the public hearing requirement and issue the license to Mr. Deal for the home occupation business at #325 Conaway Road. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton recognized Carroll Rush who had made application to the City to construct an 1152 sq. ft. storage building on his property located at #314 Conaway Road. Council was advised that Mr. Rush’s property consists of 1½ acres and is located in an RA, Rural Agricultural, zoning district. Mr. Rush stated that he planned to install some overhead lighting in the building. Since the structure includes over 500 sq. ft. of enclosed area, council must approve the issuance of the building permit. After a review of the information provided by Mr. Rush on the building, Councilman Strozier made a motion to approve the issuance of the building permit, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
The Mayor recognized Mary Mitchell, Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission, who requested council’s reconsideration of the development of the City-owned property at U.S. Highway 80 and Cherry Street as a community common area to include walks, benches, decorative lighting, flags, flowers, and a small cottage to serve as a welcome/history preservation center. Ms. Mitchell stated that she would like to see the area named “Strozier Square” in recognition of Councilman and former Mayor Strozier’s contributions to the City. Ms. Mitchell pointed out that she had been directed to the development of property next to the Bloomingdale Community Building for this purpose, but felt that this area needed to be in a more secure location that was easily accessible to the public. Councilman Ray raised questions about the safety of having this type activity on the corner of two very busy highways and pointed out that since the Moore Street location was more centrally located that area would be more suitable for a community park. Ms. Mitchell stated that most welcome centers are located along major highways and felt that there needed to be a park developed in a neutral area for those citizens who did not live in the center of the City. Councilwoman Winn advised Ms. Mitchell that she lived in an area near the Moore Street property and felt that it was very secure and would be more suitable to development as a community common area. Citizen Barbara Griffin stated that she felt the City needed to look into the development of a welcome center to provide tourists with information on the history of the City and the accomplishments of former residents such as Lucinda Adams, Cheryl Haworth and Jim Golden. Councilman Strozier expressed his appreciation to Ms. Mitchell for her consideration in the naming of the area after him, but did not feel that the development of this property would fall under the Planning & Zoning Commission’s duties. Citizen John Purvis suggested the City look into the possible development of the property across from him on Lynn Street for a recreation center. Councilman Strozier pointed out that he was involved in the purchase of the Highway 80 property with the City’s plans being to develop it for a more passive use and he was concerned about using it for a parking area until more research could be done about its potential uses. Councilman Strozier asked that the Mayor appoint a committee to look into the most feasible use of the Highway 80 property and suggested that Ms. Mitchell be included on the committee. Several citizens made comments about the proposed project. Citizen Betty Burke stated she felt the council needed to do more research before making a decision. Reverend Ken Otto suggested that council look into the possibility that there could be some underground gas pumps on the property because that issue had come up when the Bloomingdale Alliance Church had looked into purchasing the property several years ago and because of the potential problems it could cause with contaminated soil they chose another location. Being no further discussion council addressed the next item on the agenda.
Mayor Tipton reported that he would like for the council to consider the clearing of the underbrush and the spreading of the dirt on the City-owned property located on Wildcat Dam Road. Latrelle Kling asked about the location of the property and was advised that the property consisted of approximately 11 ½ acres off of the Wildcat Dam Road within the City limits of Bloomingdale. Councilman Ray asked if we should consider the selling of the timber. After additional discussion, council agreed to pursue the selling of the timber prior to the clearing of the underbrush.
Council discussed the implementation of a public safety user fee. Councilman Rawlings stated that he felt that a user fee should be considered, but would like to see it comparable with the value of a home or business and felt that a public meeting should be held to receive citizen input on this matter. Councilman Rawlings pointed out that during the budget process it was evident that there was a need to implement a user fee to help offset the expenses related to providing fire protection and other public safety services to our citizens. Citizen Ann Williams stated that she felt there needed to be an audit of the fire department before the City disbursed any funds to them. Citizen Jessie Kujawa asked if this would be consider a subscription fee and was advised that it would basically be the same thing. Councilman Ray pointed out that these funds would be used strictly for public safety expenditures and would be controlled by the City and Councilman Strozier commented that the use would be for operating costs. Councilman Strozier pointed out that the City was trying to avoid the implementation of property taxes and a user fee would be the fairest way to distribute these expenses. Citizen Ann Williams once again stated the need for an accounting of the expenses of the fire department before any more funds were distributed to them. Citizen Millie Gatch asked if council had a figure in mind and she was advised that this amount had not yet been determined but it would probably be about $100 per household per year. Latrelle Kling stated she felt there needed to be a public hearing on this issue and recommended council exercise caution before proceeding with the implementation of this fee. Ms. Kling also stated that she encouraged property taxes so the citizens could be provided the fire protection services they deserved. Councilwoman Winn asked Ms. Kling where she lived and she stated that she lived in Newton County. After the completion of additional discussion on this matter, the Mayor moved on to the next agenda item.
The Mayor suggested that a meeting be held with the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department to discuss the fire protection contract and other issues and requested the clerk get with council to set up a date and time from the dates previously provided by the fire chief. Note: After conferring with members of the council immediately following the executive session, the meeting was set for November 30, 2006 at 7:00pm.
Council discussed the December meeting schedule and Councilman Strozier made a motion to cancel the December 21, 2006 council meeting. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Attorney Dickey asked that council adjourn into executive session to discuss attorney/client, litigation, land acquisition and personnel issues. Councilman Ray made a motion to adjourn into executive session. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. After conclusion of the executive session, Councilman Ray made a motion to return to the general session, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Councilwoman Winn made a motion to execute the affidavit as required by the Open Meetings Act. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. A copy of the affidavit is attached to the original minutes.
After a review of the accounts payable, Councilman Ray made a motion to pay the bills. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn at 8:45pm. Councilman Rawlings seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton and Councilmembers Rawlings, Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn were present at the meeting. Councilman Myrick was out of town.
Note: Section § 50-14-1 of the Official Code of the State of Georgia Annotated requires that the minutes shall, as a minimum, include a description of each motion or other proposal made, and a record of all votes. These minutes meet the minimum requirements. However, in an attempt to provide as much information as possible to the citizens, the recording clerk has included additional background data and discussion on the subjects presented to council. The statements of individuals are not verbatim and may be summary in nature.