Council Meeting

November 2, 2006


The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton with Councilman Myrick leading in prayer.  Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the minutes of the October 12, 2006 public hearing and the October 19, 2006 council meeting.  Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.  Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the agenda of the November 2, 2006 meeting, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.


The Mayor recognized Latrelle Kling who asked when the minutes of the October 19, 2006 meeting would be available on the internet and was advised that they would be online by noon on Friday and a paper copy would be available at the office tomorrow morning.  Ms. Kling asked what would be the best way to handle questions she may have on the minutes and was advised that her questions could be brought back to the council as an agenda item. 


Mayor Tipton recognized Julie Gerbsch and Travis Cowart, both candidates for the District & Savannah-Chatham School Board seat, and welcomed them to the meeting.


The Mayor stated that the First Baptist Church of Bloomingdale was celebrating its 80th Anniversary on Sunday with special services and a covered dish dinner.  In recognition of the event, Mayor Tipton proclaimed November 5, 2006 as “First Baptist Church of Bloomingdale, Georgia Day” and encouraged everyone to join them for a day of celebration.




Attorney Dickey reported that he was waiting on information from EMC Engineering to complete the review of the bids on the design plans for Stagecoach Road.


Mayor Tipton stated that we had not yet received a response from EPD regarding their review of the alternate water source contract submitted to them.  Attorney Dickey noted that the City can only pump the amount of water from the Upper Floridian Aquifer that has been permitted by the state and when we received notice of our permit increase, one of the conditions was that we enter into a contract for an alternate water source which the City has done.  Attorney Dickey stated that we sent this information to EPD and since have met the conditions of the permit it is his opinion that the City now has an increase in our withdrawal permit.


Council was advised that the gateway sign permitting process was still underway.


The Mayor stated that consideration of the proposed FY 2006/2007 budget was on tonight’s agenda and asked for a motion on this matter from council.  Councilman Myrick made a motion to table action on the budget for an additional work session, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.


Mayor Tipton opened bids on two surplus items and the bids were as follows:  1)  28’ Marathon Fifth Wheel Camper: Mark Faulk - $510; D.K. Morgan - $655; Michael Tibbs - $560; Valerie Montanya - $955* and Neal Malphus - $501, and 2) Badger Yamaha 800 CM3 four-wheeler: Tommie Johnson - $100; Valerie Montanya - $150; Diane & James Norris - $200* and Neal Malphus - $101.  (* highest bid) Councilman Strozier made a motion to accept the highest bid on both items, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.


On behalf of the Recreation Committee, the Mayor reported that bids had been solicited for some drainage work at Taylor Park and the four bids were as follows:  Bryco, Inc. - $5.66 per ft; S. Loyd Williams - $3.75 per ft; Crossroads Construction, Inc. - $3.00 per ft; & IAM Construction Co. - $1.67 per ft.  Mayor Tipton stated that Richard Marlow with IAM Construction Co. had agreed to donate the work to the Recreation Dept.  Councilwoman Winn made a motion to accept the bid and the donation of the work from IAM Construction Co.  Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.  Councilman Strozier asked where Mr. Marlowe lived and the Mayor stated that he lived off Pine Barren Road just past Taylor Park.


Council was advised that a request had been submitted by Edward Miles to discuss the operation of a small concrete business on property located at #1220 Bloomingdale Road that he was interested in purchasing.  The property is zoned RA-1, Rural Agricultural, Single-Family Dwellings (mobile homes allowed).  Mr. Miles explained that he had been in this type business for about 30 years and he had about 10 or 12 employees.  Mr. Miles stated that he wanted to construct a 40’ x 50’ building for storage and maintenance of small equipment with the primary use of the lot to be a lay down yard for barricades, forms and signs.  Mr. Miles advised council that there would be no customer traffic since all of the employees are picked up on the way to the job sites.  Mr. Miles pointed out that there was no construction actually taking place on the property or in the building, but he did plan to park equipment, such as a backhoe, tractor, and curb machine on the property.  The Mayor advised Mr. Miles that the council’s concerns were related to the zoning of the property and they questioned whether this type business would be allowed in an RA-1 zoning district.  The Mayor asked Councilman Rawlings, Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission, for his input on the request.  Councilman Rawlings stated that his review of the zoning ordinance indicated that the activities Mr. Miles had described were definitely outside of the home occupation business category and it appeared to him that the property would need to be rezoned for this type business.  Councilman Rawlings pointed out that based on similar requests in the past; there could be a problem with the rezoning since this would be considered “spot zoning”.  Councilman Rawlings also stated that although the area is currently rather isolated, the potential for development will

increase once the parkway is completed.  Mr. Miles stated that he had not made a deposit on the property because he wanted to make sure that he could operate the business from this location before proceeding.  After additional discussion on this request, the council suggested that if Mr. Miles would like to pursue the matter, he could contact the City’s zoning consultant, Denise Grabowski, and she might be able to advise him as to the best course of action.  Mayor Tipton informed Mr. Miles that any expenses incurred in discussions with Ms. Grabowski would be his responsibility, but the council did not know how much it would cost him.


Mayor Tipton reported that the Recreation Department planned to construct an 18’ x 50’ (900 sq. ft.) storage building at Taylor Park and since it was over 500 sq. ft. of enclosed area, council would need to approve its construction.  After a brief discussion, Councilwoman Winn made a motion to approve the issuance of a permit for this size building, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.


Council was advised that a request has been submitted by the Westside Christian Church to sell Christmas trees at their church as a fund raiser for their Youth Ministry.  Council discussed the request and it was noted that the church has been conducting this activity for several years.  Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the request for the sale of the Christmas trees with Councilman Strozier seconding the motion.  The motion passed with six affirmative votes.  The following information was included in the written request from the church:  The sale would begin on November 21st and continue until the trees are sold.  The tree lot will be located about 120’ from the road and the church parking lot will be used for incoming and outgoing traffic.  The hours of operation will be limited to after school during the week until 9:00pm, Saturdays and holidays from 9:00am until 9:00pm and Sundays from 1:00pm until 8:00pm.  A temporary sign will be used to advertise the sale, will be located approximately 20’ from the road and it will be removed promptly after the sale is completed. 


The Mayor stated that the Chatham County Legislative Delegation will host two days of public hearings for the submission of requests from citizens in anticipation of the 2007 legislative session.  The hearings will be held on November 17th & 18th at the Savannah Technical College.  It was noted that presentations will be by appointment only and are limited to 10 minutes. 


Mayor Tipton reported that a request had been submitted by Butch Godbee to discuss the smell at the Maple Street Lift Station.  The Mayor recognized Mr. Godbee who stated that the problem had gone from bad to worse and wanted to know if there was anything that could be done about this problem.  Councilman Strozier advised council that he had also noticed an increase in the smell and when he checked with the maintenance department he was informed that the scrubber was malfunctioning.  The Mayor asked if the City could go back to the manufacturer if the equipment was not working properly.  Ernest Grizzard stated that U.S. Filter was scheduled to come out Monday to check on the problem.  It was noted that Mr. Godbee was the closest residence to the lift station.  Citizen Russell Lee stated that he worked around similar lift stations at Georgia Ports, but they did not emit bad smells like this lift station.  Councilman Strozier pointed out that the lift stations in other locations are on gravity fed systems rather than a grinder pump system.  The difference being the waste is already septic when it reaches this lift station because of the amount of time it stays in the lines and the gases created from the septic waste is what is causing the smell.  Councilwoman Winn stated that she had also notice problems with the smell.  After continued discussion about possible solutions, the Mayor recognized Rob Richter with Thomas & Hutton who offered to look into the current system to see if the engineers could offer some suggestions to help with the problem.  Council agreed for him to get with the maintenance department to look into the matter and the Mayor stated he would like to be involved in these discussions. 


Mayor Tipton recognized Mary Mitchell, Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission who addressed council with concerns about the lack of attendance of some of their members and suggestions as to replacements and appointments.  Ms. Mitchell requested that Becky Reece be removed from the commission and Alternate member Robert Wellmaker be moved to fill her unexpired term.  It was noted that Ms. Reece is involved in the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department and their meetings are held on Tuesdays, so she cannot attend meetings of the commission.  Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the removal of Ms. Reece and the moving of Mr. Wellmaker from an alternate to a regular member.  Councilman Rawlings seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.  The Mayor pointed out that there has also been a lack of attendance from alternates, but since their appointments expire in December, 2006, it would be best to replace these members in January, 2007.  Ms. Mitchell stated that she had a couple of other items to discuss with council, but was advised that these items would be on the November 16th agenda since they were submitted after the agenda deadline of Friday, October 27, 2006.


The Mayor reported that requests have been submitted by Barbara Griffin and Latrelle Kling to address council on issues related to the Drainage Phase 1 project, canal/ditch maintenance, clean-up/zoning compliance of #110 Maple Street and fencing of pits on Morgan property.  Ms. Kling stated she wanted to discuss the fencing issue first and asked if council had contacted Mr. Morgan about the fencing of the property.  After a brief discussion of this issue, Ms. Kling was advised by the Mayor that Mr. Morgan had contacted the City and reported that he was looking into the fencing and barricading of the property.  Ms. Kling then addressed the canal/ditch maintenance issue with council.  Ms. Kling commented that although she does not oppose drainage improvements in the City, she does question the construction of additional ditches and canals without a program in place to maintenance the existing ones.  Questions were raised about comments regarding the City’s contracting with Chatham County to maintain the proposed ditch because in correspondence received by Ms. Kling from Chairman Pete Liakakis and Commissioner Dean Kicklighter it did not appear that they were aware of any existing contract.  Councilman Myrick reported that Mr. Burke had contacted the county regarding the future maintenance of the ditch.  Councilman Myrick stated that the original plan had been to obtain a 20’ maintenance easement from the adjoining property owners; however, since there seemed to be problems with the owners agreeing to provide the easements, the design was changed to allow for the maintenance easement to be on the south side of the ditch.  Ms. Kling commented that in a previous discussion with the Mayor he had not been able to provide her with an inventory of the City’s ditch maintenance equipment or the number of employees assigned to do ditch or canal maintenance.  Mayor Tipton reminded Ms. Kling that he advised her that he did not have that information available to him at the time of their discussion, but could check with the maintenance department and provide it to her.  Discussion continued between Ms. Kling, Ms. Barbara Griffin and members of council regarding the maintenance of existing ditches and canals and the City’s proposed drainage ditch.  Ms. Kling stated that the proposed drainage ditch would deny her access to her property and depreciate its value.  Councilman Ray pointed out that there was no access to her property from the old railroad bed now.  Ms. Kling again stated that she was not opposed to drainage improvements, but felt that this property could be better utilized without devaluing her and other people’s property.  During additional discussion, Ms. Kling mentioned having an attorney and the Mayor stated that if she had obtained the services of an attorney regarding this matter the council may need Attorney Dickey to be conferring with her attorney rather than council addressing her questions.   Ms. Griffin then proceeded with comments to council expressing her concerns regarding the drainage problems and zoning issues at #110 Maple Street.  It was noted that the Slaters are the owners and residents at #110 Maple Street.  Council asked for details about the zoning issues.  Ms. Griffin informed council that a storage building had been constructed over a drainage ditch on the property and she was advised that the building had been there for years--possibly even before the City was incorporated.  Councilman Strozier asked the Mayor for an opportunity to make a statement and Mayor Tipton agreed.  Councilman Strozier stated that for years the City has experienced drainage problems and when SPLOST funds became available council turned to engineers to design a plan that would best address the problem.  The previous administration reviewed the plans presented by the engineers and accepted their recommendation that Alternate #1 was the plan that provided immediate relief to the most people and this administration has agreed to proceed with this plan.  After the discussion of these issues was completed, Mayor Tipton presented the following statement to those present:  “Our drainage plan is a city-wide project.  The City of Bloomingdale has worked several years to come up with a workable drainage plan and the resources for funding.  We now have that.  I recall in 1994 that many homes were flooded—families were displaced for weeks.  There were parts of Osteen Road that were under water with citizens traveling by boat.  The Bloomingdale Alliance Church was being accessed from Highway 80 by boat.  I remember riding out and looking at the damage—it was a helpless feeling and my heart and prayers were for the residents of Bloomingdale.  I couldn’t understand why some homes flooded and other did not—for me, the elevation looked the same.  That was my perception of what was in front of me, the reality was that we needed engineers with the education and experience to help us.  I am comfortable that Thomas & Hutton has presented us with a city-wide drainage plan that is best for the City of Bloomingdale.  Two administrations have voted for this same plan.  In 1994 I would never have imagined that some day I would have the honor of being Mayor of the City of Bloomingdale and be a part of the process that addresses drainage.  I support this drainage plan and look forward to seeing it get back underway.”  After making his statement, the Mayor opened the meeting to questions and/or comments from citizens.  The following citizens presented comments:  Betty Burke - #205 Chestnut Street – stated she had been a resident of Bloomingdale since 1970 and wanted to thank the council and City workers for their hard work.  Ms. Burke advised council that she did have some problems on her property, but they were being created by a neighboring citizen and did not want to involve the council in these problems.  Marion Slater - #110 Maple Street - reported that there were three (3) ditches running through her property and she does have a building over one ditch that has been there about 25 or 30 years and she got a permit for the building.  Ms. Slater stated that she feels the canal will get the water on out of the area and does not understand what the problem is with the drainage plan.  Roger Ray - #309 Ash Street – stated that a few years ago he asked for something to be done with the sewer pipe at Ash Street because he was loosing property with water running along his property line and he also asked about re-routing the water from this area.  Mr. Ray stated that the entire City needed relief.  Michelle West - #307 Elm Street - requested assistance on the hill for the overgrown conditions in the drainage ditches.  Ms. West advised council that she had flooded in 1994 and commented that at that time the water was standing in some areas, but not in others.  William West - #210 West Haven – asked if there would be access across Main Street and if the ditch would be covered.  Mr. West was advised that the ditch would not be covered at this time and that there would not be access across the ditch.  Russell Lee - #703 Main Street – questioned the starting and stopping points of the ditch and asked about fencing at each end to keep four wheelers from driving in and out of the ditch.  Mayor Tipton stated that the engineer would be able to provide him with the location of the ditch during his presentation and indicated that there were no plans to put fencing at each end of the ditch at this time.  Mary Mitchell - #16 Douglas Court – stated she was a concerned citizen who was sorry to see a rift in the community about the drainage project.  Ms. Mitchell expressed her concerns about the destruction of a link to the City’s history by the placement of the drainage ditch in this area and pointed out that the Planning & Zoning Commission had been discussing plans for the use of this area as a business district with an “Old Towne” theme although they had not yet presented their plans to council.  Ms. Mitchell stated that she noticed that the City of Pooler had installed covered pipes at Wildcat Dam Road and questioned why Bloomingdale council not go ahead and cover the ditch.  Councilman Ray pointed out that probably the developer was involved in the cost for the installation of the covered pipes, but the City did not have the millions of dollars it would cost to cover the ditch.  Councilman Ray also stated that the sewer line was located along the old railroad bed and that would limit the uses that would be available for this area.  Ms. Mitchell commented that the “Rails to Trails” program may offer a way to convert the old railroad bed to use for bike or walking trails.  Pete Kling - #1109 Highway 80 (mother-in-law’s address – Mr. Kling lives out of town) – Questioned whether there were designated funds for the drainage projects and was assured that there were SPLOST funds available for these projects.  Mr. Kling expressed concerns about the railroad bed not being developed as an access road for those people that live on the road and the City was denying the property owners access.  It was noted that these properties do not currently have access to the old railroad bed.  Bobby Thompson - #601E. Highway 80 – stated that this section of the railroad bed had not been designated as a road, but had always been referred to as the “old railroad bed.”  Alton Griffin - #1111 Highway 80 – commented that he had been living in Bloomingdale for 58 years and had safety concerns about the drainage ditch and stated that the railroad bed had been used as a road for years.  Mr. Griffin stated that he felt the City could use another alternative route and keep the road open.  Latrelle Kling advised council that she had copies of minutes from 1998 indicating that the old railroad bed had been designated as a part of the city street system.  Roger Ray - #309 Ash Street – shared some general information regarding the use of West Haven, Lynn, and Main Streets in the past.  Mayor Tipton introduced Rob Richter with Thomas & Hutton Engineering who had been asked to give the citizens some details regarding Alternative #1 of the City’s Master Drainage Plan.  Mr. Richter stated that the engineers had talked with residents, elected officials and staff regarding the drainage problems that had occurred during the flooding of properties in 1994 & 1996 and expressed his appreciation to everyone in the City that had provided them with data.  Mr. Richter reported that the engineers were asked to develop a drainage plan that would benefit the City as a whole rather than for individual properties.  The citizens were advised that the City wanted to be able to provide a drainage plan that would be the most effective for its citizens and the most economical for the City.  Mr. Richter stated that by using hydraulic models it was soon determined that the main problem in Bloomingdale was the lack of a major outfall and noted that regardless of the amount of maintenance that was performed on the smaller ditches or in the enlargement of individual pipes, unless the City had an adequate outfall to handle the heavier rainfalls, there would continue to be major drainage problems.  Mr. Richter explained that their designs had been developed in conjunction with proposed improvements by Chatham County to the Hardin and Conaway Canals, but the proposed design would provide drainage relief for the City regardless of the progress on the county’s projects.  The citizens were advised that there were two feasible alternatives.  Alternative #1 involved Main Street and although there were some wetlands issues, the City owned the right of way and the costs related to land acquisition and wetlands permitting was minimal.  Alternative #2 was in the Maple Street area, but involved private property and wetlands issues that were very costly and could delay the project for years.  Mayor Tipton stated that he would give citizens an opportunity to ask questions of the engineer, but asked that comments and/or questions be limited to two minutes.  Russell Lee - #703 Main Street – questioned why the wetlands were an issue and was advised that the Corps of Engineers had to issue permits for the disturbance of these areas and without these permits, the City could not proceed with the project and Councilman Rawlings confirmed this information.  Rob Richter explained that the ditch would have a bottom width of 8’ with a 2’ to 1’ slope that would provide more stability for the soil on each side of the ditch.  Mr. Richter pointed out that this type design allowed for more safety since you could walk in and out of the ditch.  Susan Rogers - #77 Cheyenne Road – asked Mr. Richter to provide her with a simpler explanation of the 2’ to 1’ slope and he explained that it was similar to staircase steps—for every one step up, you took two steps over, one step up, two steps over, etc.  Mike Wedincamp - #90 Cheyenne Road – asked about the depth of the ditch and was advised that it was deeper on the down slope and shallower on the up slope.  Mr. Richter advised the citizens that the ditch was designed using sound engineering principals and the engineers were confident that it would provide drainage relief to the City.  Roger Allen stated that his research into the ownership of the railroad bed raised questions as to whether the City actually owned the property and commented on the blockages of outfalls that caused some of the drainage problems in 1994.  Questions were raised about whether the plan took into consideration the City’s new development and Mr. Richter stated that as new developments occurred, the property owner/developer will have to meet or be below the current flows into the outfalls.  Pete Kling asked if the City had the funds to proceed with the project and was advised that we did.  Latrelle Kling expressed her concerns of information in the engineer’s report that seemed to conflict with some of the information Mr. Richter was presenting.  Mr. Richter stated that she may be misinterpreting the report.  Jimmy Kerby - #208 Adams Road – expressed his concerns that some of the citizens seemed to be questioning the integrity of the Mayor and Council and stated that he felt this council and the one before it was trying to do what was best for the community and we needed to respect that.  Mr. Kerby pointed out that he had known some members for his entire life and others for numerous years and felt that they had requested and obtained information from professional engineers and were attempting to act on it.  Mr. Kerby stated that he had lived on Ash Street and was familiar with properties that bordered the old railroad bed, but these properties all had access to Highway 80.  Charles Rogers - #77 Cheyenne Road – pointed out that he did not feel this drainage ditch would be necessary when the work on the Pipemaker’s and the Conaway Canals was completed.  Discussion continued on this issue and comments were made about the high tides causing delays in water runoff, whether covered ditches drained as well as open ditches, and the need for taxes to help pay for covered ditches.  Mr. Richter stated that when ditches were covered, they had to be much larger since they would not allow for as much water flow as an open ditch.  Mr. Richter advised citizens that the design had been based on a 50 year storm.  Councilman Rawlings pointed out that there was only a 2% chance of a 50 year storm occurring.   Being no further comments, the Mayor thanked Mr. Richter for his attendance at the meeting.  Councilman Rawlings stated that he agreed that something needed to be done about the flooding problems, but wanted to make sure that the City-wide plan intended to provide relief for all of the City would not put undue pressure on a few.  Mayor Tipton stated that he would like to welcome former Mayor Ben Rozier to the meeting and asked if he would like to make any comments regarding this issue.  Mr. Rozier advised those present that the council was faced with making the best decision for the entire City regarding the drainage issue and had to start somewhere.  Mr. Rozier pointed out that the council could just not do anything, but that would not be of any benefit to anyone as far as drainage.  Mr. Rozier stated that he felt Thomas & Hutton had done a good job in researching the drainage problems and presenting alternatives to the City and the Mayor and Council should follow their advice.  The engineers had answered the council’s questions and provided them with the information they needed to make decisions that would benefit the majority of the citizens although he knew they could not please everyone.  Mr. Rozier stated that the availability of SPLOST funds for drainage would allow the Mayor and Council to proceed with a plan that would improve the City’s drainage and felt that as long as they were doing what helped the majority he would support their decisions.  The Mayor thanked him for his input.


Council was advised that Attorney Dickey has requested an executive session to discuss attorney/client and litigation issues.  Councilman Strozier made a motion to adjourn into executive session, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.  At the completion of the executive session, Councilman Ray made a motion to return to the general session, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.  Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the execution of the affidavit as required by the Open Meetings Act.  Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.


Mayor Tipton stated that this concluded the items presented by the council agenda deadline of Friday, October 27, 2006.     


Councilman Ray, Chairman of the Budget & Finance Committee, reported that after requesting bids from area banks, the City had invested funds totaling $4,185,000 with First Chatham Bank with rates consisting of annual yields at 5.32% and 5.37% and terms for 16 and 36 weeks.


The accounts payable were presented with Councilman Waller making a motion to approve payment of the bills.  Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.


Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn at 9:35pm.  Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.


Mayor Tipton and all councilmembers were present at the meeting.