October 4, 2007
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton with Councilman Myrick leading in prayer. The minutes of the September 20, 2007 meeting were presented for approval by Mayor Tipton with Councilman Ray making a motion to approve the minutes and Councilman Waller seconding the motion. The motion passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Myrick, Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn. Councilman Rawlings voted against the motion. Mayor Tipton presented the agenda for the October 4th meeting for council’s consideration. After a discussion was held on changes to the agenda to include the addition of an executive session for personnel reasons to be held before the proposed changes to the personnel policy and the deletion of agenda items requested by Barbara Griffin, Pat Stanfield, and Latrelle Kling to allow time for them to meet with the City Administrator to address their issues, Councilwoman Winn made a motion to approve the agenda with the changes as noted. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn. Councilmembers Myrick and Rawlings voted against the motion.
Mayor Tipton recognized Tim Baumgartner with EMC Engineering, Inc. who provided council with information related to the repairs/replacement of the lift station at the Bloomingdale Elementary School. Mr. Baumgartner also presented a letter of agreement from EMC for engineering service related to this project at a cost of $13,500. City Administrator Brady pointed out that Mr. Baumgartner had obtained some estimated costs related to replacement of the fiberglass wet well of approximately $26,992 with additional installation costs estimated to be between $10,000 and $20,000. Mr. Baumgartner stated that the figures on the fiberglass wet well and those previously submitted for a concrete unit were merely estimates to give council a general idea of the costs. Council was advised that with the letter of agreement EMC would prepare a design plan and a bid package for solicitation of costs for the replacement of the lift station and suggested we request bids for both types of wet wells. Councilman Strozier advised Mr. Baumgartner that we had experienced problems in the past with concrete materials and wanted to make sure these would be addressed if council decided to use concrete instead of fiberglass. Mr. Baumgartner stated that there were coatings that were now available to use in the concrete wet wells that would prevent the rapid erosion of the concrete. After additional discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion that the City contract with EMC Engineering, Inc. for the lift station design at Bloomingdale Elementary School with services as outlined in the letter of agreement at a cost of $13,500. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Latrelle Kling asked if the ownership of the lift station had been resolved and if it belonged to the City, who would be paying for the cost of the repairs. Attorney Dickey advised her that the lift station was the property of the City and Mayor Tipton stated that as explained in a previous meeting the costs related to the replacement/repairs would be recovered through sewer fees paid by the school.
Mayor Tipton presented a request from Elizabeth McBride to operate the “office only” of a cleaning service from her residence located at #174 Wallace Circle and she would be the only employee. It was noted that there would be no outside traffic related to the business coming to the residence. Barbara Griffin stated that according to the zoning ordinance, a public hearing would have to be held before a home occupation license could be issued. Questions were raised by council as to the necessity of a hearing since Ms. McBride was merely using the residence as her office and there would be no outside traffic. Attorney Dickey requested the issue be placed in abeyance and Councilman Ray made this motion. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Latrelle Kling questioned whether the ordinance was properly written and stated she felt that if there were questions about the ordinance they should be cleared up. After additional discussion, Attorney Dickey stated that he would like some additional time to research this issue, but there was nothing to prohibit council from issuing Ms. McBride a temporary license in the meantime. Councilman Myrick made a motion to issue Ms. McBride a temporary home occupation license to operate the office only of a cleaning service from her residence, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Both Ms. Kling and Ms. Griffin stated that they had no objections to her business, but they wanted to make sure the requirements of the ordinance were followed.
The Mayor stated that the City had received a request from Joe and Becky Reece to obtain a home occupation license to provide in-home childcare from their residence located at #801 E. Cregor Street. Mayor Tipton recognized Joshua Reece who stated that Joe and Becky asked him to report that they wanted to withdraw their request because they were working and were not going to be here tonight. Mr. Reece was asked if they wanted a postponement or wanted to completely withdraw the application and he stated that they had decided not to open the business.
Mayor Tipton presented a written request from Kevin & Kay Heritage to renew the “medical hardship” permit for the secondary mobile home located on their property at #1230 Bloomingdale Road. The mobile home is occupied by Kay’s mother, Ho Shim Shaw, and the Heritages have submitted a letter from her physician confirming that Ms. Shaw requires daily assistance from her daughter due to her medical condition. Ms. Heritage is requesting a six month extension of the permit which is allowed by the zoning ordinance. After a brief discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve a six-month extension of the permit, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council was advised that the City has received a request from GMA to participate in the Mayors’ Annual Christmas Motorcade by providing gifts to the Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah. Mayor Tipton stated that this is the program’s 49th Anniversary and the City has participated in the program for many years. It was noted that for the last several years, the City has contributed up to $200 in gifts for the residents of the hospital. Questions were raised by Latrelle Kling and Barbara Griffin regarding GMA, its function, and its non-profit status. Citizen Betty Burke stated that she knew this project to be very worthwhile and would appreciate the City’s participation in this year’s motorcade on her behalf as a citizen of Bloomingdale. Councilman Myrick made a motion to participate in the Mayors’ Annual Christmas Motorcade by donating $200 in gifts to the Georgia Regional Hospital. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Councilman Strozier made a motion to adjourn into executive session to discuss personnel issues, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. At the conclusion of the executive session, Councilman Strozier made a motion to return to the general session, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilwoman Winn made a motion to execute the affidavit as required by the Open Meetings Act and make it part of the permanent record, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Note: The affidavit is attached to a copy of the original minutes of the meeting.
The council reviewed a proposed change to the City of Bloomingdale’s Personnel Policy, General Information, Political Activity section to better clarify the policy. The current policy reads – “An employee who qualifies for elective office at the local, state or federal level shall resign from city service effective the date of qualification”. The proposed change to the policy would read – “An employee who qualifies for elective office at the local (defined as the City of Bloomingdale or within Chatham County), state or federal level shall resign from city service the date of qualification”. After a brief discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion to make this change to better clarity the City of Bloomingdale’s Personnel Policy, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton submitted for council’s consideration an amendment to the City of Bloomingdale’s Zoning Ordinance, “List of Permissible and Conditional Uses”; to allow the sale of used vehicles in a C-1 zone and to clarify the intent of the ordinance to change the wording of used cars to used vehicles. Council was advised that the amendment will require a public hearing and review by the Planning & Zoning Commission. The Mayor suggested the public hearing be held on November 1, 2007 with the amendment to be placed on the Planning & Zoning Commission’s agenda for November 13, 2007 with their recommendation to be presented to council on November 15, 2007. After a brief discussion, Councilman Ray made a motion to proceed with this schedule on the proposed amendment. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Myrick, Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn. Councilman Rawlings voted against the motion. Attorney Dickey was questioned as to whether Councilman Strozier could vote on this issue since he owned property where used vehicles were being sold and the Attorney stated that Councilman Strozier could vote on the motion.
The Mayor presented changes to Chapter 54, Article II, Planning Commission for council’s consideration. The changes were as follows: 1) Amend Section 54-32 - Composition – to reduce the number of City Planning Commission members to seven and establish quorum guidelines for transacting of business; 2) Amend Section 54-34 – Removal of member – council can remove members at any time, but they can appeal the removal to council; 3) Chapter 54-35 – Filling vacancies – council to appoint members to fill vacancies; 4) Amend Section 54-36 – Compensation – members would serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in connection with their official duties if approved by council; 5) Repeal Section 54-37 - Appointment of alternate or provisional members – delete this section thereby eliminating alternate or provisional members; 6) Amend Section 54-38 – Officers – council will appoint officers of the commission consisting of a chairman, vice chairman and secretary from members of the planning commission with terms of one year beginning January 1 of each year and ending on December 31 of each year. The secretary will be responsible for taking down the minutes of all meetings and the chairman, vice-chairman and secretary shall be responsible for the preparation of the official minutes; 7) Amend Section 54-39 – Procedure – council shall promulgate the rules of procedure for the planning commission and determine the date and time of meetings and their procedures shall be the same used by council and the procedure required by the laws of the State of Georgia, the Bloomingdale Charter, and the Bloomingdale Code of Ordinances; 8) Amend Section 54-40 – Staff – council to appoint such employees and staff as it deems necessary and council may contract with the state planning agency, city planners, and other consultants for such services as may be required; and 9) Amend Section 54-42 – Powers and duties – the planning commission shall have the powers, duties, and responsibilities as set forth in the Official Code of Georgia, the Bloomingdale Charter, and the Bloomingdale Code of Ordinances and shall constitute the recommending authority to council for issues related to zoning and planning. As the information was presented, Mary Mitchell made comments on the changes which included expressing her concerns about the elimination of alternates and the reduction in the number of members as well as members not being able to set up their own rules, meeting dates and electing their own officers. Ms. Mitchell indicated that the commission was currently made up of dedicated citizens who always attended the meetings and were committed to making good, informed decisions on the zoning and planning issues brought before them. Ms. Mitchell pointed out that the alternates were a very important part of the commission and were always available to fill in for members that could not attend. Ms. Mitchell requested that a meeting be held with the citizens before making the proposed changes. Mayor Tipton pointed out that these changes were modeled after neighboring cities and were intended to provide for a more efficient planning commission. Citizen Pat Stanfield made some comments about the changes and asked about having a public meeting. Councilman Rawlings asked the Mayor who had initiated these changes and Mayor Tipton stated that he had initiated them. Councilman Rawlings questioned the Mayor’s answer and asked him if he was telling the truth or was he lying. Mayor Tipton did not respond to this accusation from Councilman Rawlings, but continued to address questions and comments from the citizens. Former Mayor Rozier asked why council was trying to fix a committee if it was not broken. Citizen Betty Burke pointed out that if every member is attending every meeting as stated by Ms. Mitchell and there were no vacancies, she questioned the need for alternates. Ms. Mitchell commented that one of the alternates, Gerald Cook, was filling in for Jackie Lowman who had been sick and unable to attend the meetings for some time. Councilman Ray pointed out that it was his understanding that the alternate positions were added because there were problems with not having a quorum at meetings, but since the amendment outlined the number of members needed to vote on an issue he felt this change would be in order. Attorney Dickey pointed out that if the amendment related to the number of members on the planning commission passed, council would also need to establish the terms of office for appointments to the commission. It was noted that terms are usually two or four years and during the discussion it was pointed out that there would be nothing that would prohibit members from being reappointed to more than one term in office. Latrelle Kling asked Councilman Rawlings how long the learning curve would be for new members and was advised that members were constantly learning and he stated that training often helped to decrease the learning curve. Citizen Betty Burke asked how members were currently selected and was advised that, in the past, when citizens that have shown an interest in this aspect of the City they have been asked to write a letter requesting placement on the commission and this information is passed on to council. Councilman Rawlings stated that he felt the commission was made up of a diverse group of people both geographically and ethically with both males and females as members. Citizen Susan Kendryna, a current member of the commission, stated that she had gotten interested in the commission when her mother was involved in a zoning issue and she had requested an opportunity to serve. Ms. Kendryna advised council that she felt her experience working with an engineering firm allowed her to offer some expertise in that field and appreciated being given a chance to serve on the commission. Gerald Cook commented that he did not think the Mayor should be talking with the attorney while citizens were talking and the Mayor advised him that he was asking about some procedural questions. Councilman Rawlings continued to insist on knowing who initiated these changes, but since the Mayor had already answered his question, he made no further response. Former Mayor Rozier attempted to pole the elected officials to see if they had initiated the changes, but the Mayor advised him that this was not going to take place. Planning Commission member Susan Rogers stated that she felt council was placing a stranglehold on members by being able to remove them without cause. Councilman Myrick stated he had not had an opportunity to review the proposed changes and felt he needed more time to look them over. It was noted that the amendments required two readings, but council did have the option to dispense with the second reading and pass the amendments tonight. After additional discussion, the Mayor asked for a motion on the first reading of the ordinance. Councilman Strozier made a motion to approve the first reading of the amendments as they were presented, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and after Councilman Ray stated that he was voting for the first reading only and after with a roll call vote being taken, the motion passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn. Councilmembers Myrick and Rawlings voted against the motion.
Mayor Tipton stated that this concluded the items presented prior to the council agenda deadline of Friday, September 28, 2007.
Under committee reports the Mayor thanked Ernest Grizzard for the work he has done this week related to the lift station repairs. The Mayor reported that the City Hall is preparing an update to the contact information for elected officials and asked Councilman Rawlings for a telephone number where he could be contacted regarding City business. Mayor Tipton pointed out that both he and the City Administrator had attempted to reach him last week regarding a legal matter and there was no telephone number available to use except his mother’s home telephone number. Councilman Rawlings stated that he did not have a telephone number where he could be reached by the Mayor or the City Hall. Councilman Rawlings advised the Mayor that he would not be available for called meetings, but would be attending the regularly scheduled meetings.
The accounts payable were presented with Councilman Waller making a motion to pay the bills. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Myrick, Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn. Councilman Rawlings voted against the motion.
Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn at 8:35pm. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Myrick, Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn. Councilman Rawlings voted against the motion.
Mayor Tipton and all councilmembers were present at the meeting.
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.