OCTOBER 5, 2000
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Strozier who lead in prayer. The minutes of the September 21st meeting were reviewed. Councilman Waller made a motion to approve said minutes, Councilman Tuten seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Strozier recognized Joe Mahany, a candidate for Chatham County Commission Chairman, who outlined his plans for the county should he be elected in November. Mr. Mahany requested support of those present at the meeting and stated he would be available at any time to answer questions about specific issues of interest to ANY Chatham County resident.
Council was advised that due to scheduling conflicts, the meeting with Pooler on the Senior Citizens Center has not been set up, but the Mayor stated he would try to set something up in the next few weeks.
The Mayor recognized Tim Nettles who was present at the meeting to discuss the demolition of the residence at #9 Chestnut Street due to its being in violation of the City's nuisance ordinance. The Mayor asked him if he had the information on his plans for the repairs to the house at #9 Chestnut Street and the ""second opinion"" letter from a contractor on the house being up to current building codes. Mr. Nettles stated he did not have that information. Mayor Strozier reminded him that the only reason this matter was tabled at the last meeting was because he wanted some time to obtain this information for presentation to council. The Mayor pointed out that the problems at this house have been ongoing for several years and attempts to get them resolved have not been successful. The City has gone through the proper legal process to get to this point and without a written plan of action from him to immediately resolve the problems, there was no reason not to proceed. Council discussed the matter and agreed that since Mr. Nettles failed to present the information as agreed at the last meeting the City should proceed with its plans to demolish the house. Councilman Johnson made a motion to take said action, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. The Mayor asked Mr. Nettles if he understood that approval of this motion would initiate plans to demolish the house and Mr. Nettles stated that he did.
Council was advised that the case involving Juni Rickett's property on Hwy 80 is now going through the court system. The Mayor stated that due to violations of several state regulations, the EPD has gotten involved in the case.
The Mayor reported that at our last meeting council obtained copies of a proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance on outdoor advertising. This amendment was prompted by a request from Forrest Floyd to allow a billboard on his property at #1716 E. Hwy 80. After review of the proposed ordinance, council agreed to recommend this amendment be considered by the Planning Commission with the billboards/signs to be allowed as ""conditional uses"", with restrictions, in C-1 and C-2 zones. It was also pointed out that this process would require a minimum of one public hearing. Councilman Waller made a motion to make said recommendation to Planning Commission, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Strozier informed council that George Henderson had appeared before the Judge at the September 27th court and was fined $300 and given until November 8th to remove the mobile home on his property. The Mayor reminded council that Mr. Henderson was cited for violation of the City's zoning ordinance when he failed to remove the mobile home on his property located at #68 Cheyenne Road after obtaining a permit for a new mobile home.
Council was advised that Colan Martin had not provided the City with any information about the business that is proposed for his property located at #1403 & #1405 W. Hwy 80. The matter was tabled until additional information is received from Mr. Martin.
Mayor Strozier reported he had talked with the county engineer's office regarding the Conaway Canal project and this information was available in the clerk's office for those persons interested in obtaining a copy. The Mayor pointed out that none of the citizens present at last council meeting had contacted the office for the updated information.
The Mayor asked Councilman Tuten to present his recommendation on the purchase of the backhoe loader. Councilman Tuten stated that the best two prices were from Industrial Tractor on a John Deere and from Carlton Co. on a Caterpillar. Council discussed the bids and decided the John Deere offered the best price for the equipment and a better warranty. Councilman Tuten made a motion to purchase the John Deere backhoe loader for a price of $49,976 and Councilman Johnson seconded the motion. Councilmembers Johnson, Key, Tuten, Tyler, and Waller voted for the motion. Councilman Rawlins did not vote.
Mayor Strozier advised council the Chiangs, who live at #108 W. Moore Street, had contacted the City a few weeks ago about some drainage problems they were having in their yard. The maintenance department had checked into the problem and discovered that Ronnie Maddox, the property owner living behind the Chiangs, had done some clearing on his property and the debris had been placed in the drainage ditch. The Mayor pointed out that since the ditch was on private property and not maintained by the City, the problem is actually a civil matter. However, the City sent Ronnie Maddox a letter advising him this action had caused a drainage problem in the area and encouraged him to take care of the matter. The maintenance supervisor had discussed the situation with the Maddoxes, and they did not seem to be very receptive to the idea of removing the debris. The Mayor stated that the Chiangs were present at tonight's meeting seeking council's advice on the best way to handle this matter. Ms. Chiang stated that they had also brought in some fill dirt that was causing the grass to die and she felt this would cause additional drainage problems. Attorney Gerard confirmed that this was a civil matter and would have to be pursued outside of City council. After this discussion, Councilman Waller stated that he had been called just prior to our meeting and assured that the debris would be removed in the next few days. The Chiangs agreed to give the owner some time to remove the debris and would advise council if they did not follow through.
Council reviewed the ""Telecommunications Ordinance"" distributed at the last meeting. This ordinance sets forth the procedure for granting a telecommunications or cable franchise. Councilman Tyler made a motion to approve the first reading of said ordinance. Councilman Tuten seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
The Mayor presented an ordinance regulating antennae & tower development for commercial wireless telecommunications services in the City. This ordinance had also been given to councilmembers at the September 21st meeting for their review. Councilman Tuten made a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Strozier stated that we had received a request from Nextel for a permit for an addition to the tower located on DOT Barn Road. It was noted that the antenna would be attached to the existing tower and the equipment structure located within the current compound. After a brief discussion, Councilman Rawlins made a motion to approve said permit, Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council reviewed a request from Kevin & Kay Heritage for an extension of their mobile home permit issued in 1998 as a ""medical hardship"". The mobile home is on their property for Kay's mother, Ho-Shim Shaw. The City has received an updated physician's statement indicating the medical hardship still exists. After a discussion of their request, Councilman Rawlins made a motion to approve a six-month extension of the mobile home permit, Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. It was noted that the permit would be reviewed again in six months unless the situation changed.
Councilman Rawlins reported he had talked with Susan Rogers from DOT today and she asked if the fence at the corner of Miller and Cregor Streets was in City right of way. Councilman Rawlins pointed out that there was enough room to shift the roadway where the fence would not have to be moved even if it were on the right of way. Mayor Strozier and Councilman Tuten stated that they thought the fence was inside the corner marker of the property line. The clerk was asked to contact Ms. Rogers and advise her the fence ran along the right of way line and should not have to be moved.
Mayor Strozier stated we had received the right of way agreement from the Department of Transportation covering the paving of Hiram Road, Main Street from Cherry St. to Ash Street; Main Street Extension from Cherry St. to Osteen Road, and Miller Street. The DOT is requesting execution of the agreement. Councilman Tyler made a motion to approve the signing of the agreement by Mayor Strozier, Councilman Tuten seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Councilmembers were reminded of the public hearing to be held on Tuesday, October 10th at 7:00pm to receive citizen input on the rezoning request from Mike Wedincamp whose property abuts the Jimmy Deloach Parkway.
The Mayor reported the City has received a request for a building permit for a lot facing Drescher Road that was created by the subdivision of property that did not go through the Planning Commission or City Council. Mayor Strozier pointed out that the property was part of the Lucas Estate. Council was advised that the City had been contacted several times over the last few years about this problem and had outlined for the owner what needed to be done to have the lots approved, but the owners never followed through. Since then, Del Ferguson has purchased some of the property, so it may be harder, at this time, to correct the problem. It was also noted that when the property was divided, the county allowed the owners to record it without the City’’s approval. Mayor Strozier asked Attorney Gerard how this could happen. Attorney Gerard stated that he had a similar case in Garden City, but fortunately, the property was still in the family so they were able to work something out to correct the problem. Council discussed the matter and along with Attorney Gerard agreed that until the property goes through the proper subdivision process and meets the requirements of the ordinance, no building permits should be issued.
Mayor Strozier reported that a meeting would be held here at City Hall with City of Savannah representatives on October 20, 2000 at 10:00am to discuss their proposal for providing additional water to Bloomingdale.
Council was advised we received notice today from Cypress Natural Gas about their plans to build a new natural gas pipeline from Chatham County to Clay County, Fla. Their route planning process has identified a possible route for the new pipeline within and near the City limits of Bloomingdale. The company is beginning to contact property owners along the route. Construction on the project would begin by mid-2002. The company plans an open house in the City during October or November to provide general information about the project.
The Mayor stated that the City has received information about the Coastal Community Cleanup that will be held on October 21, 2000 from 9:00am until noon at Fort Pulaski. Volunteers are encouraged to participate in the event. This program is part of Georgia’’s Annual Rivers Alive Cleanup.
Mayor Strozier informed council that Attorney Gerard has provided the City with information about ""The Religious Land Use & Institutional Persons Act"" that was passed by Congress on July 27th, only two weeks after it was introduced, without hearings or debate. This Act enables religious institutions to challenge local government land use rules such as parking and traffic mitigation requirements, setback and emergency vehicle access requirement, tree ordinances, drainage and flood protection requirements, and noise limits. Attorney Gerard pointed out that the law elevates these religious institutions above other institutions and allows them to evade restrictions that are applied to other landowners. In addition, the law defines ""religious land use"" broadly, including uses that are ""not central to religious belief"". Attorney Gerard stated that he expects this Act to come into focus in the next couple of years.
The Mayor recognized Ed McFarlane, a resident of #412 Oak Street, who complained to council about the trashy yards across the street from him. He stated that the neighbors on his side of the street keep up their yards, but those across the street have their garbage cans and debris scattered across their property. Mark Sikes and Sandra Hackle who live at #414 Oak Street and #410 Oak Street also expressed their concern about these problems. Mr. Sikes stated that he did not feel comfortable confronting these residents about the problems. The citizens complained that one resident’’s garbage cans are in racks in their front yard and when the cans fill up they place garbage on the ground and on top of the cans. The garbage is out there for several days and the animals scatter it all over the ground. Mayor Strozier asked that Councilman Waller and Chief Anderson work together on trying to solve this problem and instructed the Chief to issue subpoenas if necessary. Mr. Sikes asked what could be done about the problem with their dogs. He stated that one dog had bit his son. Chief Anderson asked if he contacted the police when this occurred and Mr. Sikes stated that since it did not break the skin he did not contact them. Chief Anderson advised him that, in the future, he should notify the police when this type incident occurs and Chatham County Animal Control would get involved in the matter.
Citizen Cindy Rawlins stated that she and several other parents had attended the Recreation Department meeting on Monday night and were referred to council to get answers to some of their questions. Ms. Rawlins advised council that the parents of the mini peewees wanted to have some fund-raisers to help with the trophies and their year end banquet but were advised by the board that they were not allowed to have fund-raisers for individual teams. Mayor Strozier stated that this information was correct because there had been some serious problems with this in the past and the council took the position that all fund-raisers should benefit the entire program rather than one team. Ms. Rawlins expressed her disappointment in this action because she felt that if the parents were interested enough in their child’’s team they should be able to raise the money to help with these activities. Ms. Rawlins also stated that the concession stand was never open and the bathrooms at the park were in terrible condition. Several parents agreed with her that there needed to be some work done on the bathrooms since there were not even any doors on the bathroom stalls. Ray Lopez complained that the shoulder pads and kneepads for some of the football players were inadequate and were not safe. The parents complained that the football jerseys were not even in for this year and games were already underway. They also complained that the players’’ football pants were different colors. Ms. Rawlins stated that the parents on the football team that her daughter cheers for got together and painted the helmets because they were different colors and the Recreation Board members were upset because they said that they did not have the authority to paint them. Also, several parents expressed their frustration that the Recreation Board had decided that the five-year-old cheerleaders could not participate in the homecoming activities because there had been a problem with a four-year-old being a runner-up last year. Angela Rodriguez stated that she had specifically asked if there would be any problems with her five-year-old participating in the cheerleading and Jerry Kaapa stated that the only problem would be if they went to competition because the five-year-olds could not cheer. Nicole Parker, an assistant cheerleading coach, reported that Ms. Cuffy had advised her that the girls could participate in the activities related to homecoming, but could not be voted on by the boys for homecoming queen. Several parents stated that this was not what they were told by Stacey Stringer, the wife of one of the board members. Ms. Rodriguez reported that these girls had paid the same registration fee as the older girls and cheered at all the games and she, along with the other parents, did not understand why they could not be considered for the homecoming queen. Mr. Smith stated that his daughter cheered for Bloomingdale and he wanted her to be able to participate in the same activities as the other cheerleaders. Ruth Hester voiced her concern that without participation in these programs, the kids would not have anything to keep them out of trouble. Ms. Rawlins asked if the Mayor could give them some answers to these problems tonight. Mayor Strozier stated that he did not have all the answers tonight, but would work on getting their questions answered. Ms. Rawlins advised him that Jerry Kaapa had told them that they could take these problems to council but council would just send them back to the board to handle and she expressed her concern that there seemed to be a lack of communication between the two groups. The Mayor pointed out that there was a Recreation Committee appointed by council that was available to handle problems as they occurred, but if they could not resolve the problems, council would get involved. The committee consisted of Councilmembers Key, Tuten and Tyler, but apparently none of these members attended the meeting on Monday night. Ms. Rodriguez reported that Mr. Kaapa had told them that when the councilmembers stopped coming to their meetings, they stopped coming to the council meetings. Mayor Strozier expressed his concern about this statement because Ms. Key has been attending most of their meetings, but the board members do not usually attend the council meetings. After this lengthy discussion, the Mayor asked that the parents appoint someone to put their concerns in writing. Ms. Rawlins stated that she would serve as the spokesperson and would prepare something for council right away. The Mayor pointed out that about three years ago several parents wanted changes made in the way the board was handling some issues and when the City got involved and helped to initiate the changes, many of the board members resigned. He asked the group if this same thing occurred, would they be willing to serve on this committee. Many of the parents raised their hands stating that they would be happy to serve on the committee and would have already been available if they had known how to get appointed. The Mayor advised them that periodically he puts a notice in the newsletter advising citizens of potential vacancies on this board and asks that persons wanting to serve send this information to him in writing. Ms. Rawlins stated she was not aware of this information because she does not get the newsletter. The city clerk advised Ms. Rawlins that the same address used for her utility bill is also used for the newsletters so she does not know why she would not be receiving the newsletters. In additional to their complaints about the problems with the board, some parents questioned why the recreation director was not able to handle these problems. The Mayor advised them that this was the second time the City had attempted to utilize a recreation director. The first director had finally resigned because he could not get the cooperation of the board members or the parents. This time, the Mayor stated he had personally asked Joe Young to take the position because of his prior involvement in the recreation program and his continued interested in the City of Bloomingdale. The Mayor pointed out that, at this time, Mr. Young is trying to do this job on a part-time basis, but is scheduled to retire from his job this month. Once he retires, Mr. Young will be in a better position to devote more time to the program. The Mayor expressed his concern that parents are condemning Mr. Young for not doing anything when he is trying to allow the Recreation Executive Board to exercise the duties assigned to them without interfering on every issue. However, it may be necessary to reassign some of the responsibilities and give the director more authority than he currently exercises. Some of the parents commented that Mr. Young did express an interest in getting the helmets painted and had advised them that there was probably some monies available in the budget to reimburse the parents for the cost of the paint and stickers. The parents wanting to make sure their concerns about the cheerleaders would be addressed right away because homecoming would be held on October 21st and they needed to know if the five-year-olds were going to be allowed to participate. The parents explained that the boys would vote on the homecoming queen the day before homecoming and they would need to know as soon as possible if the girls could be included in the voting. Also, the parents wanted to make sure the jerseys were going to be here by homecoming. The Mayor stated that he would see what he could find out about both issues, but since the jerseys were already on order, he did not see what he could do about getting them any sooner than they were scheduled to arrive. Being no further discussion on the matter, it was tabled.
The accounts payable were reviewed. Councilman Waller made a motion to pay the bills. Councilman Tuten seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Being no further business, Councilman Rawlins made a motion to adjourn. Councilman Tuten seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. The meeting adjourned at 8:45p.m.
The Mayor and all councilmembers were present
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