March 21, 2002
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Rozier with Pastor Carlton Wiley of the Ash Street Baptist Church leading in prayer.
The minutes of the March 7, 2002 meeting were reviewed. Councilman Waller made a motion to approve said minutes, Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier asked council if they were ready to adopt the sign and nuisance ordinances and they indicated that they were. Councilman Tyler made a motion to approve the first reading of both the sign and nuisance ordinances. Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Attorney Gerard suggested we delay the second reading and adoption of these ordinances until another council meeting so he could review them to make sure they were completely in order.
The Mayor reported that the City has not yet received any definite answers from developers wanting to participate in obtaining additional capacity at the sewer treatment plant and the City has received a letter from Pooler requesting that we advise them as to whether or not Bloomingdale wants any additional capacity. Councilman Johnson asked Ernest Grizzard, Water/Sewer Department Supervisor how much of our current capacity is the City using. Mr. Grizzard stated that we are using approximately 175,000 GPD of our 280,000 GPD capacity. Council discussed this matter at length, but agreed that since we had no guarantee from developers that they were willing to participate in the financing of additional capacity we could not make this commitment to Pooler. Councilman Wedincamp made a motion that the City remain at our current capacity of 280,000 GPD at the sewer treatment plant. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier stated that Mayor Carter is also requesting information from the City as to the method we intend to use to fund our estimated share of the sewer plant upgrade of $1,198,000. Mayor Carter reported that Pooler plans to meet with GA EPD to begin the application process to fund this project and would be willing to include our share in the application with Bloomingdale providing guarantees to Pooler for the annual payments over 20 years. Council discussed this information and agreed that Bloomingdale needed to consider this option. Councilman Tyler made a motion authorizing Mayor Rozier to meet with Mayor Carter of Pooler on behalf of Bloomingdale to discuss a joint application for the financing of our share of the cost of the plant upgrade. Councilman Wedincamp seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council discussed the most recent proposal from Mayor Floyd Adams of Savannah concerning their offer to provide additional water capacity to Bloomingdale. The newest proposal included authority for Bloomingdale to pump an additional 100,000 gpd to be reported on Savannah’s permit at a fee of $1.30 per 1000 gallons for actual usage. There would not be a water tap in fee from Savannah for areas within “old Bloomingdale”. However, within the next 12 months Bloomingdale would provide a water line connection to the Pooler system and the City could use up to 500,000 gpd from Savannah’s permit. There would be a fee of $1.30 per 1000 gallons payable to Savannah along with any transport fee required by Pooler. After the connection to Pooler, a water tap-in fee of $1415 per tap would be charged. It was noted that once the connection was made to Pooler the 100,000 gpd usage with no tap-in fees would no longer be applicable. Mayor Adams stated that there could be some negotiations on having the tap into Pooler’s line completed within the next 12 months, but the tap fees and water rates were comparable with existing contracts with other parties and were not negotiable. No action was taken on the proposal from the City of Savannah.
Council agreed to postpone a decision on the rezoning requests for properties on Hwy 80 between Wildcat Dam Road and Patrick Ave until Henry Morgan had submitted the rezoning application for his property located in the same area. Councilman Ray made a motion to table the matter until the application has been received and reviewed, Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council briefly discussed the proposals from Republic Waste Service and Waste Management to provide sanitation service to the City of Bloomingdale. Mayor Rozier pointed out that Waste Management’s quote included some trash service and although their rate was based on 2000 homes, it would not increase with fewer homes. The rate could, however, decrease if the number of customers increased. Councilman Johnson suggested we study this matter some more before making a decision on placing this service under contract with a private vendor. Since council members agreed with this action, Councilman Johnson made a motion to table this matter for further study. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Councilman Tyler reported that Thomas & Hutton Engineering Co. had performed a field inspection of the construction work on the ditch relocation at Oak & Maple Streets and found some areas where the ditch was not constructed as shown on the plans approved by council. There were also some questions raised about whether or not the Maple Street lift station was constructed, in part, on properties owned by Donny Tuten. Attorney Gerard was asked to research this matter and report back to council. Councilman Tyler advised council that although the actual ditch relocation work does not agree the plans there could be other problems in the area that may require more extensive drainage work than even Mr. Tuten’s drainage plan covered. Councilman Tyler stated that county representatives report that this general area is involved in the drainage improvements covered by the county-wide drainage plan and its execution may require some property condemnations. The county cautioned the City about issuing building permits on some of these lots to avoid the City having to pay additional monies for any improvements on the lots if condemnations were required. Council expressed their concern about the legality of withholding permits unless we had some concrete information from the county. Councilman Tyler advised council that county representatives indicated that monies for the development of the drainage in this area would be from drainage monies allotted to Bloomingdale in the last SPLOST agreement. Council discussed the matter at length and many members expressed their concern that the City has not received any information regarding the details of this drainage plan for their review especially if the costs would come from Bloomingdale’s share of SPLOST funds. Attorney Gerard advised council that he did not know of any way the county could spend the City’s share of drainage funds without some type of intergovernmental agreement. Councilman Tyler stated that the county plans to have some public meetings with citizens living in the areas involved in this drainage plan and council members expressed a desire to meet with the county about their plans before the public meetings.
Council discussed financing options for the purchase of the fire truck and determined that GMA Direct Leasing provided the best option for the City with lower interest rates. Council was advised that execution of a master lease would be required at this time and just prior to receipt of the truck the City can decide the term of the lease based on the current interest rates and availability of funds. Councilman Johnson made a motion to authorize Mayor Rozier to execute documents to enter into a master lease agreement with GMA Direct Leasing for the purpose of financing the cost of the fire truck. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Councilman Tyler abstained from voting. Based on council’s approval of this financing option, Councilman Myrick made a motion to place an order for the fire truck. Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Councilman Tyler abstained from voting.
Attorney Gerard reported that at council’s request he had reviewed the access to Morgan properties located to the North and South of Interstate 16 for which rezoning has been sought and found that both tracts are accessible. Access is provided to the Morgan property located to the south of I-16 by Arnsdorff Road which intersects old Pine Barren Road (John Carter Road) and the Morgan property located to the North of I-16 is accessed by an access road which intersects Osteen Road. Attorney Gerard pointed out that the petition did not identify all of the owners of adjacent properties and the petitioner should complete this information on the application prior to proceeding with any action on the rezoning. Council discussed the rezoning request and there was some concern about rezoning the parcels to commercial for billboards since some uses allowed in a commercial zone may not be compatible in that area. Councilman Myrick asked if it would be possible to rezone just a portion of the property, but it was pointed out that subdivision of the property could be a problem. Attorney Gerard stated that there may be a law against the rezoning of a portion of property just for billboards, but he will check into the matter. After a brief discussion, Councilman Johnson made a motion to submit the rezoning applications to Bill Saxman for his review and report back to council. Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Councilman Myrick reported that the committee was obtaining estimated costs to construct the baseball/softball field at Taylor Park, but had received reports that some contaminated dirt had been dumped in the area they planned to use for the field. Council discussed this information and agreed that the dirt should be tested. Councilman Tyler stated that Whitaker Labs could handle this type testing. Councilman Myrick made a motion to have the dirt that was dumped on the proposed field tested for contaminates by Whitaker Labs, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier reported that Ms. Billie-Jo Harkleroad was on the agenda tonight to discuss her request to hold a baton recital/pageant at the community building, but she did is not present so the matter will not be handled until she attends a meeting.
Council was advised that the Ford Explorer has been repaired.
Attorney Gerard presented information for council’s review regarding the state and county regulations on the discharging of firearms. After a discussion of these regulations, council agreed to make the necessary changes to our current firearms ordinance to comply with the state and county regulations with the exception that the distance from a dwelling for the discharge of shotguns with birdshot without the permission of the inhabitant be at 300’ instead of the 250’ as required by the county. Our current ordinance calls for a distance of 300 yards and council agreed this distance was excessive. Councilman Johnson made a motion to approve the first reading of the above-mentioned amendments to the firearms ordinance, Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council discussed the firing range for the police department that had been approved for construction at Taylor Park. Councilman Johnson stated that based on the concerns of several members of council and with the agreement of the police committee and Chief Anderson, plans were underway to find another location for the firing range.
The Mayor presented a request for an extension of the mobile home permit issued at #1230 Bloomingdale Road for Kevin & Kay Heritage as a “hardship” case for medical reasons for Kay’s mother, Ho-Shim Shaw. Ms. Shaw has had surgery for a brain aneurysm and will continue to require assistance from a family member on a daily basis. The Heritages have provided a letter from her physician as required by ordinance. After a brief discussion, Councilman Johnson made a motion to approve a six-month extension of said permit, Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council reviewed a request from Kimberly and James Moore to operate a data processing/retention business from their residence located at #415 Maple Street. Since this property is located in a residential zone the license would be issued as a home occupation business. The Moores plan to offer a child identification service to include personal information and fingerprinting. The Moores have been advised that there can be no outside traffic related to the business coming to the residence. Council was reminded they have the option to waive the public hearing requirement. After a brief discussion concerning these stipulations, Councilman Tyler made a motion to waive the public hearing requirement. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Tyler made a motion to issue the home occupation license as outlined above to the Moores at #415 Maple Street. Councilman Wedincamp seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council reviewed a request from Trey Nowell to operate a hair salon as a home occupation business at #406 E. Hwy 80. It was noted that this property is located in a commercial zone and there is already a hair salon being operated from this building as the principal use. However, the building is also being occupied as a residence. Since it cannot be occupied as a business and a residence unless the resident is conducting a home occupation license, Mr. Nowell is submitting the occupational license request in his name as the owner/operator of the business known as Hair Techniques. After a discussion of the request by council, Councilman Tyler made a motion to waive the public hearing requirement, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Susan Johnson, owner of the property located at #406 E. Hwy 80, questioned having to complete the form related to the home occupation license, but was advised that in order to obtain the license it must be completed and signed. Council agreed that with the completion of the required paperwork, there would be no objection to issuance of the license. Councilman Tyler made a motion to issue the home occupation license with the stipulations regarding the completion of the required paperwork. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier stated the City had received information from DOT concerning our 2002 LARP project and they had reported that their review of Ash Street indicated some base failures that need to be addressed before the resurfacing work can take place. The Mayor asked that Fett Burke, Jr., General Services Department Supervisor take care of this matter.
Council discussed the possible annexation of Pine Barren Road from the Pooler City limits to the sharp curve. Fett Burke, Jr. and Ernest Grizzard raised some questions about the current conditions of the road and asked if we would have to make these repairs if we annexed it into the City. Council was advised that the damage to the road had been done by trucks hauling dirt for the Pooler Parkway project, but the contractor was no longer using this pit. It was noted that once before the City had threatened to stop the trucks if the damage to the portion of Pine Barren Road that was in our City limits was not repaired and the DOT had fixed the road. Attorney Gerard stated he would contact the county about the current status of repairs to the road and report back to council. Council agreed not to pursue annexation of this portion of Pine Barren Road until something could be resolved on the damage to the road.
Council also discussed damages that were occurring to Wildcat Dam Road by the trucks that were hauling dirt for the Pooler Parkway. Councilman Wedincamp suggested requiring the contractors to post a bond. Attorney Gerard pointed out that the City has an ordinance regarding damage to roadways and will review it and report back to council.
Mayor Rozier reported that Fett Burke, Jr. had resigned as a member of the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission and he would like to recommend the appointment of Del Ferguson to fill his unexpired term. The Mayor acknowledged concerns about Mr. Ferguson owning a great deal of property in the City, but assured council that he had advised Mr. Ferguson that he could not be involved in decisions on any issues that would affect his property. Councilman Johnson made a motion to approve the appointment of Del Ferguson to the Planning & Zoning Commission with Councilman Waller seconding the motion. The motion passed with six affirmative votes. Mayor Rozier stated that he would like to submit other names for consideration and the clerk stated she would provide him with an updated list of members and their existing terms.
Council reviewed a request from Kischia Young to serve on the Recreation Executive Board. The Mayor pointed out that Ms. Young was Joe Young’s daughter-in-law, but he had been assured by members of the Recreation Board that this would not pose a problem with any of them. Councilman Tyler made a motion to approve the appointment of Kischia Young to the Recreation Executive Board. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier advised council that he wanted their consideration of the adoption of an ethics ordinance and Attorney Gerard has prepared one for their review. It was noted that the adoption of an ordinance is one of the requirements of GMA for Bloomingdale to become a “Certified City of Ethics”. Action on the ordinance was delayed until the April 4th meeting to allow council an opportunity to review the ordinance.
Council discussed membership in the Georgia Rural Water Association at an annual cost of $300. Councilman Johnson stated that it was his understanding there were several benefits to membership including a reduction in the cost of training courses, assistance in managing water leaks and technical advise on our water system. After a brief discussion, Councilman Wedincamp made a motion to join the Georgia Rural Water Association at a cost of $300 per year. Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Councilman Johnson advised council that there are two invoices for survey work from Coastal Surveying Co., Inc. that needed to be approved by council. Councilman Johnson introduced Vince Helmly who had actually done the survey work and asked that he explain the scope of the work to council. Mr. Helmly stated that the first invoice for $2450 covered work related to the establishment of a new right of way to Chestnut Street north of Garvin for the relocation of a drainage ditch and dedication of a drainage maintenance easement to the City. Councilman Ray questioned why the City would be involved in the opening of unopened roads and was advised that this work involved the relocation of the ditch so the City could obtain drainage maintenance easements in an area where we did not have approved access to clean the drainage ditch. The owner of the property had offered this maintenance easement to the City provided we obtained the survey. Councilman Wedincamp asked who owned this property and was advised it was owned by Billy Strozier. Councilman Johnson pointed out that the council had authorized this work and the amount of the invoice was reasonable. Councilman Tyler made a motion to approve payment of the $2450 invoice related to the Chestnut Street project. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Mr. Helmly advised council that he had been asked to prepare a survey of Stagecoach Road from the end of the existing pavement to the county line showing a new center line for the purpose of shifting the road to obtain easements from property owners, Richard Meyers and the Oetgens, for the dedication of property to widen the road. Mr. Helmly explained that the request was only for him to determine a centerline, but since a topographic survey would be needed if improvements to the roadway were pursued, it was best to do both jobs at the same time. He stated that he understands, however, that council may feel that the topographic survey work was not actually authorized and they may not be interested in approving payment for this portion of the work at the present time. Councilman Johnson pointed out that the two property owners on either side of Stagecoach Road were interested in dedicating the additional right of way to improve the roadway, but Mr. Meyers wanted to shift the road because it was too close to the residence. Councilman Johnson stated that he had asked Mr. Helmly to determine how much of the $11,287.50 bill was actually to establish the new right of way line and Mr. Helmly advised council that the total was $6,160. Council discussed the matter and agreed that payment of the portion of the invoice related to obtaining a center line was justified, but did not think we should pay the balance of the invoice unless the City decided to use the drawings for future improvements to Stagecoach Road. Councilman Johnson pointed out that he had informed Mr. Helmly that the City may not take this action in the near future and did not want him to assume payment of the balance of the invoice would be forthcoming any time soon. Councilman Waller made a motion to approve payment of $6160 of the invoice related to the survey work on Stagecoach Road and defer the balance of $5127.50 until council decided to use the drawings for future improvements to the roadway. Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier advised council of a request from Chatham County for the City to appoint a representative to serve on the Greenspace Advisory Committee. He reported this committee has been developed to serve as an advisory panel to the MPC, the coordinating agency for the Chatham County Greenspace Program. It was noted that three to four committee meetings will be held in 2002 with the next meeting being scheduled for April 30th. Councilman Wedincamp volunteered to serve on the committee. Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the appointment of Councilman Wedincamp to the Greenspace Advisory Committee, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Several citizens made comments on the article that appeared in the Savannah Morning News regarding controlled access to the executive offices of City Hall and limiting distribution of information to former council members and the former Mayor. Citizen Pat Stanfield voiced her approval of the Mayor’s actions on both matters and pointed out that if former officials wanted to know what was going on in the City they should attend the council meetings. She stated that former Mayor Strozier’s comment that he was only in City Hall about fifteen minutes on a couple of occasions caused her concern because if every citizen decided to spend fifteen minutes in the City Hall the clerks would never get anything done. Citizen Joy Key Smith expressed her disappointment in the actions of Mayor Rozier because she did not feel that former officials should be denied the opportunity to come in to the City Hall to ask questions about the City or to visit. She stated that the dedication of many hours of service by the previous Mayor as well as other former officials should allow them the respect of at least being able to have their questions answered like any other citizen who may contact City Hall. Ms. Smith further stated that her students asked her some disturbing questions about the article that appeared in the paper because one of the Mayor’s quotes included a curse word and she did not feel that this was setting a good example for the young people of Bloomingdale. Ms. Smith stated her mother and father had served numerous years on council and that many of her friends were former city officials and she did not think the Mayor should treat them or anyone else like they were not welcome at City Hall. Citizen Ann Williams stated she felt the sign-in/sign-out sheet was a good thing and agreed with the Mayor. Citizen Richard Griffin stated that in light of the “9-11” incident that a sign-in sheet may be needed for the protection of the employees. Councilman Johnson stated that he wanted the citizens to know that it was not that he and some of the council members disagreed with the sign-in/sign-out sheet, but were concerned that it only applied to the executive offices of City Hall. Councilman Johnson pointed out that if sign-in/sign-out forms were needed, they should be required in all departments for all visitors. He stated that the police department contains some very sensitive information that should not be accessible to everyone and there was some expensive equipment at our maintenance department that should not be accessible to anyone besides employees. Councilman Johnson further stated that threatening the three executive office employees, Sandra Jones, Diane Proudfoot, and Janice Williams with disciplinary action or termination for failure to have visitors sign-in or sign-out was not appropriate since the other offices were wide open to outside traffic. Councilman Johnson expressed his concern about restricting only certain people from talking with the previous administration. If this was going to be a directive to some employees it should apply to all employees. Councilman Myrick stated that he was concerned that the news reporter indicated there was a problem with the “old” and “new” council and he did not agree with this comparison. Citizen Martin Collins stated that he would like to express his concern about elected officials making decisions and comments that caused negative comments about Bloomingdale because they were representing the citizens and he was tired of being the laughing stock of Chatham County. Mayor Rozier thanked the citizens for their comments and stated that he wanted to work together with everyone, but felt that he needed to know who was coming into City Hall and what they wanted so the City could better serve their needs. Mayor Rozier stated that he had the utmost respect for the former elected officials, but he did not plan to make any changes on these matters unless council wanted to vote to make some changes.
Citizen Michael Van Hook who lives at #125 Michael Street expressed his concern to council about the cars speeding through his neighborhood. Mr. Van Hook stated he had talked with the police department on several occasions about the problem, but was advised the use of radar on Michael Street is not possible because of the length of the blocks. Mr. Van Hook asked if it would be possible to install speed bumps in the area. Attorney Gerard stated he would check into the laws related to this matter.
Citizen Wayne James asked if the City had made provisions for addressing any bio-hazards that may occur in the event of terrorist attacks. Councilman Tyler reported that the City has an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Savannah to handle chemical hazards, such as spills, dumping of hazardous wastes, etc., but the police department would be in charge of addressing other terrorist activities.
The accounts payable were reviewed. Councilman Tyler made a motion to pay the bills, Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Being no further business, Councilman Johnson made a motion to adjourn at 9:00pm, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
ALL MEMBERS WERE PRESENT