August 18, 2005
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Rozier with Councilman Ray leading in prayer. The Mayor welcomed George Saraf, Mayor of the City of Rincon, to the meeting. The minutes of the July 21, 2005 meeting were reviewed. Councilman Tyler made a motion to approve the minutes, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier recognized Sue Hargrove who works at the Pooler Wal-Mart. Ms. Hargrove, with the help of five-year old Tommy Yocum, a member of the Bloomingdale Bear’s Mini Peewee baseball team, presented Recreation Director Joe Young with a check for $1,000. The donation is to be used by the Bloomingdale Recreation Department to further enhance the recreational programs for the City’s youngsters. Mr. Young stated that this was the second year that the department had received a donation from Wal-Mart and thanked her on behalf of the Recreation Department for her help in getting these funds for Bloomingdale.
Attorney Dickey reported that the City was still waiting on a ruling from the Judge on the City’s lawsuit with EPD regarding water issues. The Attorney pointed out that the existing moratorium would expire at the end of this year. Mayor Rozier asked if there was a specific deadline set for the Judge’s decision, but Attorney Dickey stated that he did not know exactly when the ruling would be made.
Mayor Rozier stated that after last meeting he had met with Thomas & Hutton Engineering regarding the drainage issues at #105 Pine, #212 Oak, & #102 Chestnut Streets and the engineers advised him that these areas would be addressed in the drainage plan which he hoped would be presented for council’s consideration in the next few weeks.
Fett Burke reported that he had talked with Sonny Courson, the tenant who was renting the building at #301 E. Hwy 80 from owner Al Bowen, about the problem with the trash, weeds, and old cars on the property. Mr. Courson had cut the grass, however he did not own the vehicles. Mr. Burke stated that Mr. Courson indicated that he knew the owners and would try to get them moved. Council discussed several options regarding the removal of the vehicles with Attorney Dickey, but since the vehicles were contained within a locked gate it would be difficult for the City to remove them and bill the property owner. After the discussion, Mayor Rozier stated that he would contact Al Bowen about having the vehicles removed and provide an update to council at the September meeting.
Councilman Johnson reported that most of the drainage problems in areas along the Pipemaker Canal were being caused by beavers who have constructed numerous dams causing the water table to rise from 6” to 10”. Although steps were being taken to remove the beavers the City needs to try to obtain easements along the canal so it can be maintained. Councilman Johnson reported that Chatham County has agreed to clean out and maintain the canal provided the City can get the easements. Councilman Johnson pointed out that there were only a few property owners and he did not feel there would be any problem getting them to agree to sign easements because of the adverse affect the flooding was having on their properties. Attorney Dickey stated that he could prepare the paperwork for the signatures of the property owners once surveys were completed showing the exact location of the easements.
Councilman Johnson advised council that since the last meeting, the condition of Stagecoach Road has worsened and there were several citizens present at tonight’s meeting to discuss possible solutions to this problem. Councilman Johnson asked if the draining of some of the water into the pond had helped and Jimmy Oetgen stated that the water had dropped about 10”, but some areas along the roadway were so low that it was level with the swamp and the water had nowhere to drain. Councilman Johnson advised the Oetgens that the best way to drain the road would be to grade it with a crown in the middle, but it was noted that with such a narrow roadway it would be hard to travel on the road if it were maintained this way. Frank Oetgen pointed out that the road would need lots of dirt to build it up and expressed his concern that two cars could not pass each other in one section of the dirt road. Questions were raised about the possibility of clearing some of the right of way for the new roadway so there could be two lanes. It was noted that one of the problems would be that once this road is opened, the old road is supposed to revert to Mr. Myers and he may not agreed to keeping the existing lane open. Citizen Pamela Jenkins stated that it was her understanding there had been numerous accidents and several fatalities on this road and was concerned about the damage that was occurring to her vehicle. Ms. Lyles commented that there were numerous loads of dirt being hauled by dump trucks each day and the road was not safe. Pat Hardin stated that many of the residents were accessing their property through Effingham, but this increased the traffic flow through another neighborhood. Ms. Hardin stated that she felt the City should be able to pave the portion of the road in Bloomingdale since Chatham County and Effingham County had paved their part. Councilman Ray pointed out that these counties had more funds available to them than Bloomingdale. Mayor Rozier stated that the City of Bloomingdale did not have unlimited resources and were operating without City taxes. The Mayor informed the citizens that paving projects were funded by special local option sales tax and some matching money from the state. The council had established a priority list for paving projects with the first three being Church Street, Lynn Street, and Stagecoach Road. The DOT is currently preparing contracts for Church and Lynn Streets although there is some question about whether the City would be using matching funds from DOT for Church Street. Ms. Jenkins stated that she did not see why the paving of these streets would interfere with the paving of Stagecoach Road. The Mayor pointed out that until these streets have been completed, the City would not know how much money would be available to use toward the other priority streets. Several citizens complained that it had been over six years since they had been annexed into the City and the road has not yet been paved. It was noted by several council members that Church & Lynn Streets had been in the City since its incorporation and they were just now being scheduled for paving. Frank Oetgen reminded council of the deaths that have occurred on Stagecoach Road due to vehicular accidents. Mayor Rozier asked if all of the accidents were related to the condition of the road or were there other problems that contributed to these accidents, but there was no definite answer to this question. The Mayor asked Ms. Lyles about how many dump trucks were using this road on a daily basis and she stated that there were approximately sixty (60) trucks averaging twelve (12) loads a day for just this one dirt hauling business. Mayor Rozier pointed out that this business alone generated over 700 loads a day and it appeared to him that most of the wear and tear was from dump trucks. The Mayor asked Councilman Johnson if he would set up a meeting next week with the Oetgens, Donny Tuten and Bobby Oglesby to see if they could work out a solution to the immediate problems until funds became available to pave the road. Councilman Johnson stated that he would like to see all parties involved in the use of the road try to work together to come up with a workable solution. Michael Wells stated that he found the road almost impassible on a motorcycle and felt that something needed to be done to improve the conditions on Stagecoach Road. The Mayor stated that if the City had the money on hand for this project he would like to see it paved tomorrow, but that was not possible, so he hoped something could be worked out. Councilman Ray reminded those present that the City inherited this dirt road through annexation and that the paving work of the other areas was not done until after it was annexed. Fett Burke pointed out that when the City annexed this area the dirt haulers agreed to keep up the road. Questions were raised about putting crush & run in the worse parts of the road, but it was noted that this would merely wash away in heavy rains. Mayor Rozier stated that continued discussion of this matter would be tabled until after the meeting next week.
Mayor Rozier informed council that the nonconforming mobile homes located at #6 & #8 Brantville Drive had been removed as agreed by Paul Lovezzola.
Mayor Rozier stated that tonight’s agenda included a public hearing to receive citizen input on the proposed FY 2005/2006 budget. The Mayor reported that the budget is scheduled for adoption at a special called meeting to be held on August 25, 2005 at 2:00pm. The Mayor asked for any comments from the citizens or council, but being no comments, he adjourned the public hearing.
Council was advised that the City had received a request for a home occupation license from Michael Trotter to operate the “office only” of a mobile welding and maintenance business from his residence located at #503 Ash Street. It was noted that Mr. Trotter’s application indicated that he would be the only employee. The Mayor asked Mr. Trotter if he would be storing any equipment on the property or having outside traffic related to the business coming to the residence. Mr. Trotter stated that he would not be storing equipment nor would there be business related traffic coming to his house. Councilman Tyler made a motion to waive the public hearing requirement, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Myrick made a motion to issue the home occupation license, Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. (Note: Mr. Trotter had asked to add a “General Contractor’s” license to his request as he understood that there were new regulations being required by the state, but was advised that these regulations went into affect July 1st. Mr. Trotter stated that since the deadline had already passed he would not pursue the license at this time)
The Mayor recognized Citizen Lois Monroe who requested permission from council to hold a prayer service in her residence located at #902 E. Hwy 80 on a weekly basis. Council advised her that as long as she had adequate off street parking and there were no traffic problems they had no objections. Mrs. Monroe stated that when attendance increased they would find another location for the services.
Councilman Wedincamp left the podium during the discussion of the following agenda item.
Mayor Rozier recognized Attorney Harold Yellin with Hunter, Maclean, Exley & Dunn who addressed council on behalf of Gordon Jones about obtaining a variance on the City’s 25’ road frontage requirement so Mr. Jones can obtain a building permit for the property he owns on Cheyenne Road. Mr. Yellin questioned the zoning requirement that property must abut a public right of way for at least 25’ because of the problems it could cause for future development of gated communities and access from private roads. Attorney Dickey advised Attorney Yellin that the City’s zoning ordinance allowed for an appeals process for the granting of variances and offered that option for Mr. Jones. Attorney Yellin commented that he had reviewed the minutes of past meetings and noted that a few variances had been granted by the City for some zoning issues, but understood council’s reluctance to vary from the ordinance on a regular basis. Mayor Rozier pointed out that he had been in office for over three (3) years and during that time efforts have been made by Councilman Wedincamp and Charles Rogers to get the citizens living along Cheyenne Road to participate in the development of the road as a public right of way, however, they were not able to accomplish this goal, so they had combined the 15’ easements of their properties and presented the road to the City to be accepted as a private road. The Mayor stated that it was his understanding that Mr. Jones had been given the opportunity to include his easement in the survey for the private road, but he did not participate in the project. There was some discussion between Mr. Jones and Councilman Wedincamp regarding this issue. Councilman Johnson stated that as Attorney Yellin had noted there was concern by council in the granting of variances because they had to look at the overall development of the City and the constant issuing of variances may have negative impacts in the future. Attorney Dickey asked Mr. Jones the footage of his current access to Highway 80 and was advised that it was the same as all of the other lots on Cheyenne Road – 15’. Attorney Yellin asked if the City granted a variance to Mr. Jones for the road frontage requirement would the City grant him a building permit. Attorney Dickey stated that as he understood it the granting of a 10’ variance would not actually solve his problem because he did not have access to Highway 80 using his 15’ easement since a culvert was not in place where the easement met the ditch right of way. Attorney Dickey expressed his concern that if the City granted the variance and issued the building permit to Mr. Jones without proper access, there could be liability issues that could arise in the future if Mr. Jones sold his property and another owner was not able to get clear title to the property due to access problems. Mr. Jones stated that his property abuts the existing Cheyenne Road for more than 15’ and felt that he should be able to use this road as his access to Highway 80. Mr. Jones questioned the use of the road by other property owners in the area and it was advised that all of the other tracts were developed prior to the annexation of the property by the City. Questions were raised about the possibility of the City accepting the road, as is, as a public right of way if all of the property owners would deed their easements to the City. This issue was discussed at length by council and the parties involved. Attorney Yellin stated that it seemed to him that a solution could be worked out and would like an opportunity to be the mediator between the owners of the private road and the other property owners. Attorney Yellin asked that this matter be passed to the September 15, 2005 council meeting to allow him time to meet with the parties involved. Councilman Tyler made a motion to pass until the September 15th meeting the consideration of a request for a variance in the road frontage requirements for issuance of a building permit to Gordon Jones for a residence on his property located on Cheyenne Road. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Councilman Wedincamp returned to the podium.
Mayor Rozier recognized Barry & Doris Gibson who were at the meeting to discuss with council the request submitted by Hazel Donahue for the approval of a recombination of eight lots that she owns at #409 Cherry Street. Mr. Gibson explained that Ms. Donahue plans to deed the property to her children and wants to create four (4) lots from the existing eight (8) lots. It was noted that three of the four lots will meet the City’s minimum lot size and road frontage requirements and consist of the following: Lot #1 will be 105’ x 400’ with an existing residence and garage on the property, Lot #2 will be 110’ x 400’ and Lot #3 will be 110’ x 200’. Lot #4 will be 110’ x 200’, however, it’s only access to a public roadway is along an unopened portion of Boulevard Street. Mr. Gibson stated that Ms. Donahue is requesting that council allow future owners to access Lot #4 using 25’ of the unopened right of way or if Bloomingdale does not plan to open the street to quit claim the 25’ to her to become part of Lot #4 when the property is resurveyed. Mr. Gibson stated that before having the property surveyed and presenting the recombination plat for approval by council, Ms. Donahue wanted to find out what would be allowed. Councilman Tyler asked Attorney Dickey if Boulevard Street was one that he had researched to determine its ownership. Attorney Dickey reported that it was not the street he checked, but felt sure that he would find out that same thing as he had found on Poplar Street which was that the street had never been deeded to the county or to the city, so it was actually still owned by the developers. Councilman Tyler asked if the City could quit claim the property to the adjoining owners, but the attorney explained that since we did not own the property, we could not legally sign a quit claim deed. Attorney Dickey stated that the only way the City could obtain ownership of the property would be through a condemnation process, but pointed out that the City would not be in a position to give this property to anyone. Mr. Gibson asked if the recombination could be approved as presented without public roadway access for Lot #4 since they were actually reducing the number of existing landlocked lots. Attorney Dickey advised him that the City could not approve action that created non-conforming lots. The Attorney was questioned about the steps that would have to be taken to open Boulevard Street and he stated that the property would have to be condemned by the City if there was no record of a prior dedication and then council would have to decide whether or not it would be in the best interest of the City to proceed with opening the street. Councilman Ray pointed out that these unopened streets existed prior to the City of Bloomingdale’s incorporation. Attorney Dickey asked if the property owner had considered using 25’ of the existing lots as the public access for Lot #4 since there appeared to be enough road frontage available to create the access and still maintain the required 100’ road frontage on Cherry Street for the other three lots. Attorney Dickey stated that another option may be to request a variance from 25’ to 15’ for the public access requirement for Lot #4 through the appeals process as outlined in the zoning ordinance in Article XII, Section 1200. Mr. Gibson stated that there was concern about side yard setback requirements if the lots were only 100’ wide, but if it would be possible to get the public access reduced to 15’ for Lot #4 and to obtain side yard variances when building permits were requested this may be the best way to present the recombination. Mayor Rozier stated that he felt council would be much more willing to consider a side yard variance and a variance on the width of the public access than to approve the creation of a nonconforming lot. Citizen Billy Strozier asked for Attorney Dickey’s verification that if unopened portions of roadways were not previously dedicated to the county or city, a potential developer could not obtain the property through quit claim deeds from the adjoining property owners if they were interested in opening the roadway. Attorney Dickey stated that the only time a quit claim deed process would allow the transfer of ownership for the unopened roadway would be if the adjoining property owners could prove ownership of the property. If not, the quit claim deeds would have to be obtained from the original property owners or those who currently have ownership. Joseph Austin, Sr. made several comments about the unopened roadway issue. Councilman Tyler stated that he felt the City needed to resolve these issues once and for all because until we do, these questions are going to continue to come up over and over again. The Mayor stated that he felt we should work on the issue before us tonight and asked that a decision be made regarding the approval or disapproval of the recombination request. Mr. Gibson stated that he would like to present a recombination request on behalf of Hazel Donahue for four lots—Lot #’s 1, 2, & 3 will have 100’ road frontage on Cherry Street and Lot #4 will include a 25’ private access drive from the existing property owned by Ms. Donahue and fronting Cherry Street. It was noted that the recombination of the property as presented would meet the City’s current zoning requirements. Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the recombination as presented with three lots having 100’ road frontage on Cherry Street and one lot to include a 25’ private access drive off of Cherry Street using the property as currently owned by Ms. Donahue. Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with affirmative votes from Council members Johnson, Myrick, Ray, Waller, and Wedincamp. Councilman Tyler abstained from voting.
Mayor Rozier stated that Councilman Ray indicated he has received some complaints about the overgrown conditions at the property owned by Mark Beamon, Sr. at #109 Chestnut Street. Councilman Ray advised council that he had checked the property and it appears that the grass has been partially cut, so he would like to postpone any action until the September 15, 2005 meeting to see if he completes the cleanup.
Council was also advised of a complaint from Eric Jones, a resident of #418 Pine Street, regarding the overgrown conditions of the vacant lot at #502 Pine Street. Councilman Myrick stated that he had looked into the complaint himself and there was a problem. Council was advised that the property was owned by Charles Layton. After a brief discussion, council decided the owner should be notified, in writing, of the complaints and be advised that he had until the first meeting in October to handle the problem. The City Clerk was asked to send Mr. Layton a letter outlining this information.
Councilman Wedincamp left the podium during the discussion of the following agenda item.
Council reviewed a request from Kellie Robertson to erect a utility building on her property located at #68 Cheyenne Road. Ms. Robertson is requesting a permit to construct an accessory building consisting of 600 sq. ft. and since City policy requires that the issuance of building permits for accessory buildings consisting of 500 sq. ft. or more be approved by council, she asked that this matter be placed on tonight’s agenda. Attorney Dickey pointed out that since there had been questions raised about the access to properties along Cheyenne Road, this request should be handled as an appeal as outlined in the Zoning Ordinance, Article XII, Section 1200. Several council members questioned this requirement since Ms. Robertson already has a residence on the property and the permit request is for an accessory building only. This matter was discussed at length, but on the advice of counsel, Ms. Robertson was informed that the request for the permit would not be approved and it needed to be handled as an appeal with a public hearing to be held for citizen input. Attorney Dickey stated that with council’s denial of her permit, Ms. Robertson could submit this request as her written appeal for a variance to allow the issuance of a building permit for the accessory building. Council agreed to schedule a public hearing for the September 15, 2005 meeting for citizen input on this matter and to consider her appeal for the building permit after the public hearing.
Councilman Wedincamp returned to the podium.
Citizen Willie Mitchell, a resident of #16 Douglas Court, has submitted a complaint about off street parking at Douglas Court and Highway 80. Mr. Mitchell provided some pictures for council’s review. Councilman Johnson pointed out that additional no parking signs had been erected just past this intersection, but none had been placed in front of the vacant lot behind the Krispy Chic where these photos indicate a truck with a trailer was parked. Councilman Myrick asked Mr. Mitchell if he had contacted the police when the truck was parked there and he stated that the officer was at the Krispy Chic at the time and he did have him move, but this problem was ongoing. The Mayor asked Chief Gossett if he could provide some suggestions for solving this problem. The Chief pointed out that this area is checked by patrol officers on a regular basis and offenders have been asked to move their vehicles, however, if council wants to instruct the police to issue citations to those persons parking vehicles in these rights of way, he will advise them to handle these situations in that manner. The council asked the Chief to follow their normal procedures, but did request that he schedule some extra patrolling of the area during lunchtime.
Mayor Rozier recognized Andrew Rawlings, Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission, who presented the following recommendations from the commission’s August 16th meeting:
1) Mr. Rawlings stated that a recommendation was to be presented tonight to schedule a public hearing on the rezoning request for a development located at Highway 80 just east of Douglas Court, however, the request has been withdrawn by their engineer.
2) The commission recommended a public hearing be scheduled for September 20, 2005 at 6:30pm to receive citizen input on a rezoning request submitted by Russell Black, Jr. on behalf of B & P Development, LLC for property located at Main Street and Osteen Road. The request is to change the zoning from RA to R3 for the construction of townhouses. Council discussed this information and agreed that as previously decided, the rezoning request should be submitted to the City’s zoning consultant, Denise Grabowski, for her review and recommendation with the cost of said review being the responsibility of the developer. Councilman Johnson made a motion to submit the request to Lott Barber Architects with the cost to be the responsibility of B & P Development, LLC. Councilman Wedincamp seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
3) Mr. Rawlings stated that the Planning & Zoning Commission was recommending the establishment of an “Architectural Review Committee”. It was noted that the name of the body had been changed from “board” to “committee” as recommended by Attorney Dickey. Councilman Myrick asked Mr. Rawlings the commission’s intent in the establishment of this committee. Mr. Rawlings advised council that the members would oversee the review of plans for development of commercial properties and review the City’s current ordinances to make recommendations on amendments to the zoning ordinance that might enhance the development of the City’s commercial districts. Mr. Rawlings stated that the committee would consist of members of the Planning & Zoning Commission. After a brief discussion, Councilman Wedincamp made a motion to approve the establishment of an “Architectural Review Committee”, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Mr. Rawlings pointed out that one of the things the committee planned to do was to work on the proposed overlay district along Highway 80 and to look into the unopened road situation in the City.
The Mayor reported that the quarterly CMA meeting is scheduled on September 7th at the Mighty 8th and will be hosted by Port Wentworth. The social hour starts at 6:00pm and the meal at 7:00pm. Spouses are invited, but there will be a $10.00 charge for each spouse. Those planning to attend should advise the clerk’s office no later than August 29, 2005.
Mayor Rozier reported that this concluded the items that were presented prior to the Friday, August 12th agenda deadline.
During committee reports, Councilman Myrick advised council that the recent golf tournament sponsored by the Bloomingdale Recreation Department raised $2400. Councilman Tyler reported that he hoped to have a proposal from Toss Allen with Southeastern Engineering by the September 15th meeting on a price to provide information regarding the capacity of the current water/sewer lines in the City. There were no other reports from council.
Citizen Billy Strozier asked for a few minutes to outline some history regarding the development of the City that may shed some light on the unopened street issue. He stated that a large amount of the property in the current “older” section of the City was previously owned by carpetbaggers and eventually it was left to Evelyn Pierce. When the owners started selling the property, they had to show access to the lots before they could be recorded, so the owners sectioned off portions of the lots for future roadways. Most of these were never actually opened. However, in the past, if someone was willing to pursue the opening of a street, they had been instructed to obtain quit claim deeds from those persons on either side of the unopened road and once it was constructed to City specifications, it could be deeded to the City. Additional discussion was held about this process with Attorney Dickey advising council that if the City planned to open the roads they would have to go through a condemnation process.
The accounts payable were reviewed. Councilman Tyler made a motion to pay the bills, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier reported that he had been receiving numerous calls from persons living along John Carter Road about the City annexing their property before the City of Savannah decides to annex them. The Mayor stated that they planned to have a meeting next week to discuss this among themselves and were inviting any elected official that was interested in attending to join them. The Mayor advised council that as soon as a date, time and place were set, he would let everyone know.
The Mayor stated that he wanted to add the discussion and consideration of the costs obtained from R.B. Baker for bores under Hwy 80 to the agenda of the called meeting to be held on Thursday, August 25th at 2:00pm. The initial call had been for approval of the budget for FY 2005/2006, but this matter needed to be addressed as soon as possible.
Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn at 9:45pm. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier and all council members were present at the meeting.