October 20, 2005
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Rozier with Councilman Ray leading in prayer. The minutes of the October 6, 2005 meeting were reviewed. Councilman Waller made a motion to approve the minutes, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier stated that letters had been prepared to send to property owners along the Pipemaker’s Spur regarding the acquisition of maintenance easements, but council needed to set a meeting date for discussion of this issue with the owners. Council was advised that some of the owners lived out of town so it may be difficult to find a date and time that will be convenient for everyone. After a brief discussion, council agreed to give the owners an opportunity to decide if a morning or evening meeting would be more convenient with them and after obtaining this information council could then set a specific date for the meeting.
The Mayor reported that Thomas & Hutton Engineering was present at tonight’s meeting to provide an update on the work they had been doing for the last several months on the Master Drainage Plan. Doyle Kelley and Rob Ritcher with Thomas & Hutton provided a Power Point presentation giving an overlay of the existing drainage system in the inter-City area and explained their proposals for a couple of alternative methods to improve the system. Mr. Kelley pointed out that the information regarding existing drainage ditches and canals was compiled during an eight month study and included data obtained from on site work and city personnel. Mr. Kelley stated that he would like to thank, not only Buddy and Ernie for their assistance, but to also express his appreciation to the citizens of Bloomingdale who had been very cooperative and had shown a great deal of interest in the project. Council was advised that in the last update received from Chatham County regarding the county-wide drainage program, Thomas & Hutton had been informed that Phase I of their project would only come up to Conaway Rd and it would probably be at least three (3) years before this portion was completed since they had not yet started acquisition of the rights of way. Mr. Kelley pointed out that according to Chatham County’s staff, the county would require funding from another SPLOST referendum to continue past the Conaway Road into Phase II of the project. Council was advised that there were several issues that had to be considered when trying to determine which improvement options were the most appropriate to recommend to the City. These issues were: 1) cost of the construction of the improvement which included right of way acquisition; 2) wetland issues which covered the appropriate state permitting process; and 3) the amount of time involved to complete the project. Mr. Kelley stated that Alternate #1 involved major improvements to the existing drainage along Main Street and consisted of an 8’ deep drainage ditch approximately 4’ to 6’ wide with about a 50’ right of way required for the ditch and its maintenance. The plan included the re-routing of a large portion of the water currently draining to the Conaway Canal into this ditch and then into the Hardin Canal. Mr. Kelley pointed out that since the City already owned most of this right of way this option would be less expense for the acquisition of rights of way. Also, the water already runs in that direction so there would be less work needed in the interior ditches and there is an existing drainage ditch located along Main Street. Mr. Kelley stated that the figures used in their analysis mirrors those used in the County’s designs and felt that this improvement plan would provide relief to more portions of the City for less money than the other option. Council questioned Mr. Kelley as to the length of time it would take to complete the overall project and it was noted that if the wetlands issues could be resolved with minor permits, construction could probably begin in the spring, however, if the state required more detailed permits it may take over a year just to get the permitting. Mr. Kelley informed council that once the county completed the work on the Conaway Canal the overall drainage in the City would be greatly improved, but even without those improvements, Alternate #1 would provide relief for the residents in this drainage basin as well as other areas of the City. Mr. Kelley stated that they may also be able to look at some of the drainage problems in isolated areas that may not get relief from this option. Mayor Rozier asked if Mr. Kelley could stay after the meeting to answer any questions from citizens or the council regarding the information he had presented and he agreed to do so. After discussing the information presented by Mr. Kelley to council, Councilman Tyler made a motion to have Thomas & Hutton proceed with the design process for Alternate #1 which included major improvements to the drainage ditch along Main Street and to prepare cost estimates for presentation to council. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
The Mayor asked Mr. Kelley for a report on his review of the drainage questions related to the ditches on the Autrey property abutting Main Street as discussed at the last couple of meetings. Mr. Kelley advised council that the drainage in that area would be handled by the drainage ditch along Main Street once these proposed improvements were completed.
Mayor Rozier advised council that he had asked Mr. Kelley with Thomas & Hutton Engineering to begin preparation of engineered drawings for Stagecoach Road for submission to the DOT. It was noted that a contract needed to be prepared for presentation to council on this work and the Mayor stated he would have the engineer get something to Attorney Dickey next week for his review.
The Mayor reported that Mark Mobley with EMC Engineering had agreed to provide the City with some information on alternate types of speed humps that could be used along Boulevard Street to help with speed control in that area.
Councilman Johnson advised council that after reviewing the four (4) bids received at the last meeting for new trash trucks, the General Services Committee was recommending the acceptance of the bid from Roberts Truck Center, Inc. in the amount of $46,400 for a 2006 Ford F-650. After a brief discussion, Councilman Johnson presented a motion to accept the above-mentioned bid, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Myrick asked Fett Burke if he had an estimated value on the 1995 Ford F-800 we were currently using and was advised that Roberts Truck Center had indicated that they would give us $3,500 on a trade-in, but resale value was estimated at about $5,000. Councilman Myrick stated that once we received the new trash truck we needed to discuss disposal of the existing truck.
Council discussed the information that had been distributed at the October 6th meeting regarding Occupational Tax rates. Councilman Johnson stated that he had reviewed the data and did not feel that our rates were out of line with those charged by other cities. Councilman Ray pointed out that the City’s rates were reasonable and did not see a need to increase them in 2006. After a brief discussion, Councilman Ray made a motion to make no change in the Occupational Tax rates charged in 2006 from those charged in 2005. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with four affirmative votes from Council members Myrick, Ray, Waller and Wedincamp. Council members Johnson and Tyler abstained from voting.
Mayor Rozier recognized Herbert Black of B & P Development who presented for council’s review a revised plat showing an adjustment in the boundaries of the property in the development located at Main & Osteen Road to address the legal issues raised by Ms. Kelly prior to last meeting. Attorney Dickey stated that he had talked with Mr. Black’s attorney this afternoon and been advised that he would be bringing a revised plat tonight showing a 30’ x 35’ strip taken out of the area to be rezoned. Attorney Dickey pointed out that this change would allow the City to address the rezoning of the balance of the property owned by B & P Development without involving the portion abutting Ms. Kelly’s property. Councilman Tyler asked Mr. Black if he had been in contact with Chatham County regarding their plans for Phase II of the Jimmy Deloach Parkway and was advised by Mr. Black that in 2003 he submitted a sketch plan to the Planning & Zoning that included the proposed location of the parkway, but this plat did not show that information. Mr. Black had a copy of the sketch plan with him and showed it to council, but pointed out that the original plans for the development had changed. Attorney Dickey asked Mr. Black if the City had a copy of this information and Mr. Black indicated that if we did not have it he would provide us with a copy. Councilman Ray questioned Mr. Black about the plat containing the statement that the lots would be served by City water and sewer since the City could not commit to providing the water to the development with its current capacity. Mr. Black stated that although he would prefer that the City provide the water, he could make other arrangements, and pointed out that when he had presented his previous plans, he had been advised of the City’s water situation and had made arrangements with Sunbelt to provide water to the development. Council agreed that if the rezoning request is approved it would be with the understanding that the City cannot supply the water to the development and Mr. Black stated that he understood this stipulation. Questions were raised about whether the City’s current R-3 zoning allowed the development of townhouses as proposed by Mr. Black. Council was advised that the Planning & Zoning Commission had made a recommendation to amend the zoning ordinance to address the townhouse type development, but council had agreed to table action on their recommendation until they could review a definition clarification submitted by Ms. Grabowski. Council asked Attorney Dickey if approval of the rezoning should be with the condition that the amendment to the zoning ordinance be approved. Mr. Black pointed out that according to the City’s Zoning Ordinance an R-3 zoning actually allows multi-family dwellings, including apartments, but on their rezoning request they had requested an R-3/Townhouse zoning which would actually be more restrictive to the developer. Councilman Tyler asked if the City had any control over the looks of the townhouses and/or the quality of construction. He pointed out that townhouse developments in neighboring cities ranged from units valued anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 and wanted to make sure that these would be of good quality. Councilman Tyler voiced his concern that without approving the rezoning as a Planned Development Overlay District, we would not have any control over this aspect of the development. Mr. Black distributed some photographs of the type townhouses that would be constructed for council’s review. Councilman Tyler stated that although these townhouses appeared to be of good quality construction, he was still not convinced that there were controls in place to govern this aspect of the development. Councilman Myrick made a motion to accept the revised plat submitted by B & P Development dated 10-18-05 showing the change in the property boundaries abutting the property of Ms. Kelly with the stipulation that Note #1 indicating that the lots were to be served by City of Bloomingdale water and sewer systems be deleted. Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. After additional discussion regarding the rezoning request to change the property from an RA zone to an R-3/Townhouses zoning, Councilman Johnson made a motion to approve the request with the stipulations that were presented with the recommendation from the Planning & Zoning Commission of October 18, 2005 and that the amendment to the City’s Zoning Ordinance regarding the definition and design standards be approved by council. Councilman Wedincamp seconded the motion. The motion received affirmative votes from Council members Johnson, Waller, and Wedincamp. Council members Myrick, Ray, and Tyler voted against the motion. Mayor Rozier voted for the motion to break the tie and the rezoning request, with stipulations was approved.
Council was advised that a letter had been received from David Sneed with Hunter Maclean, the legal firm representing Gordon Jones, stating that they did not have any additional information to report to the City regarding his variance request and asked that all discussion of this matter be postponed until the November 3, 2006 council meeting.
The Mayor presented a request from Randall Russell to obtain a home occupation license to operate the “office only” of a garage door installation business from his residence located at #704E. Cregor St. Mr. Russell explained that he had worked with Lowes for about two years and needed a license in order to do their installation work. He stated that there would be nothing stored at his residence and there would be no outside traffic related to the business coming to his home. After a brief discussion, Councilman Tyler made a motion to waive the public hearing requirement, Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Myrick made a motion to issue the license to Mr. Russell, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier left the podium during discussion of the next agenda item.
Mayor Pro-tem Johnson presented a request from Ben Rozier to obtain a well permit for his property located at #450 Adams Road for his personal use only. It was noted that since the City does not provide water in this area and requires approval by council of the issuance of permits for individual wells this matter was placed on tonight’s agenda. After a brief discussion, Councilman Waller made a motion to issue the well permit as requested, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier returned to the podium.
The Mayor recognized Sam and Iona Farrow who live at #307 E. Main Street and had asked to be placed on tonight’s agenda regarding drainage problems on their property. Mr. Farrow explained that the water was not draining from his property and provided several reasons including the size of the pipe at Chestnut Street and one side of the ditch being lower than the other causing water to pond on his property. Fett Burke reported that the 12” pipe at Chestnut Street had been replaced with an 18” pipe. Councilman Johnson stated that he had looked into this problem and it is apparent that Mr. Farrow’s lot is one of the lowest in the area. Councilman Johnson pointed out that since the fence around his yard actually crossed the ditch there was no access for the maintenance crews to reach it and stated that since the City could not make his lot higher by providing fill dirt, the only option at this time would be to try to clean out the ditch. Fett Burke explained the sizes of the pipes in the area and stated that they were adequate for the water flow, but when the ditches are full there is no where for the water to go but to the lower areas. Councilman Myrick stated that the City was working on the drainage problems in the City, but it appeared that the only relief available at this time would be to allow the workers onto his property to clean the ditch and keep it maintained. Councilman Johnson asked Mr. Farrow if he would be willing to allow them inside the fence to work on cleaning out the ditch and maintaining it and he stated that he would.
Council was advised that a request had been received from Citizen Sybil Smith requesting council’s consideration of discounts on City utility rates for seniors on fixed income. Since Ms. Smith was not present at the meeting to discuss the issue with council, the Mayor tabled the matter.
Mayor Rozier reported that the City had received notice that the Chatham County Legislative Delegation will be hosting public hearings to hear the requests and concerns of citizens prior to the 2006 Legislative Session and Bloomingdale’s scheduled hearing date is Tuesday, November 1, 2005. The Mayor pointed out that since there will not be another meeting before the hearings, council needs to determine what should be included in our requests to the delegation. After a brief discussion, council agreed that the Mayor should request the delegation’s assistance in obtaining additional funds for drainage in the City and securing an increase in its current water permit. Mayor Rozier stated that he would present this information to the delegation.
Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Andrew Rawlings presented recommendations/requests from their October 18, 2005 meeting: 1) The commission recommended an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, Appendix B, to add a definition for “Dwelling, single-family attached” and make an adjustment in Article V-Design Standards (B) by deleting “Apartment building” and replacing it with “Dwelling, multiple family or Dwelling, single-family attached”; and (2) Commission members were requesting council review information related to proposed planning & zoning rules and procedures. Chairman Rawlings stated that he was requesting council table any action on these items until after the Planning & Zoning Commission’s next meeting so some additional information regarding the Zoning Ordinance Amendment received from the zoning consultant could be reviewed by members. Chairman Rawlings stated that the proposed rules and procedures had been prepared by Ms. Mitchell and submitted at the last meeting, but felt commission members needed additional time to review and discuss the information since the matter was not actually on their October 18th agenda. Council agreed to table action on these matters as requested by Chairman Rawlings.
Council was advised that prior to the disbursements of funds to the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department, the Fire Protection Contract for FY 2005/2006 in the amount of $40,000 needed to be approved. Mayor Rozier asked Councilman Ferman Tyler for any comments he may have regarding the contract, but he had none. Councilman Johnson pointed out that the City assists the fire department in ways other than with the monies included in this contract, but with limited funds, this contract amount was what the City could afford. Councilman Johnson stated that he did feel that there should be more financial accountability to the City regarding the expenditures made from these funds either on a monthly or quarterly basis and several members voiced their agreement with his statement. Being no further discussion, Councilman Johnson made a motion to approve the execution of the contract with this stipulation, Councilman Ray seconded his motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
The Mayor reported that the City has been notified by GMA of increases in health insurance premiums on employee and dependent coverage effective January 1, 2006. The City offers two PPO options, but only one HMO option. GMA has provided costs for alternative HMO plans that could be offered to the employees which would significantly reduce the cost for their dependent premiums from those of the current plan. The council reviewed this information and Councilman Tyler made a motion to approve the first reading of an amendment to the existing health insurance benefit ordinance to add the HMO 90% and HMO 80% options with an effective date of January 1, 2006. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Johnson made a motion to dispense with the second reading, Councilman Tyler seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Tyler then made a motion to approve an amendment to the health insurance benefit ordinance to add the HMO options with a January 1, 2006 effective date, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. It was noted that deductions for January health insurance premiums would be made in December, 2005.
Mayor Rozier reported that this concluded the items that were received by the agenda deadline of Friday, October 14, 2005.
During committee reports, Councilman Tyler stated that Water/Sewer Supervisor Ernest Grizzard had contacted Utility Services, Inc. regarding the placement of a telecommunications tower on the water tank and was advised that there would be an increase in our maintenance contract of approximately $1,000 per year if they did not handle installation of the tower. Councilman Tyler reported that Utility Services would contract directly with the vendors on the City’s behalf on a 50/50 basis. Council discussed the matter and agreed that there may be more financial benefit to the City to deal with the contractors directly even if there is an increase in the maintenance contract. Councilman Wedincamp advised council he would like for them to review the planning & zoning rules and procedures, so they could be approved at the November 3rd meeting. Councilman Myrick pointed out that he felt this matter should be handled the same way as the rules and procedures for the Recreation Executive Board which was to have Attorney Dickey meet with the commission members to prepare the final document for submission to council and council members agreed. Chairman Andrew Rawlings stated that as noted earlier in the meeting, this matter would be on the agenda for the November 15th Planning & Zoning Commission since members had not yet had an opportunity to review and discuss this proposal.
The accounts payable were reviewed. Councilman Ray made a motion to pay the bills, Councilman Johnson seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn at 8:30pm. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Rozier and all council members were present at the meeting.