City Council Meeting
October 19, 2006
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton with Councilman Myrick leading in prayer. Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the minutes of the October 5, 2006 council meeting, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Councilwoman Winn made a motion to approve the agenda of the October 19, 2006 meeting with Councilman Rawlings seconding the motion. The motion passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton recognized Mary Mitchell who provided everyone with information related to the awards luncheon held at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta on October 11, 2006. The City of Bloomingdale Planning and Zoning Commission received a 2nd place award in the Keep Georgia Beautiful Program for Beautification/Community Improvement. Ms. Mitchell stated that she had some brochures from the event that she would be happy to share with citizens after the meeting. The Mayor thanked her for the report and offered his appreciation to everyone who helped to make this program a success.
Councilman Rawlings presented Mary Mitchell with a “Certificate of Appreciation” from the City of Bloomingdale for her time and tireless efforts in the organization of the “Keep Bloomingdale Beautiful Program”. Ms. Mitchell thanked the Mayor and City Council, the citizens, the Planning & Zoning Commission members, the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department and the City Staff for their involvement and help in the program.
Councilman Strozier reported that the City had submitted to EPD the approved contract between Bloomingdale, Pooler & Savannah regarding the use of alternate water sources for their review. Councilman Strozier pointed out that EPD required this information as a condition of the increase in our groundwater withdrawal permit and we are waiting on the state to confirm approval of the increase.
Mayor Tipton reported that the City has received contact from BellSouth indicating that they are willing to grant permission for the construction of the gateway sign on their property located at the eastern end of the City limits. The Mayor also advised council that information has been submitted and is being reviewed by the DOT for their approval for the placement of the gateway sign within the state right of way.
The Mayor asked Attorney Dickey to provide council with the results of his review of the bids received from engineering firms on the preparation of design plans for the construction of Stagecoach Road. Attorney Dickey reported that the City received the following three (3) bids: 1) Stevenson & Palmer Engineering, Inc. - $84,000; 2) EMC Engineering - $26,000; and 3) Thomas & Hutton Engineering Co. - $22,000. Attorney Dickey pointed out that there were some differences in the services to be provided in these bids and outlined some of them for council. The wetlands permitting and delineation was included in the bid from Stevenson & Palmer, Thomas & Hutton estimated the cost between $15,000 & $20,000, and EMC’s bid included $3500 in wetlands services, but the wetlands mitigation and permitting were considered additional services. Attorney Dickey recommended that EMC be contacted and asked to provide their costs for the wetlands mitigation and permitting to provide some cost comparisons between the two bids. The Mayor asked that Councilman Myrick the Chairman of the General Services Committee get with EMC to obtain this information and report back to council.
Councilman Myrick stated that a public meeting had been held on October 12, 2006 with property owners on Church Street to discuss the proposed paving project. Councilman Myrick reported that when the design plans have been completed the City will be ready to proceed with the project.
Mayor Tipton presented bids on two surplus appliances. Councilman Myrick made a motion to open said bids, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. The appliances included a Tappan 30” electric stove and a 16 cu. Ft. Kevinator Refrigerator-both items were replaced during the renovation project. James Sikes submitted a $51.00 bid on the stove and a $60.00 bid on the refrigerator. Sandra Jones submitted a bid of $75.00 for the refrigerator. Councilman Strozier made a motion to accept the bid of James Sikes of $51.00 for the stove and from Sandra Jones of $75.00 for the refrigerator. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Winn and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Council discussed the application received from Tiffanie Deal for the issuance of a home occupation license to operate the “office only” of a bookkeeping service from her residence located at #327 Conaway Road. Ms. Deal advised council that she would be going to the businesses of her customers to perform the work and there would be no outside traffic related to the business coming to the residence. Ms. Deal stated that she would be the only employee. Councilman Strozier made a motion to waive the public hearing requirement and issue the license to Ms. Deal for the bookkeeping business. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Council reviewed a recommendation from the Bloomingdale Recreation Executive Board to remove Terry Landon as a member due to his not attending five (5) consecutive meetings or any scheduled recreation functions during this time period. Recreation Director Joe Young stated that Mr. Landon had turned his keys in to another member. After discussing the issue, Councilwoman Winn made a motion to accept the recommendation from the board to remove Mr. Landon. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton reported that a request has been submitted by the Morgan Family for the recombination of 252.71 acres and portion of Parcels “C” and “D” of the Morgan Tract “Q”. These platted lots include those involved in the annexation/de-annexation of properties between the cities of Bloomingdale and Pooler. It was noted that the combination or recombination of portions of previously platted lots where the total number of lots is not increased and the resultant lots are equal to the standards set for in the ordinance is exempt from the requirements of the City’s Subdivision Ordinance. The recombination meets the exemption and lot requirements as noted. Council was advised that the Morgan Family is requesting that the Mayor and City Council sign off on the plat prior to its recording. The Mayor recognized Henry Morgan who outlined the areas involved and a large scale map was presented for review by anyone wanting to see the property boundaries. Latrelle Kling asked about the location of the property and Attorney Jim Gerard provided her with this information. After discussion of the request, Councilman Strozier made a motion to approve execution of the recombination plat, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Mayor Tipton recognized Edgar West who expressed safety concerns about borrow pits on the Morgan property that were not fenced. Mr. Morgan stated that these areas were posted, but he would see about having fencing installed.
The Mayor stated that the City has been working with Sharon Johnson for several months in the preparation of a compiled plat showing the division of her father’s property between his five children. Mr. I.T. Shearouse subdivided his property prior to its annexation into the City of Bloomingdale, but the surveys were done and recorded on an individual basis rather than as a group effort making it difficult to determine property lines of each tract. The division of this property met the requirements as set forth by Chatham County at the time it was divided. Ms. Johnson has submitted a compiled plat of the five tracts for council’s review and is requesting the signatures of the Mayor and Council prior to the recording of this plat. Councilman Strozier pointed out that Ms. Johnson had followed the guidelines as outlined by the City and made a motion to approve the execution of the plat. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Councilman Rawlings reported that the Planning & Licensing Committee had been working on some adjustments to the occupational license fees and felt that some slight increases needed to be made to these rates to bring them in line with other nearby cities. Prior to an adjustment in the rates, a public hearing must be conducted and Councilman Rawlings suggested it be held at the November 16, 2006 council meeting. Councilman Myrick made a motion to schedule the public hearing for November 16th, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton reported that the budget for FY 2006/2007 has been prepared and submitted to the City Council and a public hearing was held on October 12, 2006. The Mayor stated that a resolution adopting the budget has been prepared for council’s consideration at tonight’s meeting. Councilman Myrick stated that he would like for council to have some additional discussion on the budget and since Councilman Ray, the Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, was not at tonight’s meeting; he made a motion to table any action on the budget until Councilman Ray could be involved in the discussions. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
The Mayor advised council that the following recommendations/reports were presented by the Planning & Zoning Commission:
1) Council was advised that the Planning & Zoning Commission did not present a recommendation to council on the rezoning request from Jessie Kujawa for her property located at #114 Osteen Road within the 30 days from the public hearing as required by the Zoning Ordinance so the request is being presented to council for consideration. It was noted that according to the City’s Zoning Ordinance the amendment request was considered approved by the planning commission if they fail to approve or disapprove within 30 days of the public hearing. The council reviewed copies of comments from Denise Grabowski recommending the denial of this rezoning request as well as copies of the minutes of the August 15th planning commission meeting where the petitioner had requested action on the rezoning request be postponed by the commission. The Mayor recognized Greg Kendryna who stated he was here to present information on behalf of Ms. Kujawa regarding this property. Mr. Kendryna advised council that Ms. Kujawa was attempting to establish the commercial zoning for her property prior to the development of the extension of the Jimmy Deloach Parkway, but pointed out it was their understanding that the county directed the City not to allow rezoning of properties in this area until they could determine what property would be needed for the interchange and the roadway. Councilman Rawlings stated that he may be partially to blame for providing this information to the petitioner, because that was his understanding from the county, when actually they had merely wanted to be notified of rezoning requests. Mr. Kendryna advised council that Ms. Kujawa would like to withdraw her rezoning petition at this time so they would not have to wait six months to reapply in the event the county completed their plans in less time. Mayor Tipton reminded Mr. Kendryna that in reviewing the criteria for the rezoning request, it had been determine that this property did not meet the guidelines and that was the reason for the proposed denial by the Planning & Zoning Commission. The Mayor asked Attorney Dickey for some guidance on this issue and was advised that the petitioner could withdraw their request, but would have to go back through the rezoning process and pay the required fees before the matter could be brought back to City Council. Councilman Strozier asked Mr. Kendryna if Ms. Kujawa understood this stipulation and he stated that they were aware of this requirement. Mr. Kendryna advised council that their plan was to request the Osteen Road area be considered as a PDOD district when the City looked at this type zoning for Highway 80. Mr. Kendryna was advised that there are no current plans to make changes along Osteen Road at this time. The Mayor asked if council needed to take a vote on their withdrawal request and was advised by Attorney Dickey that this was a dead issue and did not require a vote.
2) City Council was informed that the Planning & Zoning Commission was recommending the denial of the rezoning request from Herbert Black for his property located at Osteen Rd & Main Street. It was noted that the denial was recommended by the City’s zoning consultant and copies of comments have been distributed to council. Council was advised that a fax had been received this afternoon from Russell Black requesting that the rezoning request be removed from tonight’s agenda. Since Mr. Black was not present at the meeting, there was some question as to whether he wanted to postpone action until the next meeting or wanted to completely withdraw the request. Mr. Kendryna commented that it was his understanding that Mr. Black had sold the property. Attorney Dickey pointed out that if Mr. Black does not own the property he cannot petition for its rezoning. It was noted that the rezoning request had been submitted several weeks ago and it may have been sold since the request was filed with the City. Councilman Strozier expressed his concern that the time and efforts put into the review of these petitions by the Planning & Zoning Commission seemed to have been wasted if these requests could be withdrawn at the last minute and stated that he felt council should take the action they had recommended. After additional discussion, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to table action on this petition until the next meeting to allow Mr. Black an opportunity to address council as to whether or not he was withdrawing his rezoning request. Councilman Waller seconded the motion. The motion passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Myrick, Rawlings, and Waller. Councilmembers Strozier and Winn voted against the motion.
3) Mayor Tipton stated that the Planning & Zoning Commission was recommending the denial of the rezoning request from Ruth Stephens for her property located at #103 & #107 Osteen Road. It was noted that copies of the City’s zoning consultant’s comments had been distributed to council. The Mayor recognized Ms. Stephens’s son who advised council that she wanted to withdraw her rezoning petition. Since Attorney Dickey had informed council that the withdrawal of the request did not require any action by council, no vote was taken.
4) Council was advised that the Planning & Zoning Commission recommends the approval of two minor subdivisions presented by Diane Mosley on behalf of the estate of James T. Stringer. One subdivision is located on Cregor Street and consists of two 0.6 acre tracts. Parcel #A has road frontage of 110.57’ and is vacant. Parcel #B has 102.13’ road frontage and contains a residence. The second minor subdivision is located on Cypress and Miller Streets. This subdivision contains three lots. Parcel #A & #B consist of .5 acres each, have 120’ frontage on Cypress Street and have a residence on the property. Parcel #C includes 7.4 acres, abuts Miller and Cypress Streets and is vacant. After a brief discussion, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to approve the two minor subdivisions as presented, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
5) Councilman Rawlings reported that the Planning & Zoning Commission has voted to change their regularly scheduled meetings from the 3rd Tuesday to the 2nd Tuesday of the month starting in January, 2007.
6) Councilman Rawlings also advised council that the commission has scheduled workshops for the 4th Tuesdays of each month beginning in January, 2007 when members will be working on the Highway 80 Corridor zoning. Councilman Rawlings stated that at each regular meeting, members will decide if a workshop will be held that month and, if so, set an agenda as required. Councilman Rawlings pointed out that a public hearing would be held before any action is taken on the Highway 80 Corridor zoning issue.
Mayor Tipton recognized Sarah Harper who had requested an opportunity to address City Council regarding the traffic/parking issues at Bloomingdale School related to its increased enrollment. According to Ms. Harper, the Board of Education has been no help in meeting the growing needs of the school and she is asking that the Mayor and Council lend their advice to concerned parents and citizens about how they could address these problems and spread the word of their needs at the school. Councilman Myrick pointed out that the Board of Education would have to be involved in any decisions related to the development of a parking lot on their property, but the City would be willing to give them any information they may need from us. Roger Allen reported that the school councils have been formed to work with parents, teachers and board members on these type situations and asked Ms. Harper if they had been contacted. Ms. Harper advised him that they knew about these problems, but she did not know if they had been asked to submit anything to the board. Sue Hargrove stated that she was a member of the school council and as far as she knew no one had approached them about getting involved in this issue. Councilman Strozier pointed out that the City was already providing police officers to help with the directing of traffic at the school, but the school board has to take responsibility for these problems. Mayor Tipton advised Ms. Harper that he would be happy to help as much as possible.
The council was advised that the City had received a request from Kevin Hall to discuss the requirements for the development of a lot he owns at the corner of unopened Boulevard & Poplar Streets. Mr. Hall stated that he understands that he has to open the road and run the water and sewer lines, but he wanted to know what else had to be done before a building permit could be issued. Attorney Dickey informed Mr. Hall that his research indicated that this unopened portion of Boulevard Street was private property that was included in the proposed layout of lots sometimes in the 1930’s, but apparently was never deeded to the county. Attorney Dickey advised him that he would have to contact the adjoining property owners to get their permission to open the road and this was something that he would have to do on his own. Mr. Hall stated that he understood that this was private property and at one time all the roads were unopened, but there was still the building permit issue that he needed to resolve. Councilman Myrick advised him that in previous meetings, he had stated that he saw no problems with accessing the property from Boulevard since it seemed to be the course of least resistance, however, the City may require the road to be paved. Councilman Strozier stated that he could obtain quit claim deeds from the property owners to open the roadway. Mr. Hall was advised that the road would have to be opened to City specifications (which may include paving) with proper drainage, he would have to extend the water and sewer service to the property, and once this work had been completed and approved, he could pursue the acquisition of a building permit.
The Mayor stated that the City had received a request from Vonelle Culver, Randy Culver and Stephen Culver of #1303 & #1307 East Highway 80 to discuss with council the drainage canal to be constructed on the old railroad bed and their property. Mayor Tipton recognized Stephen Culver who asked for proof of ownership by the City of the railroad bed and was advised by the Mayor that this information is a matter of public record and was on file at the Chatham County Courthouse. Mr. Culver asked if he could obtain the environmental study on the project. Mayor Tipton advised him that the engineering firm was working on this information and once it was available the City would share it with them. Latrelle Kling asked if the design plans were available for review at the meeting. Mayor Tipton stated that it was his understanding that she had already reviewed the plans, but if anyone would like to look at them they would be available after the meeting. Ms. Kling commented that she had contacted the engineer for information about the construction of the canal and environmental study, but he advised her that he had been instructed not to discuss the project with her. Attorney Dickey stated that work on these items was still underway and advised her that we could only provide what we have in our possession for review. Attorney Dickey pointed out that Ms. Kling had requested several items be pulled for her review at a particular day and time; however, she did not keep the appointment. Ms. Kling then began to provide information directly the audience outlining details about the canal, but was reminded by the Mayor that she should be addressing council. Councilman Myrick stated that the drainage ditch had a 2’ to 1’ slope rather than a steep drop-off and had been designed to Chatham County specifications. Ms. Kling stated that if she wanted to subdivide her property in the future she would not be able to provide them access and the City was land locking her property. Ms. Kling was reminded that there is access to this property from Highway 80 and Citizen Sue Hargrove stated that if she divided the property it would be her responsibility to provide the access. Ms. Kling commented that there were three churches in the immediate area and one of them was planning to expand and she was concerned about the increased traffic flow on Highway 80 and wanted council to take this under advisement. The Mayor informed Ms. Kling that plans for the expansion of a church had not yet been submitted to the City. Ms. Kling then commented that the ditch at #110 Maple Street was in need of maintenance and in a recent ride through the City she found several drainage ditches that needed work. It was noted that the City does not have maintenance easement for many of the drainage ditches. Ms. Kling stated she felt the City needed to look at other options for the canal and to keep Main Street as a future thoroughfare for the future. The Mayor recognized Barbara Griffin who stated that she had attended the public meeting held in September and although she was not totally opposed to the canal, she was concerned about the manner in which it is to be built. Mayor Tipton advised her that the drainage ditch had been designed by Thomas & Hutton in this location after studying the City’s existing drainage and this option was the one they recommended. Councilman Myrick pointed out that all the work would be done on City property and not only would other locations require the securing of rights of way, but there would be wetlands issues that would prohibit its construction since we have other alternatives. Councilman Myrick stated that this issue has been under review and discussion for a year and this option allowed us to provide almost immediate relief to drainage problems for many portions of the City. Councilman Myrick also stated that although the smaller ditches helped in some areas, this drainage ditch would provide the most relief. Questions were raised about why the canal couldn’t be placed on the other side of the railroad bed and citizens were advised that the City’s sewer force main and the power poles were on that side and the cost to move these utilities would be cost prohibitive. Ms. Griffin expressed her concerns that the safety of the canal for children. Ms. Kling informed council that she had done some research on the deed and had questions about the City’s ownership. Ms. Griffin asked if the location of this canal had anything to do with the Morgans owning property in the area and was advised by the Mayor and Council that it did not. The Mayor recognized Robert Anderson who thanked the Mayor and Council for everything they were doing to improve the drainage in the City. Mr. Anderson stated that he lived next to a 6’ ditch and had no problems with it and did not consider it a safety issue. Mayor Tipton recognized Paul Lovezzola who stated that he understood the City’s need to provide adequate drainage for the City, but had some questions about the issue. Mr. Lovezzola asked if there would be any kind of buffers or fencing between his property and the ditch and he was advised that there were no plans, at this time, for fencing. Mr. Lovezzola asked if the ditch could be covered to preserve the roadway, but was advised that it would be cost prohibitive at this time, but if funds were available in the future that may be an option. Mr. Lovezzola stated that he had access to the railroad bed from his property, but did not want to loose it with the construction of the canal. Councilman Strozier commented that although he did not necessarily agree with the width and depth of the drainage ditch, the engineers had provided information as to why this design was the best. Councilman Strozier stated that although some of the people at this meeting may not have been affected by the flood that occurred in 1994, he knew that others had as much as 4’ of water in their homes, including his wife’s house. Councilman Strozier pointed out that this plan was the most feasible and after it is completed plans are to proceed to other drainage ditches in the City. Pete Kling commented that he had reviewed the plans and asked why the City continued to issue building permits in the areas that flood. Mr. Kling was advised that most of these homes were built before the City incorporated. The Mayor recognized Gerald Bland who stated that he has lived on Walnut Street for over 37 years and has a drainage ditch running through his property. Mr. Bland stated that he keeps it cleaned out so that his neighbors do not flood and agreed that improvements to the City’s drainage was important. Gene Autrey asked why another option couldn’t be used. Councilman Myrick advised him that the other option went through wetland areas and we are required by the Corps of Engineers to use an alternate route. Roger Allen stated that Ms. Kling and Ms. Griffin had asked him to do some research on the ownership of the railroad bed and according to his findings the City does not own the property. Latrelle Kling advised council that she wanted council to reconsider the current drainage plan and wait until the ownership issue was resolved. Greg Kendryna stated that, in his opinion, the City needed to consider instituting taxes to help pay for these type expenses rather than depending on SPLOST funds for major projects. Johnny Padgett asked why he could not get access to Main Street if others had access. Mr. Padgett was advised that the City has not issued any permits for access to the roadway. Barbara Griffin provided council with information about a recent drowning in Georgetown that involved a small child and a large drainage canal and asked that council reconsider this project. Councilman Rawlings reported that according to DCA, the City was missing a golden opportunity by not planning to develop Main Street as a business district. Councilman Rawlings stated that he had been listening to citizen comments and studying the construction plans, but felt that the project had become so big that he could not longer support it and was publicly withdrawing his support. Edgar West stated that he would appreciate the City using another route for the canal. Note: The design plans were made available for citizens to review while council was in the executive session and after the council meeting adjourned.
Mayor Tipton reported that Attorney Dickey had requested an executive session for attorney/client and litigation discussions. Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn into executive session, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. After completion of the executive session, Councilman Strozier made a motion to return to the general session. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. Councilman Strozier made a motion to execute the affidavit as required by the Open Meetings Act. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. A copy of the signed affidavit is attached to the original minutes. The Mayor advised the citizens that the executive session included discussion of personnel issues and pending litigation.
Mayor Tipton stated that this concluded the items that were presented prior to the council agenda deadline of Friday, October 13, 2006.
Councilman Waller made a motion to pay the bills, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Councilwoman Winn asked to make a statement regarding the drainage plan. Councilwoman Winn stated that she had just recently learned that one of the alternative plans would go through property she owned. Councilwoman Winn also stated that she wanted it understood that she based her approval of Alternative #1 on the engineer’s recommendation and supported the one that was the best overall plan for the City.
Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn at 9:15pm. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton and Council members Myrick, Rawlings, Strozier, Waller and Winn were present at the meeting. Councilman Ray was out of town.