March 1, 2007
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton with Councilman Ray leading in prayer. The Mayor gave citizens an update received from CEMA this afternoon related to the severe weather predicted for our area between 9:00pm tonight and 6:00am tomorrow morning and urged everyone to monitor TV and radio for further updates. The Mayor reported that the next Outstanding Citizen award would be presented at the March 15th meeting.
Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the minutes of the February 15th and February 28th council meetings, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Rawlings made a motion to approve the agenda for the March 1st meeting with the deletion of the executive session at the request of Mayor Tipton. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Attorney Dickey reported that after a review of the City’s charter and discussions with Georgia Power, a change in the charter to allow for the terms of franchise agreements to extend for more than 20 years would be in the City’s best interest. The Attorney stated that he was preparing a resolution for council’s approval at the next meeting. Council was advised by Attorney Dickey that the City would receive a higher franchise rate with the change and costs for moving power lines for road construction and improvements would be waived. Councilman Strozier pointed out that the City would also be receiving fees for industrial customers.
Mayor Tipton stated that the receipt and acceptance of the Church & Lynn Street paving project bids had been extended until March 15, 2007. It was noted that a delay in the pre-bid conference with the contractors was one of the factors in the extension along with the Mayor’s request that the bids be opened at a regular council meeting. Council was advised that notice of the extension was provided to all contractors who had picked up a bid package and will be given to those who may pick up a package between now and March 15th.
The Mayor recognized Latrelle Kling who had asked to be placed on tonight’s agenda to follow-up on the meeting with the county and citizens regarding the Master Drainage Plan. Ms. Kling asked if the meeting with Chatham County had been scheduled and was advised by Mayor that he had talked with the county and expected the meeting to be held sometimes next week. Ms. Kling made several requests of the Mayor for the meetings including having Councilman Rawlings attend the meeting with Chatham County since he was the only dissenting vote against the canal, holding the citizen meeting as soon as possible following the meeting with the county, having the citizen meeting separate from a council meeting, and allowing written questions to be presented by citizens, in advance of the citizen meeting, that would be answered at the meeting. Ms. Kling also asked if both phases would be discussed at the meeting. Mayor Tipton informed her that the county would have lots to say in the date, location and attendees of the first meeting and he stated that only Phase I would be discussed. The Mayor also advised Ms. Kling that he felt it would be more appropriate for citizens to attend the public meeting to ask their questions rather than presenting them in advance.
Attorney Dickey advised council that Attorney Earle Duncan has agreed to serve as the public defender for Bloomingdale Recorder’s Court for the period of March, 2007 through February, 2008 which includes twelve (12) court appearances at a cost of $3200. Attorney Dickey pointed out that this fee, which is the same as last year, was very reasonable. After a brief discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion to secure the services of Attorney Duncan for the terms as outlined by Attorney Dickey, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Attorney Dickey reported that council needed to ratify an amendment to the zoning ordinance that was passed in 1987 regarding the sale of used vehicles as a conditional use in a C-1 zone with a limit of 15 vehicles. This action was necessary since the ordinance had not previously been reduced to written form. Attorney Dickey reported that the ordinance read as follows: “An ordinance of the City of Bloomingdale, Georgia to ratify and reduce to written form an ordinance read and passed by the Bloomingdale City Council on May 21, 1987 and August 21, 1987 which amends the “List of Permissible and Conditional Uses” to allow the sale of used cars, up to a limit of fifteen cars for sale per parcel, in a C-1 zone as a conditional use and for other purposes.” Attorney Dickey pointed out that this step was merely a formality to allow the Mayor to sign the ratified ordinance for inclusion in the current Code of Ordinances. Attorney Dickey also advised council that since parking lots were allowed in C-1 zones, the only limit that could be placed on the number of vehicles that were on a parcel in that zoning district would be in the number that was for sale; therefore, other types of vehicles such as wreckers and personal vehicles would not be restricted. Citizen Wayne Purvis asked the Mayor why the ordinance was being changed and he was advised that this was not a change to the ordinance but was merely the ratification of the amendment to the zoning ordinance that was approved in 1987. Latrelle Kling asked a similar question and was informed that nothing was being changed it was merely being prepared in written form. After this discussion, Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance to ratify and reduce to written form the amendment to the zoning ordinance as outlined by Attorney Dickey, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes with Councilman Strozier abstaining. Councilman Myrick made a motion to dispense with the second reading and to approve ratification of the amendment to the zoning ordinance regarding the sale of used vehicles, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes with Councilman Strozier abstaining.
Mayor Tipton stated that he would like council to consider the adoption of an ordinance covering automotive dealerships for new and used vehicles and the addition of definitions of terms, such as “parking lots” to the current Code of Ordinances. The Mayor asked Attorney Dickey to provide the City with copies of these type ordinances for review and discussion.
Council discussed a request from the Bloomingdale Lion’s Club to erect a flagpole at the Bloomingdale Community Building. Lion’s Club member Zeke Boatright reported that the Woodmen of the World had supplied the club with a lightweight aluminum flagpole, but they needed some direction from council on where it could be placed. Councilman Rawlings noted that the flagpole needed to be installed where the flag could have a light on it and where the pole could be secured. After a brief discussion, Councilman Strozier agreed to meet with Mr. Boatright on Monday to help determine the best location for the flagpole to be erected.
Mayor Tipton took a moment to recognize former Mayor Ben Rozier who had come into the meeting after the call to order.
Councilwoman Winn reported that the Recreation Committee had been working with director Joe Young on installing a security gate and some fencing at Taylor Park to help with security problems at the park. Councilwoman Winn stated that two prices had been obtained on the security gate with the prices varying from $1100 to $1800. Council was advised by Councilwoman Winn that the fencing could be done in house and would be installed from the gate to the tree line on both sides of the property. After discussing the plans, Councilman Ray made a motion that the Recreation Committee be allowed to review the prices on the security gate and proceed with its purchase and installation. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Myrick stated that once the security gate and fencing is installed, he felt the police department needed to be involved in the opening and closing of the park and asked that Chief Gossett get with Joe Young to set up this responsibility for the duty officer.
Council was advised that the City had received notice from SunTrust Bank that their returned check fees have increased by $3.50. It was noted that our current returned check charges are $25. After a brief discussion, Councilman Waller made a motion to increase the City’s returned check fees to $30 per check effective immediately. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Councilman Rawlings reported that the City needed to appoint another member to the Chatham Urban Transportation Study Advisory Committee. Councilman Rawlings stated that he had been advised that Bill Grainger was not able to attend the CUTS Advisory Committee meetings on a regular basis due to other conflicts and had agreed to step down from the committee. Councilman Rawlings advised council that he was also a member, but there needed to be a second member appointed that would be able to attend the meetings so there would be at least one Bloomingdale representative at each meeting. Councilman Rawlings stated that he would like to nominate Gerald Cook to serve on the committee as one of Bloomingdale’s representatives and Mr. Cook had agreed to serve in this capacity. It was noted that Mr. Cook was not able to be at tonight’s meeting due to a previous engagement. After a brief discussion, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to appoint Gerald Cook to the Chatham Urban Transportation Study Advisory Committee. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Councilman Rawlings asked that council consider replacing Herman Rawlins on the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center’s Historic Preservation Advisory Council. Councilman Rawlings stated that he had talked with Mr. Rawlins about his interest in remaining on the committee and was advised by Mr. Rawlins that it was alright with him if council wanted to appoint someone else. Councilman Rawlings presented Eutween Griffin, a member of the History Society, for council’s consideration. After a brief discussion, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to replace Herman Rawlins with Eutween Griffin as Bloomingdale’s appointee to the Historic Preservation Advisory Council. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Councilman Rawlings reported that he had asked for an update on the zoning map amendments and was advised that a draft map containing the zoning, street, and boundary information was expected back from RDC in late March or early April. Mayor Tipton pointed out this map will never actually be 100% accurate because it will be constantly undergoing changes. Attorney Dickey pointed out that although the City will attempt to have a map for reference, the “official” zoning/boundary information is still the votes taken by council rather than the information that may appear on a map.
Councilman Rawlings stated that he had been reviewing some information regarding building permits that were currently under review for final inspections and questioned the length of time that some of the permits had been outstanding. Councilman Ray commented that it is up to the citizens to call for inspections as the work is done and some steps require completed forms to be submitted to the City Hall to initiate the inspection. It was noted that although our current ordinances require construction to begin within six months of the issuance of the permit, there is no deadline on final completion of the construction. Attorney Dickey pointed out that state building code requirements indicate that construction should proceed as to require inspections at least every six months and this would seem to allow for a continuous permit as long as inspections are initiated every six months. After continued discussion of this issue, council agreed that the City needed to pursue an amendment to the ordinance to setting deadlines for completion of construction.
Councilman Rawlings requested that copies of notices of meetings be placed in his mail basket as he checks it on a daily basis.
The Mayor recognized Latrelle Kling who had requested that she be placed on tonight’s agenda to discuss two items: 1) Ms. Kling indicated she had reviewed the City’s ordinances, but did not find a requirement that flags placed on City property have a light on them at night. Ms. Kling was advised that a City ordinance was not necessary as this was proper protocol when flying the flag. Ms. Kling stated that she felt there may have been a lack of communication with issues related to the flag at the community building; and 2) Ms. Kling commented that she felt the City’s Code of Ordinances needed to be review for inconsistencies and clarifications in some areas and suggested that outside agencies may be used for this purpose.
Councilman Rawlings stated that Mary Mitchell was not able to attend tonight’s meeting due to illness and reported that plans were underway for this year’s Keep Bloomingdale Beautiful Campaign. Councilman Rawlings provided the following information for the 2007 campaign: April 7th – City Wide Garbage/Yard Sale - 8:00am to 5:00pm; April 14th – Earth Day Walk – 8:00am to 11:00am, Chili Cook Off – 12:00noon to 2:00pm, and Gospel Sing at Piney Grove Baptist Church – 4:00pm; and April 28th – Community Cookout in Taylor Park – 4:00pm to 9:00pm. Councilman Rawlings encouraged everyone’s involvement in this year’s events.
Councilwoman Winn asked if council planned to hold the Memorial Day Celebration this year at Taylor Park and everyone expressed a desire to continue the event. Mayor Tipton stated that since she had done such a great job with the event last year he would like to see Councilwoman Winn chairing this year’s celebration. Councilwoman Winn agreed to head up the event and Councilmembers Strozier and Rawlings volunteered to help. Council was advised that the cost of the fireworks display had increased tremendously since last year and was estimated to cost about $5,000 this year. Council discussed this issue and agreed that unless donations could be obtained for the cost of the fireworks we probably should not include this activity in the program.
Council was advised of the E-Recycling Event to be held on March 31, 2007 at Lake Mayer from 9:00am until 1:00pm. It was noted that the Garden City Public Works located on Main Street and the Pooler Recycling Center on Rogers Avenue will serve as satellite locations in our area. The items being accepted include computers, telephones, calculators, tape players, cash registers, fax machines and other electronic equipment. Copies of the flyer about the event were distributed to those present at the meeting. Councilman Rawlings encouraged everyone to participate in this event as it was a great way to recycle these type items rather than having them end up in the landfills.
Mayor Tipton recognized Fire Chief Tyler who presented council with some information regarding the matching funds that were needed by the fire department for the communication equipment they had received through a grant and stated that the department had also received confirmation on receipt of another grant that would require matching funds in the next several months. Chief Tyler stated that the radios that were currently being used by the fire department would become obsolete by the end of the year. Councilman Strozier asked if the radios they were currently using could be utilized by anyone else. Chief Tyler stated that the radios could not be reprogrammed and would be useless. Chief Tyler advised council that there were ten (10) radios for trucks and four (4) portables included in this grant with $9,826 in matching funds needing to be provided by the fire department. Chief Tyler was reminded that unless the equipment was owned by the City of Bloomingdale the City could not approve the use of SPLOST funds and as previously explained, there were no other funds available in this year’s budget. Attorney Dickey asked the Chief if he had a copy of the agreement that the fire department had entered into when the grant funds were requested so he could see if it would be possible for ownership of the equipment to be transferred to the City. Chief Tyler stated he could provide him with this information. The Mayor asked the Chief about the equipment that was involved in the second grant that he had mentioned earlier and asked if he knew the amount of matching funds that would be needed for that grant. Chief Tyler stated he did not have that specific information at this time, but noted that the other equipment was more radios and other communication items. Further discussion on this issue was tabled until Attorney Dickey could review the agreement to be provided by the fire department. Chief Tyler requested a meeting be scheduled to begin discussions on the renewal of the fire protection contract. Council agreed that the Public Safety Committee could conduct the initial discussions. The Mayor asked that Councilman Ronald Waller, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, get with Chief Tyler to schedule a meeting.
Mayor Tipton reported that the City was currently in discussions with International Paper Realty Corporation concerning water and sewer service to their property located south of I-16. In order to provide the water and sewer service to the IP property, the City of Bloomingdale would have to enter into an agreement with the City of Savannah and in the proposed agreement Bloomingdale must request CAT service for the area from Chatham County. The Mayor pointed out that council is concerned about signing an agreement that may initiate an additional tax for any of its citizens. Mayor Tipton stated that it may be possible for a special tax district to be created consisting of only IP property and the CAT tax would only be required of those properties located within that special tax district. Mayor Tipton explained that the City of Savannah agreement would provide up to 320,000 gpd of water/sewer capacity for that area, but there was still a question as to whether it would be surface or groundwater. In additional discussion, it was noted that the City of Savannah’s agreement includes a capital recovery charge at a cost of $1,650 per ERU as the base water rate and $4,650 per ERU as the base sewer rate. These fees would be in addition to Bloomingdale’s fees. Attorney Dickey reported that there would still have to be an agreement signed between IP and Bloomingdale before the City could sign the agreement with the City of Savannah. Fire Chief Tyler provided some comments regarding fire hydrants and booster stations and Attorney Dickey made note of this information. Council raised some questions regarding the use of more than one rate structure and Attorney Dickey stated he would investigate whether this would be a possibility. Additional discussion included costs related to sewer improvements required by the state, changes to our agreements if Savannah’s ordinances should change, and recovery of costs related to extension of the infrastructure for future development. Mayor Tipton stated that these agreements were still under negotiation, but he wanted to let the citizens know what was being considered for that area.
Mayor Tipton reported that this concluded the items received by the council meeting agenda deadline of Friday, February 23, 2007.
During committee reports, Citizens Eutween Griffin and Florence Davis questioned the ownership of the fence that ran parallel to Church Street on the Bloomingdale Elementary School property and if was going to be removed and/or replaced when the street was paved. It was noted that the fence had been installed by the City years ago when we leased the property from the Board of Education for use as ball fields, but it was going to be removed during the paving process. However, at an estimated cost of $5,000 to $6,000 for a new fence, there were no plans by the City to replace it. Ms. Davis asked whose responsibility it would be to put up another fence and was advised that since the property was owned by the Board of Education she may want to talk with them once the paving project was completed. Councilman Rawlings suggested that the Water/Sewer Committee make a list of their concerns about the IP project prior to the public hearing to be held on March 13th for the rezoning of the property.
Mayor Tipton presented the accounts payable for consideration. Councilman Ray made a motion to pay the bills, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn at 8:35pm. Councilman Rawlings seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton and all council members were present at the meeting.
Note: Section § 50-14-1 of the Official Code of the State of Georgia Annotated requires that the minutes shall, as a minimum, include a description of each motion or other proposal made, and a record of all votes. These minutes meet the minimum requirements. However, in an attempt to provide as much information as possible to the citizens, the recording clerk has included additional background data and discussion on the subjects presented to council. The statements of individuals are not verbatim and may be summary in nature.