April 5, 2007
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton with Councilman Ray leading in prayer. Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 15, 2007 meeting, the motion was seconded by Councilman Strozier and it passed with six affirmative votes. A motion was made by Councilwoman Winn to approve the agenda for the April 5, 2007 meeting and Councilman Ray seconded the motion. The motion passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton stated that a public hearing would now be held to receive citizen input on a request from International Paper Realty to rezone a 64.2 acre tract of their property located at DOT Barn Road and Little Neck Road from RA, Rural Agricultural to C-2/PDOD, General Commercial/Planned Development Overlay District. It was noted that International Paper had originally requested this parcel to be zoned R-3/PDOD, Multiple Unit Residential/Planned Development Overlay District and a public hearing had been held on March 13, 2007 on this tract as well as two other tracts that were to be changed from RA to C-2/PDOD. However, since that hearing, International Paper had decided to develop all three tracts as C-2/PDOD, so another public hearing had to be conducted. The Mayor recognized Mike Vaquer who is representing International Paper Realty in this rezoning process and Mr. Vaquer outlined the general plans for the International Paper Realty’s property. Mr. Vaquer explained that this property is part of the New Hampstead Development south of I-16 with approximately 200 acres in Bloomingdale and the rest of the property in Savannah. Mr. Vaquer showed citizens a map of the development. Citizens were advised that the overlay district allowed some general commercial businesses, but others were conditional uses and others not at all. Mr. Vaquer pointed out that along with limits placed on some businesses by Bloomingdale; International Paper Realty had their own restrictions in place. Becky Reese asked if a nightclub could be located in this area and was advised that this type business was a “conditional use” and approval for a permit would be at the discretion of the Mayor and City Council. Martin Collins asked Mr. Vaquer where the International Paper dump was located. Mr. Collins was advised that ½ was in Bloomingdale and the other ½ was in Savannah. Mr. Vaquer stated that the site would probably remain dormant for awhile but as time permitted it may be converted to some type recreational area. Latrelle Kling asked if the developed would be tenant/landlord or would it be sold. Mr. Vaquer stated that International Paper Realty would be selling the property, but would retain significant control through a management group/association that would review site plans before they were even submitted to the Mayor and Council for consideration to make sure the plans were consistent with the overall plan for the New Hampstead development. Councilman Myrick asked if they had their own covenants for the development and Mr. Vaquer advised him that they did have covenants and that would be a third way for International Paper to control the type businesses that were located on the property. Being no further discussion, Mayor Tipton closed the public hearing.
Mayor Tipton reported that Southeast Engineering had reviewed the four bids submitted for the Church & Lynn Street Paving Project that were opened at the last meeting and found them to be in order. After a brief discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion to accept the low bid as submitted by Ellis Wood Contracting, Inc. in the amount of $206,846.00 with a $22cy price for mucking if it was necessary. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
The Mayor advised citizens that the engineers were still working with Chatham County on the issues that were discussed at the March 8th meeting as related to Phase 1 of the City’s drainage plan and he stated this information would be reported to the citizens as soon as it was available.
Mayor Tipton recognized Latrelle Kling who raised questions about Thomas & Hutton’s costs to the City related to the redesign of the drainage canal to correct design flaws as identified by Chatham County Engineering. Mayor Tipton reported that the county’s main concern was the additional discharge of water into the Hardin Canal. Ms. Kling asked if the exiting contract with Thomas & Hutton had been amended to cover any additional costs and the Mayor advised her that there had not been an amendment to the existing contract, but if it was necessary, the contract could be amended. Ms. Kling commented that according to correspondence from the county engineering department the county would not accept the City’s plan. Councilman Myrick pointed out that the county suggested some modifications to the plan, but did not refuse to accept the project. It was also noted that this is a Bloomingdale drainage plan, not a county drainage plan. Ms. Kling asked what was taking place on the project at this time and Mayor Tipton stated he had reported just prior to this discussion that the engineers were working on the issues raised by Chatham County. Mayor Tipton recognized Pete Kling who asked what the engineers were looking at on the plan. The Mayor advised him that as was previously explained, the engineers were working on the proposed discharge of water into the Hardin Canal. After this discussion, the Mayor moved on to new business.
Mayor Tipton presented for council’s consideration the water/sewer agreement between the City of Bloomingdale and the City of Savannah. Attorney Dickey pointed out that he has reviewed the agreement and some revisions requested by the City have been made, but suggested that if the council approved the agreement that it be made on the condition of Bloomingdale entering into agreements with International Paper Realty. Questions were raised about the consequences of the City purchasing water from Savannah to sell to International Paper since there would be no guarantee that the property would be developed as well as other concerns over the cost of the infrastructure for the City. The Mayor recognized Mike Vaquer who informed the citizens that there was no liability on the City’s part since there was no requirement in the agreement that the City of Bloomingdale purchase any water. Mr. Vaquer also pointed out that International Paper Realty was constructing the water/sewer lines, a water metering station and a sewer metering station at no cost to the City. Mr. Vaquer stated that International Paper Realty will install a sewer line for their use as well as a 4” sewer line along side of their sewer main for future expansion. Citizens were informed that the agreement with Savannah included water capacity for Bloomingdale up to 324,000 gpd and International Paper Realty’s anticipated usage was about 75,000 gpd. It was noted that the balance of the capacity could be used for the development of other properties within the city limits of Bloomingdale. Ms. Kling questioned how the City would keep up with the building permits in this area, but was advised by the Mayor that the agenda item concerned the water/sewer agreement, not building permits. After this discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion to enter into the water/sewer agreement with the City of Savannah on the condition that agreements are executed between International Paper Realty and the City of Bloomingdale. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council discussed the request from International Paper Realty to rezone three (3) parcels of their property consisting of a total of approximately 196 acres located in the City along DOT Barn Road and Little Neck Road from RA, Rural Agriculture to C-2/PDOD, General Commercial/Planned Development Overlay District. Citizen Patrice Russell asked about the geographic location of the development and expressed concern about the protection of the smaller bedroom community that Bloomingdale is now. Mayor Tipton asked Councilman Rawlings to respond on behalf of the Planning & Zoning Commission. Councilman Rawlings stated that the commission has recognized that the areas that will be targeted for commercial developments are at the intersections of interstate highways as well as along U.S. Highway 80 and Jimmy Deloach Parkway. Councilman Rawlings pointed out that although the commission wanted to protect Bloomingdale’s bedroom community status, they felt that these type locations were ideal for commercial establishments and stated that developers will be required to maintain adequate buffers around adjoining residential areas. In response to questions regarding similarities to Pooler Parkway, citizens were advised that commercial developments will not only provide more jobs and revenues, but there is less strain on the City with commercial development versus residential development. Citizen Charles Hutchinson asked if the water/sewer services in that area would be available to other developments and was advised that it would, but any costs related to the infrastructure would be the responsibility of the developer. Mayor Tipton stated that International Paper Realty and the City were still working on agreements related to the water, sewer and CAT service to the area. After additional discussion, Councilman Strozier made a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance to rezone the 196± acres of International Paper Realty property located at DOT Barn Road and Little Neck Road to a General Commercial/Planned Development Overlay District, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council reviewed a request from the Reverend J.S. Hartman to place a 36’ x 60’ portable building on the property of the Azusa Now Church located at #1410 Pine Barren Road for their use for worship services and Sunday school classes. Reverend Hartman explained that due to the location of the existing building and the septic tank/drain fields, the church will not be able to place the building the distance as required by ordinance from the rear property line and they are requesting a 5’ variance. Reverend Hartman stated that there would be no bathroom facilities in this portable building, but it would have heating/air conditioning. Councilman Ray made a motion to grant the rear yard variance to the Azusa New Church for the portable building. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council reviewed a request from Randy Roberts to transfer his home occupation license from his previous residence located at #115 Michael Street to his new residence located at #123 Michael Street. It was noted that Mr. Roberts operates the “office only” of his vinyl signs business from his residence and has already obtained his 2007 license. Councilman Myrick stated that Mr. Roberts was his neighbor and his home occupation license has not caused any problems in the past. After a brief discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion to grant the transfer of Randy Roberts’ home occupation license from #115 Michael Street to #123 Michael Street for the operation of the “office only” of his vinyl sign business. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton stated that Councilman Rawlings is presenting for council’s consideration the appointment of Charles Hutchinson to serve on the CUTS Citizens’ Advisory Committee as his replacement. Councilman Rawlings stated that he was having problems making the meetings of the committee due to his work schedule and conflicts with City meetings and Mr. Hutchinson expressed an interest in serving on this committee. After a brief discussion, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to appoint Charles Hutchinson as one of the City of Bloomingdale’s representatives on the CUTS Citizens’ Advisory Committee as his replacement. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Councilwoman Winn reported that Recreation Director Joe Young has requested that council establish the opening and closing times for Taylor Park and designate responsibility for this task. Mr. Young stated that when activities were taking place at the park the closing time may vary, but the opening time could be set at sunrise. It was noted that in previous discussions, council had agreed that the duty officer could handle this task and Councilwoman Winn asked Mr. Young if he could provide the police department with the schedule of games and gate keys. Mr. Young stated that he would provide them and after this discussion, Councilwoman Winn made a motion to allow Joe Young to get with the police department to establish a schedule for the opening and closing of Taylor Park and furnish them with the appropriate keys. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton presented a request from Mitol Bhupewdra Patel for an occupational license to operate a liquor/package store from #502E Highway 80. It was noted that the property, located at the corner of U.S. Highway 80 and Douglas Court, is located in a C-1 zone which allows liquor/package stores as a “conditional use”. The Mayor recognized Bakol Bhagat, who stated that he was at the meeting on behalf of Mr. Patel. Mr. Bhagat was informed that City ordinance requires that the building in which the business is held must be located 200 yards from any daycare facility and there was a daycare facility located near the corner of U.S. Highway 80 and Chestnut Street. It was also suggested from citizens that children are being kept on a daily basis just across the street from Douglas Plaza, but it was noted that if there is a business being operated from this location it has not been licensed by the City. Mr. Bhagat was advised that he would need to verify the exact distance from the property line of the daycare facility to the Douglas Plaza building. If the distance is over 200 yards, the Mayor and Council will schedule a public hearing for citizen input on the request and then make their determination on the issuance of the conditional use permit. No action was taken on this request until additional information could be presented to council by the applicant.
The Mayor reported that the City has received information from the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency (GIRMA) for their members to participate in their new Law Enforcement Initiative program. By participating in the program, the City can receive discounts on its law enforcement liability rates with the initial discount of 3% to 5% for 2007 and from 12% to 20% in subsequent years. According to Chief Gossett, the City has already met the major requirement of being GACP State Certified and currently participates in the annual training required by LGRMS. After discussing the financial benefits of this program, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to approve execution of the agreement with GIRMA to participate in the Law Enforcement Initiative Program by Mayor Tipton and Chief Gossett. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton recognized Latrelle Kling who asked to be placed on the agenda to discuss the following items: 1) Proposed summer council meeting schedule as related to the GA Open Meeting requirements as evident with called February 28th council meeting - Ms. Kling stated that she had been informed that the Mayor and Council met in a called council meeting on February 28th on what she referred to as “team dynamics” and the meeting had not been properly advertised nor did it seem to be an emergency situation. Ms. Kling was advised by Attorney Dickey that there did not have to be an emergency situation for called meetings. Ms. Kling expressed her concern that meetings held on short notice would not allow time for citizens to participate in them. Mayor Tipton informed Ms. Kling that the meeting was properly advertised and copies of this information were available at City Hall. Mayor Tipton also advised Ms. Kling that there was no intention to exclude any citizen from attending any meeting of the Mayor and Council and all meetings were advertised as outlined in the Open Meetings Act; and 2) Misinformation published and distributed to Bloomingdale Citizens in City’s 1st quarter newsletter article on Master Drainage Plan Phase 1 - Ms. Kling questioned the accuracy of the information that appeared in the newsletter as it seemed to indicate that the project was still underway and asked the Mayor who wrote the article. Mayor Tipton informed her that the clerk had written the article at his request and Ms. Kling questioned whether or not the council had signed off on the newsletter before it was sent out. Mayor Tipton advised her that councilmembers did not approve information published in the newsletters, but he did not know of anything that appeared in the newsletter that was not accurate. He noted that the newsletter contained updates on activities and/or projects taking place in the City, general information on meeting schedules and various articles requested by committees and/or officials. Ms. Kling stated that the information on the drainage plan indicated that progress was still underway; however, according to a copy of the minutes of the March 8th meeting with Chatham County the plan does not meet the county’s approval. Ms. Kling also pointed out that according to the article the City would be putting the project out for bids and questioned whether council even cared what the citizens thought about it. Ms. Kling asked the Mayor who is actually working on the plan and he advised her that Thomas & Hutton was doing the work. After additional questions and comments from Ms. Kling the Mayor stated that he was convinced that this drainage plan was a good one and was in the best interest of the majority of the citizens of Bloomingdale. The Mayor also stated that he had talked with the City’s engineers and asked for an update on their progress and had been informed that they had gotten the amount of proposed discharge into the Hardin Canal down to 1”. Mayor Tipton pointed out that he really appreciated the questions that they had raised on the plan because it had heightened awareness of the drainage problems in the City. The Mayor noted that as development in this area increases there will be less natural ground to absorb a heavy rain’s runoff and it needed somewhere to go to eliminate the flooding of homes. Mayor Tipton stated that with a good storm drain system the City will be better able to control potential drainage problems. Ms. Kling urged the Mayor to establish a citizen’s advisory group to work with the county on the drainage problems and to come up with a plan. Ms. Kling stated that she did not feel that a meeting with the citizens needed to be held at this time until a better plan could be prepared. Mayor Tipton stated that he felt Ms. Kling’s questions had been answered and we should move on to other business; however, he agreed to take one more comment. The Mayor recognize Pete Kling who stated that he did not feel council had actually voted on this plan and felt no more money should be spent on the current drainage plan until a more feasible plan could be developed. Mayor Tipton then moved on to the next agenda item.
Council was advised that the City had received three (3) bids for the installation of fencing for a police department impound yard at the rear of their building. The bids were as follows: 1) Westside Fence Co. - $5745; 2) Sunshine Fence Co. - $6,250; and 3) Savannah Fence & Entry Systems, Inc. - $7488. After the opening of the bids the council discussed several options for the funding of the project. After a brief discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion to table acceptance of a bid until a determination could be made on the best method of funding the fence. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton recognized Mary Mitchell who provided council with a schedule of the upcoming events related to the 2007 Keep Bloomingdale Beautiful Campaign. Ms. Mitchell pointed out that the month of April was also the Keep Georgia Beautiful Campaign. Ms. Mitchell advised the citizens that Bloomingdale’s events will be as follows: April 7th – City-wide Garage Sales-citizens were invited to participate by holding yard sales at their homes and were advised that signs advertising their sales could be put up on Friday, April 6th, but should be taken down as soon as the sale was over; April 14th – a Cleanup Walk down Main Street will take place from 8:00am until 11:00am and will end at the Bloomingdale Elementary School on Pine Street where refreshments will be served. The Bloomingdale History Society will be hosting a “Chili Cook-off” at the Bloomingdale Community Building from 12:00noon until 2:00pm. Citizens were encouraged to bring a crock-pot of chili and advised that votes for the best chili will be taken with canned goods to be donated to the community food bank. A gospel sing will be held at the Piney Grove Baptist Church starting at 4:00pm and everyone is invited to attend; April 28th a Community Cook-out will be held at Taylor Park with the Bloomingdale Recreation Department having the concessions as a fund-raiser for recreation activities. Non-food vendors are invited to set up their booths during this event. The entertainment will be provided by BJ who works at Randy Woods Guitars and this event will be held between 4:00pm and 9:00pm. Ms. Mitchell encouraged everyone to support this year’s Keep Bloomingdale Beautiful Campaign and advised everyone that financial donations were also being accepted to help with costs related to beautifying Bloomingdale.
Councilwoman Winn reported that plans for the City’s annual Patriotic Celebration to be held on Memorial Day May 28, 2007 were underway. The event will be held from 5:00pm until 9:00pm at Taylor Park. The entertainment will be provided by Nashville artist Claudia Nygaard along with Bloomingdale native, Jimmy Maddox. Councilwoman Winn stated that the main purpose of this event is to honor the veterans and active military and a tribute to these individuals will be held during the festivities. Citizens were advised that there will be rides for the children, the Bloomingdale Recreation Department will be selling concessions, and at the end of the evening there will be a fireworks display. Councilwoman Winn invited everyone to come out, bring their lawns chairs and quilts, and enjoy the fun, food, and fellowship. Latrelle Kling asked how many people were at the event last year. Councilwoman Winn stated that she was not sure the number that attended. Ms. Kling asked the Mayor if he knew how many were there and he advised her that he was not sure of the exact number, but there were quite a large amount of people at the park. Pete Kling asked the Mayor for a ballpark figure, but the Mayor stated there were people coming and going throughout the night so he just did not know how many attended. After they made several comments about no one knowing how many people were there a citizen in the audience advised them that there were well over 200 people in attendance. Councilwoman Winn then stated that this event was a serious matter and was being held to honor the persons who made the supreme sacrifice so that citizens had the freedom to attend council meetings and act like they had at tonight’s meeting.
Mayor Tipton stated that the next item on the agenda was for an executive session for the discussion of attorney/client & personnel issues. Councilman Ray made a motion to adjourn into executive session, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. At the conclusion of the executive session, Councilman Myrick made a motion to return to the general session and execute the affidavit as required by the Open Meetings Act, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. A copy of the signed affidavit is attached to the original minutes. Mayor Tipton reported that an amendment to the City of Bloomingdale’s Personnel Policy was being considered and it was to add the following to General Information: Compensation – All pay increases will become effective on the first day of the pay period following a salary increase event. Councilman Myrick made a motion to amend the Personnel Policy to include this statement, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. The Mayor also reported that he was considering the appointment of a Fire Protection Committee to review information on options for fire protection in Bloomingdale.
Mayor Tipton stated that this concludes the items received by the council meeting agenda deadline of Friday, March 30, 2007.
The following information was presented under committee reports: Councilwoman Winn reported that the fencing and gate were up at Taylor Park and noted that Recreation Director Joe Young has been provided a truck for his use in recreation related activities. Councilman Strozier reported that a meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 10th with school officials to discuss their sewer lift station. Councilman Myrick reported that with the acceptance of the bid on the Church & Lynn Street paving project he hoped to meet with the contractor in the next few weeks. Councilman Myrick recognized Buddy Burke who had recently retired from the City and reported that Ernest Grizzard will be in charge of the public works department. Mayor Tipton recognized Zeke Boatright who stated that he would like to schedule a dedication ceremony for the installation of the flagpole at the community building and the Mayor and council members stated they thought this was a good idea and would see about setting a date.
The accounts payable were reviewed. Councilman Ray made a motion to pay the bills with Councilman Waller seconding the motion. The motion passed with affirmative votes from Council members Myrick, Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn. Councilman Rawlings abstained.
Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn at 9:35pm. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton and all council members attended 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.