May 17, 2007
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton with the Reverend Loran Smith leading in prayer.
The Mayor reported that the Outstanding Citizen Award presentation would be postponed until the next meeting since the recipient was not able to attend tonight’s meeting.
Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 3, 2007 meeting. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Winn and passed with six affirmative votes. The agenda for the May 17th meeting was reviewed. Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the agenda with the addition of a personnel issue to the executive session at the request of Mayor Tipton and to move the agenda request from Kern-Coleman to the beginning of new business. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
The Mayor reported that Latrelle Kling had requested she be placed on tonight’s agenda for an update on the proposed revisions on Thomas & Hutton’s Main Street Drainage Plan to comply with Chatham County requirements as identified in the March 8th meeting and an update on the Public Hearing/Meeting on the plan. Mayor Tipton advised Ms. Kling that the engineers were still working on the revisions and as previously discussed, the public meeting will be scheduled once the revisions have been completed. Ms. Kling asked questions about the plan, but was advised by the Mayor that there was no additional information to share at this time.
The Mayor reported that the City had received a request from Gerlinde Sanders to operate the “office only” of a handmade jewelry business from her residence located at #447 Wallace Circle. It was noted that discussion of this request was tabled at the last meeting because Ms. Sanders was not present. The Mayor recognized Ms. Sanders who reported that she would be the only employee and there would be no outside traffic related to the business coming to the residence. Ms. Sanders advised council that she did most of her sales via a website. Being no further discussion, Councilman Strozier made a motion to waive the public hearing requirement and issue the home occupation license to Ms. Sanders as requested. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton recognized Chip Butts with Kern-Coleman & Co. who wanted to discuss with council the plans for sewer disposal that have been submitted to the City by their firm on behalf of the developers of the Highway 80 Commercial Retail Center. The retail center will be located on the north side of Highway 80 between Magnolia Lane Apartments and Broughton Street. Mr. Butts stated that after talking with EMC Engineering, who had reviewed these plans on behalf of the City, about the sewer disposal requirements for the building they are proposing the use of two Model #2014 duplex grinder pump stations. It was noted that a restaurant is proposed in this building and if problems should occur with grease build-up from the restaurant it could affect all of the businesses, so one of the grinder pumps will be dedicated for use at the restaurant. The remaining six units will be served by the other duplex grinder pump. As required by the sewer ordinance, the restaurant will also have to install a grease trap between the building and the grinder pump and the construction plans will include these details. Councilman Strozier advised Mr. Butts that the electrical power for the grinder pumps serving the building must be on one panel with the landlord being responsible for the service since the rental units will be sharing the pumps. Also, Councilman Strozier advised him that the revised plans needed to reflect the requirement that in the event the two duplex grinder pumps do not properly handle the sewer disposal for the building, the landlord will be responsible for all costs related to providing additional grinder pumps. Mr. Butts stated that the construction plans will be modified to reflect these changes and resubmitted to City Hall. Mr. Butts advised council that he wanted to make sure that with this sewer issue being resolved that the developer could proceed with getting his construction permit. Council agreed that once the plans are modified and the City’s engineer provided their approval, the permitting process could continue.
Council reviewed a request for a home occupation license as submitted by DeLaurie L. Self to operate a hair salon at the residence located at #210 Cypress Street. The owners of the property, Glenda & Sidney Key, have provided written permission for the salon to be operated by Ms. Self from this property. Ms. Self will be the only employee. Since there would be outside traffic related to the business coming to the residence, a public hearing is normally held. However, a public hearing was held on September 15, 2005 for a one-chair salon to be operated by Glenda Key from this same location and there were no objections from the neighbors. Council discussed the request, but felt that since there would be a new owner of the business and there may be different neighbors in the area, it would be best to conduct another public hearing. Ms. Self stated that she was still doing business at a location in Pooler and could wait to relocate after a public hearing was held. Council agreed to hold the public hearing on June 21, 2007 at the regularly scheduled council meeting.
Mayor Tipton recognized Reverend Loran Smith who was requesting, on behalf of the Alpha United Methodist Church, approval for the issuance of a fence permit and variance for the chainlink enclosure placed around the playground on their property located at #5 East Highway 80. It was noted that the fenced in area is 50’ x 60’ and the chainlink fencing is 6’ high. Councilman Rawlings advised the Mayor that due to a personal conflict he was excusing himself from discussion of this request and he left the podium. Latrelle Kling raised the question about other members of the council, specifically Councilman Strozier and Councilwoman Winn, also having conflicts of interest due to their attending the church. Councilwoman Winn stated that Ms. Kling had not given her the opportunity to advise the Mayor that she was excusing herself from the discussion, but would do so now. Attorney Dickey stated that it was not necessary for Ms. Winn to leave the podium. Ms. Kling asked if Councilman Strozier was going to excuse himself and he advised her that he did not feel that he had a personal conflict and had not yet decided whether or not he would vote on the matter. Reverend Smith advised council that the members of the committee were not aware that they were required to get a fence permit for the playground area, but once they had been made aware of the requirement, they submitted their permit application. Reverend Smith extended his apologies to the Mayor and Council for any confusion that may have occurred as a result of their failure to get the permit in advance of the construction. Pete Kling asked why the permit was not obtained prior to the installation of the fence. Reverence Smith assured him that it was not intentional, but merely an oversight. After continued comments from a couple of members of the audience about why the church did not get a permit before installing the fence, Mayor Tipton interceded and informed those raising the questions that he felt the pastor had adequately explained the church’s position and asked those raising the questions to be seated. Council was advised that the church property is located in a C-1 zone that does not allow chainlink fencing; however, the ordinance allows for the board of appeals (City Council) to grant general variances to these requirements and the fence meets the setback and height requirements of the ordinance. The Mayor recognized Betty Burke, who stated that the church had been working on this project for some time, but everything came together very fast and they did not realize a fence permit was needed around the playground. Ms. Burke pointed out that the church was willing to do whatever was needed to get council’s approval for the issuance of the fence permit and the variance. Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the issuance of the fence permit with a variance being granted for the use of chainlink fencing material. Councilman Waller seconded the motion. The motion received affirmative votes from Councilmembers Myrick, Ray, and Waller. Councilman Strozier abstained from voting. Councilman Rawlings returned to the podium.
Council reviewed an agreement to provide a 60-day extension of the electric franchise agreement between the City and Georgia Power Co. Mayor Tipton reported that the current agreement that was approved by council on February 1, 2007 expires on May 31, 2007. Although a resolution has been presented to the legislators for a change in the City’s charter to extend terms of our franchise agreements there is some concern that we may not receive the verification of its passage until after the current extension expires. After a brief discussion, Councilman Ray made a motion to approve execution of the 60-day extension, Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council was advised that the water/sewer agreement between the City of Bloomingdale and International Paper Realty Corporation has been signed by International Paper executives and submitted to the City for the Mayor’s execution. Attorney Dickey stated that he reviewed the document and it contains all of the changes as previously discussed with International Paper. Attorney Dickey pointed out that council had already given the Mayor the authority to execute the agreement, so this issue was on the agenda merely as a matter of information and required no action by council.
Mayor Tipton reported that council needed to adjourn into executive session for discussion of possible litigation and attorney/client issues as well as a personnel matter. Councilman Ray made a motion to adjourn into executive session, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
At the conclusion of the executive session, Councilwoman Winn made a motion to return to the general session and to execute the affidavit as required by the Open Meetings Act. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes (the signed affidavit is attached to the original council minutes).
Mayor Tipton stated that due to a personal conflict with the next agenda item he was turning the meeting over to Mayor Pro-tem Ray and the Mayor left the podium. Mayor Pro-tem Ray stated that the City had received a request from Kevin Wiles with Site Development Services, Inc. to be placed on tonight’s agenda to discuss with council the extension of the building permit issued for the construction of a telecommunications tower off Bloomingdale Road. It was noted that council had considered the request at the May 3, 2007 meeting; however, because the motion for an extension did not receive a majority vote it could not be passed. Attorney Dickey advised Mr. Wiles that the request for the extension was, in essence denied, at the previous meeting, so they would have to submit a new permit application and pay the appropriate fees before a new building permit can be issued. At the conclusion of this discussion, Mayor Tipton returned to the podium.
Council was advised that Chief Gossett has requested council approval for adjustments to line items in the police department’s FY 2006/2007 budget as follows: 1) Move $2,000 from Jail Expense to Operating Expense/Supply; 2) Move $1,000 from Jail Expense to Office Supplies; and 3) Move $1,000 from Employee Training to Travel Expense. Chief Gossett reported that this request was mainly a housekeeping issue. After a brief discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the requested adjustments to the FY 2006/2007 budget, Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton reported that Attorney Dickey had prepared three ordinances for council’s consideration. One ordinance had been requested by Chief Gossett and involved court costs. The other two involved EPD’s special condition requirements related to the renewal of the City’s groundwater withdrawal permit. Attorney Dickey presented the following ordinances for a first reading:
1) An ordinance entitled “Court Cost and Charges” which allows for the imposition of a minimum Court cost in the amount of $3.00 per violation and any additional Court costs that the Judge deems necessary as well as an additional $10.00 per violation to be used for the improvement or enhancement of information technology of the Court and Department of Police. Attorney Dickey reported that there was still some research that needed to be done on these court costs and their distribution, so the ordinance would not go in to effect until after a second reading. Chief Gossett stated that these funds would help the department to keep up with the changes in technology and the ordinance would allow for these costs to be passed on to the offenders. Mayor Tipton pointed out that he just wanted to make sure that our fines were in proportion to other cities our size and that the additional fees would be used to enhance the safety of our citizens. Chief Gossett advised the Mayor that our fines were in line with other cities, but were not as much as others. The Chief assured Mayor Tipton that the increased revenues would be a definite benefit by allowing other funds to be used toward improvements in public safety. After the discussion, Councilman Waller made a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
2) An ordinance entitled “Alternate Water Sources” requiring that all developments served by the City of Bloomingdale water and sewer shall install a system of purple pipe for the distribution of reclaimed water to be used for irrigation purposes or to provide other acceptable options as approved by the City and EPD for the use of reclaimed water. Council was advised that the ordinance would allow for the City to work with developers on other type systems. Attorney Dickey pointed out that this ordinance, along with many other stipulations, was one of the “special conditions” of groundwater withdrawal renewals required by the EPD. Councilman Ray made a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
3) An ordinance entitled “Declaration of Water Conservation Measures” requiring that all users of the City water system shall adhere to and comply with any and all water restrictions deemed necessary by the City and the EPD. Attorney Dickey stated that this ordinance was also being required by EPD as one of the conditions on the renewal of our groundwater withdrawal permit and the Bloomingdale citizens will be impacted by these restrictions. Council was advised that the ordinance requires that the water conservation measures may include restrictions or prohibitions on nonessential uses such as filling swimming pools, watering of lawns and gardens, washing of vehicles and recreational uses. The Mayor, as authorized by city council, shall curtail water usage during emergency conditions as mandated now or in the future by EPD. This ordinance requires that mandatory outdoor watering restrictions be effective on a year-round basis with water customers being required to schedule their outdoor use in compliance with the following schedule unless EPD mandates otherwise: The odd-numbered addresses may water only on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays; and even-numbered addresses may water only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. It was noted that during drought conditions, the hours allowed by EPD for outdoor water usage become more restrictive. The ordinance allows for penalties for violations of this code section and council should review this information to see if they want to make any adjustments in the schedule. Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the first reading with the stipulation that the penalties for violations of the outdoor water usage is subject to change after review by council. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Strozier stated that citizens using private wells would be exempt from these restrictions, but during drought conditions such as we are currently experiencing, everyone would be encouraged to conserve their water usage. Councilman Rawlings asked who would be enforcing the ordinance and the Mayor pointed out that at this time we would have to use our law enforcement and maintenance personnel since they are out in the City on a daily basis. Latrelle Kling asked how the City could enforce this type ordinance with no City Manager and was advised by Attorney Dickey that the police would be able to issue subpoenas to those persons violating the ordinance. Attorney Dickey also advised Ms. Kling that the City’s Charter and other ordinances created a strong Mayor/Council government that allows for the Mayor to initiate the enforcement of an ordinance or to appoint a designee to provide its enforcement.
Mayor Tipton reported that the City has received a request from GMA for the designation of a voting delegate for two meetings that will be held during the 2007 GMA Annual Convention. The meeting dates are June 24th from 1:45pm to 2:30pm and June 25th from 3:15pm to 4:30pm. Councilwoman Winn stated that she would make plans to attend the convention and volunteered to be the voting delegate from the City. Councilman Strozier made a motion to appoint Councilwoman Winn as the City’s voting delegate at both meetings. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Rawlings stated that if there were classes pertaining to planning issues that were still available, he would like to register for a class and it may be possible that other members of the Planning & Zoning Commission may be interested in attending. Mayor Tipton advised him to check with the City Hall and they will find out this information for him.
The Mayor recognized Latrelle Kling who had requested that she be placed on tonight’s agenda for the discussion of invoices, payments and associated correspondence to Thomas & Hutton Engineering for the Main Street Canal and other projects. Mayor Tipton stated that this was a rather broad agenda item and asked if she had specific questions to present to council. Ms. Kling asked if the City had received a response back from the engineers on the changes in the design of the canal as requested by the county and was advised by
the Mayor that he had not yet received this information. Ms. Kling asked if Attorney Dickey would be able to get involved in litigation of this issue if necessary and she was advised that there has been no discussion regarding any litigation. Ms. Kling asked if the council was going to pursue legal action and Councilman Ray advised her that we had not yet received a response from the engineer so there has been no discussion of any action at this time. Ms. Kling continued to direct numerous questions and comments to the Mayor and the council related to this matter and stated that she did not understand how the Mayor and Council could be so flippant about this issue. Mayor Tipton advised Ms. Kling that both he and the other councilmembers had tried to answer her questions, but if she was going to continue her personal attacks on him and the other elected officials, he did not feel that this discussion should be continued. The Mayor informed her that the council would not address any more questions on the matter this evening.
Mayor Tipton stated that this concludes the items that were presented prior to the agenda deadline of Friday, May 11, 2007.
The following information was provided under committee reports:
Councilman Rawlings reported that the Planning & Zoning Commission had positions available for alternate members and wanted to extend an invitation to the Mayor and Councilmembers to present citizens for consideration. Councilman Rawlings stated that he had some nominees in mind but would like to give other elected officials and opportunity to provide names of persons willing to service. Councilman Rawlings stated that he would like to call a meeting of the Planning & Licensing Committee for May 23, 2007 at 6:00pm with the meeting to be held at City Hall.
Councilman Rawlings presented information from his mother, Barbara Rawlings, regarding plans to honor deceased veterans by placing American Flags on their gravesites in the Bloomingdale area. The West Chatham American Legion is providing the flags and members of the Bloomingdale History Society and the local Girl Scouts will be involved in the ceremonies. The event will be held on Sunday, May 27, 2007 at the following times: Gravel Hill Cemetery – 5:00pm; Douglas Cemetery – 5:45pm; Piney Grove Cemetery – 6:10pm; and Memorial Gardens Cemetery – 6:30pm. Mayor Tipton stated that he felt this would be a wonderful way to honor our past veterans and reported that discussions were underway regarding the possibility of erecting a Veterans Memorial on the City’s property located at the corner of U.S. Highway 80 and Cherry Street.
Councilwoman Winn reminded the citizens of the Patriotic Celebration to be held on Memorial Day (May 28th) from 5:00pm until 9:00pm at Taylor Park and encouraged everyone to attend.
Mayor Tipton reported that the City had been awarded a $50,000 Local Assistance Grant for improvements at the Bloomingdale Community Building and the construction of a covered shed on the adjoining lot. The application had been submitted by the City Clerk several months ago and thanks to help from Representative Buddy Carter and Senator Eric Johnson, the City had received the grant. These funds should be available by the fall.
The Mayor asked Joe Reece for an update on the local firefighters’ efforts in Ware County he reported that all of them should be back by Sunday, but two firefighters are schedule to leave tomorrow.
Councilman Strozier reported that, at the Mayor’s request, he and Councilman Waller had met with Fire Chief Meadows and other representatives from the Southside Fire Department to discuss the specifics of a service agreement for their department to provide fire protection to the City of Bloomingdale. Councilman Strozier stated that they would provide a full-time staff member from 7:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, but as the revenues increased, more staff members would be provided. Fire Chief Meadows had advised them that the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department currently has an ISO rating of 5, but anticipated that within three years the rating could be lowered to a 4 or maybe even a 3. This would mean a significant change in the insurance rates for homeowners. A first responder unit would be available from Monday through Friday. The service agreement would be for three years and the City would not be responsible for any costs after the first year. The fee for the first year would be $40,000. Southside would maintain all the equipment and would be solely responsible for the setting up and collection of all subscription fees. There would be no subscription fees required on municipal buildings, churches or on the homes of all Bloomingdale Fire Department volunteers. The subscription fees would be based on the value of the homes as listed on individual policies and the fees would be due as the policies were renewed. Councilman Strozier advised council that Fire Chief Meadows had asked that if the City is interested in pursuing this fire protection option that they advised him as soon as possible so he can begin making preparations. It was noted that the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department has indicated that they were interested in being part of this arrangement. Several comments were made by citizens on the information including a question about whether Southside would allow structures to burn that were not subscribers. Councilman Strozier pointed out that this same question had been asked of Fire Chief Meadows and he assured them that this would not happen. Citizens were advised that our current fire department volunteers would be a major part of the operation and they would be involved in the fire fighting activities both during the week and on weekends. Mayor Tipton reported that the City was still involved in the discussion stages and more research would be done before an agreement was signed.
Mayor Tipton stated that he and Chief Gossett had attended the hurricane conference sponsored by CEMA and had received some valuable information regarding hurricane preparedness and recovery. The Mayor reported that the Chief is current serving as the contact person for Bloomingdale and will be outlining some information that will be needed prior to a hurricane event. Mayor Tipton asked Chief Gossett to secure some of the pamphlets and guides as distributed at the conference from CEMA for distribution to the citizens.
The accounts payable were reviewed. Councilman Waller made a motion to pay the bills, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Being no further business, Councilman Waller made a motion to adjourn at 8:45pm, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton and all councilmembers 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.