August 16, 2007
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton and after the pledge to the flag Councilwoman Winn led in prayer.
Councilman Rawlings presented Eutween Griffin with the Outstanding Citizen Award for her contributions toward the recognition of veterans by the placement of flags on their graves as part of the Memorial Day celebrations held in May. Mayor Tipton expressed his appreciation to Ms. Griffin for her involvement in the Historical Society meetings.
The Mayor presented the minutes of the July 19th council meeting and the called meetings of July 23rd and August 2nd for council approval. Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve said minutes, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Mayor Tipton presented the agenda to tonight’s meeting with the deletion of discussion of the responses to the questionnaires on garbage service to allow time for their review and the request for the update on the zoning map as this was provided by staff during the pre-agenda meeting. Councilman Rawlings made a motion to approve the August 16th agenda with these changes, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council discussed setting a date for a public hearing on changes to the Planned Development Overlay District as presented to council at their June 21st meeting by the Planning & Zoning Commission. Councilman Rawlings suggested that the hearing be held when councilmembers could attend. After a brief discussion of possible dates for the hearing, Councilman Myrick made a motion to schedule the hearing for September 11, 2007 at 7:00pm which would coincide with a regularly scheduled Planning & Zoning Commission meeting. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
The Mayor recognized Latrelle Kling who withdrew her request for an update on the drainage plan.
Councilman Rawlings stated that he wanted an update from staff on the zoning/boundary map. The Mayor pointed out that council had been advised in the pre-agenda that the RDC was in the process of making the changes to the latest draft and the final draft should be received from them in the next few days. Councilman Rawlings stated that he wanted a guarantee as to when the map was going to be received, but was advised by the Mayor that neither he nor anyone else could provide him with a guarantee, but as previously discussed; the map should be available for council’s review by the September meeting.
Mayor Tipton advised the citizens that City Administrator Bob Brady has been with us for several weeks now and he looks forward to working with him. Mayor Tipton stated that he knows the City will benefit from Mr. Brady’s leadership skills and numerous years in local government. The Mayor expressed his appreciation to City Clerk Sandra Jones for her previous and continued assistance with matters related to the day to day operation of the City.
Council was advised that Wayne Newton is requesting a home occupation license to operate the office only of a siding/windows business from his residence at #122 Michael Street with Mr. Newton being the sole employee. It was noted that this request was tabled at the July 19th meeting because Mr. Newton did not attend the meeting. Councilman Ray made a motion to remove this item from the table, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Council was informed the property is zoned R-1. Councilman Ray questioned Mr. Newton about the storage of materials and Mr. Newton informed him that all supplies would be shipped to the jobsite. Councilman Myrick asked if had previously obtained a license for this type business and was advised that Mr. Newton’s license had expired and he was now requesting that it be re-issued. Councilman Myrick stated that he was not aware of any problems that had existed with the previous operation. Being no further discussion, Councilman Strozier made a motion to dispense with the public hearing requirement, Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Ray made a motion to issue the home occupation license, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
The Mayor presented a request as submitted by Jimmy & Kim Key at #350 Wallace Circle to install a shallow well for irrigation purposes. Councilman Strozier made a motion to approve installation of the well, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council discussed the request from the Department of Transportation for submission of the City’s 2008 LARP projects for consideration. The deadline for the submission of the applications, along with related maps and an executed Certificate of Ownership and Maintenance Agreement form on the streets that we submit, must be received by the DOT by August 31, 2008. The priority list, as prepared by Public Works Superintendent Ernest Grizzard, included: 1) Poplar Street–Hwy 80 to Cregor; 2) Cregor Street–Cypress to Chestnut; and 3) Douglas Court Hwy 80 to end. Councilman Rawlings pointed out that he felt that Douglas Court needed to be the number one priority and stated that the City should urge the DOT to resurface this street as soon as possible. Councilman Rawlings was advised that the DOT based their decisions for resurfacing on the condition of the streets, the length of the streets, and the amount of monies that were available. Ernest Grizzard was asked if the list was prepared in the order of the condition of the streets and council was advised that Poplar Street was in the worse condition due to several cuts that had been made for water/sewer taps. Councilman Strozier made a motion to approve the submission of the priority list as presented, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Myrick, Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn. Councilman Rawlings voted against the motion.
Council was advised that the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has submitted contracts on the two Local Assistance Grant funds for the City of Bloomingdale that were included in the Fiscal Year 2008 State budget. The grants, in the amounts of $35,000 and $15,000, cover the construction of a covered shed on the property next to the community building along with provisions for additional parking along Moore Street and require $10,000 in matching funds from the City which can be in the form of in-kind services. The grants were received with the assistance of Representative Buddy Carter and Senator Eric Johnson. After the discussion, Councilman Ray made a motion approving the Mayor’s execution of the documents related to the acceptance of these two grants. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
The Mayor reminded council that the City currently participates with Chatham County in an “Annual Contract for Gasoline and Diesel Fuel”. The County has requested a one-year extension on bids from Barrett Oil Distributors, Inc. & The Sommers Co. and both have agreed to the extension. The City purchases its fuel from Barrett Oil Distributors at a price of +$.12 above O.P.I.S. for both diesel and gasoline fuels. Mayor Tipton reported that council needs to approve the extension of our agreement with Barrett Oil until June 26, 2008 and notify the vendor of this extension. Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve this action, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton reported that he had contacted Julie Gerbsch, who represents the Bloomingdale area on the Savannah-Chatham Public School Board and asked that she give us an update on any plans related to new construction or improvements to Bloomingdale School because of the impending decision on repairs/replacement that needed to be made on the lift station at the school. The Mayor apologized to Ms. Gerbsch for not recognizing her earlier in the meeting and asked her to provide us with any information she may have on this matter. Ms. Gerbsch expressed her appreciation to the Mayor for allowing her to provide an update to the citizens on some issues related to area schools. Ms. Gerbsch reported that she had talked with the Chief Operations Officer Otis Brock who had advised her that there had been a delay in the installation of fencing prior to the start of school due to paving work that was underway on Church Street and the reworking of a driveway at the school. Mayor Tipton and Councilman Strozier advised her that neither the paving work nor the driveway installation was going to have any impact on the fence. Ms. Gerbsch stated she would advise Mr. Brock of this information. Ms. Gerbsch reported that with the approval of ESPLOST there would be some major improvements at many of the schools and the construction of others, but there were no immediate plans to construct a new school in Bloomingdale. She explained that these decisions were based on studies done about three years ago that took into consideration the age of the structures, the amount of monies that needed to be invested in improvements and the costs for replacement. She stated that this was a growing area and plans are to construct an elementary and middle school in the Godley Station area, but there are no immediate plans for a new high school. Councilwoman Winn asked Ms. Gerbsch how much property was needed for a high school and she was advised that it would probably take between 30 and 40 acres. Ms. Gerbsch stated that there has been approximately $580,000 dedicated for improvements to Bloomingdale Elementary which includes ADA fixtures, a new kitchen, equipment, signage, and fencing. Councilman Myrick asked about the overcrowded conditions at the school that has required the use of portable buildings and several comments were made about the safety of the children with so much outside traffic. Ms. Gerbsch stated that Bloomingdale Elementary was a very desirable school because of its outstanding arts program, but she did not know of any plans to eliminate the use of the portable buildings at this time. Ms. Gerbsch reported that she, along with Commissioner Dean Kicklighter, will be hosting a town meeting at Tom Triplett Park at 6:30pm on September 24, 2007 where updates will be presented on several issues related to the westside and she encouraged everyone to attend. The Mayor thanked Ms. Gerbsch for attending tonight’s meeting and giving the council and citizens updates on these issues.
Mayor Tipton recognized Tim Baumgartner with EMC Engineering who provided council with information related to the repairs/replacement of the lift station at the Bloomingdale Elementary School. The approximate cost for the rehab to the existing station which included the installation of a by-pass station during the repairs totaled $37,500 and the estimated cost for the removal and replacement of the existing station was $67,200. Council discussed the use of concrete versus fiberglass for the wet well and the longevity of the repairs versus the replacement. Gerald Cook questioned the use of fiberglass for the casings because of current ordinances, but was advised that this discussion related to a sewer wet well, not a groundwater well. Mr. Baumgartner recommended getting bids on the replacement of the lift station if council decided to pursue that option because there could be a difference in the cost of the pumps based on the manufacturer. Councilman Myrick asked if he could get us some prices on the various types of pumps and he stated he would forward those to the City next week. It was noted that Flythe pumps were installed when renovations were made to the Maple Street Lift Station. Council was also advised that at least a sketch drawing would be needed to obtain bids on replacement of the station.
Council was advised that a request has been submitted by Thomas Hunter to obtain an occupational license for the sale of used vehicles on the property located at #4E Highway 80 which is zoned C-1. Mr. Hunter has provided the City with a copy of his State of Georgia license as a Used Motor Vehicle dealer. The City’s Zoning Ordinance allows for the sale of up to fifteen (15) used cars as a “conditional use” in a C-1 zone.
Councilman Rawlings stated that, in the future, he would like to be made privy to any action taken related to zoning matters. He made reference to the Mayor signing, as the zoning commissioner, the zoning certification form from the Georgia State Board of Registration that had been submitted as part of Thomas Hunter’s application for a state license for Hunter’s Auto Sales. Mayor Tipton stated that he in no way intended to offend Councilman Rawlings in this action and offered his apology to him if he had. Attorney Dickey pointed out that the Mayor has the authority to sign on any documents on behalf of the City, but also noted that there is no “zoning commissioner” position. During additional discussion, Latrelle Kling expressed her concerns that this type business would create an eyesore in the City and suggested it needs some plants on the property. Ms. Kling also raised questions about the granting of a variance in this situation, but was reminded by Attorney Dickey that the council was not granting a variance because this use was allowed by the zoning ordinance, but required “conditional use” permitting by the council. Being no further discussion, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to approve the issuance of an occupational license to Thomas Hunter for the sale of used cars from #4E Highway 80. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Myrick, Rawlings, Ray, Waller and Winn. Councilman Strozier abstained from voting.
Councilman Rawlings presented a recommendation from the Planning Commission for the approval of the site development plan for the renovation of the existing buildings at #101 & #103 East Highway 80 as submitted by Steve Taylor with variances to include a handicapped parking place in front of each building and the posts and canopy overhang at the old post office building to be placed within the 25’ front setback. Mayor Tipton raised a question as to whether this matter should be acted on since the agenda did not specifically include this as one of the recommendations from the Planning Commission. Councilman Rawlings stated that he had failed to provide the details on the Planning Commission’s recommendations from their meeting on Tuesday night to the City Hall before tonight’s meeting, but it was his understanding that this item would be acted on by council at tonight’s meeting. It was noted that when the agenda deadline was approved by council in October, 2002, the addition of recommendations from the Planning Commission were specifically addressed as to allow for them to be added to the agenda when their meeting fell in the same week as the council meeting as was this situation. After additional discussion, Councilman Rawlings made a motion to accept the recommendation from the Planning Commission to approve the site plan with the variances as noted. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton reported that the City had received a request from the Savannah Morning News to participate in their Newspaper in Education program that provides newspapers to students for use in the classroom, but the Bloomingdale Police Department is already participating in the program and will continue to support the program on behalf of the City in FY 2007/2008.
The Mayor stated that the City has received requests from Thomas & Hutton Engineering for amendments to their Letter of Agreement of Services dated January 10, 2006 for engineering services for the drainage improvements of Alternative 1, Phase 1 of the Master Drainage Plan. The amendments consisted of $8,022.50 for the additional requirements with regards to analysis involving modeling and design work as requested by Chatham County and $5,000 for resubmission of our National wetlands permit application for the drainage improvement project to the Corps of Engineers due to the expiration of the permit granted in January, 2007. Mayor Tipton introduced Doyle Kelley who had attended tonight’s meeting to answer questions related to these amendments. Councilman Rawlings stated that although he understood the costs related to the resubmission of the wetlands permit application; he was concerned about the amendment for additional design costs and encouraged the company to keep these expenses in check. Mr. Kelley explained that this was the first amendment to the existing contract and the costs were related to the additional design work requested by the City and the county. Mr. Kelley pointed out that the costs related to the study phase of the project came in under budget. Councilman Myrick asked Mr. Kelley some questions about the wetlands permitting and he outlined this process for him. During the discussion that followed questions were raised about completing Phase II before Phase I and Mr. Kelley stated that proceeding with Phase I as originally recommended would provide improved drainage conditions for the over-all City. When questioned by Citizen Wayne Purvis as to whether he could guarantee that homes would not flood when the project was completed, Mr. Kelley stated that the plan was designed for a 50 year flood as was Chatham County’s projects, but he, nor anyone else, could provide that guarantee. Latrelle Kling commented that the City has no funding for the completion of the overall drainage plan. Citizen Alton Griffin questioned the digging up of Main Street for a canal as he felt it served as a barrier dam in previous rains and if it is removed more homes would flood. Mr. Purvis commented that he felt the flooding that occurred in ’94 was due to poor maintenance of existing ditches. When questioned as to whether the drainage problems could be fixed without digging the ditch, Mr. Kelley pointed out that there was no where for the water to go. Citizen Bethany Culver stated that the ditch by her house was not currently being maintained and she had been advised that is was because it was on private property and the City did not have an easement. Questions were raised about the maintenance of the canal and citizens were advised that the City will be responsible for the maintenance and plans are to have it added to the contract with Chatham County. Citizen Fett Burke stated that he had talked with John Walsh with Chatham County who had advised him that until the canal was built it could not be added to the maintenance contract, but when it was built, the county would maintain it. Citizen Barbara Griffin commented that she felt the citizens had been misled about issues related to the drainage project. At the conclusion of the discussion, Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve payment of the amendments to the Letter of Agreement of Services as requested by Thomas & Hutton, Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with affirmative votes from Councilmembers Myrick, Ray, Strozier, Waller and Winn. Councilman Rawlings voted against the motion.
Mayor Tipton reported that he had recently entered into a contract to sell a 220 acre tract to AMB Property Corporation and pointed out that he would remove himself from involvement in discussions between AMB properties and the City. The Mayor pointed out that he had purchased the property in 2000 and had considered the possibility of developing it as a subdivision. The property had not been put on the market, but he was approached by AMB about selling it to them. Councilman Ray asked if the property was sold as presently zoned and was advised by the Mayor that it was. Several questions were raised by citizens regarding the existing AMB development. Councilman Myrick stated that EMC had been overseeing this project on behalf of the City. Citizen Gerald Cook asked if there was enough water and was advised that the development was being served with I & D water from Savannah through Pooler. Latrelle Kling asked if the Mayor had disclosed ownership of the property adjoining the AMB project in the past and he advised her that he had not. During the discussion, citizens were advised that the existing AMB project was being served water and sewer via an intergovernmental agreement with Pooler whereby the City would be purchasing the water from Pooler and reselling it to AMB and the sewer was coming from our current allocation at the wastewater treatment plant. It was also noted that the infrastructure was being installed and paid for by the developer and that any future expansion of the existing project would have to meet the requirements of the City.
Councilman Rawlings commented that he felt the City had made a bad decision to pave the three sections of Main Street without requiring a design plan be prepared by an engineer. Councilman Rawlings stated the City should re-consider this decision. Councilman Myrick stated he understood his concern, but we had the engineers look at the roadways and considering their length, compaction, and current drainage, it was not necessary to prepare design plans. It was noted that the DOT required design plans for Church & Lynn Street because of their participation in the funding and also there were drainage issues that had to be addressed prior to the paving of these streets. During additional discussion, citizens were advised that these portions of Main Street had been scheduled for paving several years back and the work was to be done when the next paving project was underway.
Mayor Tipton reported that this concluded the items that were presented prior to the council agenda deadline of Friday, August 10, 2007.
Under committee reports Mayor Tipton expressed his appreciation to the maintenance department for the work that had been done to the caboose and stated that the new paint job and decals looked great.
Councilman Rawlings reported that the Planning Commission conducted workshops every third Tuesday and encouraged the public to get involved. He noted that the next workshop would be held on August 21st and the overlay district would be discussed.
Mayor Tipton read a letter from the Bryan County Office of Emergency Services commending Fire Chief Ferman Tyler and the Bloomingdale Volunteer Firefighters for their assistance in the Ware County fires. The Mayor expressed his and council’s appreciation for the service they provide to the citizens of Bloomingdale.
Fire Chief Ferman Tyler provided a report to council on the activities of the fire department which included a year to date average of 36.5 calls a month and a July daily average of 1.2 calls. The Chief reported there were currently 16 certified firefighter, 4 currently testing for certification and 17 junior firefighters. Chief Tyler stated that the department was currently involved in a program with the Boy Scouts to encourage their involvement in community activities. Chief Tyler reported that the recent car wash went well and the funds raised by the Explorer group will go toward uniforms for the participants in the program. Chief Tyler advised council that fire hydrant testing is scheduled for September 1st with a rain date of September 8th. It was noted that this information would be posted on the City sign.
The accounts payable were reviewed. Councilman Ray made a motion to pay the bills, Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Being no further business, Councilwoman Winn made a motion to adjourn at 9:00pm, Councilman Myrick 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.