The regular meeting of the Pooler City Council was held on January 20, 2004. Mayor Buddy Carter called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Present were Councilmen Bruce Allen, Travis Cowart, Jr., Mike Lamb, Wayne Seay, Stevie Wall and Councilwoman Rebecca Benton. City Manager Dennis Baxter and City Attorney Steve Scheer were also present.
The invocation was given by Mayor Carter and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Councilman Cowart.
The minutes of the previous regular meeting were approved as printed upon a motion by Councilman Wall, seconded by Councilman Allen, with no opposition.
The minutes of the previous called meeting were approved as printed upon a motion by Councilman Wall, seconded by Councilman Seay, with no opposition.
Report from the Standing Committees:
Councilman Lamb presented bills for payment and made a motion to pay, subject to funds. Motion was seconded by Councilman Cowart and passed without opposition.
Councilman Wall stated that Councilman Lamb received the highest number of votes during the election, and therefore, made a motion to appoint Mike Lamb as Mayor pro tem. Motion was seconded by Councilman Seay and passed without oppositon.
Councilman Wall reported on the community service program and gave the police report, stating that the department responded to 696 calls in December and he commended Sergeant JoAnn Shearouse on receiving a 0% error rate on this year’s GCIC (Georgia Crime Information Center) audit. Fire Chief Hillis gave the fire report.
Councilman Cowart reported that the street and drainage departments have performed routine maintenance and that the widening of Rogers Street is near completion.
Councilman Allen reported that the water and sewer departments have performed routine maintenance and that all parameters at the wastewater treatment plant have been met.
Councilman Seay reported that the regular basketball season has begun with 165 children participating.
Councilman Seay complimented the employees on the fine job they are doing.
Councilwoman Benton reported that 12 new single family residential permits have been issued so far this year with 413 inspections performed, and stated that there is an opening on the Planning & Zoning Board, due to the resignation of Glenda Champion, asking that any interested people submit their request to her at city hall. Councilwoman Benton then gave a report on the January 12th Planning & Zoning meeting.
Mayor Carter read aloud a proclamation regarding “Volunteer Blood Donor Month”.
Mayor Carter stated that a meeting with the developers interested in low income housing for senior citizens is scheduled for Thursday, January 22nd at 2:00 p.m. at city hall.
Under OLD BUSINESS the following was discussed:
1. Approval of sketch plan for Hamilton Inn and Suites at corner of Parsons/Gray St.
Attorney Jennifer Dickinson of Hunter, MacLean, Exley & Dunn, Attorneys at Law, and Mr. John Farmer of EMC Engineering presented this request for approval of the sketch plan for the proposed Hamilton Inn and Suites. Ms. Dickinson stated that this is a no variance plan which has been approved by Planning & Zoning and the city’s engineer and that it is being brought before the Council to discuss the issues brought up at the December 15, 2003 meeting. Further, that the plans being submitted reflect how the items were addressed as follows: 1) Traffic - Mr. Farmer stated that two (2) large commercial vehicles (busses) can pass with no problem, including on Gray Street, and that they can pull out of the site without incurring any problems. Mr. Scheer questioned if the city’s engineer, Bill Nicholson, has reviewed this plan. Ms. Dickinson stated that Mr. Nicholson has not completed his review and asked if this item should be tabled; 2) Drainage - Ms. Dickinson stated that the design shows improvements which reduce the amount of run-off which meets the city’s requirements; and 3) Water & Sewer - Mr. Farmer stated that there is a separate fire line, a separate tap for the building, that a water system analysis has been performed and that the sewer lines have been designed to the city’s standards.
Ms. Dickinson further stated that this plan meets the requirements of the tree ordinance, that the technical issues have been addressed (i.e., correcting the right-of-way for Gray Street to read 30') and that there are many benefits of this project, one being that under a C-2 zoning, bars, nightclubs, truck service centers, etc. are allowed, but her client is instead proposing to build a 2-story inn which they consider to be the best use of the property. Additionally, the motel will create additional revenue for the city, create jobs, be in walking distance to many local businesses, be aesthetically pleasing and provide a noise barrier for the adjacent properties. Ms. Dickinson reminded Council that the approval is subject to the project meeting the city’s requirements. Councilman Wall stated that the issue regarding fire trucks being able to access from Gray Street has not been addressed, which Mr. Farmer replied that there is adequate access from Parsons Avenue. Councilman Wall further stated that there is inadequate access for recreational vehicles, which Ms. Dickinson replied that this was not relevant to this sketch plan.
Mayor Carter asked for public comment wherein Mr. Noble Boykin, on behalf of his parents who live adjacent to this site, presented concern regarding the fact that the pavement on Gray Street is only 19 feet wide and has never been brought up to state standards, nor would it be able to be, if this project is approved. Further, that the developer is trying to “shoe horn” this motel into the lot and that there have always been drainage problems and commercial vehicle traffic is already heavy in this area. Mr. Boykin suggested that the developer purchase the adjacent property that is currently for sale and bring the roads to state standards. Ms. Dickinson stated that there is a misunderstanding on how these lots are zoned, that the adjacent property is zoned residential and the developer would be taking a risk of the city not allowing it to be re-zoned heavy commercial due to it being “spot” zoning. Further, that this motel fits the lot based on the city’s requirements, that the road upgrade is not the petitioner’s problem, that the plan shows the proper right-of-way and that the drainage issues have been adequately addressed with the engineering reports showing that the run-off will be better post-development than it is pre-development. Mayor Carter stated that the issues have been addressed with the exception of the substandard streets and that it is the responsibility of the Council to make improvements to the streets and that it would show a lack of foresight on the Council’s part to go ahead and approve a project knowing that the streets would have to be brought up to standards at some point. Ms. Dickinson expressed concern over Council’s interpretation of substandard, pointing out that this issue is not necessarily before the Council at this particular time. Further, that this preliminary plan has already been approved by Planning & Zoning and that the request is for Council to approve this plan, even if it has to be subject to receiving the engineer’s comments. After further discussion regarding whether the sale of the property has taken place and public comment from Mr. Larry McKendree regarding the substandard streets being inherited by this Council, Councilman Wall made a motion to table this item to allow the city’s engineer to submit his comments. Motion was seconded by Councilman Seay and passed with Councilwoman Benton and Councilman Cowart opposing.
2. Second Reading on amendment to noise ordinance
Councilman Wall presented this amendment to the noise ordinance, stating that Police Chief Chan has completed his review and has given his recommendation for approval, noting that the racing events held at Oglethorpe Speedway Park (OSP) would be excluded from this ordinance. Mr. Scheer stated that a correction needed to be made to Section 42-123 (b), removing “and at least every hour as necessary”. Councilman Cowart made a motion to approve this amendment to the noise ordinance on Second Reading, adding Item #11 under Section 42-118 “Exemptions”, Subsection (b) to include all racing events held at OSP and removing the aforementioned wording in Section 42-123 (b). Motion was seconded by Councilman Lamb and passed without opposition.
3. Second Reading on franchise ordinance for Hargray to provide telecommunications service
Councilman Wall presented this ordinance for Hargray of Georgia to provide telecommunications service and made a motion, seconded by Councilman Cowart, to approve this ordinance on Second Reading. Motion passed without opposition.
Councilman Cowart questioned why the newly proposed Charter had not been sent to the Legislature for their approval. Mr. Scheer stated there were details to be worked out which came from a workshop held in October.
Under NEW BUSINESS the following was discussed:
1. Request for two (2) setback variances to replace canopy at 418 E. Highway 80
A public hearing was held prior wherein no opposition was presented. Mr. Baxter presented this request from Gate Petroleum Company to replace the existing canopy, raise the height, provided a covered walkway from the pump island area to the store and reduce the number of fueling pumps to six (6), stating that a 9' setback variance is needed from Gray Street and a 35' setback variance is needed from U.S. Highway 80. Councilman Wall made a motion to approve these variances, based on this request meeting all three (3) criteria for granting variances. Motion was seconded by Councilman Cowart and passed without opposition.
2. Approval of naming of entrance road into Tom Triplett Community Park
Mr. Baxter stated that this entrance road has yet to be named, therefore, Councilman Cowart made a motion to name it “Triplett Park Drive”. Motion was seconded by Councilman Wall and passed without opposition.
3. Approval of minor subdivision of 1.84 acres on S. Rogers Street
Mr. Baxter presented this request from Danny Sikes to subdivide a 1.84 acres tract on S. Rogers Street into Lots A and B, stating that it meets the requirements for a minor subdivision. After discussion, Councilman Wall made a motion to approve. Motion was seconded by Councilman Seay and passed without opposition.
4. Approval of revised site plan for office and rental yard at 1399 E. Highway 80
Mr. Baxter presented this request from Alan Usher to renovate the existing residence to an office and use the rear lot for a storage yard, stating that this lot and the adjacent lots on each side are zoned light industrial. Councilman Wall made a motion to approve this revised site plan. Motion was seconded by Councilman Cowart and passed without opposition.
5. Approval of conceptual plan for Sangrena Woods Subdivision, Phase IV
Mr. Baxter presented the conceptual plan for Sangrena Woods Subdivision, Phase IV, stating that Planning & Zoning has recommended approval, subject to a traffic study being done by the developer at the intersection of Sangrena Woods Drive and Highway 80, a traffic count at Forest Drive and Sangrena Woods Drive being done and a construction access from Sangrena Woods Drive being designed in the plan. Mr. Baxter stated that the results of the traffic study have been submitted and that the construction access has been added to the plan. Mr. Terry Coleman of Kern-Coleman Company stated that the traffic issues have been addressed. Councilman Wall made a motion to approve this conceptual plan. Motion died due to lack of a second. Councilman Cowart questioned how this plan could be approved when Council recently denied the plan for an additional phase of Brighton Woods Subdivision, stating that neither plan included an alternate entrance and made a motion to deny this plan. Motion died due to lack of a second. Mayor Carter then asked for public comment. Steve Hartley, resident, questioned how many homes were planned, which was answered that there are 44. Ms. Billie Tyler, former Councilwoman, stated that Planning & Zoning had problems with the additional traffic that would be created, asking that since a construction entrance was now planned off Sangrena Woods Drive, couldn’t the entrance for this phase be put there also. Further, that the developer has not addressed the concerns regarding traffic on Forest Drive. Mr. Coleman stated that the recommendations from Planning & Zoning did not include providing a second permanent entrance and that the reason the developer does not want to provide access through the back parcel is that there are no plans for this property at this time and any plans involving access would minimize its use. Councilman Wall stated that the difference between this request and the one for Brighton Woods Subdivision is that there were houses that have flooded in Brighton Woods, that Sangrena Woods has a different type of land and further that after talking with one of the residents he has found that this resident is satisfied with the construction entrance that has been planned and believes his property value will increase. Mr. Coleman stated that during the development of the previous phases, there were streets stubbed out to this property, intended to extend to the lots in this phase from the interior streets. Councilman Lamb stated that he has spoken to a few residents of Sangrena who expressed their concern about additional traffic, but that those people were not present at the meeting. Councilman Wall made a motion to approve this conceptual plan. Motion was seconded by Councilman Seay and passed with Councilwoman Benton and Councilman Cowart opposing.
6. Approval of final plat/acceptance of maintenance bond for Godley Station Professional Park, Phase I
Mr. Baxter presented this request from the developers of Godley Station Professional Park, Phase I to approve the final plat and accept the maintenance bond. Councilman Cowart made a motion, seconded by Councilwoman Benton, to approve, contingent upon the city attorney approving the bond. Motion passed without opposition.
7. Acceptance of Medical Campus Road drainage improvements
Mayor Carter stated that the city’s “Code of Ethics” contains a provision regarding “substantial interest” which prohibits three (3) councilmembers and himself from voting on this issue. Therefore no action could be taken on this item at this time, due to lack of a quorum.
8. Approval of alcoholic beverage license for Steve Leonard at Westbrook Country Club (Grille)
Mr. Baxter presented this application for an alcoholic beverage license for Steve Leonard at the Grille at Westbrook Country Club, stating that this is due to a change in ownership. After discussion, Councilman Wall made a motion to approve this license, to include Sunday sales. Motion was seconded by Councilwoman Benton and passed with Councilman Allen opposing.
9. Approval of alcoholic beverage license for Steve Leonard at Westbrook Country Club (Recreation Center)
Mr. Baxter presented this application for an alcoholic beverage license for Steve Leonard at the Recreation Center at Westbrook Country Club, stating that it is due to a change in ownership, noting that this request include Sunday sales. Councilman Cowart stated that the current license does not include Sunday sales. Councilman Wall made a motion to approve this license, including Sunday sales. Motion was seconded by Councilwoman Benton and did not pass due to it being opposed by Councilman Allen, Councilman Cowart, Councilman Lamb and Councilman Seay. After discussion, Councilman Wall made a motion to approve this alcoholic beverage license without Sunday sales, based on the fact that the current license does not allow sales of alcohol on Sundays. Motion was seconded by Councilwoman Benton and passed with Councilman Allen opposing.
10. First Reading on amendment to ordinance regarding Pooler Housing Development Authority
Mr. Scheer presented this amendment to the Pooler Housing Development Authority ordinance, stating that the bond attorney has informed him that the name has to be changed, recommending the “Pooler Development Authority”. Councilman Wall made a motion, seconded by Councilwoman Benton, to approve this amendment on First Reading. Motion passed without opposition.
11. Discussion concerning Code of Ethics
Councilman Wall recommended that in light of what occurred in Item #7 under New Business, the city’s “Code of Ethics” be reviewed at the upcoming planning retreat to determine if it can be amended to be more in line with State Code. Mr. Scheer stated that the city’s Code was much more restrictive than the State Code. Mayor Carter stated that this item was for discussion only and that it will be further discussed at the retreat.
There being no further business to discuss, Councilman Wall made a motion to adjourn at approximately 7:50 p.m. Motion was seconded by Councilman Seay and passed without opposition.
A public hearing was held prior to the regular City Council meeting on January 20, 2004. Mayor Buddy Carter called the hearing to order at 5:45 p.m. Present were Councilmen Bruce Allen, Travis Cowart, Jr., Mike Lamb, Wayne Seay, Stevie Wall and Councilwoman Rebecca Benton. City Manager Dennis Baxter and City Attorney Steve Scheer were also present.
The purpose of this public hearing was to discuss two (2) requested setback variances at 418 E. Highway 80 (Gate Station). Mayor Carter presented this request from Gate Petroleum Company to replace the existing canopy, raise the height of the canopy, provided a covered walkway from the pump island area to the store and reduce the number of fueling pumps to six (6), stating that a 9' setback variance is needed from Gray Street and a 35' setback variance is needed from U.S. Highway 80. Mayor Carter read aloud the criteria for granting variances as well as responses as submitted by Gate Petroleum Company. Mayor Carter questioned if variances were granted when these buildings were first constructed or if the setbacks became relevant afterwards. Councilman Wall commented that Gate Petroleum Company’s response to the variance criteria was a perfect example of what could be used in the future as an outline. Mayor Carter presented concern that originally there could have been too much building put on this piece of property. Mr. Baxter stated that there is a possibility that the buildings were constructed before the current setbacks were in place. Ms. Jackie Carver, Zoning Administrator, stated that there were no variances granted when the buildings were originally built and that she believes the setbacks were less restrictive at that time.
There being no further business to discuss, the hearing was adjourned at approximately 5:55 p.m.