The regular meeting of the Pooler City Council was held on May 17, 2004. Mayor Mike Lamb called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Present were Councilmen Bruce Allen, Travis Cowart, Jr., 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 Mr. Baxter and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Councilman Cowart.
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as printed upon a motion by Councilman Wall, seconded by Councilman Cowart, with no opposition.
Report from the Standing Committees:
Councilman Allen presented bills for payment and made a motion to pay, subject to funds. Motion was seconded by Councilman Wall and passed without opposition.
Councilman Wall reported on the community service report and gave the fire and police reports. Police Chief C. E. Chan reported on the Vice President’s visit to the Mighty Eighth Air Force.
Councilman Cowart reported that the street and drainage departments have performed routine maintenance and that a traffic light has been approved for the intersection of Pooler Parkway and Pine Barren Road, but that a funding source has not yet been found.
Councilman Allen had no report at this time.
Councilman Seay reported that baseball and softball games are ongoing and that the fundraiser held recently was successful.
Councilman Seay commended the departments for a job well done.
Councilwoman Benton reported that 12 new single family residential permits were issued this month, totaling 114 for the year, with 2479 inspections performed.
Councilman Wall made a motion to move Item #3 under New Business to be acted on at this time (details to follow under NEW BUSINESS).
Mary Kathryn Moss, candidate for Chief Judge of Magistrate Court of Chatham County, addressed Council in regards to her campaign.
Michael Barker, candidate for Judge of Magistrate Court of Chatham County, addressed Council in regards to his campaign.
Gwendolyn Waring, candidate for Judge of Superior Court of Chatham County, addressed Council in regards to her campaign.
Under OLD BUSINESS the following was discussed:
1. Approval of sketch plan for Hamilton Inn & Suites at corner of Parsons/Gray Street
Attorney Jennifer Dickinson of HunterMacLean, Exley & Dunn and Jay Maupin of EMC Engineering presented this request. Ms. Dickinson stated that this item has been discussed previously and that it is a “no variance” plan that has been approved by Planning & Zoning. Further, that the developer has received a clean letter from Bill Nicholson, the city’s engineer and that the project is for a 37-room, completely enclosed, two-story inn, with the property currently zoned C-2 (heavy commercial) stating that the inn is an acceptable use and that it is probably one of the best uses for this propety. Ms. Dickinson pointed out that the project is at the preliminary site plan phase now, but that the developer has submitted full building plans in an effort to ease any fears the Council may have about this project, specifically the concerns about the width of Gray and Parsons Street, which the developer has agreed to provide additional paving so that the streets can accommodate any commercial traffic. Noble Boykin, on behalf of his parents who live on property adjacent to this site, presented concern about the developer trying to “shoe horn” the motel on this lot, pointing out that if they would consider purchasing the lot next to the site, this project could be a quality development. Further, that this development should not be allowed without bringing these streets up to commercial standards, which would have to extend into the ditches and possibly cause for land to be condemned and parking area being restricted for the motel, thus making it almost impossible to bring these roads to commercial standards. Mr. Boykin presented concern about the health and safety of the residents, mainly regarding the fact that a fire truck could not get in and out of this area and that it is his belief that the entire lot is not zoned commercial, and asked the Council to deny this request. Councilman Wall asked if the adjacent property owners would agree to this project if the lot adjacent to this site were purchased and rezoned to be used for the motel and Parsons Street was widened. Mr. Boykin replied that he did not believe so and that his parents would rather this land remain residential, but that they realize that it is going to be commercial and that their main concern is getting in and out of this area. Further, that the owner of the other two (2) lots further down the street would consider rezoning to commercial to allow for one big site for a nice development, allowing the road to be brought up to commercial standards, thus eliminating the health and safety concerns. Councilman Seay asked Fire Chief Jay Hillis if there would be room for a fire truck to move around, which the Chief replied that there would not be. Ms. Dickinson pointed out that the C-2 zoning has already been extended to the entire lot and that the plan meets the city’s standards. Further, that the issue of the width of the roads has been adequately met and that the issue of purchasing the adjacent property has been responded to, pointing out the fact that this lot is zoned residential and that any development would require assurances that (a) this lot would be zoned C-2, and (b) the developer would not run into any recombination problems. Ms. Dickinson stated that without these assurances, the developer is put in a very difficult situation and it is unfair to the current property owners. Further, that this project is a permissible use in C-2 and that all the requirements have been met, that the project is a viable plan for this property in which it is situated and that to deny this plan, it denies the property owner the opportunity to develop it in manner which is consistent with current zoning. In regards to drainage issues, Ms. Dickinson stated that they have been addressed and that in regards to the concerns about the “bottleneck” on Gray Street, the entrance to the inn will be a two-way, with Parsons Street being widened and that there are existing commercial uses that could have similar problems, but would not impact development of the inn and development of the inn would not impact these businesses. Further, that a development like this is a great benefit to the city, which will provide additional tax revenue, create jobs and a synergy between existing businesses, which the Council should consider when making their decision. Councilman Wall made a motion to deny this request, based on health and public safety issues regarding the narrow roads. Motion was seconded by Councilman Seay and passed without opposition. Ms. Dickinson submitted their constitutional objections to the denial of this plan, stating that she believes it violates the Constitution and is an inverse condemnation action.
2. Requested zoning map amendment of 12.97 acres off the Pooler Parkway next to the fire station from R-1A to R-3A
Councilman Wall made a motion to withdraw this request. Motion was seconded by Councilman Cowart and passed without opposition. Mr. Baxter stated that he has not heard from the developer who wanted to construct a low income senior citizen housing project on this land. Further, that the deadline to submit the application for tax credits has passed. Mr. Scheer pointed out the fact that the city has accommodated the developer’s request to help them obtain the tax credits.
3. Approval of Final PUD and development standards for Southwest Quadrant, Phase 6
Steve Wohlfeil of Hussey, Gay, Bell & DeYoung presented this request which was tabled at the last meeting wherein Council had concern about a number of dimensional issues which he hoped to address at this time, stating that over half the lots are more than 8000 square feet and 41% of the total number of lots are 7000 to 8000 square feet. Further, that part of the reason for the range of lot sizes is that the development is affected by wetlands, making irregular-shaped amenities and that the developer has tried to minimize the number of lots that are less than 7000 square feet. Mr. Wohlfeil addressed the concerns regarding the lot widths, stating that as a matter of convenience, he presented development standards that were the same as ones that had already been adopted in a previous phase of this subdivision. Further, that the number of lots that are less than 55' wide is less than 15%, with the average lot width being 58'. Councilman Wall questioned the total number of lots, which Mr. Wohlfeil replied that there are 284 lots. Councilman Cowart questioned how many 55' wide lots were approved in previous phases, stating that Council believed these lots were an exception because it was something new. Mr. Wohlfeil stated that there are 45 lots in Phase 1 that are this size, known as “equestrian” lots. Councilman Cowart stated that the other PUDs in the city have been approved with 60' lots. Councilman Allen asked if the fire department has any safety concerns, which Chief Hillis stated that he has some exposure concerns with the close proximity of the houses. Councilwoman Benton questioned if the Chief had similar concerns with the row houses in regards to multiple exposure. Chief Hillis stated that this matter has been looked into. Mr. Wohlfeil pointed out the distinction between building separation and lot size, welcoming comments from the developers. Councilman Wall questioned if larger lots were anticipated in future development, which Mr. Wohlfeil replied that there will be a mixture of lots sizes, which is the intent of a PUD. Ben Jones of Thomas & Hutton Engineering Company addressed the setback issues with regards to the number of parking spaces at each house and the proximity of the utilities to the houses, stating that he has spoken with the utility companies in regards to joint trenching and presented two (2) options being proposed. With regards to parking, Mr. Jones stated that four (4) cars will be able to park in front of the homes, regardless of which trenching option is used. Councilman Wall pointed out several issues regarding this PUD and others that have been approved, stating that the Council would still prefer 60' wide lots with 25' front setbacks, but will settle with 20' setbacks and that if approved, the Council would be going against what has been approved in the past. Councilman Wall questioned if any plans were available for future development, mainly since this was the first phase to be on the other side of Pooler Parkway, with smaller lots on this side and larger lots on the other side. Cotter Christian of Savannah Quarters replied that Savannah Quarters is looked at as one (1) project and is being presented to the market place in that way to maintain the same image on the east side as on the west side. Councilman Cowart stated that he will not vote for 50' wide lots. After further discussion, Councilman Wall made a motion to approve the Final PUD and development standards for Phase 6, subject to the following changes in the development standards: minimum front setback will be 20' with the condition that the garage is located in front of the house and to allow only 11 lots to be less than 7000 square feet, with no more than 4% of the lots being less than 55' wide. Motion was seconded by Councilwoman Benton. Councilman Allen, Councilman Cowart and Councilman Seay opposed the motion. Request was therefore denied.
Under NEW BUSINESS the following was discussed:
1. Release of maintenance bond for Medical Campus Road
Councilman Wall made a motion to approve the release of the maintenance bond for Medical Campus Road. Motion was seconded by Councilman Cowart and passed without opposition.
2. Approval of recombination of Lots 15 and 16, Pooler Park of Commerce
Councilwoman Benton made a motion to approve the recombination of Lots 15 and 16, Pooler Park of Commerce. Motion was seconded by Councilman Seay and passed without opposition.
3. Approval of engineering proposal for design of water and sewer line extension to the Morgan Family and Jimmy DeLoach Parkway property
(This item was discussed earlier in the meeting.) Bill Lovett of Hussey, Gay, Bell & DeYoung Engineers presented this request to design the water and sewer line extension to the Morgan Tract and the “keyslot” area on Jimmy DeLoach Parkway, stating that the city has been approved for a GEFA loan which is 100% guaranteed by the developers through letters of credit. Further, that the Morgan Family has submitted a letter of credit in the amount $1.5 million, asking the Council to approve this proposal, subject to the city receiving letters of credit from the other property owners. Councilman Wall questioned the cost of this project, which Mr. Lovett replied that it would be around $3.5 million. Councilman Cowart questioned Mr. Lovett about the cost, mainly if it would cost the city any money at all. Mr. Lovett replied that the Morgan Tract is 100% guaranteed, but that there are areas in the “keyslot” where the owners do not want to participate and that the city may want to think about increasing the capacity of the system in case these areas change ownership and then develop, with the money then coming back to the city when the developer requests water and sewer services. Councilman Wall stated that there are administrative costs associated with the GEFA loan and that the city can decide later on whether or not to increase the capacity and then made a motion to approve this engineering proposal, subject to the city attorney approving the letter of credit. Motion was seconded by Councilman Cowart and passed without opposition.
4. Approval of budget adjustment for 2004 for the fire department
Councilman Wall made a motion, seconded by Councilman Allen, to approve this budget adjustment for the fire department, increasing the salary account by $75,000 and decreasing the capital outlay account by $75,000. Motion passed without opposition.
There being no further business to discuss, Councilman Cowart made a motion to adjourn at approximately 7:28 p.m. Motion was seconded by Councilman Wall and passed without opposition.