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City of Clarkston - Georgia - where possibilities grow

 

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Council Meeting Minutes December 5, 2017

MINUTES
CLARKSTON CITY COUNCIL
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
 
Officials Present
Mayor: Ted Terry
Council: Dean Moore, Mario Williams, Awet Eyasu, Ahmed Hassan, Jamie Carroll, Andrea Cervone
City Manager: Keith Barker 
City Clerk: Tracy Ashby 
City Attorney: Stephen Quinn
 
Mayor Ted Terry called the meeting to order at 7:30pm.
 
Roll Call: Dean Moore, Mario Williams, Awet Eyasu, Ahmed Hassan, Jamie Carroll
 
Pledge of Allegiance
 
C.  ADMINISTRATIVE BUSINESS/ PRESENTATION
C1) Swear-In New Council Member Andrea Cervone
Judge David Will swore in Andrea Cervone as a Council Member.
 
C2)  Recognize Outgoing Council Members
Former Councilwoman Beverly Burks and outgoing Councilman Dean Moore were recognized for their years of service and presented a plaque.  Ms. Burks thanked the Council and she stated that she would continue to serve the City of Clarkston.  
 
C3)  Approve Minutes for 11-9-2017 Council Meeting
Ahmed Hassan made a motion to approve the minutes for the 11-9-17 Council Meeting.   Awet Eyasu seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
 
PUBLIC COMMENTS
Fina Awet suggested that the Council install a traffic light at Montreal Road and Plantation Drive due to the high traffic. 
 
Mary Hoyt congratulated the election winners and she thanked everyone for the excellent voter turnout. She discussed the Clarkston Speaks survey and encouraged everyone to review. She voiced support for the accessory structure ordinance. She questioned the status of the annual multi-family inspection process as relates to current apartment conditions.  She expressed concerns on the rezoning request.
 
Amy Berry expressed support for the accessory dwelling ordinance to allow her to renovate and rent a carriage house on her property. 
 
Amina Osman addressed a concern with a stop sign on Church Street and the traffic issues. Mr. Barker explained that the sign is placed at the PATH crossing, so it’s necessary to allow the safe crossing of bicycles and pedestrians. 
 
John Beck thanked all the Council for their continued willingness to serve. 
 
Beverly Burks discussed the upcoming anniversary of the City’s Charter and questioned if the Council had any planned event to commemorate the anniversary.
 
 Mayor Terry closed Public comments.
 
E. OLD BUSINESS
E1) Rezoning of properties located at 3449 Church Street and 801 Glendale Road from I- Light Industrial to NR-3 High Density Neighborhood Residential 
 
The Planning and Development Manager, Shawanna Qawiy stated that RBM Decatur, LLC has requested a rezoning of the properties that total 5.03 acres at 3449 Church Street and 801 Glendale Road from I-Light Industrial to NR-3 High Density Neighborhood Residential. The Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval of the rezoning request and the applicant did come before City Council on in which they requested deferments to December 5 meeting. The applicant is requesting to rezone the property to potentially make the property more marketable for development of townhomes. The applicant is present if the Mayor and Council have any further questions. 
Councilman Mario Williams stated that he did appreciate the application and that this issue has been under review for a few months. He expressed that the issue the Council is struggling with is a planned fair and equitable housing stock and policy proposal study that’s going to be commissioned at the first of the year.  This study is anticipated to take four to five months to complete and the Council is very reluctant to approve an application like this prior to that study being completed. He stated that in light of the planned housing study, the Council should waive the application fee and to allow for the applicant to come back after the study is completed and try to determine then, how the results of the study would impact approving a rezoning application.  Councilman Williams asked the City Attorney to discuss the proposed waiving of the application fee and the one year requirement if an application is denied. Mario Williams stated that his intention was to permit the applicant to come back and reapply once we the study is done. Councilman Williams felt there was an equitable issue at hand and if the Council were to consider approving the rezoning request, they would feel it was necessary to place several conditions on the approval, such as to have the developer set aside a certain number of fair housing units so that we have mixed development housing and there’d have to be a housing impact statement done. He surmised that there are likely a number of additional elements that would come out of the study that the Council can’t reasonably determine this evening. He clarified that the Council intended to proceed with a housing study which is going to take several months to complete, so instead of putting those conditions that would run with the land, that they’d rather waive many of the owner’s burdens in reapplying and to allow the applicant to reapply when the housing study is complete.  This will allow the Council to make a more informed decision about the situation. 
 
Mayor Terry questioned the City Attorney if there was anything he needed to address.  Stephen Quin advised he had nothing to add but that he’d answer any questions submitted.  
 
The property owner, Robert Buckler requested to address the Council. He expressed his concerns with being asked to wait another five months.  He reminded that his application was filed in June 2017 and that he complied with two deferral request by the city, and now he is being asked to essentially wait one year on an application that he felt should normally take at the most 60 days. He stated his position is that when and if anyone comes to develop the property the Council is permitted to put whatever conditions they feel are indicated on the property at the time of the land development permit application. Any developer of the property would have to indicate how many units intend to construct, the orientation of the structures on the property and to address any ingress and egress issues.  So all of these issues that the Council is stating would be addressed by a study, would be addressed at the time a land development permit application is submitted. Mr. Buckler expressed that he had people ready to purchase the property and they are aware they must submit a land development application to the Council.  At that time the Council will get to see exactly what they intend to construct and the Council could place whatever conditions desired on the property at that point in time, as a condition for the approval of a land development permit. Mr. Buckler did not feel it was reasonable to affectively ask him to wait for a year in order to complete a study that has not actually been commissioned.  He requested that the Council approve his request at this point in time and address concerns with the developers at the time of the land development permit application.  
 
Councilman Dean Moore stated that he agreed with Mr. Buckler in that he’s taken the time submit his rezoning application and he has set it aside and the Council can put the restrictions on the actual developer when they make application to the City to develop the property.  
Mario Williams asked Stephen Quinn to address the issue about the restrictions at the time developers make an application. 
 
Stephen Quin stated that with a land development application, the items that Mr. Buckler mentioned, would definitely be addressed at that time. The process is to insure that the plans that are proposed for a piece of property complies with the ordinances and regulations that are in place.  That would include issues with ingress and egress, orientation, setbacks, etc.  Mr. Quinn clarified that if the Council has policy ideas that are not currently on the books and someone makes an application to develop a property in accordance with what is currently on the books then that applicant is entitled to build what is allowed by our codes. 
 
Mayor Terry commented to Mr. Buckler that the Council is trying to develop a more comprehensive, affordable housing policy.
 
Mr. Buckler stated that it would make sense, if at the time of his application, this had all been put in front of him, six months ago. He remarked that he had been asked to defer his request until the December meeting and no mention was made of a possible housing study until he got to this meeting. He felt this was something that’s just been presented to him tonight, after he’s had an application pending since June and when he’s made two deferrals at the request of the City itself. He stated he thought he was entitled to be given more notice than what he had received tonight and he reiterated that the Council would have the opportunity to address the issues, which they referenced previously, at the time a land development application is submitted. 
 
Mario Williams said that the issues about fair housing and conducting a housing study didn’t arise until late Fall, and so while he understand Mr. Buckler’s position and the points raised by Councilman Moore, at the end of the day this a tough decision to make.  He wanted the City Attorney to point out the fact that if the Council did approve the request today, the property would be sold and someone applied for the land development permit, there’s no way in the world that the Council would have these affordable housing and fair housing policies on the books. Councilman Williams said that’s just really the reality of the situation and from his perspective, although I do understand Mr. Buckler’s patience and I know that doesn’t do anything for him by my saying it, I can say that as far as the notice and not telling Mr. Buckler back in June, it really wasn’t on the agenda items for committee actions until late fall. 
 
Mr. Buckler said that he did feel like this issue was raised after he made the application and in response to the application in part.  He felt that various people in the city were coming and asking him to defer his request and he felt he should have been put on notice as to what the council were considering, and that he felt like he’d been sandbagged to an extent. He considered his being asked to defer the application allowed time to permit certain people to put this issue out there as an additional issue on the property and that if he’d gone ahead with the normal process he wouldn’t have been faced with this current situation. 
 
Councilman Williams offered an apology to Mr. Buckler and said that it really didn’t become a forceful issue on housing initially.  Councilman Williams stated that he ran for office on housing concerns, so it’s always been on his radar, but that it did not become an issue for the Council until after the rezoning application came on everybody’s radar.  The Council  does want to be as fair as possible to Mr. Buckler while they are addressing the problem by waiving all the fees and Mayor Terry is going to talk to the person that’s conducting the study to determine the timeframe, but he thought at this point the Council  would have to deny the application. 
 
Mayor Terry said with the conditions that Mr. Buckler could come back before a year (if the application was denied) he thought it could be sooner than that, and agreed the Council should waive the fee. 
 
Mr. Buckler commented that the council has failed to address the cost of his carrying the property for a year.  While he understand what the council wants to do, those issues should be addressed going forward, and not with pending applications that were already pending. He stated that this is one piece of property, it’s the only one that he knew of that is going to be impacted as a result of the Council’s planned study.  So his request is that the council treat his application just like they would anybody else who came in prior to him and went through the process, with the laws that were on the books and issues that were presented to him at that point in time.  He stated if this is an issue, it should be for future developers or future people who come in after you’ve conducted your study.  He did not think that given the way the timing has gone that it’s fair for the Council to impose this on him after the facts of my situation.  
 
Mayor Terry thanked Mr. Buckler for his concerns and with no further public comments, he closed the public comments section.  He advised that the position of the City Council is that we need to make policy decisions that impact the whole of the City and for us to make an exception for this one piece of property, without having a more comprehensive solution in place would be unfair. It would be actually, as Ms. Hoyt pointed out, against the City’s comprehensive plan that took almost twelve months to put together and so this requires due diligence and it requires a more thorough review.  He said the City is trying to get to a place where we can see that property put to its best use. But we’ve just had an election, and we just installed a new council member, so we’re trying to get to a consensus for a more comprehensive housing solution and so we just ask that Mr. Buckler and other future developers be a little bit patient while we work through this. We want to make sure we have the best possible plan for all of the residents and property owners of Clarkston.
 
Mr. Buckler said he understood and requested they vote on his application. 
 
Councilman Jamie Carroll questioned if we did do this study, do you have an idea of how long it will take, because he did respect Mr. Bucklers issue of carrying costs for the property, such as taxes or possible mortgage, so there is some cost to Mr. Buckler in having the property sit.
Mario Williams estimated it’s going to be a four to five month process, but maybe we could try to get more human resources out there and get it done quicker. He restated that this was an approximation and not something that he could definitively verify.  
 
Dean Moore said he agreed with Mr. Buckler in that this is one property  and if developed, it is going to be reviewed when that person does decide to build, and I see doing due diligence on this issue.  He pointed out the Council also has the accessory dwelling item coming up and he thought there needs to be more due diligence done on that as well, especially in light of this proposed study, and he wanted to point that out, so when the Council got to that discussion they should take grater consideration for that ordinance as well.
 
Mayor Terry requested a motion on the item and if we need to discuss it further then we can.  
 
Mario Williams made a motion to deny the rezoning properties located at 3449 Church Street and 801 Glendale Road from I-Light Industrial to NR-3 High Density Neighborhood Residential with the condition that the full application fee be waived, Mr. Buckler does not have to wait a year to reapply and there’s no resubmission of any materials to Planning & Zoning. Awet Eyasu seconded the motion. No further discussion. A vote was called and the motion was approved (4-YES Mario Williams, Awet Eyasu, Ahmed Hassan, Andrea Cervone, NO-1 Den Moore, Abstain – 1 Jamie Carroll.
 
E2)  Adopt Ordinance to Allow Certain “Qualified Convenience Stores” to Obtain a New License to Sell Packaged Alcohol
Councilman Carroll discussed that the Council had considered adopting the proposed ordinance to permit one convenience store that had completed groundbreaking of their location prior to the adoption of Ordinance No. 405 to apply for an alcohol package license.  Mr. Carroll advised that after the businesses survey was reviewed and measurement verified, the location did not meet the minimum distances under State law. Jamie Carroll did not recommend approving this ordinance.
 
Mayor Terry recognized the business owner for 1051 Montreal Rd  who said he had a survey that showed measurement of 110 yards.
 
Attorney Stephen Quinn clarified that the surveyor did not follow State rules, which have been in place since 2007, that specify the measurement must be a straight line from the front the applicants building to the nearest property line of the school. 
Jamie Carroll made a motion to not adopt the ordinance to allow certain “qualified convenience stores” to obtain a new license to sell packaged alcohol.  Dean Moore seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0). 
 
F.NEW BUSINESS
F1) 2018 Budget Adoption
Mr. Barker provided the 2018 Budget presentation and addressed any questions.
 
   1) Public Hearing – To take public comment on the 2018 Proposed Operating & Enterprise
Fund Budget
 
Mayor Terry opened the public hearing. No Public Comment on the 2018 Proposed Budget. Mayor Terry closed the public hearing.
 
   2) Council Adopt 2018 Operating & Enterprise Budget Ordinance
Mario William made a motion to adopt the 2017 Budget Ordinance. Ahmed Hassan seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (4, 0) 
 
Dean Moore proposed to add expenditures to the Community Action items to increase Sagal Radio from $5, 000 to $7,500,  to add the Tell Me a Story Festival funding for $6,000, to add the Freedom Middle School soccer program request for $2,500 and the  Affordable Housing Study for $10,000 for a total increase of $21,000. Council discussion of removing the wood chipper purchase from the budget to cover the additional community action items versus using the property tax.
 
Dean Moore made a motion to adopt the 2018 Budget with the following changes to the Community Action items: Sagal Radio increased from $5,000 to $7,500, to add the Tell Me a Story Festival for $6,000, to add Freedom Middle School Soccer Program for $2,500 and to add Affordable Housing Study for $10,000 with the funds anticipated to be covered by real property revenues. Awet Eyasu seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
 
F2)  First Read Adopt Ordinance by the City of Clarkston to Amend the City Charter 
Dean Moore reported on the recommendations by the Charter Review Committee and the specific recommendations on the appointments of certain administrative positions. He discussed further items needed to be reviewed by the City Attorney for clarification on what items fall under Home Rule authority for the Council to adopt. Mario Williams stated he felt with several areas still needing clarification, perhaps the ordinance should be tabled. The City Attorney clarified that the proposed ordinance does not have any conflict with the Home rule or any other issues raised. Council further discussed waiting until all issues had been reviewed. 
Mario Williams made a motion to table the ordinance until the February 2018 Council Meeting. Ahmed Hassan seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (5 Yes, 1-Awet Eyasu abstained).
 
F3)  Approve 2018 Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) Application to the Georgia Department of Transportation
Awet Eyasu made a motion to Approve 2018 Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) Application to the Georgia Department of Transportation. Ahmed Hassan seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
 
F4)  Adopt a Resolution Declaring the Results of an Election Determining Issuance or Non-Issuance of General Obligation Debt, the Imposition of a one percent Special Purpose Local Option  Sales Tax,  and the replacement of the Homestead Option Sales and Use Tax with the Equalized Homestead Option Sales and Use Tax
Andrea Cervone made a motion to Adopt a Resolution Declaring the Results of an Election Determining Issuance or Non-Issuance of General Obligation Debt, the Imposition of a one percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax,  and the replacement of the Homestead Option Sales and Use Tax with the Equalized Homestead Option Sales and Use Tax. Ahmed Hassan seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
 
F5)  Approve Conditional Use Permit for the property located at 3865 Church Street
Shawanna Qawiy stated that the North American Mission Board (NAMB) is requesting a conditional use permit to convert the existing Christian Life Center (CLC) (gym) at 3865 Church Street, to a worship venue and other church related activities. She advised that Staff recommends approval of the conditional use permit.
Ahmed Hassan made a motion to approve Conditional Use Permit for the property located at 3865 Church Street. Dean Moore seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
 
F6)  Adopt Ordinance to Amend the Clarkston Zoning Ordinance, Appendix A of the City Code of Ordinances to Allow and Regulate Accessory Dwellings in Certain Zones of the City
Jamie Carroll advised that the City currently allows accessory structures in single family residences for storage sheds.  This ordinance amendment would allow accessory buildings for dwelling purposes as long as certain requirements were met such as setbacks, additional parking, accessory structures cannot exceed the size of the existing single-family home with a limit of 1,250 square feet and accessory dwellings can only be built in single family residences. Councilman Carroll advised the purpose was to create more housing options in the City. 
 
Awet Eyasu made a motion to adopt an Ordinance to amend the Clarkston Zoning Ordinance, Appendix A of the City Code of Ordinances to Allow and Regulate Accessory Dwellings in Certain Zones of the City and to allow home occupations to be conducted in accessory dwellings and to repeal conflicting ordinances. Jamie Carroll seconded the motion. Discussion.
 
Dean Moore questioned the rush to approve this ordinance considering that no one spoke in favor of the ordinance at the Planning & Zoning meeting and only one resident spoke in support at this meeting. He further expressed that given the level of scrutiny of the requested NR3 rezoning and the decision to put that request on hold until the housing inventory is done and with his concerns of how this ordinance could impact the City, that further review and oversight are needed to determine that nothing objectionable is constructed. Mr. Barker spoke on concerns with accessory structures being built without prior City knowledge and he preferred that there is a requirement for anyone considering adding an accessory dwelling to permit that through the City.  Jamie Carroll stated that number 8, which reads “to comply with all residential codes,” he thought meant, they must apply for a permit with the City, but he was agreeable to amending the language to clarify that requirement. Councilman Moore questioned amending the ordinance again and suggested waiting on adopting for further review. Stephen Quinn pointed out that anyone building a structure and not having received a certificate of occupancy they have no legal right to reside in the structure and there is also the requirement that any improvements valued over $1,000 must apply for a permit. Further discussion on accessory dwelling ordinance.
 
A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 1- No Dean Moore).
 
F7) Adopt Resolution by the City of Clarkston to Declare Support for the Daffodil Remembrance Project
 Awet Eyasu stated this is an ongoing relationship with Dr. Connors to acknowledge the devastating impact of humanitarian crises around the world, including but not limited to the Holocaust, by making Clarkston a “City of Daffodils.”  Dr. Connors discussed the previous year’s Clarkston plantings and her efforts to formalize the partnership with the City. Mayor Terry read the resolution.
Awet Eyasu made a motion to adopt the resolution to Declare Support for the Daffodil Remembrance Project. Jamie Carroll seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
 
G.  REPORTS:  
1)  Planning & Zoning Report
Shawanna Qawiy gave a Planning & Zoning overview for 2017. Mrs. Qawiy reminded that the public open house for Flood maps and insurance review will be held on11-10-17.
 
2) City Manager’s Report
The City Manager provided the Financial Report thru November 30, 2017. 
 
3)  City Attorney’s Report
No report.
 
4)  Council Remarks
Dean Moore stated it’s been a pleasure working on the Council.
 
Mario Williams thanked Councilman Moore for his help in serving on the Council.
 
Awet Eyasu stated Dean Moore has been a huge asset to the City. Councilman Eyasu reported on his attendance of the New American Leaders conference. 
 
Ahmed Hassan thanked Dean Moore for his many years of service and he hoped the Council would re-appoint him to serve on the Charter Review Committee.
 
Jamie Carroll thanked Dean Moore and Beverly Burks for their service on the Council.
 
Andrea Cervone echoed the sentiments of the Council and while she hasn’t served with Councilmembers Moore and Burkes, she appreciated their service and hoped for their continued involvement with the City.
 
5)  Mayor’s Report
Mayor Terry recognized Beverly Burks and Dean Moore for their service and encouraged their continued service with the City.  He advised that there is a planned follow-up visit for Santa Claus to allow for photos.  He discussed altering the January meeting to hold the meeting at Clarkston Community Center and he hoped to have more specifics by weeks end. He spoke on his appreciation to have been invited to participate in the Mayors Institute for City Design and a planned review of the Brockett Road corridor. 
 
ADJOURNMENT: 
Dean Moore made a motion to adjourn the Council Meeting. Awet Eyasu seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0). 
 
Meeting adjourned.
 
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