Council tackles dogs, airport improvements, Greenspace grant
By Stephanie Johns
The Madison City Council approved a zoning variance request and amended the city’s dangerous dog ordinance during their meeting Monday night. They also voted to allow Mayor Bruce Gilbert to sign a task order relating to the airport improvements and documents allowing the Greenspace Commission to pursue a grant.
The city council heard from Planner Bryce Jaeck regarding a variance request. Louis Tooker of 562 Sycamore St. in Valley Farm Subdivision sought permission to sell a portion of his lot to his neighbors, Chris and Robyn Cook. Doing so would leave Tooker’s lot smaller than the minimum 0.25 acres allowed.
Councilman Michael Naples moved to deny the variance. No one seconded that motion.
Councilman Fred Perriman moved to approve the variance based on two points: the subdivision’s uniqueness as a neo-traditional subdivision as well as the fact that there are no lots on Sycamore wider than 50 feet.
Naples urged the other councilmen to follow their standards and said that they were going to set themselves up if they approved the variance.
Councilman Whitey Hunt said that the variance would not change the design of the subdivision.
“In situations like this I don’t think it’s going to set a precedent,” he said.
The final vote: four in favor, one opposed.
Jaeck also presented a conceptual plan for a mixed use development in Statham/ Barrow County for the council’s input. He noted that the proposed plan had stricter stream and watershed protection in place. He added that the planners are “taking some effort to accommodate the natural terrain to a degree.”
Jaeck said he requested the information from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission regarding this Development of Regional Impact (DRI).
City attorney Joe Reitman and Madison Animal Control officer Cindy Wiemann presented council with an amendment to city code regarding its dangerous dog ordinance. Reitman said they had not made any substantive changes to the ordinance, only cleaned it up and made it conform to state law.
Naples shared his concerns about the definition of dangerous dog as it pertains to a pet killing someone else’s pet while off of the owner’s property.
It currently reads, “(C) While off the owner’s property, kills a pet animal; provided, however, that this subparagraph shall not apply where the death of such pet animal is caused by a dog that is working or training as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog.”
Wiemann said she already has scheduled a conference call with to correct this loophole. She noted that she and Reitman did what they could to close the loophole by adding a paragraph under the ‘Restraint’ section.
The paragraph includes language stating that the dog owner must have a valid hunting license and “express written permission and acknowledgement of the dog granted by the owner of the land being used” if not hunting on his/her own land.
This motion was approved unanimously.
City manager David Nunn then asked council members to approve a task order for Jacobs pertaining to the airport improvements.
Kristopher Erwin, an Aviation Project Manager with Jacobs out of Norcross, answered questions from the council and the public.
He noted that there are unoccupied houses along Bass Road that they are interested in purchasing to make room for the improvements. No one has been contacted about this yet, he said.
Resident Laura Butler asked about the largest aircraft that could use the airport once improvements have been made.
Erwin said that the airport can now host King Air B100 planes that seat six to nine people. After the improvements it could host Beechcraft planes that seat eight to 10.
Council voted unanimously to approve this.
Greenspace Commission Chairman David Land requested permission to pursue a $100,000 grant that would require a 20 percent match. He noted that the match monies could come from existing activities such as the Greenspace’s tree plantings and the city’s piping drainage ditch.
The grant, if applied for and accepted, would allow the Greenspace Commission to “enhance and extend the trail system of Round Bowl Spring – from the African-American Museum to the Richter Cottage,” according to supporting documents provided by Land.
City Planning Director Monica Callahan pointed out that the city’s grant requests, including this one, are “multi-faceted” in that the money benefits multiple groups. In this case, the money would be used to enhance a trail system, connect tourism resources, and possibly even provide alternative access to a cemetery, among other things.
For his report Nunn said he was disappointed with the lack of response from the Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding the city’s request for traffic light and crosswalk improvements. He said they will move ahead with the conversion of East Washington and East Jefferson streets into four-way stops.
Resident Stratton Hicky asked why the stop signs were being changed.
Nunn said that the intersections by SunTrust Bank and the Courthouse were “bad intersections” and noted that out-of-town visitors intuitively stop.
He shared that the equipment to make 300 meters auto-read will be installed next week primarily in subdivisions with water utilities but no gas.
The blue house at 408 W. Washington St. has been demolished. He commended the county for placing roll off boxes and keeping material moved out of there. He said two buildings on Bull Street will be scraped and hauled off. The former Hometown Cleaners building will be the next to go.
As to the city’s cotton gin, Nunn said he has not received any formal requests but thought they might run ads requesting public input as to what to do with the “quite unique and rare” piece of history in the city’s possession.
Callahan gave her report. She said they have held their initial meeting for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and their Town Hall meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at St. Paul’s AME Church. They would like to receive feedback on uses for the Gilmore property as well.
Greenspace’s Passive Park and Trails Strategy is underway and they will take bids for the Gateway 441-441 Bypass project soon.
The BoomTown visit brought state, regional, and local officials together to consider the uses, impediments, benefits, and possible financing for three downtown properties.
Madison Main Street Director Huff gave her Main Street report. She said that city employees have started putting up decorations and about 25 downtown merchants are mailing out a Wish Book to encourage residents to “Think Downtown First.”
The Christmas Parade will begin at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and will be immediately followed by Caroling by Candlelight. The new parade route will take a right at the courthouse and proceed to Town Park where Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet children.
One portion of the application, referred to as Number Five, cited the city’s request that only one live Santa be in the parade. Other Santas were not prohibited, she said.
Butler pointed out that the section in question would come up again next year and anytime a group of people, whatever their race, wanted to participate. Delane Anderson, a former fireman of 15 years from Buckhead, said that Number Five should come out.
The council agreed unanimously. Huff pointed out that the changes would be in effect for next year as this year’s materials already have gone out. As of mid-day Tuesday, the link to the application was not working.
City accountant Karen Guinn went over the general fund report. She noted that it is below budget but that is because they receive large lump sums in December and January. She said the $352,000 deficit in the general fund is normal for this time of year.
Printed in the November 15, 2012 edition