By Tia Lynn Ivey
Local citizens voiced their opinions and concerns at Town Hall hosted by District 2 Madison City Councilman Eric Joyce. About 50 people showed up to discuss a wide range of topics, including the recent fears over ethylene oxide emissions of the local BD Bard Plant in Madison in light of the State of Georgia pursuing legal action to temporarily shutdown the BD Bard Plant in Covington.
““After months of failed negotiations, empty promises, and misleading reports of ethylene oxide leaks, we have filed a Temporary Restraining Order to suspend operations at Band in Covington,” Kemp said in a statement.
Citizens expressed safety concerns sparked by the action initiated by Governor Brian Kemp against the Covington Plant, wondering what this will mean for the BD Bard plant in Madison. This is a developing story with more coverage to come in the next issue of the Morgan County Citizen.
At Monday’s Town Hall, Councilman Eric Joyce praised the state’s fast-moving decision and pledged to work with other city officials to explore what this should mean for the BD Bard plant in Madison.
“As a city, I think we should move forward as quickly as we can on this,” said Joyce. “There are similarities between the plant in Covington and the Madison plant and that should be a great concern to all of us.”
In addition to discussing BD Bard, Joyce also addressed boosting tourism and local quality of life by supporting downtown businesses.
“I am concerned when I see some of the empty storefronts in downtown Madison. As a tourist town, that’s a hindrance to getting people to come visit us,” said Joyce. “I want to make sure we are as city are maximizing our efforts to help our retailers.”
Joyce also believes the city should consider allowing short-term rentals inside the city to enhance tourism in Madison.
“You know, with Airbnb and things like that, I think it’s time we had that discussion,” said Joyce. In this day and age, so many people utilize those platforms as part of their tourism product. They want to stay in the heart of town and really feel the small town charm Madison has to offer, I think it could be could good for tourism.”
Joyce noted that the allowance of short-term rentals would require some oversight and regulation to temper the concerns of neighborhood and local hoteliers.
“We would have to figure out parking and maybe decide how many nights are allowed for short-term rentals per month, things like that,” said Joyce. “We want to be sensitive to people in the Historic District who fear an intrusion of commercialization in the district, and also our hoteliers and innkeepers would not be particularly happy with this either.”
Joyce noted that progress sometimes must still roll forward.
“ I don’t think a 100 years ago, the city of Madison wanted to ban automobiles because they were afraid it would hurt the delivery stable business,” said Joyce. “We can do this, we just need to do it in a way that’s fair to our hoteliers and neighbors in the historic district houses.”
Citizens at the meeting brought up traffic concerns and development fears, worried that traffic congestion will only worsen as more developments spring up in and around Madison. Joyce is looking to cultivate a better relationship with Georgia Department of Transportation officials to better address the traffic issues in Madison.
“So much of what we want to do relies on them,” said Joyce, who noted he and Madison Mayor Fred Perriman are planning a trip to Atlanta to visit with GDOT officials.
Joyce was pleased with the meeting turnout and outcome.
“I think we had a great turn out and everyone was cordial,” said Joyce. “I think people need to feel listened to, and sometimes I get the sense that they don’t. I was happy to be a small part of letting their voices be heard.”