met on Sept. 10 for its regular work session and council meetings of the month. Here is a quick run-down of the major happenings and discussions.
1. Items for Discussion (work session): Downtown Development Authority (DDA)
Summary: Norman Nash, chairman of the DDA, updated the mayor and council members regarding the Main Street alignment project. The DDA's reported that the organization owned six properties, including one property that is rented to St. Mary's Independent Living Extension, or S.M.I.L.E., for about $800 a month.
Just prior to the meeting, Nash added, a final property went under contract to purchase. Because of the final agreement, there will be no taking of property, or eminent domain, city officials said.
"This is like a victory dance right here," said Councilman Eddie Price.
In the coming weeks and months, those driving down Main Street may notice some of the properties being razed.
In addition, Nash printed report included information on . Six potential restaurant operators have been interviewed, and the DDA is awaiting business plans from all, the report read. It also mentioned renting the facility on an hourly basis. Lastly, DDA officials said the scene of a movie will be shot there on Sept. 30. So, don't be alarmed that day and watch out for any traffic this may cause.
2. Items for Discussion (work session): Foreclosure Registry
Summary: City staff will be looking into the feasibility of doing a foreclosure registry in the city. The registry would force owners of foreclosed property -- in many cases this is a bank -- to fill out and sign paperwork that identifies them as the owner. Anytime the home changes hands, another document would be filed to the city by that new owner.
"It's awful," said Mayor Johnny Crist, about the prevalence of neglected foreclosed properties.
A foreclosure registry gives the city one extra way to ensure that properties are kept up, and that owners can be found easily. If the city adopts an ordinance related to this, it would be retroactive to July 1, 2012 and come with a fine for noncompliance. A number of other municipalities have such a registry, including nearby DeKalb County. Read about that registry here.
"They oppose this all day long," said City Attorney Richard Carothers.
The item may be put on the October council meeting agenda.
3. Discussion (work session): Cell Phone Towers
City Manager Bill Johnsa brought up the idea that cell phone towers on city-owner property may be a good revenue generator. In addition, city officials said it could increase cell phone reception for customers, depending on the location and the height. A study may be needed to see what the optimal locations are.
A. Merit Board (regular meeting): City council approved 4-0 revisions to the Merit System Act and Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual.
B. Girl Scouts Donation (regular meeting): In a 4-0 vote, the city council approved accepting a $500 donation from the Girl Scouts Council of Northeast Georgia.