Communication-limiting bill opposed by council
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
February 28, 2013 12:00 AM | 838 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WOODSTOCK — In a unanimous decision Monday, the Woodstock City Council approved a resolution opposing a bill that would limit city employees’ ability to communicate with legislators.

The measure was passed 5-0, with Councilmember Randy Brewer absent.

City Manager Jeff Moon presented the resolution to council in support of Georgia Municipal Association’s opposition to House Bill 228, which Moon said would prevent all city employees from sending the Cherokee County legislative delegation correspondence regarding the council’s position on any legislation using a city computer, phone or email.

“It seems counterintuitive,” Moon said, adding it would require city staff, including City Attorney Eldon Basham, to register as a lobbyist if they wanted to communicate with legislators.

Councilmember Chris Casdia said he thought it was important council let their voices be heard on the issue.

“I think it’s silly,” Casdia said.

Moon said he would send on the information to the Cherokee County legislative delegation.

Additionally, the bill would affect local school districts, as it calls for parent email addresses to only be used by district officials for school-related functions. It would also prohibit school district employees from using email to promote or oppose any legislation as well as ban district employees from advocating for or against the ratification or approval of questions submitted to the voting public.

In other business, Moon notified the council of the unanimous vote by Woodstock’s Downtown Development Authority to apply for Opportunity Zones, which are state tax incentives for job creation.

Moon said in recent months, cities like Alpharetta and Roswell have moved forward with similar proposals.

Cherokee County presently has two Opportunity Zones totaling over 5,000 acres. According to the Cherokee County Office of Economic Development, 64 percent of prospects were interested in sites or buildings within these zones.

“Neighboring communities that we would compete against for these projects have already approved their opportunity zone applications,” Moon said.

Moon said the owners of Reformation Brewery, who are looking at a site of Arnold Mill Road, could qualify for the tax credit.

“As we look at other economic development opportunities in our downtown and surrounding area, I think it’s going to be critical that we have every tool in our tool chest available to help recruit and attract these types of businesses and we don’t sacrifice anything from a zoning standpoint,” Moon said.

Moon said staff will be working on putting the application and information together for the council to consider in coming weeks.

In other business, the council:

— Heard an update on the city’s Public Stuff app, a mobile citizen request tracker, that will go live March 1;

— Approved rezoning, annexation and/or variance requests from Merrill Gardens, Lennar Georgia Inc., Brock Built Oakhurst and McDonalds at 9961 Highway 92;

— Approved on first reading revisions of the city’s environment ordinance; and

— Approved the proposed wayfinding designs.

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