Woodstock puts off controversial development vote
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
September 12, 2012 12:00 AM | 1401 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WOODSTOCK — With three council members absent from Monday night’s meeting, the Woodstock City Council voted unanimously to table the vote on whether to implement form-based code as part of the city’s zoning regulations.

The two agenda items concerning the matter will be discussed at the Sept. 24 meeting that will be held at the Woodstock Annex at 12453 Highway 92.

Absent council members were Chris Casdia, Tessa Basford and Randy Brewer.

Form-based code requires planners to rely on categories to regulate the types of new buildings, including mandating certain improvements be agreed to before a property is rezoned. Additionally, developers would be required to address the impact their projects would have on the environment, pedestrian safety and transportation.

The proposals were previously tabled at the council’s Aug. 27 meeting.

Attorney and former Gov. Roy Barnes was at the meeting to represent his client Ridgewalk Holdings, LLC, which is challenging the city’s plans to implement the zoning changes.

The company owns about 110 acres where the new Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta are being constructed. In August, Barnes told the Tribune his clients would be “financially harmed” if the new zoning is implemented.

The council also voted to extend the Ridgewalk Moratorium Ordinance to Sept. 25, with an exception recommended by City Attorney Eldon Basham.

Basham said the exception would grant city staff the ability to sign off on Developments of Regional Impact requests for the outlet mall, provided the city doesn’t give any additional rights or benefits to the developer.

Processed by the Georgia Department of Community affairs, the DRI procedure is required to determine regional effects of large-scale projects.

“This is a time thing for them with (Atlanta Regional Commission) and (Georgia Regional Transportation Authority),” Mayor Donnie Henriques said. “It takes so long to get through those processes and, as Elden said, we’re not giving up any rights. It’s protected as far as this process.”

Also at the meeting, the council approved a license agreement and electric vehicle charging station grant from ECOtality.

City Planner Brian Stockton said the Nashville company received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to do a study on the charging stations. Stockton said the company will install the six charging stations at no cost and up to $1,000 for each unit for the cost of installation by Dec. 31 and will gather data from the machines for the next year.

“They would run the program and provide us with all the results until December 2013 at which time they would abandon the property to the city,” Stockton said, adding the city could either continue to use the stations or remove them at that time.

The council approved the staff’s recommendation that two of the stations be placed at the Wheeler Street parking lot adjacent to the ATM at Acru, one in place of the current charging station behind Freight Kitchen and Tap, and three in an on-street parking area adjacent to Walton Apartments and the home slated to house the Elm Street Cultural Arts Village.

Stockton said none of the spaces would be reserved for electric vehicles.

Additionally, the council voted 3-1, with Councilwoman Liz Baxter dissenting, to add to the agenda a vote to approve a self-insurance program. Moon said not voting on the item would cost the city approximately $10,000 because the city could not do open enrollment between the next council meeting and Oct. 1.

The measure was approved 3-1, with Baxter opposed, Moon said he felt the city did not have a choice other than to implement the program.

“To just keep doing what we’re doing and expecting a different outcome is not going to happen,” Moon said. “You’re going to get double-digit increases every year. We’ve gotten them every year but one in the five claim years I’ve been involved.”

Baxter said she was unprepared to vote on the measure as it was not presented on the agenda as a voting item.

“It should have been on the record or agenda if we were under this type of constraint and we knew it,” Baxter said.

Moon said the plan will help employees work on self-improvement and have an ownership stake in health insurance and had not received any negative comments from council or employees on the new plan.

In the last few years, Moon said the city’s annual insurance costs have gone from $800,000 to $1.3 million and is the city’s biggest operating cost in the general fund.

In other business, Mayor Donnie Henriques said the council — male members, specifically — are participating in Septembeard, a fundraiser where he and other council members are growing out their beards for prostate cancer awareness. He urged attendees to visit www.septembeard.org and search for Georgia’s Woodstock to make a donation.

Councilman Bud Leonard said Oct. 8-12 will be the last week of residential garbage pick-up from Advance Disposal. New bins for both recycling and garbage will be delivered Oct. 1-5 and Oct. 8-12 by Waste Management.

Also, beginning Oct. 5, commercial garbage services will be by open franchise, meaning businesses may choose their provider from a registered list of approved haulers by the City of Woodstock. These include: Advanced Disposal, American Disposal Services, Commercial Disposal, North Metro Waste Inc., Republic Services of Georgia, Waste Management of Atlanta and Waste Pro.

Henriques recognized Vic Knight, municipal marketing representative for Waste Management’s South Atlantic area, for his attendance at the meeting. Knight said he will be available throughout the transition to answer any questions from council and Woodstock residents.

The council also heard from David Potts, chairman of the board of Greenprints Alliance, who said the city will host an annual summit March 23 to coincide with StreetFest. Potts said Greenprints Alliance is almost finished with renovations to the Rope Mill Park trails with about 7 to 8 miles of trail left to build, so the non-profit has decided to try to raise $40,000 to finish building the trail and requested the city match those funds to complete the trail system prior to the March event.

Moon said he would consult with Potts on where the funds would come from the city’s budget and prepare a formal request to present to council.

The council’s next work session set for Sept. 17 has been canceled.

In other business, the mayor and council:

* Approved a project that would explore upgrading the existing firewall at Magnolia Hall in order to improve network speed and reliability with a contingency that the agreement would terminate if not budgeted by the city in the future;

* Reviewed the July 2012 financial report;

* Approved a contract to outsource the city’s information technology help desk;

* Approved a memo of understanding with Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District to continue participating in the toilet rebate program;

* Approved an amendment to the sidewalk construction, landscape installation and sign agreement with Walton Properties, which stipulates city has no obligations incurred by the company with respect to certain slivers of land which have been conveyed from Walton to the city;

* Approved a granting of parking rights agreement with Walton Properties;

* Approved abandonment of a portion of right-of-way along McAfee Street;

* Approved an alcohol license request by Texaco Food Mart at 9068 Highway 92;

* Approved establishment of the rank of corporal to patrol shifts in the police department. Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said the four corporal positions would have supervisory authority and would be compensated for their additional duties. Moss said the additional pay would not exceed the department’s specialty pay budget;

* Presented proclamations to celebrate the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance and celebrating Constitution Week;

* Moon recommended the council not reimburse the Woodstock Downtown Homeowners Association for monthly streetlight expenses; and

* Met in executive session to discuss real estate, personnel and litigation, but took no action upon returning.
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