The council voted unanimously Monday night to approve a map of five wards for each of the council seats, after a 4-1 vote left it up in the air in January on whether the county delegation would ask the General Assembly to approve the move to wards.
The delegation typically has a rule that it won’t push local legislation unless the body requesting it votes unanimously. State Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) said in January that meant the delegation might not ask the General Assembly to approve.
But Turner confirmed Tuesday, now that the council had approved the map unanimously, the delegation will proceed in trying to get the General Assembly to approve the measure. Earlier in January, the council unanimously approved the concept establishing wards.
Councilman Mike Zenchuk, the lone opposer to the vote on the map last month, said after the meeting Monday he hadn’t previously known that the delegation required a unanimous vote on the map itself.
“When I was informed of that, I spoke to the mayor and city manager,” he said. “We came to the decision to add the map back to the agenda for this evening’s session.”
During the January meeting, Zenchuk expressed frustration over the layout of the map — which city staff had worked with the state to draw — and said it didn’t make sense. “I hate the fact that we’re dictated (from) downtown Atlanta as to what we’re supposed to do in Holly Springs,” he added at the time. City officials have said the wards were determined by census data from 2010.
On Monday night, the councilman voted to accept the map, even though he still wasn’t thrilled with it.
“While to me this is not a perfect layout, it was the best solution to move the city in the right direction for the future,” he said after the meeting.
Before the vote Monday, City Manager Rob Logan told the council he wanted to be clear that, regardless of the layout of the map, the city council seats would be elected at large.
Also during the meeting, the council voted unanimously after an executive session to approve three land purchases worth almost $500,000.
The council approved paying $258,000 for land owned by Betty Barrett at 199 Palm St. and to enter into a life trust for the property. One acre adjacent to that property was bought outright for $55,000.
Mayor Tim Downing said after the meeting Barrett’s property was needed to reroute Palm Street near the old downtown area, which the city has plans to revitalize with a mixed-use development.
“It’s always been on the city’s plan to reroute Palm Street, and the only way we could really do it is to cut it back toward the heart of our new downtown development,” Downing said. “Ms. Barrett’s property would give us the flexibility to do that when the time is right.”
The council also unanimously approved purchasing land at 3658 Holly Springs Parkway for $140,000. Downing said that land was the last piece the city needed for its downtown development. Holly Springs’ downtown has essentially faded away through the years as development in other areas of the city has sprung up and businesses in the core of the city have closed down.
Downing has said, however, the project to revitalize the former downtown area was stalled and waiting for the market to drive the process of development.
The city manager also said Tuesday the project was at a standstill.
“There has been no serious interest for commercial uses yet,” he said. “However, we are still working on the project.”
Also during the meeting, the council:
• Voted unanimously to appoint Jacqueline Archer to the Cherokee County Development Authority; and
• Heard the announcement from Logan that City Clerk Karen Norred had been honored for her service to the city by the University of Georgia.