Blairsville, Ga – City council addressed next steps for Blairsville’s rapid growth and how to handle the future.
Councilman Robert Moore brought up the Haralson Property lots and suggested leaving the remaining lots undeveloped.
Another restaurant will hopefully close eight-tenths of an acre, and if that goes through, then a little over an acre will remain.
“I think we need the greenspace myself. If we cut any more trees, it’s just going to ruin the town,” said Councilman Mary Ruth Cook.
Mayor Jim Conley confirmed that the lot across from Cook’s Resturant would be left, “It’s already been determined that the property across from Cook’s would be hung on to because we definitely need to have the parking.”
Moore stated that the city council needs to address future plans with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
Councilman Tony Dyer announced that the next Downton Development Authority (DDA) meeting on July 9 will be open to the public, “The purpose of the meeting is to throw out ideas and see what we want to do from now on. I think that’s a good thing to bring up.”
The city doesn’t have any authority as to how the property is sold but can provide input and suggestions for future plans. However, it’s the city council’s decision to relieve the DDA of the existing debt. If the current restaurant deal closes, $200,000 will be due to the DDA.
“I agree with you that we need to slow down with anything else we do,” said Dyer in response to Moore’s suggestion to consider the future of the city.
During Police Chief Michael Bear Baxter’s report, he commented that the new police department should be ready to move into within the month. Rock’s currently being laid on the building.
“Power should be hooked up next week. Everything is ready to go. Of course, with us moving in, we have to have some things,” stated Baxter.
Councilman Rhonda Mahan asked if the remodel would include new furniture.
Conley confirmed that it would have new kitchen appliances, but office furniture would be moved from the current location.
“Some of that’s not worth moving,” said Mahan, “That stuff’s been here forever. The chairs are falling apart.”
Dyer joined in, “I think it may be up to us, whether they get anything new or not. All of us. Some of that stuff is too old to move over there to that structure.”
The current furniture came from the school, who stored it in a barn until giving it to the police department. Baxter conceded that some new desks, chairs, and other materials might be needed.
“Especially the chairs,” commented Baxter “The ones the public use, when we bring somebody in, they’re bad. They’re. bad. I wouldn’t want to sit in one. You don’t need fabric chairs for the public. It’s not feasible. They look terrible. They’re stained up. Some of the things we need should be replaced.”
Baxter also commended Officer Shawn Dyer for spending the construction money wisely and stretching the dollar for the city.
Moore recommended that Baxter bring proposals for new furniture to the next council meeting.
Additionally, DDA Program Manager Darren Harper reported that the city earned $3,360 from the Spring Arts and Crafts festival.
“It’s higher than we ever had, and there are ways that we want to tweak it so next year it can be even better,” commented Harper.
Also, downtown business owners told Harper that they’re having really good numbers and are making more money than in 2018.
Blairsville, Ga – Timberlake Custom Homes pleaded with the council to grant the variance permit after it was denied last month.
The variance was denied in May’s meeting due to being 28 square foot oversized. The city’s sign ordinance stated that all freestanding signs must be 60 square-foot and 20 feet high.
Managing Partner Chip Shively addressed the city council about the sign and apologized for not understanding the process.
“Thank you for hearing us again, “said Shively.
He explained the reasoning behind renovating the existing steel sign, citing age and marketing.
“We took that existing sign and were just trying to dress it up a bit. It never occurred to me that it would need a permit for that, and it’s my fault. I apologize.”
Timberlake Custom Homes covered the existing sign in wood to make it more attractive to passersby. The freestanding sign also included other businesses in that shopping center. The old sign featured fluorescent lights. Shively replaced the fluorescents with LED bulbs to save on costs.
The wood addition will weather over time, which is why Timberlake Custom Homes added the roof to the top of the sign. An electronic piece sits inside the sign too in order to combat the weathering. The business spent $200,000 during the renovations to the signage.
Shively admitted the sign is three feet too high with the roof and requested a variance for that.
Timberlake Custom Homes operated out of Hiawassee for 20 years and recently moved to Blairsville due to all the work that they have done in the community.
“We’re excited about being in Blairsville,” stated Shively, “We want to be a strong member of this community who can contribute and be here for a long time.”
Mayor Jim Conley stated that he didn’t know LED bulbs were used in the businesses’ signs.
“It paints a different picture. They’ll still be 28 square-foot out of compliance, so what we’ll be issuing is a variance on 3 foot in height and 28 square-foot in overall size,” explained Conley.
Remax Town and County Agent Paige Thorton spoke on behalf of Timberlake Custom Homes. The businesses share the lot, and she’s their real estate agent.
“It really gives 515, as his neighbor and real-estate agent, a really nice look. We, at State Farm and Remax, have no problem with it,” said Thorton, “I can attest that Chip has been in business for 24 years in Murphy and Towns County, and he did see the value of Union County.”
“What makes it too high is just the little roof?” asked Councilwoman Rhonda Mahan. The mayor confirmed that yes, the roof added the extra three feet. The extra 3×8 design for the design center puts it over as well. Shively offered to “blackout” that part.
Councilman Tony Dyer offered “Has anything been grandfathered-in?”
Mayor Conley stated that signs had been grandfathered-in before the sign ordinance was put in place. He also added that he wanted to give Timberlake Custom Homes the variance.
Dyer agreed, “I know they got a lot of money in it, and I want to work with them.”
Blairsville, Ga – City Council uploads sign ordinance for the city of Blairsville by denying a permit variance.
Timberlake Custom Homes, located on the four-lane between Ingles and The Home Depot, remodeled the State Farm building and the accompanying sign. The business requested a permit variance due to the remodeled sign no longer accommodating the city’s sign ordinance.
“Their sign is 23 foot tall and 80 square foot free standing. It’s 20 square foot too much, as far as the ordinance and three foot too high,” Mayor Jim Conley told the room.
The current ordinance states that signs can only be up 60 square foot in size.
The extra three feet in height comes from the arch added to the top of the sign. The top could be removed, and the sign would meet the height requirement, but still be 20 square foot over as a free standing sign.
Due to the location of the sign, Councilman Buddy Moore remarked that “It’s a bad place to start getting bigger and bigger.”
Timberlake didn’t provide the sign’s height for two months after being asked to provide information to the city government. Also, the business didn’t ask about the freestanding sign ordinance before building it.
“All of our freestanding signs are within the ordinance,” said Mayor Conley.
The council will review the occupational tax certificate and sign permit for Timberlake Custom Homes once the sign meets the ordinance requirements.
Blairsville, Ga – Paw Park Project approached the Blairsville City Council about creating a suitable dog park for the city and Union County.
Gracian Sabo represented the Paw Park Project and the local Boy Scout Troop, who have pledged to support the project if it moves forward. The Boy Scouts aren’t sponsoring the project, but they have promised to help raise funds once the land becomes available.
“Many dogs have been injured due to the exposed roots and fallen branches [in the existing park], and the 4,608 square foot fenced in space is inadequate for any dog to run, play catch, or socialize with other dogs,” said Sabo of the current dog park.
He compared it to the dog park in Blue Ridge which covers 21,000 square feet and draws many Union County residents.
The American Kennel Club recommended one acre of land for a park with a four- to six-foot chain-link fence and double gate entry.
“Our off-leash area falls way below any minimum standards, and we are bringing these substandard conditions to your attention, in hope, that you’ll support the Paw Park Project and help us find a piece of land to build a new and improved off-leash area,” proposed Sabo.
Sabo and the Paw Park Project launched a petition on Monday, May 6 and has received more 50 signatures and positive online comments by the time of the meeting on Tuesday, May 7.
Mayor Jim Conley responded to Sabo, “We all understand your plea here, wanting an area that is much greater than what I am assuming is Meeks Park dog section…the city has no area or property of our own that would be anything suitable for something like this.”
Mayor Conley also asked if the Paw Park Project had any land of their own that could serve their purpose within the county. The representatives stated that HOAs wouldn’t allow the development of a dog park and that’s why they’re coming to the city and the county to find a public space.
Mayor Conley suggested talking to the county to find a piece of properly zoned property and reaching out to the tax commissioner’s office to assist with the search.
Blairsville, Ga – Blairsville City Council approved new sidewalks for the downtown area in the May 7, 2019 meeting.
Rustic Mountain owner June McEldowney and other small-business owners attended the city council meeting to have their questions about the sidewalks answered and stay updated.
The project to improve downtown’s sidewalks and fix drainage issues received funding approval from the city council.
For the drainage problem, a pipe will run underneath Merchants Walk driveway and flow into a drain that empties into the stream behind city hall.
The placement of the pipe will catch all the water that goes around the curve to keep it out of the parking lot as well.
“The sidewalk will extend right past the Copeland’s restaurant, where you see all the markings where people aren’t supposed to park. That’s where the sidewalk will end at this time,” said Mayor Jim Conley, “but once I figure out exactly where the right of way is that goes in front of the bike shop and the front of Mr. Duckworth’s property that sidewalk will be extended up to the present sidewalk.”
The new sidewalks won’t affect current parking along Blue Ridge Street.
McEldowney asked about adding a crosswalk to the area. Mayor Conley indicated that there are plans for a crosswalk, but the exact location hasn’t been decided. “We definitely need a crosswalk,” confirmed Mayor Conley. The eventual crosswalk will include all necessary warnings to slow down motorists like flashing lights and slow down signs.
Colwell Construction Company estimated $14,987 for the project, and it’s scheduled to begin as soon as possible. SPLOST funds will pay for the sidewalks.
Chaos in Blue Ridge?