Blairsville, Ga – City Council decided not to sell remaining Haralson property lots in a special meeting with the DDA on July 9.
In a 3 to 2 vote, the city council voted to keep the Haralson property lots, except for the .90 acres currently pending closing. The DDA can no longer sell the lots to interested buyers according to the vote.
The remaining lots are located next to the American Homes Building and in front of Hwy. 515, greenspace behind city hall, the greenspace across from Cook’s Restaurant, and parking lot across from Foodland.
.90 acre lot next to Hwy. 515, and closest to Popeye’s, is in the process of being closed on and wasn’t included in the motion to keep the land. However, the deal isn’t finalized at this time.
“It’s going to be really congested in that area,” stated Councilmember Robert Moore, “if we don’t do anything and keep it as an investment, then chances are it might be better than money in the bank. So if we don’t sell it today and decide five or ten years down the road to sell it, we haven’t lost anything. Also, I would like to create a green space for people to use.”
DDA member W.C. Nelson advised against holding onto prime property in the city of Blairsville when businesses are looking to move into the area.
“From the DDA perspective we want to be remembered for doing a good job and what we’re supposed to do for the city,” stated Nelson, “When things are selling, and you’ve got buyers, you better be taking advantage. The economy’s going to go back down then you’re not going to be able to sell it.”
Moore added that he didn’t want another fast food restaurant in the city and would prefer picnic tables in the area.
“The two businesses that we have in the area don’t create a tremendous amount of traffic like a steakhouse would or other things. Popeye’s is going to have come and go traffic,” said Councilmember Tony Dyer, “I see your point and I see Buddy’s point.”
Councilmember Betty Easter didn’t see many people using a green space area in the city.
Moore made the motion to take the land off the market. Councilmember Mary Ruth Cook seconded. Moore, Cook, and Councilmember Rhonda Mahan voted in favor of the motion. Dyer and Easter voted against it.
After some discussion as to who should keep the land now that it’s not for sale, the parking lot and green space behind City Hall moved back to the city.
However, the lot across from Cook’s Restaurant and the 1.13 acres next to American Homes and Hwy. 515 remained with the DDA. Moore made a motion to move the property back to the city, but it failed due to lack of a second.
“We can set on the property as long as we ever want to set on it, but we’re at the behest of the city council as to what to do with it,” stated DDA member Paul Thompson.
Due to two-year term limits, city council can’t permanently bind DDA to hold the Haralson lots. However, the current council didn’t completely rule out selling for the right offer. Still, the DDA can’t actively sell the property at this time.
“If any of the council changes, a new member might have new ideas,” explained Mayor Jim Conley.
DDA member Daniel Davenport assured the council, “We will behoove the request of the city.”
The transfer of the parking lot and green space back to the city reduces the debt the DDA owes to the city by $650,000 with an estimated remaining debt balance of $300,000.
However, once a prospective deal closes the DDA’s debt to the city will be eliminated.
Blairsville, Ga – Union and Towns County formed the Trusted Voices committee for assistance with the 2020 census.
With the 2020 Census rapidly approaching – April 1, 2020, Union, Towns, Blairsville, Hiawassee, and Young Harris partnered with the Patrick Malone to form the Trusted Voices committee to ensure maximum participation.
“We had a meeting six week ago with a lady from the Governor’s Office, Anna Miller,” said Mayor Jim Conley “Commissioner Paris put together an agreement with Mr. Patrick Malone who is here tonight that puts [Malone] in charge of the working end of the Census.”
In the 2010 report, Union recorded around 85 percent of the total population. Towns recorded 87 percent.
Malone hopes to increase Census participation in 2020. The organization serves to encourage individuals to answer the survey through door-to-door visits and community engagements. These efforts will gear up in the fall to promote awareness.
“The committee’s known as the Trusted Voices Campaign. The responsibilities are really minor. It’s just being aware what’s going on with the Census and make sure that we exceed last Census’ participation rate,” explained Malone.
Blairsville City Council appointed Councilman Mary Ruth Cook and Councilman Rhonda Mahan to serve on the Trusted Voices committee to represent Blairsville’s interest. They will have one meeting with Malone and then spread the word in the community.
The city paid Trusted Voices $500 to utilize the service. Hiawassee and Young Harris also paid $500, but Union and Towns are expected to cover the rest of the cost.
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.