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 – 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. – In his wastewater treatment plant report, Supervisor Jody Cook told the Blairsville City Council at their Tuesday, Feb. 6, meeting that recent testing has found an increased level of chemical pollutants flowing into the city’s wastewater facility.
Cook reported to city officials that it was determined that the chemicals were coming from the Aviagen Hatchery, a poultry hatchery facility located near Colwell Detention Center, after increases in the chemical oxygen demand (COD) at the treatment plant were discovered in January.
Mayor Jim Conley explained changes in Aviagen’s clean up process after delivering boxes of chicks to clients have resulted in the increased amount of chemicals coming into the wastewater plant.
“We’ve never had problems out of (the hatchery) before,” Conley said. “Those places are keep very, very sanitary, and I’m sure that the chemicals that they use are not harmful to you or me, but it’s harmful to our (wastewater treatment) plant because we have to operate under certain numbers for the EPD (Environmental Protection Division) in order to stay in compliance with our permit.”
In follow-up interview with Cook on Thursday, he stated unknown chemicals were being outside of the hatchery facility during the hatchery’s clean up process. Cook also said that the hatchery has been contacted about the issue and changes at the hatchery concerning its clean up process were being made, including the installation of a sewer drain. Cook also confirmed Mayor Conley’s comments from the meeting stating that the pollution poses no health risk but puts a strain on the treatment facility.
When Council Member Tony Dyer asked Cook if the city could be assured the water draining from the treatment plant into Butternut Creek was EPD legal, Cook responded by saying, “I’ve called EPD and told them of the issue … I told them that we would be probably closing some of our permit tests, and I assume (EPD is) okay with it. They didn’t send anybody up here to start testing or anything.”
Other department reports featured Darren Harper, supervisor of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), telling of the DDA’s plans to install a lit bulletin board near the downtown square. Harper described the bulletin board as “a place where people could see what events are coming up, a directory of businesses in the downtown area, (and) things of that nature.” Harper stated the cost of the board would be just under $500 and the proposed location would be between King’s Five and Dime and Hole in the Wall.
During Harper’s report, the council unanimously approved a move to replace DDA member Bob Head with former member Robert Rogers and move Head’s membership to an honorary status with the DDA.
In the water treatment plant report, Supervisor Danny Dillard stated increased water demand has resulted in ground water wells not producing as much as in the past, and he added that adjustments would be made at the plant wells to account for the increased demand.
Blairsville Airport Manager John Hamler reported that the newly installed Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) equipment has been operating well and that the hangar extensions have been well-received. Hamler also stated airport staff hopes to have the new Jet A fuel tank installed by April. According to Hamler, he and Mayor Conley had discussed hiring a commercial window cleaning service from Murphy, North Carolina, to clean all the windows – inside and out – of the airport terminal. “The new windows have a film on them,” Hamler explained. “It’s just been real impossible to them clean.”
During Hamler’s report, the council unanimously approved the hiring of Edgar Marshall as airport operator. Marshall, who worked previously at the Western Carolina Regional Airport near Andrews, North Carolina, for five years, will replace current operator Storman Glass, who will be leaving Blairsville Airport at the end of May. “I’m excited about getting started,” Marshall said after the council’s approval.
City Attorney David Barrett gave an update on the proposed annexation of 83 Conley Road in Blairsville. “Where we are on that is there is a gap between the property of the county and the city,” Barrett explained, “that we’re having to figure a way to get that 50-foot wide stretch opened and I’m in the process of trying to negotiate … You cannot annex less than 50 feet in width in the state of Georgia.”
The council also discussed the upcoming merger of Rite-Aid with Walgreen’s. A representative from Walgreen’s explained the recent merger of the stores to the council, and the council approved an alcohol license application for Walgreen’s managing agent Evia Kirkland. In addition to this, the council also approved the occupational tax certificate for Walgreen’s.
A complaint concerning the city’s inability to accept credit or debit card payments from water customers was addressed by the council. It was explained that the Notla Water Authority currently charges a 3 percent fee for credit or debit card transactions. After further discussion, the council approved for preliminary steps to be taken to establish a method to receive card transactions for water payment. “I just think, personally, it’s high time we did that,” Council Member Rhonda Mahan said.
Later in the meeting, the council approved the Rushton and Company accounting firm from Gainesville, Georgia, to perform the city’s 2017 financial audit.
The council also accepted occupational tax certificate and sign permit applications from Cousins’ Cuisine LLC (dba Sammies Sub Shop), Farmers Daughters Etc., Waves for Weight Loss, Inc. (dba Smoothies & Supplements), and John E. Mahan, Attorney at Law.
Blairsville, GA – The Blairsville City Council convened for their July Meeting on July 11, 2017 at 6 p.m.; a week later in the month this time due to the July 4th Holiday. Mayor Jim Conley, City Attorney David Barrett, City Clerk Kaye McCann and all Council Members were present. The invocation was led by Pastor Bill Schakat, the Pledge by Buddy Moore.
McCann informed the Council that she had been advised there are, in fact, fees associated with having a direct deposit arrangement with their bank. That fee, she said, is $25 per month. She asked that the Council to revisit the issue in light of this new information, given that about 60% of Blairsville City employees want the service. The Council voted unanimously to approve.
Darren Harper, Downtown Development Authority Program Manager, in his department head report, said they were considering making the Memorial Day and/or the July Fourth Arts and Crafts Festival a three day event; which, he said, would be beneficial for the City and vendors alike. However, he said, proximate businesses that are open on the third day would need to be taken into consideration. Harper also mentioned that parking, sidewalks and crosswalks are a major concern with respect to pedestrian safety in the downtown area. The Council agreed.
John Hamler, Airport Manager, said the airport has been busy. He said a Cessna Citation Sovereign came in last week. Hamler said that NetJets, a private air charter company, utilizes the Blairsville Airport regularly. He said a NetJet plane purchased 1,100 gallons of Jet-A fuel last week at a cost of almost $5,000. He said a Gulfstream V landed last week and wanted 2,000 gallons of fuel, but the aircraft was too big to get to the fueling area; he said it will be a boon for Blairsville when we take delivery of the fuel truck the City purchased recently. He said there has been a lot of activity and that he’s had lots of positive feedback on the removal of trees at the west end of the runway (Runway 8). Later in the Meeting, the Council unanimously approved additional money for furniture for the new terminal building. However, because some of the furniture is on back-order, the grand opening of the terminal has been rescheduled for Thursday August 17, 2017.
Larry Stephens, Superintendent of the Water Treatment Plant,
reported that the new building was completed satisfactorily by Laney Construction. He then deferred to Conley regarding tank cleaning: Conley said Liquid Engineering would use a diver to clean the tanks and that they had the best price for the job. He recommended that the Council approve their bid, which they did unanimously.
Jody Cook, Superintendent of the Waste Water Treatment Plant, asked that the Council approve the repair of one pump by Goforth Williamson, Inc. Cook said that the damage to the pump was caused by grit and that the facility would need reengineering to install a grit chamber to alleviate the problem. The Council unanimously approved two invoices from Goforth Williamson, Inc. ($13,755.26 and $3,620.00) for the repair of one pump.
Shawn Dyer of the Blairsville Police Department reported that they had recovered a stolen Cadillac from Murphy, NC. He then said the vehicle that the tag reader had been installed on had finally given out. Conley informed the Council that he had directed Dyer to investigate the pricing of a Chevrolet Tahoe. After some discussion on the merits of the Tahoe compared to similar vehicles and the cost of keeping another vehicle in the fleet that has had numerous problems, the Council unanimously approved the purchase of the Tahoe.
Conley pointed out to the Council that ASC Paving Division, Inc., owned by Jody Cook, submitted the low bid of $9,438 for the paving of Kimsey Street up to the city limit. That, he said, does not include the asphalt. He said the City would purchase the asphalt because the City can get a better price. The Mayor figured the total cost of the project would be $40,137.24. The council unanimously approved the Mayor’s recommendation to accept the ASC Paving Division, Inc. bid.
The Council approved the following sign permit applications:
• Huddle House, 29 Golf course Road, Betty Brothers, Applicant
• Rustic Mountain Décor, 294 HWY 515, Suite A, June McEldowney, Applicant
• Pat’s Hallmark, 23-C Murphy Highway, Becky Dyer, Applicant
The Council repaired to Executive Session, after which there were no announcements. The Meeting then adjourned.
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Blairsville, GA – The Blairsville City Council convened on May 9, 2017 at 6 p.m. for their regular May Meeting. The May Meeting had been postponed the previous week because of the passing of Council Member Martha Cone. Pastor Marty Duncan gave the invocation and Police Chief Johnny Carroll led the Pledge. Mayor Jim Conley, City Attorney David Barrett, City Clerk Kaye McCann and all Council Members were present, with the exception of Councilwoman Martha Cone.
Conley asked for a Moment of Silence to honor Ms. Cone at the beginning of the Meeting. Her absence was nearly tangible as everyone in the room stood with heads bowed. Later, after some discussion on balloting, the Council agreed to wait until the November election for voters to select a replacement for the vacancy left by the passing of Ms. Cone.
Mark Jarrett of the Union County Environmental Health Department (UCEHD) sent a letter to the City of Blairsville, said Conley, and requested that they direct the City to allow the UCEHD to enforce a law that is already in existence. The letter stated: “Under Georgia Law O.C.G.A. 26-2-391, a county or municipality is authorized to issue permits for the operation of non-profit food service at events that last 120 hours or less if sponsored by the county, municipality or a non-profit organization. The law specifies the food safety standards that must be met to protect the public’s health. The county or municipality may delegate the authority to issue such permits to the County Board of Health.” This means that food vendors engaged for a non-profit event in Blairsville would be required to undergo an inspection by the UCEHD (at no charge) to get permitted. The Council unanimously approved a motion to allow UCEHD to enforce this law. UCEHD is a separate entity from Union County Health Department.
Conley recited a Proclamation that the week of May 7 – 13, 2017 be named Municipal Clerk’s Week. The Proclamation was warmly received by McCann, who said she appreciated the opportunity to serve the Council, the Mayor and the City of Blairsville.
Conley recited Resolution R2017-03 adopting the 2017 Comprehensive Plan for Union County and the City of Blairsville as of May 9, 2017. This is something that the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) requires every year, said Conley. The Resolution was approved.
An Agreement between the City of Blairsville and Notla Water Authority was signed by all Members of the Council. The Agreement is to accommodate the City of Blairsville in furnishing water and sewer to a commercial property on Pat Haralson Dr. The Agreement sets the rate the City of Blairsville will pay Notla Water Authority for the water they will supply.
Conley recited Resolution R2017-02 to adopt an amended Alcohol License Fee Schedule, which, as was addressed in last month’s Council Meeting, will align with the Union County License Fee Schedule. A motion for the adoption of this Resolution was unanimously approved by the Council.
The Council unanimously approved:
• A motion to accept the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Contract AP017-9031-33(291) Union for avigation and land acquisition service and obstruction removal design for the Blairsville Airport.
• A request by the Youngstown Baptist Church for sewer service to their new location on Par Haralson Dr. It would involve running a two inch graywater sewer line to a location on City property. Water would be provided under the Agreement with Notla Water Authority approved earlier in the Meeting.
• Tentative approval of Payroll Direct Deposit contingent upon the amount of fees charged to the City of Blairsville for this service.
Department Head Reports were as follows:
• Police Chief Johnny Carroll reported there were a total of 129 calls logged in April, a total of 5426 patrol miles driven in April and a total of 391 calls logged year-to-date. The majority of those calls were Courtesy Escorts, Funeral Escorts, Miscellaneous Traffic calls and Warrants served. Carroll received approval from the Council to hire Andrew Glass for the position of Part-time Police Officer at the rate of $14/Hr.
• City Water Department Head Ottis Franklin reported nothing out of the ordinary; routine maintenance. He said that 53 of 73 water meters had been set at the new subsidized housing complex behind Butternut Creek Shopping Center.
• Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Larry Stephens reported that they were going to clean out the raw water intakes and that bids were coming in to replace the valve actuators. He said the auto dialer and the ACT-PAC, both of which were hit by lightning would be replaced very soon.
• Downtown Development Authority Head Darren Harper reported that he would be attending a training class next week at Lake Lanier Islands. He said the next DDA Board Meeting will be Tuesday, June 13. He said they have been heavily promoting the upcoming Arts and Crafts Festival that will take place on Memorial Day Weekend; he said as of this Meeting, there were 59 vendors signed up and he expects to have about 68 by the kickoff of the event. Harper said there is an offer for a section of the Haralson property across from the Foodland store. He said three businesses are scheduled to open this month and he observed that the old cinema across from City Hall has been leased. Movie Night and Concert on the Square, he said, will begin in June.
• Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Jody Cook reported that an actuator that regulates discharge into a creek needs to be repaired, but in order to do that they are going to have to purchase a new one because they cannot operate while the broken equipment is sent off for repair. He said the cost will be about $3,800, but they will then have a spare so this won’t happen again. He said, also, that there is a relief flow pipe that has corroded and needs to be replaced for a second time. He said they are going to use stainless steel pipe this time so it won’t corrode so easily again. Cook requested that the Council address the Goforth Williamson Inc. (GWI) three-year maintenance contract. It was unanimously approved.
• Airport Manager John Hamler reported that the previous week had been busy with five jets and two (Beechcraft) King Airs using the facility along with seven car rentals. He said they had sold out of Jet “A” fuel from April 3 – April 30. He said the grounds and building maintenance was keeping them busy. He said that a sign at the new entrance should be considered by the Council that would be in compliance with GADOT. He said there are now 26 names on the hangar waiting list. David Brown Transportation will be taking over maintenance of the AWOS system. Hamler said that every fuel or oil sale at the Terminal is taxed through the Terminal POS system.
Approved Sign Permit Applications:
• Beil Chiropractic, 428 Pat Haralson Dr., Floyd Beil, Owner
• Blue Mountain Vapor, 63 Plott St., Unit C, David and Roger Craig, Owners
Approved Occupational Tax Certificate Applications:
• Crawford Collections, 35-A Blue Ridge St., Candace C. Youngberg, Owner
Approved Occupational Tax Certificate and Sign Permit Applications:
• Britt & Capri, 80 Town Square B, Debbie Wickersham, Owner
• Winslow Real Estate Services, Inc., 211 Cleveland St. #A, Faron King, Owner
• Granny’s House Restored Furniture & Home Décor, 40 Town Square, Melissa Mashburn & Tammy Tanner, Owners
• Blairsville Antiques and Treasures, 49B Blue Ridge St., Suite B, Joshua Durst & Gary Steverson, Owners
With no Executive Session called for and no further business to conduct, the Meeting was adjourned.