Zoning, live meetings, Chick-fil-A and development of the Sumter Regional Hospital location discussed at city council

Published 8:05 am Friday, March 25, 2022

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Mayor and City Council of Americus met for their regular meeting on Thursday March 24, 2022. All members were present except for Nicole Smith. The meeting was held via Zoom.com under an extended emergency order which has been in place since the conception of COVID. However, there was discussion about rescinding the order and bringing the meeting back live into the council chambers. While originally passing, Nelson Brown wished to change his vote and after City Attorney Jimmy Skipper explained the process for doing so, more conversation was held. The vote shifted 3-2 to revisit the option at April’s work session when City Manager Diadra Powell was able to present mitigation protocol to the council. Kelvin Pless, Nelson Brown and Juanita Wilson voted in favor of the delay while Charles Christmas and Daryl Dowell voted against it.

City Attorney Jimmy Skipper proved to be very useful at the meeting especially during votes regarding zoning. There were two zoning change votes on the agenda. The first was to change the zoning of a location on South Lee Street from Neighborhood Shopping to Commercial in order to allow for a liquor store to be owned by residents of Perry, GA to be opened. This item originally brought no motion and Mayor Lee Kinnamon cited lack of motion as a reason to move forward with the night’s business. For the second item, the zoning committee and city staff wanted to allow three changes for Neighborhood Shopping zones. The three items changing the ordinance would allow adult daycares, liquor stores and outdoor dining seating. This would affect all Neighborhood Shopping zoned properties in the city. Jimmy clarified the council had three options, vote down the amendment, vote in favor of amendment, or vote to amend the amendment so the council could choose which of the three allowances to approve/deny. Christmas moved to only allow outdoor dining in Neighborhood Shopping zones and refuse adult daycares and liquor stores. This failed by a vote of 4-2 with Christmas and Dowdell voting in favor. With the option Christmas presenting failing, the council considered a vote on the changes. Again, no motion was offered. At this point Jimmy clarified since no vote was taken on either item, it was neither defeated nor approved and it was still in front of council. To handle the items a vote of some sort must be made. On rezoning the South Lee Street area, a motion was made to deny the rezoning and it passed unanimously. On the amendment to Neighborhood Shopping zone allowances, originally Nelson Brown tabled the item to be considered in April. This vote failed. Juanita Wilson made a motion to table the vote indefinitely. This vote passed 4-1 with Dowdell voting against. With a motion being tabled indefinitely, council will have to vote in favor of bringing the item off the table to take further action. Until that is done the item will not receive further action, thus leaving the recommendation of the zoning board and staff unresolved until the time it is voted to take it up again.

Voting moved forward with the council voting in favor to pay the remaining bill left on a Motorola invoice for a new radio system for the Americus Police Department. This vote passed 4-1 with Dowdell voting against paying the invoice. Also approved unanimously was a district appropriation. More conversation was held on planting oak trees at the Jackson Street Depot. The concern and item researched pertained to the trees having to be removed at a later date as the Depot was built to be utilized in many ways and expansion is a possibility. With no objections noted, the vote passed unanimously. Americus the Beautiful will be providing the oak trees. Lastly Jimmy Skipper explained the city could identify itself as a municipality which wanted to be considered for receiving funding from lawsuits which resulted in certain Opioid manufacturers paying out settlements. With the understanding the funds had to be used as the State described, the council voted unanimously to accept the monies resulting from the lawsuits. This process will be lengthy.
In Diadra Powell’s report, several announcements were made to include the Popeye’s on Lamar and Tripp opening today. A Chick-fil-A is planning to open on Mayo and Forsyth at the location of the tornado ruined Sumter Regional Hospital. Incidentally, Chick-Fil-A is only one of the businesses which is planning to build on the site. None of the businesses, outside of the chicken franchise, were mentioned by name. On March 31, the Rylander will be hosting a nationally known singing group, the Malpass Brothers. April 1 will be a big night for Americus as there is both First Friday as well as the Hot Glass and Craft Beer Fest kick off. Please mark your calendar to be downtown from March 31—to April 2 to enjoy a full weekend. For more information, please see the Rylander, Tourism, or Downtown Americus websites.

Prior to the items mentioned, the consent agenda was approved. Items on the agenda mostly pertained to the business of the public works department. However, a police upfitting request and a refusal of data processing system bids was also approved. Several appointments to city boards were made after executive session and the meeting was adjourned.

The city council meetings are held on Zoom.com and are open to public viewing. For passcodes and dates of the monthly meetings please visit the City of Americus website. The only confirmed meeting to be held further on Zoom. com will be the April work session as the council is to consider rescinding the emergency order which makes internet-based meetings necessary. Should the emergency order be rescinded the meetings would move back to the city council chambers at the public safety building. At current there is discussion of having both live and internet-based meetings, however the logistics on both have yet to be established.