Rezoning, ordinances, overcharges and waivers on alcohol license law discussed at Americus City Council

Published 2:56 pm Friday, November 18, 2022

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Tracy K. Hall

The Mayor and City Council of Americus met on 11.17.22 for just shy of three hours. This meeting was atypical as the council voted to cancel their agenda setting meeting and condense it with the voting meeting.

The meeting brought up several points of discussion, some were met with disagreement from both council members and residents. As a rezoning request, attorney Beau Shrable requested the property at 709 South Lee Street be rezoned to allow him to operate his business out of the location. The owners of the home agreed to allowing Shrable to make the request. During the hearing, citizens spoke for and against the rezoning. Shrable made the case for the home being used as a law office and it was established there are several offices on Lee Street. He reports there would be very little traffic if any to the location. A resident against the zoning change wishes for the house to remain a residential dwelling. Ultimately, it was requested the rules be suspended and council vote on the zone request last night. Both staff and the planning commission, made up of citizens, approved the recommendation. Ultimately the council also unanimously approved the zoning change in favor of Shrable.

The second property up for rezoning was 1416 Felder Street. Currently the site is zoned for institutional use and the request is for it to be changed allowing a “strip center.” The site has been vacant since 2011. The plans for the location include clearing the site and building a metal building which will have space for tenant rental. The council was also requested to suspend the rules and take action. Both Americus staff and the planning commission approve of the recommendation. This also was unanimously approved.

Lastly, 409 North Lee Street would like the zoning changed in order to operate a group personal care home, making the request to change the site to Industrial. The building has been vacant since 2016. Staff and planning commission also approved the request. As with the earlier votes, there was a request to suspend the rules and vote on the issue last night. The council ultimately unanimously approved the change.

Operators of Venue 49 also spoke to the council requesting they hear cause for why they should be able to have an alcohol license. Currently the location, which serves as a venue for different events, is located close to a church, Morningside United Methodist. Because of the distance, Venue 49 has been denied a license. Morningside has since joined the congregation of Lee Street United Methodist Church. There is conversation they may use the location from time to time. Although the church still owns the property, according to the owners the trustees of the church have indicated their consent to have the venue apply for the license. The owners also stated there was a clause the council could hold a special hearing to override the law. No official action was taken.

The city had entered into a contract for around $25,000 to get well 11 running appropriately. The engineering firm reports there have been several things added to their workload which were not included in the original contract. Because of these items, the engineers are requesting nearly $18,000 to cover the cost they have already invested in the project. The engineers provided an itemized list as is indicated in the agenda package available to the public, however there was still much confusion about what the extra charges where for. Kinnamon asked who the City of Americus employee responsible for contact with the engineers was. There was no clear answer. Although the firm said they would finish the project on the timeline presented in the contract, the council decided to table the issue of further payment until more research had been done. It is expected this issue will be brought up in the December meeting.

At about an hour and fifteen minutes into the meeting, Nelson Brown presented the first agenda item regarding changing sign ordinances. This has been a topic he brought up in months past. As in the past, he told the council he is going to move to get the sign ordinance changed and then move to suspend the rules so they could take a vote skipping the two readings which are required when changing an ordinance. Brown once again brought the subject to the table and began conversation on the topic with a power point presentation of a sign that belongs to a specific church. There was about 30 minutes of discussion, primarily from Brown with Brown calling Kelvin Pless’ name out. After the discussion, the matter received no further attention by way of official council action. The Americus Times Recorder will report on this issue separately in an upcoming edition.

Ultimately all items voted on passed. Some issues where tabled until next month.

By way of chosen persons to serve in the role of providing the invocation as well as the honorary council person, Nelson Brown chose Stephen Woodson to deliver the opening prayer and Nathan Poole was chosen to seat at the dais. Poole received a proclamation for his service.

The next meeting of the Mayor and City Council of Americus will be held on December 8, 2022, at 6pm in the public safety building on South Lee Street. It will also be hosted on zoom. com. For meeting ID and passcode to watch, please see the City of Americus website.