CLARKSTON CITY COUNCIL
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Mayor: Ted Terry
Council: YT Bell, Jamie Carroll, Awet Eyasu,
Ahmed Hassan, Laura Hopkins, Debra Johnson
City Manager: Robin I. Gomez
City Clerk: Tracy Ashby
City Attorney: Stephen Quinn
- CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Terry called the meeting to order at 7:00pm.
- Mayor Terry reminded that interested speakers for the Public Hearing must sign up and should hold those comments for the public hearing and not during the public comments portion of the meeting.
- ROLL CALL/ PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Present: YT Bell, Jamie Carroll, Awet Eyasu, Ahmed Hassan, Laura Hopkins, Debra Johnson
- ADMINISTRATIVE BUSINESS/ PRESENTATION
C1) Approve Minutes: Council Meeting 2-4-2020 and Executive Session 2-25-2020 Minutes
Ahmed Hassan made a motion to approve the Council Meeting 2-4-2020 and Executive Session 2-25-2020 Minutes. Laura Hopkins seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried. (6, 0).
C2) Resolution honoring Ms. Betty Amin
Awet Eyasu read the resolution honoring the Life of Mrs. Betty Hasan-Amin. He reminded there will be also be an event on Saturday, March 7th for the community to honor Mrs. Betty at the Community Center.
C3) Recognize Clarkston Employees Service: Dan Defnall
Mr. Gomez recognized and presented a Certificate to Finance Director Dan Defnall for his five years of employment with the City.
C4) Recognize New Hires: Pete Livingston
Mr. Gomez recognized Public Works employee Pete Livingston for being moved from part time to full time employment status.
C5) Introduce New Police Lieutenant Darian Haygood and Sergeant Andrew Walker
Mr. Gomez presented the two promoted position in the Police Department; SGT Walker and LT Haygood.
C6) Recognition for Lifesaving Award: Sgt. Garfield Trumble and OFC. Alberta Fountain
The Lifesaving Awards were deferred until the April Council Meeting.
C7) South Fork Peachtree Creek- Waterway Cleanup Recap
Kash Hatami gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Rivers Alive Cleanup event.
1) Planning & Zoning Report
Shawanna Qawiy discussed the upcoming Planning & Development work plan series for code compliance series with a focus on the apartments will be 3-19-2020. She reported that the next Planning and Zoning meeting will be held on 3/17/2020 and they will hear the deferred CUP requested by Brava Auto. She clarified that the existing homes at the East Avenue project has demolished but no additional permits have been requested at this point. She stated that staff are working on the RFP for the Zoning Rewrite and making final edits to insure an inclusive and comprehensive RFP.
2) City Manager’s Report
Mr. Gomez provided a detailed financial report for fiscal year 2019. He reported on the status of the Streetscape project and that much of the construction has experienced delays due to continual rain during the month. Chief Hudson provided a crime statistics report and Assistant Chief Hess discussed the new Clarkston Police uniforms and patch and Officer Koirala demonstrated the uniform.
3) City Attorney’s Report
4) Council Remarks
Laura Hopkins discussed her attendance of the Newly Elected Officials Training
Awet Eyasu reported on his attendance of the 2/6/2020 Coalition on Refugee Services at the Georgia Piedmont College, the 2/13/2020 New Americans Day at the Capitol, the 2/13/2020 Health Fair at the Community Center, the Rivers Alive Cleanup on 2/22/2020 and the Environmental SAC meeting on 2/28/2020.
Jamie Carroll discussed the 2/22/2020 Blue Ridge Development meeting he attended and Early Learning initiatives.
YT Bell spoke on two upcoming listening session on 3/18 and 4/1 on reproductive and she wrote a letter requesting Grant funding for the Early Learning and Health Care Task Force.
5) Mayor’s Report
Mayor Terry stated this would be his last Council meeting as he would be qualifying this week for the DeKalb District 6 Commission seat. He recounted some of the initiatives that galvanized him to run for Mayor. He gave appreciation to the Council members that has worked with him during his tenure a mayor.
E. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Any member of the public may address the Council, during the time allotted for public comment. Each attendee will be allowed 3 minutes for comments at the discretion of the Presiding Officer. The public comment period will be limited to 40 minutes and it is not a time for dialogue. If your public comment contains a series of questions, please submit those to the City Clerk in writing. This will facilitate follow-up by the council or staff. The City Council desires to allow an opportunity for public comment; however, the business of the City must proceed in an orderly, timely manner.
Mayor Terry reminded that speaker for the public hearing should sign up in the back of the room.
Amina Osman thanked the Mayor for stepping down.
Chris Busing spoke on the new voting machines.
Susan Hood discussed concerns with appointments to the Clarkston Development Authority.
John Beck thanked the Mayor for his success with speed bumps in his neighborhood and he wished the Mayor good luck in his candidacy.
DeKalb Detective Rickets spoke on the After Dark basketball league.
Pat Maddox came to oppose the NAMB project.
The Mayor closed public comments.
F. OLD BUSINESS
G. NEW BUSINESS
G1) PUBLIC HEARING: A request from the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Incorporated for a conditional use permit for the properties located at 961 Rowland Street and 3673 Hill Street, zoned NR-1, Low Density Neighborhood Residential, Clarkston, GA 30021, for the construction of athletic fields and other athletic facilities to support the church’s mission and for church related activities.
Planning & Development Director Shawanna Qawiy gave a brief explanation of the Conditional use permit request. She stated that in considering whether a proposed conditional use is in the public interest, the mayor and city council shall consider the following, among other relevant factors: (1) Whether the conditional use would be injurious to the use and enjoyment of the environment or of other property in the immediate
vicinity or diminish and impair property values within the surrounding neighborhood; (2) Whether the proposed conditional use would increase local or state expenditures in relation to cost of servicing or maintaining neighboring properties; (3) Whether the establishment of the conditional use would impede the normal and orderly development of surrounding property for uses predominant in the area; and (4) Whether the location and character of the proposed conditional use would be consistent with a desirable pattern of development for the locality in general.
Staff has recommended denial of the conditional use permit request to construct athletic fields and other athletic facilities to support the church’s mission and for church related activities, for the properties located at 961 Rowland Street and 3673 Hill Street. The planning and Zoning Board has also recommended denial of the request.
The applicant’s agent, Scott Gurosky, and attorney Laurel David of the Galloway Law Group, were present to advocate for the granting of the application and Mr. Gurosky provided a brief presentation on their request.
Mr. Gurosky stated during his presentation:
• Clarkston’s zoning ordinance is “very standard”
• He has seen similar provisions in most jurisdictions, across over 300 projects
• Clarkston’s zoning requirements regarding religious assembly uses is “consistent with zoning codes throughout the Southeast USA”
• Even though Phase 1 was previously approved, NAMB “obviously needed a conditional use permit” for the proposed facilities south of Rowland
Discussion by Councilman Carroll on potential specified public use of the proposed facilities and if the Council deferred the vote for a month, would the applicant be able to specify times that would be designated for public use. Mr. Gurosky stated he didn’t think they could as they didn’t know how many participants would be enrolled in upcoming programs and the ministry would have priority for use.
Councilwomen Bell questioned the square footage of the proposed buildings and meeting the minimum parking space requirements. Mr. Gurosky stated the gymnasium would be 8,000SF and the other smaller buildings 300-400SF.
Councilwoman Hopkins discussed that the conditional use permit would stay with the property even if later sold. The City Attorney Stephen Quinn clarified that any conditions on the conditional use, must be in writing and must be agreed to by the applicant and the letter NAMB had provided to the Council does not meet a written agreement by the applicant.
The Mayor opened the Public Hearing and he detailed the process for speakers.
Trent DeLoach: Spoke in support of the CUP and the programs it will allow.
Amina Osman: Spoke in support of the applicant for a soccer field.
Sean Lindsey: Spoke in support of the application for recreational space.
Kevin Humphries: Spoke in support of the application for recreational space for youth.
Ariel Smith: Spoke in support of the application for the proposed park space for children.
Joshua Betune: Spoke in support of the application for greenspace and recreational space.
Kyle Ballards: Spoke in support of the application for recreational space for kids.
Susan Hood: Spoke in opposition of the application as it did not meet the zoning code criteria as verified by both City Staff and the Planning & Zoning Boards recommendation to deny.
John Beck: Spoke in opposition to the application as it is an improper use in NR1 zoning as verified by professional City Staff. He countered that the removal of the existing old growth trees meant the proposed facility should not be called “greenspace.”
Jim Helms: Spoke in opposition to the application for potential increases to traffic in his neighborhood.
John Cargile: Spoke in opposition to the application as a resident directly across from the project, a large gymnasium would negatively impact his property.
Dean Moore: Spoke in opposition to the application as it would be a private facility and would not resolve a need for recreational space for the public.
Warren Hadlock: Spoke in opposition to the application as it does not meet the criteria for the CUP. He discussed the multiple public recreational facilities currently in the City and that the project would not be a public facility.
[Time Remaining for Opposition]
John Beck restated that this would not be a public facility.
Pat Maddox: Spoke in opposition to the application; she discussed that sports were not the best way to support youth and recommended small group mentoring.
Dean Moore; Restated his opposition, that this is an erosion of the neighborhood.
The Mayor closed the public hearing.
Shawanna Qawiy clarified that this proposal was not part of the Planned Unit Development which was under as that was under Neighborhood Commercial and this proposal is Neighborhood Residential. She provided further clarification on the parking requirements and that reduced parking is prohibited in NR1.
Mr. Quinn provided an overview of the process if approved or denied and he stated that if denied the Zoning Code provides for a 12 month limit before a re-application can be submitted, based on the original application date (July 2019). As there have been deferments of this application, that period would be roughly six months form this date.
Awet Eyasu made a motion to deny the request from the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Incorporated for a conditional use permit for the properties located at 961 Rowland Street and 3673 Hill Street, because they do not meet the four criteria as recommended by City Staff and our Planning & Zoning Committee. Laura Hopkins seconded the motion.
Discussion that the Council recognized the importance of and they would continue to pursue activity centers that are available for residents. The Council thanked all the residents that voiced their views and concerns both in support and in opposition to the request. A vote was called and the motion carried (5-Yes: Debra Johnson, Laura Hopkins, Awet Eyasu, Ahmed Hassan, YT Bell, 1- NO: Jamie Carroll).
G2) Confirm SAC Committee Members by Resolution
Council discussion on the various committees and interest to serve. Suggestion to remove the Finance SAC, as all the Council have direct input on the annual budget, and to create an Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity SAC. The City Attorney advised the council they could appoint members to the already established SAC committees and should take up creating a new SAC at a future meeting.
Jamie Carrol made a motion to place the following council members on the following Committees:
Public Safety and Legal Committee
Co-Chair: Awet Eyasu, Debra Johnson
Housing and Infrastructure Committee
Chair: Jamie Carroll
Community Development Committee
Chair: YT Bell
Transportation and Environment Committee
Chair: Awet Eyasu
Marketing and Civic Innovation Committee
Chair: Ahmed Hassan
The Equity and Diversity is left off to possibly be formed at a late date. Debra Johnson seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
G3) Appoint CDA Members (1 by council member & 2 by Mayor)
Laura Hopkins made a motion to defer the item until August. Awet Eyasu seconded the motion, but requested the deferment be to April. After discussion Awet Eyasu withdrew his second. The motion did not receive a second, so the motion failed.
Jamie Carroll asked the City Attorney to clarify that the Mayor can make his appointments outside the meeting by directly providing that in writing to the City Clerk and Mr. Quinn confirmed that was accurate. Discussion on the Mayor appointment being made outside of the meetings.
The mayor questioned where in the Act by the Legislature, an advertising and a deadline is required. The Act does not require an application process. Mr. Gomez stated the application process has been available since September 2019.
YT Bell made a motion to appoint Debra Johnson to the CDA. Jamie Carroll seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5 Yes, 1 Abstain).
G4) Approve Moratorium on Storage Companies
YT Bell stated this item is to place a moratorium on future storage facilities so the City can conduct a study of the City’s industrialized zoning and economic development. YT Bell made a motion to adopt a Moratorium on Development of Mini-Warehouses and SelfStorage facilities in order to preserve the Status quo pending Zoning Action to revise permitted uses in the Light Industrial (I) District to September 21, 2020. Jamie Carroll seconded the motion. Discussion on the moratorium. A Vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
G5) Approve Moratorium on Gas Stations
YT Bell stated this similar was to place a moratorium on gas stations. The City has eight gas stations and the desire is to study the City’s zoning code and best use of industrial space. YT Bell made a motion to place a temporary moratorium on development of automobile service centers and automobile service stations (filling stations) in order to preserve the status quo pending zoning action to revise permitted uses in the City's Zoning code to September 21, 2020. Laura Hopkins seconded the motion. Discussion on the number of gas stations and that with the City’s prohibition for any new package sales, there is a limited interest to open a new gas station.
A Vote was called and the motion carried (5: Yes, 1-Abtsain-Awet Eyasu).
G6) Approve Moratorium on Small Box Stores
YT Bell stated this was to consider with the upcoming zoning rewrite, how to best use our industrial space. Jamie Carroll appreciated that it encouraged those businesses to dedicate at least 15% of shelf space to fresh or fresh frozen food to be exempt from the resolution. Council discussion on how the definition of small box store is applied.
YT Bell made a motion to adopt a resolution to impose a temporary moratorium on development of small box variety stores in order to preserve the status quo pending zoning action to revise permitted uses in the city’s zoning code to expire on September 21, 2020. Debra Johnson seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (4 Yes: YT Bell, Jamie Carroll, Debra Johns, Laura Hopkins, 2- No: Ahmed Hassan, Awet Eyasu).
G7) Approve Resolution Rescheduling August and November 2020 Council Meetings
Mayor Terry stated this item is to reschedule the August and November meetings to eliminate scheduling conflicts with the National Night Out and the Election.
Debra Johnson made a motion to reschedule the August 4 Council meeting to Thursday, August 6th and to reschedule the November 3, 2020 Council Meeting to Thursday, November 5, 2020. YT Bell second the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
G8) Approve Urban Productive Landscape Installations Bidder
The Mayor stated that the council had discussed at the work session the bids for the project and the low bidder recommendation for Shades of Green Permaculture Design.
Awet Eyasu made a motion to approve the Urban Productive Landscape Installations bid in the amount of $54,963 for Shades of Green Permaculture Design. Jami Carroll seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
G9) Approve Willow Creek Apartment (Smith St) Culvert Replacement project Recommend Selection of Low Bidder & Temporary Construction Ease
The Mayor stated that Mr. Kaiser had fully briefed the Council on this item at the work session with the recommended low bidder being CE& M ($81,360).
Jamie Carroll made a motion to approve the low bidder C E & M for this project. Awet Eyasu seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
G10) Amend Early Learning Task Force Resolution to increase members from 11 to 21 and appoint members
Mayor Terry stated there was large interest to serve on the task force and the resolution was amended to increase the membership on the task force.
Amend Early Learning Task Force Resolution to increase members from 11 to 21 and appoint members. Debra Johnson seconded the motion. Discussion that Awet Eyasu and Jamie Carroll wanted to serve as the Council Members on the Task Force. A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).
G11) Appeal of City Denial of Renewal Application for Permit to Operate a Pawn Shop or Title Pawn for TitleMax located at 4222 E Ponce de Leon Ave
Mr. Gomez stated that this has been an ongoing issue since November 2019 regarding Titlemax. The business operating as a title pawn at 4222 E Ponce de Leon Avenue had previously requested that the Council change the City ordinance regulating title pawn and pawn shops and the Council did not take action at the December 2019 meeting on that requested change. Titlemax has filled legal actions against the city including an injunction for the City to not enforce the ordinance and the city has complied with that injunction and they have continued to operate. Under the current city code, they do not meet the minimum distance requirements as they are within 1000 feet of a residential area, as well as a church.
Titlemax has submitted an application to operate as a titlepawn (received by the City 1-6-2020) for the current fiscal year 2020. The City Manager denied the permit application, as they do not meet the Codes requirements to allow operation and had admitted violating the hours of operation restriction on pawnshops. The City Manager returned the license fee back to Titlemax. Titlemax has submitted a request for an appeal, as provided under City code.
Diane Larson, an attorney with Taylor/English representing Titlemax, appeared on behalf of TitleMax. She discussed the original restraining order and the interlocutory order that enjoins the City from enforcing the pawnshop ordinance. She referred to page 2 “Whereas, there is currently a temporary injunction in place which shall expire as a matter of law on January 26, 2020 and this order was signed by Superior Court Judge of DeKalb County on January 24, and she continued with the next section “Whereas the parties consent to the terms of this injunction and agree that to avoid an extended hearing at the outset of this litigation and for other reasons, an interlocutory injunction should issue to preserve status quo.” She felt the status quo would be what was in effect in January and going back to December 2019 and that the order enjoins all defendants from enforcing the ordinance. She cited the code sections Article VII Pawnbrokers and specifically sections 11-113 for distances and hours of operation. She returned to the injunction document to point out “this Injunction shall remain in effect until further order of this Court or until there is a final judgement in this litigation. On or after October 26, 2020, defendants shall have the right to petition the Court to dissolve this consent injunction.”
With this injunction in place, that was when Titlemax received the denial letter from the City Manager (dated January 10), citing the specific reasons “the store manager admitted that business hours were 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m, the business remains open., in violation of City Code §11-121, the hour restrictions, and as well were in violation of city code section 11-113 the distance requirements” which is part of the code DeKalb Superior Court Judge had enjoined the City from enforcing on Titlemax. Having received the denial Titlemax has followed the City’s procedures to file this appeal. They ask that the denial be overturned and the application be granted.
Jamie Carroll questioned that the City can take action after October 26 to remove the injunction, but if the permit were granted that would extend beyond October 26 to the end of the year, so they are in effect asking the City to give them a permit to operate longer than the injunction would be in place. Discussion that Titlemax had previously advised the Council their lease would expire in 2019. Jamie Carroll discussed that Titlmax had admitted they were staying open past the 5:00pm deadline, prior to the court order and the Attorney did not dispute that issue. Jamie Carroll addressed that there was not limitation for Titlemax to move their business into the Industrial zoned area to be able to comply with the City ordinance. Their attorney agreed this was possible but not their preferred choice. Jamie Carroll stated that as he understood, Titlemax is currently able to operate and will continue to be able operate until the end of the injunction period even if this appeal is denied and their attorney agreed that was correct, but they are requesting that it not be denied and they believed the City would be in violation of the order. Jamie Carroll questioned couldn’t the City deny the application for reasons other than this ordinance and discussion that a denial was outside of Article VII then their attorney agreed it could be denied.
Jamie Carroll made a motion to deny the Titlemax license renewal application. Debra Johnson seconded the motion. Discussion that this was for past violations of the ordinance by staying open to 7pm when the ordinance provides for 5pm and what they’re asking for goes beyond what the Court has ordered.
A vote was called and the motion carried (5-Yes: Debra Johnson, Laura Hopkins, Ahmed Hassan, Jamie Carroll, YT Bell 1-Abstain: Awet Eyasu)
Awet Eyasu made a motion to adjourn the Council Meeting. Laura Hopkins seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (6, 0).