City Council Meeting 10-6-2020

MINUTES

CLARKSTON CITY COUNCIL

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Via Zoom

Officials Present by Teleconference

Mayor:              Awet Eyasu
Council:            Jamie Carroll, Ahmed Hassan,

Laura Hopkins, Debra Johnson

City Manager:   Robin I. Gomez
City Clerk:        Tracy Ashby
City Attorney:  Stephen Quinn

 

 

 

  1. CALL TO ORDER

 

 

  1. ROLL CALL/ PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE   

Awet Ahmed Jamie Laura Debra

 

  1. ADMINISTRATIVE BUSINESS/ PRESENTATION

C1) Approve Minutes: Council Meeting 9/1/2020

 

Ahmed Hassan made a motion to approve the minutes for the 9/1/2020 Council Meeting.  Debra Johnson seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).
 

  1. REPORTS: 

1)  Planning & Zoning Report
Shawanna Qawiy provided an update of ongoing projects and she discussed that a public hearing will be held at the October 20th Planning & Zoning Meeting, pertaining a proposed amendment to the Clarkston Zoning Ordinance to allow laundromats as a conditional use within the NC-1 Low Density Neighborhood Commercial,  NC-2 Moderate Density Neighborhood Commercial and I- Light Industrial zoning districts  laundromat.

 

2)  City Manager’s Report
Mr. Gomez explained that the City has implemented a waiting room for the zoom meetings and it will be easier if everyone attending identifies themselves for the zoom meetings.  He provided a budget to actual report through September 30, 2020. He provided the status of City and community operations during continued Covid issues.

 

                 Meeting interrupted 7:15pm. Meeting recording closed and then restarted.

 

Mr. Gomez continued his report on City projects status.  He discussed the status on the public water and costs associated with complying with state water drinking act, water quality testing and drilling. The City will pursue having a professional firm to come and advise but it is likely that water for irrigation only may be the best option.

 

   Assistant Chief Hess provided an update on the Police department.


3)  City Attorney’s Report
No report

4) Council Remarks
Laura Hopkins asked for Mr. Quinn to discuss current Court requirements. Mr. Quinn stated courts can proceed but a failure to appear cannot be filed against person who do not want to attend.  Mr. Gomez clarified that the City is holding limited courts and only for those that wish to appear.  All social distancing protocols are being implemented.

 

5)  Mayor’s Report
The Vice Mayor provided details of attended meetings during the previous month on annexation and the census. He discussed his meeting with the DeKalb Elections and the City’s work to have an absentee ballot box installed at the City Hall building. Mr. Gomez confirmed the ballot box has been installed and will be activated on 10-8-2020. He reminded residents of the rent, mortgage and utility assistance resources available for those in need.

 

  1. 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.

     

Warren Hadlock discussed preference for accessible water at 40 Oaks and requested a greater police presence at Friendship Forest in the evenings and he supports the improvements at Friendship Forest agenda item.

 Dean Moore suggested having water testing complete before pursuing wells.

 

Brian Medford supported annexation and encouraged council to wait until after the election to appoint DDA member.  He recommended denial of the billboard items, the City does not need them and they do not help the citizens.

 

Robin Chanin commented on item G4 for park signage, she supports the spirit and for hiring a professional she suggested including someone with diversity knowledge to allow access for language translation. 

 

Susan Hood supported denying the billboard appeal and she recommended holding on the DDA appointment until after the election.

 

Chris Busing spoke on concerns with the tree ordinance.

 

Vice Mayor closed public comments.

 

Speaker Glory Kilanko spoke on domestic violence prevention program and asked for a moment of silence for Debra Johnson’s sister.

 

Jan Christensen spoke on the importance of domestic violence programs.

 

 

  1. OLD BUSINESS
           None

 

  1. NEW BUSINESS

G1)   Amend Chapter 13 of the City Code, Concerning Parks and Recreation, to Clarify Restrictions on Playing Baseball or Softball at Milam Park
Laura Hopkins detailed the need to limit players to age twelve and under as the field is undersized and close to the both the  pool and the dog park.  She discussed language to clarify the restriction and the Vice Mayor confirmed that the changes are in the proposed text.


Laura Hopkins made a motion to amend Chapter 13 of the City Code to clarify the language by adding For the protection of park visitors on the playground, dog park and swimming pool,” ahead of section (a) and to remove the phrase  “throws a baseball or softball on that field,”  as part of the definition. Debra Johnson seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).

 

G2)  Appoint a Council member to the Vacant Seat on DDA.

 Awet detailed that at the December 3, 2019 Council Meeting, YT Bell was appointed to serve a two year term on the Clarkston Development Authority. On August 12, 2020, YT Bell qualified as a candidate for the Clarkston Mayor Special Election and vacated her Council Seat. Council Members Hopkins and Carroll have expressed an interest to serve. The City Attorney and Mr. Gomez confirmed the current DDA has a quorum.

 

  Ahmed made a motion to nominate Laura Hopkins to the vacant DDA seat.  Debra Johnson  seconded the motion. Laura Hopkins gave thanks for the nomination.   A vote was called and the motion carried (3- Yes: Hassan, Johnson, Eyasu, 0- No, 2- Abstain: Carroll, Hopkins).

 

   G3) Approve Plantings in the open field and pollinator garden in Friendship Forest

   Council discussion on planting a pollinator garden at Friendship Forest and the City Manager stated under the Council direction, that Public Works can purchase and install the plants.  

 

Laura Hopkins made a motion to direct the City Manager to go forward with the Plantings in the open field and pollinator garden in Friendship Forest. Awet Eyasu seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).

 

  G4)  Approve All park signage be written and coordinated by a park management professional, naturalist interpreter or someone with content knowledge in environmental studies, natural sciences such as watersheds, ecology, or zoology as well as park management.

 

Laura Hopkins stated the purpose and need to have park signage be written and coordinated by a park management professional, naturalist interpreter or someone with content knowledge in environmental studies, natural sciences such as watersheds, ecology, or zoology as well as park management. Discussion on having the signs created by an interpretive professional in English and then am option, potentially, for QR codes for visitors to access other languages. The City Manager stated this item is currently for the completion of Friendship Forest.

 

Laura made a motion to direct the City Manager to use a consultant that is a park interpretive specialist to assess and cost the signage for parks going forward, whose specialty is in environmental studies, natural sciences such as watersheds, ecology, or zoology as well as park management. Ahmed Hassan   seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).

 

G5)  Amend ordinance for land disturbance and stream buffers are concerned to increase undisturbed buffers from 50 ft to 75 ft

Awet Eyasu stated purpose for the agenda item and that this will bring the City in alignment with DeKalb County’s buffer requirements.

 

Laura Hopkins made a motion to amend Chapter 22 of the City Code concerning Stormwater Management, specifically article ii concerning stream buffer protection, to increase the required stream buffer from fifty to seventy-five feet. Debra Johnson   seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).

 

G6)  Approve a Resolution declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the City of Clarkston

Debra Johnson asked the Council to approve the resolution to declare October as domestic violence awareness month in the City of Clarkston. She would like for the City to host an annual event to bring awareness to this issue. Ms. Kilanko stated she looked forward to working with the city on this important human right.

 

Debra Johnson made a motion to approve a Resolution declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the City of Clarkston.   Laura Hopkins seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0)

 

G7)  Approve Alcohol Package Store License application Lulu’s Package

City Manager stated this application is based on an ownership change for Lulus Package store at 3900 E Ponce de Leon Ave for an alcohol beverage, license for Beer/Wine/Malt/Liquor beverages for retail package. To date: all of the required inspections have been performed and the required background check has been passed. Code Compliance has reviewed the application and has measured the location and found it does meet minimum distances as defined by the Code.  The representative spoke and stated all required documentation had been submitted.  The Vice Mayor reminded of the grandfathered transfer timeframes for the business.

 

Laura Hopkins made a motion to approve Alcohol Package Store License application Lulu’s Package, at 3900 E Ponce de Leon Ave.   Jamie Carroll seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (4-Yes: Carroll, Hopkins, Johnson, Eyasu, 0- No, 1- Abstain: Hassan).

 

G8)  Adopt a Resolution authorizing the City’s Adoption of the DeKalb County Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Plan  

The City Manager detailed DeKalb County has requested that in preparation for the next update in 2022, the City of Clarkston had not submitted an Adopting Resolution for the plan. The resolution is necessary for the City to continue to remain eligible for disaster funds. The plan essentially serves as the comprehensive emergency guide to all types of natural disasters resulting from floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, ice, snow, earthquakes, droughts, etc. It is vitally important that the county and all cities have an adequate plan to best prepare and respond to all natural hazards and potential emergencies. The City was an active participant with the County and other cities in the 2016 plan adoption and will similarly participate for the 2022 update. A link to the full plan was included with the packet.

 

Ahmed Hassan made a motion to adopt the Resolution authorizing the City’s Adoption of the DeKalb County 2016 Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Plan.  Debra Johnson seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).

 

G9)  Appeal of City Denial of Sign Permit Application from Railroad Outdoor LLC, to Erect a 14’ x 48’ FF 20’ VEE @ 50’ OAH Billboard Sign on the Property Located at 3611 Church Street

Mr. Gomez stated the City received a request from Railroad Outdoor LLC for sign permit to install a billboard on the property located at 3611 Church Street.  City staff reviewed the application and denied the application for the following reasons:

1. Billboard signs are prohibited within 500 feet of residential parcels

2. Billboard signs are prohibited within 1,000 feet of other billboards.

This billboard would be within both of those sections of the code. The applicant subsequently requested an appeal of denial and that is what the Council has before them.

 

Representative Adam Webb, Attorney, advised also on the meeting were Franklin Lemond of Webb, Klase and Lemond and Mike Fitzgerald/ Kelly Shaw-Owners of Railroad Outdoor LLC).  Mr. Webb requested that in order to streamline tonight's hearing, if the Council would join agenda items G9 and G10, to consider the two non-railroad sites together (since they raise identical issues) and then to consider items G11 and G12, the two railroad sites, once again in a joint manner?

 

The Vice Mayor stated they could be presented combined, but the council would vote on each agenda item separately.

 

Owner Mike Fitzgerald spoke on background of the company and the civic service that their billboards provide and possibility for the sign to be available for notices from the City. He felt the signs were in keeping with the City code.

 

Adam Webb stated his view that the billboards are permitted in the city, meeting the requirements of the city’s billboard ordinance.  He referred the Council to his written appeal information but acknowledged that they provided appeal information late today and the Council had not had ample time to review the materials.  He then went on to summarize the points made in his written materials.

 

Mr. Quinn advised the Council that the applicant had not addressed the fact that the proposed signs are too close to each other and to residences. 

 

Mr. Gomez advised the Council that the applicants never made any request to discuss the applications prior to submitting. Also the applicant has not addressed the restriction distance between billboards and the distance to residential properties. The Staff recommend that the Council make the decision to deny the appeal.

 

Debra Johnson made a motion to affirm the city manager’s decision to deny the application based on the Billboard signs are prohibited within 500 feet of residential parcels (City Code, Sec 15.5-63f) and  the Billboard signs are prohibited within 1,000 feet of other billboards (City Code, Sec 15.5-63e).   Laura Hopkins seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0). Carroll Hassan Hopkins Johnson Eyasu unanimous

 

 

G10) Appeal of City Denial of Sign Permit Application from Railroad Outdoor LLC, to Erect a 14’ x 48’ FF 20’ VEE @ 50’ OAH Billboard Sign on the Property Located at 3874 E Ponce de Leon Ave.     

 The Vice Mayor stated the purpose of the item.

Mr. Gomez stated this item is similar to G9, the applicant submitted an application to install a billboard at 3874 E Ponce de Leon Avenue.  Denied application based on Billboard signs are prohibited within 500 feet of residential parcels (City Code, Sec 15.5-63f) and 2. Billboard signs are prohibited within 1,000 feet of other billboards (City Code, Sec 15.5-63e).

Adam Webb referred to the same arguments made on item G9.

Vice Mayor Eyasu stated his position that all four signs would detract from the City’s aesthetic and be harmful to nearby residents.

Awet Eyasu made a motion to affirm the City Manager and deny the application on Billboard signs they are 1. prohibited within 500 feet of residential parcels (City Code, Sec 15.5-63f) and 2. Billboard signs are prohibited within 1,000 feet of other billboards (City Code, Sec 15.5-63e).   Debra Johnson  seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0). (Carroll, Hassan Hopkins, Johnson, Eyasu)

 

G11) Appeal of City Denial of Sign Permit Application from Railroad Outdoor LLC, to Erect a 14’ x 48’ FF 20’ VEE @ 50’ OAH Billboard Sign on the Property Located at the southerly portion of Church St, just outside (East) of I-285.   

The City Manager stated the third application is to install another billboard located at the southerly portion of Church St, just outside (East) of I-285.    The application was denied based on:

1. Signs are prohibited within public rights of ways and utility easements (City Code, Sec 15.5-

41,3).

2. Signs are prohibited within the railroad right of way (City Code, Sec 15.5-41, 4).

3. Billboard signs are only permitted on parcels zoned RC, NC-1, NC-2, TC, or I (City Code, Sec

15.5-63,b). The CSX RR right-of-way is not a parcel and does not have any of the permissible

  zoning designations.

4. Billboard signs are prohibited within 500 feet of residential parcels (City Code, Sec 15.5-63f).

5. Billboard signs are prohibited within 1,000 feet of other billboards (City Code, Sec 15.5-63e).

He requested the Council deny the appeal.

 

The Vice Mayor gave the applicant an opportunity to present on the last two items.

 

Adam Webb referred to his written submission and the reasons stated in support of items G9 and G10.  Mr. Webb also stated that the City had not zoned the railroad right of way and therefore the signs must be allowed.

 

Stephen Quinn stated the City has an ordinance that states signs not allowed in railroad right-of-way. 

 

The Vice Mayor commented that these signs are bad for residents

Awet Eyasu made a motion affirm the City Manager and deny the appeal for the reasons:
1. Signs are prohibited within public rights of ways and utility easements (City Code, Sec 15.5-

41,3).

2. Signs are prohibited within the railroad right of way (City Code, Sec 15.5-41, 4).

3. Billboard signs are only permitted on parcels zoned RC, NC-1, NC-2, TC, or I (City Code, Sec

15.5-63,b). The CSX RR right-of-way is not a parcel and does not have any of the permissible zoning designations.

4. Billboard signs are prohibited within 500 feet of residential parcels (City Code, Sec 15.5-63f).

5. Billboard signs are prohibited within 1,000 feet of other billboards (City Code, Sec 15.5-63e              

 

Jamie Carroll seconded the motion. Council discussion: Jamie Carroll stated the denial should not be taken as personal, but that they are not permitted by the city code. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0). (Carroll, Hassan Hopkins, Johnson, Eyasu)

 

G12) Appeal of City Denial of Sign Permit Application from Railroad Outdoor LLC, to Erect a 14’ x 48’ FF 20’ VEE @ 50’ OAH Billboard Sign on the Property Located at the southerly portion of Church St, just inside (West) of I-285.   

City manager reported the application Billboard Sign on the Property Located at the southerly portion of Church St, just inside (West) of I-285.    Application denied based on:

1. Signs are prohibited within public rights of ways and utility easements (City Code, Sec 15.5-41,3).

2. Signs are prohibited within the railroad right of way (City Code, Sec 15.5-41, 4).

3. Billboard signs are only permitted on parcels zoned RC, NC-1, NC-2, TC, or I (City Code, Sec 15.5-63,b).

The CSX RR right-of-way is not a parcel and does not have any of the permissible zoning designations.

4. Billboard signs are prohibited within 500 feet of residential parcels (City Code, Sec 15.5-63f).

5. Billboard signs are prohibited within 1,000 feet of other billboards (City Code, Sec 15.5-63e).

 

Adam Webb stated the same arguments as the previous on item.

 

Awet Eyasu stated he strongly believe the sign would be harmful to residential properties and made a motion to deny the appeal based on  1 . Signs are prohibited within public rights of ways and utility easements (City Code, Sec 15.5-41,3).

2. Signs are prohibited within the railroad right of way (City Code, Sec 15.5-41, 4).

3. Billboard signs are only permitted on parcels zoned RC, NC-1, NC-2, TC, or I (City Code, Sec 15.5-63,b).

The CSX RR right-of-way is not a parcel and does not have any of the permissible zoning designations.

4. Billboard signs are prohibited within 500 feet of residential parcels (City Code, Sec 15.5-63f).

5. Billboard signs are prohibited within 1,000 feet of other billboards (City Code, Sec 15.5-63e). 

Laura Hopkins  seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0). (Carroll, Hassan Hopkins, Johnson, Eyasu)


 

  1. ADJOURNMENT:

Laura Hopkins made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Jamie Carroll seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).