The Hinesville City Council questioned Hinesville Housing Authority Chairman Joseph Ford during a regular meeting July 18. Ford approached the Council to propose that Housing Authority Resident Representative Carlton Solomon be reappointed for a one year term. Councilmember Keith Jenkins questioned Ford on why the director of the Housing Authority was choosing the representative rather than them being voted in. Currently, board members are recommended and appointed individually by Hinesville City Councilmembers. The Resident Representative, however, is chosen exclusively by Executive Director Melanie Thompson. The only known requirement so far is that the representative be one of the Housing Authority’s residents.
Jenkins went on to say that he would have preferred if all the board members had come together to pick the Resident Representative, and inquired if the candidate was chosen based on credentials. Ford said it was tradition for the director to pick the representative. However, Jenkins was concerned with the ramification of having the director make the choice. He voiced concern that they could be removed by the director if they did not go along with her choices, which would not be possible had they been elected by others. Ford agreed, and stated that the Housing Authority would look into doing things another way.
Other board members were concerned with other elements of the authority’s operations. Councilmember Diana Reid was concerned if Solomon has actually been talking to housing residents and questioned Ford about Solomon’s relationship with those he was supposed to be serving. Ford claimed that Solomon had a good relationship with others and did interact with his community. Reid also brought up the Housing Authority’s meetings, and alleged that they did not allow the public to speak. Ford claimed that there were forms for people to fill out if they wanted to speak during the meeting, but Reid didn’t recall seeing them.
Councilmembers went back and forth with Ford, alleging Housing Authority board members did not respond to e-mails, not even from city council members, and commenting they seemed to be unavailable to the public and their needs. Some of these issues, such as how the board members are appointed, were allegedly brought up last year, according to Ford, as possible changes to be made in future. Councilmember Riles suggested that the City Council attend a Housing Authority meeting and postpone voting on Solomon’s re-appointment.
A Hinesville Housing Authority update was given. They currently have a budget of $7.8 million; have seven board members, and a staff of 14. They have 596 residents, over 30 partnerships, and 211 units. As of July 18, there were no vacancies available, but there was a waiting list of 1,138. They are looking to build more units.
Leah Poole has been appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission by Councilmember Floyd. Krystal Hart and Helen Strickland were appointed to the Live Oak Library Board.
A flagpole has been approved for the Liberty Club Apartments being built behind the neighborhood Wal-Mart off of General Stewart Way. The flagpole will be 80-feet tall. The contractors will be responsible for maintaining it and for raising and lowering the flag to half-mast when necessary.
The application filed by the Heritage Bank owner on behalf of Trevor Sikes for a PUD amendment of 245.38 acres has been approved as well. The land is located on West 15th Street and will have a maximum of 399 single-family residential homes built. Approximately 4.16 acres of land is being set aside for commercial use.
The Mayor and Council accepted a donation of two parcels of land from the Oak Crest Home Owners Association, though it hasn’t been decided what it will be used for. The election for the City of Hinesville for Mayor and Councilmembers will be held on Nov. 5, at the Charles Shuman Center from 7a.m. - 7p.m. Early voting will be October 13-31.