The Hinesville City Council revised commercial zoning ordinances that regulate outdoor displays of merchandise at Thursday’s regular council meeting.
Council members Keith Jenkins, Jason Floyd and Vicky Nelson voted in favor of the revisions. Council woman Diana Reid voted against and Councilman Kenneth Shaw was absent.
The revisions mean that businesses zoned with a C-1 or C-2 commercial license may not have any merchandise displayed outside their buildings with the exception of certain items as listed in the provisions.
The ordinance does not affect businesses zoned C-3 that are currently allowed to have outdoor displays.
Council members began discussing the ordinance revisions last year, saying certain outdoor displays were blocking public walkways and were unsightly. Council members said regulations were needed so they may be better enforced.
Several drafts of the revisions were brought before the council. Liberty County Planning Commission Executive Director Jeff Ricketson also held a public forum, meeting with business owners. At Thursday’s meeting the final draft was presented as an action item.
Prior to taking the vote, the floor was opened to anyone wishing to speak on the matter and local business owner and former city councilman Steve Troha said he opposed the changes.
Troha, who owns a pawn shop in the city, said he sometimes receives items that are too large to be displayed inside his business. He added that C-3 businesses are required to have their outdoor displays in a fenced in area, yet certain businesses use sections of their parking lot as their outdoor display without a fence. He said they are in violation and nothing is being enforced.
He said C-2 and C-3 ordinances should be enforced equally and problems should be directed to owners allowing them the opportunity to resolve the issue. He said the revisions are unfair to the smaller, locally owned businesses that do not have the deep pockets of large corporate chains.
“I am not a big box store and I don’t have their pockets,” he said. “I think we should be given warnings and given a chance to clean up their areas...and then penalize those who don’t. Treat us all the same.”
“These ordinances should be enforced. I agree with you,” Nelson said. “A C-3 should be enforced just as the others.”
Jenkins noted that the ordinance revision was primarily due to a lack of enforcement of prior rules.
“I’m sick and tired that when we create a policy they are not being enforced and then we have to create a new policy to be enforced,” he said addressing Ricketson. “Will it be enforced this time? If it is not going to be enforced don’t bring it before us. It is a waste of our time.”
The council approved P.C. Simonton and Associates as the engineers for the Main Street / Shaw Road sidewalk project. The installation of the sidewalk will run from Glenn Bryant Road to Airport Road. The project will cost $82,795.The project will be funded through SPLOST.
The council also approved the purchase of a paratransit bus to fulfill American with Disabilities Act requirements.
The purchase total is $85,343.