At the regular Oct. 4 meeting, Hinesville City Council approved a request by the Municipal Court to initiate a 90-day warrant amnesty program, which began Oct. 6, and will continue until Jan. 2, 2019.
According to Clerk of Court Malissa Oberlander, the court currently has an estimated 625 active failure to appear and non-adjudicated contempt warrants, ranging from July 2005 to Aug. 7, 2018. This leaves the court with an outstanding bond amount of approximately $450,000, including warrant fees, Oberlander said. The warrants issued before July 2005 cannot be tracked electronically, she continued.
In order to take advantage of the warrant amnesty program, no police department resources can be used in the defendant’s apprehension; the defendant must willfully contact the court or the police department after hours about their warrant; the defendant must pay the original bond or fine amount in full to get the bench warrant fee of $330 waived and the warrant cleared; and payments must be made by cash, money order, cashiers check or credit cards either in person, by mail, by a third party, through Western Union or Money Gram, so it’s convenient for the defendant, Oberlander said.
“Upon payment, the defendant will be provided a court date to discuss original charges with a judge, if they so wish,” Oberlander said. “Some offenses; however, would require a mandatory appearance. Offenses include DUI, no license, shoplifting, suspended license and vicious dog.”
The court will include all outstanding FTA and non-adjudicated contempt warrants into the amnesty program, she said. The court wants to extend the opportunity to everyone to participate.
“The program is both beneficial to the City and the defendant,” Oberlander said. “The municipal court would be able to clear their warrant files and the police department would not be tying up their resources to apprehend each defendant.”
The council quickly agreed that the program would useful, and the request passed unanimously.
In other council business, previously presented ordinances concerning home occupations and cargo shipping containers received final approval from the council, as well as multiple rezoning petitions, presented by Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Executive Director Jeff Ricketson and Zoning Administrator Gabby Hartage.
A request for a PUD amendment filed by Marty Orr on behalf of Prime Interest Development Inc., to rezone two properties totaling 2.4 acres at Governors Quarters off of 15th street received LCPC approval, Hartage said. The request is to rezone from commercial to single family homes. Originally, the lots were designated for commercial use, she said, but are now petitioned to be developed as eight single-family residential lots.
“As the potential for housing units has dramatically decreased through the de-annexation of larger portions of Independence, the original commercial uses are no longer as viable,” Hartage said. The stipulations following approval included the addition of sidewalks along Telfair Drive and Governors Boulevard. Council approved the request.
A rezoning petition submitted by Ogden, LLC to rezone his property from C-2 (General Commercial District) to C-3 (Highway Commercial District) was granted approval. Ogden plans to sell outdoor merchandise at his business, SuperPawn, located at 411 General Screven Way.
An application for a special permit, submitted by Johnathan Skaggs, to operate a dog grooming and boarding business at 315-B Welborn St, was approved with special conditions by LCPC and council.
LCPC conducted a special permit use analysis of the property, and presented the findings to council, citing section 4-5: Manner of keeping, prohibited conditions; complaint—it is unlawful for any person to keep or maintain any pen, coop or enclosure for animals or fowl; or permit any animal or fowl to be kept, maintained or grazed within 300-feet of any house or building where people reside or work, Hartage said. The section does not apply to household pets, but does apply to dog kennels- where more than one dog is kept, Hartage continued.
The area that Skaggs placed the application for resides in a mixed use area, with a mix of commercial, residential and institutional buildings, she said. LCPC approved the request for the grooming business, but denied the boarding.
“Also, LCPC commissioners want council to consider looking at the required distance of 300 feet and possibly adjust it for commercial corridors in non-residential areas,” Hartage said.
Council approved the Design Review Board’s review on the new building for the Manna House. Previously, the original plan was to add two additions onto the building, but the idea was abandoned, Hartage said. The trustees with Manna House decided to purchase a brand new building and create a similar footprint, according to a LCPC memo submitted to the review board.
“The color scheme remains unchanged—stone color for the exterior walls, a silver standing seam roof, and brown trim,” Hartage said in the memo. “There are some exterior changes to the Memorial Drive side: the new elevation shows two windows and two doors, a change from the original. The two doors will be identical and contain a glass insert as well.”
Other stipulations by the board include: landscaping along the foundation wall on Memorial Drive side, that wraps around the east side of the wall up to the fence to protect utilities; the brick knee wall shall remain on the Memorial Drive side; a sidewalk between the two doors shall be installed adjacent to the foundation shrubs and there will be submitted samples of the exterior finishes for the roof, wall and trim.
Council approved the design unanimously.