During the July 2, regular City of Hinesville Council meeting the Mayor and Council reviewed a proposed amendment to the municipal code regarding the appointment qualifications of the Prosecuting Attorney of the Municipal Court.
According to the amendment, the change will allow the City to hire a qualified individual who is either a resident of the judicial circuit in which the municipal court is located, or a qualified individual who has a law office or principal place of business within the Atlantic Judicial Circuit.
According to the proposed amendment the Mayor and City Council, “have determined that it is in the City’s best interests to attract and fill the Prosecuting Attorney position from a larger pool of qualified, available candidates. The Mayor and Council believe opening the Prosecuting Attorney’s position to otherwise qualified individuals who are nonresidents of the Atlantic Judicial District but who have a law office or principal place of business located in the Atlantic Judicial Circuit will result in an increased volume of qualified applicants for the Prosecuting Attorney position, and guarantee continuity and stability of all Municipal Court operations.”
The Amendment will be an action item in the July 16 meeting.
Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Executive Director Jeff Ricketson presented an
information item requesting that the City consider changing their current off premise alcohol distance ordinance to match that of the state of Georgia.
Currently, Hinesville requires 600-foot set back from churches. The state only requires 300-foot setback. For beer and wine, the state doesn’t require any setbacks from churches whereas the city requires a 600-foot setback. Ricketson said there are several examples showing that the city’s ordinances are stricter than the state’s and suggested the city consider adopting the state’s requirements.
The conversation came about after a convenience store on the corner of Memorial Drive and Gause Street, which was previously a Clyde’s store with an off-premise license, was denied an alcohol license last month due to the current City distance requirements.
Councilman Keith Jenkins said he was concerned about making the changes. He said he feared that stores near schools, might make it easier for kids to buy alcohol, beer or wine. Councilwoman Diana Reid said patrons need to show identification to buy alcohol which would prevent selling liquor, beer or wine to anyone under 21.
Council members Karl Riles and Reid volunteered to research and review the proposed changes to the off-premise ordinance for a future action item.
Ricketson requested the Mayor and Council approve the rezoning of 2.04 acres of land from Office Commercial District to Commercial District. The land sits just behind the Chili’s restaurant on Highway 84 and MacArthur Drive.
Ricketson said the area is going to be developed as a retail center and a restaurant. The proposed buildings will share the current Chili’s parking lot area. The motion was unanimously approved.
The Mayor and council also approved a variance on the same property to allow them lesser tree and land scape buffer as opposed to the 20-foot buffer that is the city’s current ordinance. Ricketson explained that this property was already being developed 15 years ago under former tree and landscape buffer ordinance.
The Council and Mayor approved a Notice of Intent to award Simonton Engineering, LLC for the engineering and design services for the Ryon Avenue re-alignment project and begin the contract process. The project is expected to cost $375,000 of which $300,000 is covered by grants and the remainder will be funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
The project now goes into the environmental study and design phase.
City Finance Officer Kimberly Ryon recommend the Mayor and Council approve the modifications of the City’s Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) Loans and authorize the Mayor and City Manager to sign the related documents for their existing seven loans.
Ryon said GEFA is offering a six-month payment holiday for all principal and interest payments as part of their COVID-19 relief efforts. During this time, no interest will accrue on the loans. Monthly payments of principal and interested will resume Jan. 1, 2021. The Mayor and Council approved the motion for all the loans.
In other matters, Yvonne Woods was re-appointed to the Citizens Sign Appeals Board. Joseph B. Stuart and Pete Clark were re-appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission. Melissa Carter Ray and Roger Jones were re-appointed to the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Board. Sandra Hicks Sheffield was re-appointed to the Liberty County Library.