In a 4-1 vote Thursday, the Hinesville City Council approved amending the city’s charter to allow the creation of new city council districts.
A second vote on redistricting will take place during the next regular city council meeting at 3 p.m. Aug. 4 in the new city hall.
Two separate votes must be held before the council can adopt changes to the city’s charter.
The council began the process of redrawing district lines after receiving the 2010 Census in April. The recent census numbers show the populations of District 1 and 4 increased significantly, District 1 by more than 600 residents and District 4 by around 500.
District 2 decreased by about 400.
Hinesville attorney Linnie Darden had advised the council to rapidly move forward on redistricting, both to comply with the Voting Rights Act and to finish the process before Aug. 29, the start of the qualifying period for the Nov. 8 municipal election.
Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier voted against the measure. Frasier represents District 1, the district with the highest population increase. Frasier told the Courier on Friday he opposed the amendment because he had some concerns over “a couple of census blocks” and would like for the council to take another look at those areas.
In other city business:
• The council approved joining First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move to End Childhood Obesity” initiative. The city now will register with the nationwide campaign and must implement one of the initiative’s goals within the next year, according to Hinesville grant writer Michelle Lane.
Lane informed the council that various federal grants are available to help fund the city’s participation in the campaign to end childhood obesity.
• The council also voted to authorize the city’s application for a $68,703 grant from the J.R. Albert Foundation.
The foundation funds programs related to health, health education, nutrition and fitness, particularly in poverty-stricken areas, Lane told the council. She said the foundation’s mission aligns with the first lady’s “Let’s Move to End Childhood Obesity” initiative.
The grant will allow local food stamp recipients to buy produce and agricultural items from the Hinesville Downtown Farmers Market using their EBT cards. Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Vicki Davis said the grant will give disadvantaged residents access to locally grown fresh foods.
• Council members approved, with one condition, Tekilla Rose owner Ernest Graham’s request for an alcohol beverage license to sell beer and liquor. The new nightclub is opening in the same building where the Colloseum Sports Palace and Grill previously was located.
The approval of the license is contingent on landlord Anita Rosen signing a certified letter dated June 27 sent by the city, Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards confirmed. The city informed Rosen the Tekilla Rose may have a maximum occupancy of 252 people, including staff, based on the property’s 126 available parking spaces and the building’s usable square footage. The requirement falls under the city’s code of ordinances, according to Edwards.
The city eventually revoked the Colloseum’s license when the business failed to turn in its required quarterly food-to-alcohol sales ratio report on time.
The city held a show-cause hearing last September regarding the Colloseum’s license after Hinesville police officers and local merchants complained of suspected shootings, fights, excess noise and parking issues at the former business.
• Council members approved a recommendation by the Citizens Sign Appeals Board to grant Elaine Boggs of Elaine Boggs Realty Group a variance on her proposed sign location at 116 E. Gen. Screven Way.
Boggs’ sign application initially was denied as it did not meet the required setback distance of 10 feet from the right-of-way line for properties zoned office commercial. The property recently had been rezoned from office institutional to office commercial.
Boggs asked for a variance of 9 feet, 6 inches from the right-of-way line. This would allow the sign to be placed 6 inches from the right-of-way line to avoid placing the sign against the foundation of her building.
Boggs told the appeals board that placing the sign at her building’s foundation would “block and ruin the aesthetics of the front of the building” and “run through the landscaping and tree that was planted per (the) Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission’s requirements.”