Thursday’s Hinesville City Council meeting included only 15 agenda items, but public comments and reports from the council, mayor and city manager made for a full afternoon.
One of the three information items was deferred until the next meeting and another was changed to an action item. The council agreed to vote on the new ordinance for RV parks at the next meeting, pending some changes that need to be made in the ordinance.
Presentations by the Hinesville Downtown Partners and Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, which were information items, resulted in some hard questions by council members.
Jason Lee, Downtown Partners member and owner of Jungle Jakes, told the council about the Main Street program, which the city was selected for by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Since it was started by the GDCA in 1980, the program has had a tremendous impact on downtown communities, Lee said. He was asked by Councilman Keith Jenkins to explain why the city needed a Downtown Partners and the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority. Lee said the Partners would focus on the core of downtown for development and community events through the Main Street program. This would allow HDDA to give more attention to developing areas outside the downtown core, including Bryant Commons and Memorial Drive.
Following Lee’s presentation, HDDA Director Vicki Davis gave the council the HDDA’s recommendation for how the city can best support the Main Street program.
She suggested hiring a part-time program manager and allowing the Downtown Partners to use the old city jail for office space while continuing to keep it as a visitor’s site. She also suggested transferring some of the funds currently designated for HDDA to conduct downtown events, like the Scarecrow Stroll, Blues & BBQ and Christmas in the Park, to Downtown Partners so it could take over management of these events.
“Are you asking to transfer funds from the Farmers’ Market?” asked Mayor Jim Thomas, who then immediately asked, “Have you looked into the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Act and its tax incentives?”
“Sir, what we’re recommending is not a total transfer of funds but access by the (Downtown) Partners to those funds,” Davis said.
She said they have looked at the Downtown Renaissance (Fund) Act, noting tax incentives proposed through that legislation would be beneficial to downtown development. According to gmanet.com/RenaissanceAct.aspx, the legislation is awaiting action from the state Senate.
Thomas told Davis the council would do some research on the program and get back with her and the Downtown Partners.
Thursday’s meeting began with an address to the council by Hinesville resident Logan Todd. He had asked City Manager Billy Edwards if he could address the council about something he said might already be a city ordinance, and if not, it should be. He told the council he was disabled and unable to keep up with the leaves blown into his yard from his neighbor’s yard across the street and wanted the city to do something to help him. He said he has been told trash blowing in his yard from a neighbor was something the city could address. He then told the council that dead leaves were trash as far as he was concerned.
“The inspections department has looked into your complaint,” Edwards said. “But we can’t find any reason to bring action against the owner of that property. We’ll continue to monitor it, though.”
In other business, the council agreed to proceed with a proposal to annex 4.17 acres from Liberty County as part of Griffin Park. They also approved an updated version of the City Standard Specification for roads and infrastructure and changed an information item presented by City Engineer Paul Simonton, who had recommended the extension of the reuse water mains along the Veterans Parkway.
The council approved a $262,136 bid by Freightliner of Savannah for a dry trash combo truck with knuckle boom and a $25,677.81 bid by Hinesville Ford for a utility truck. Public-works contractor OMI requested the combo truck, while the Hinesville Fire Department requested the utility truck.
Two residents made public comments about issues that included complaints about a ditch along Bradwell Street and Stacy Drive and a recommendation to require household trash be placed in plastic garbage bags before being placed in city poly carts.
In his comments, Thomas noted the Georgia Black Mayors’ Conference will take place April 4-6 at the Performing Arts Center in Flemington.