The Hinesville city council did not get past its first agenda action item Thursday, a permit for a used car lot, without two split votes and a procedural question.
Josh Guyett applied for a special use permit to open a used car lot on his property at 750 E.G. Miles Parkway. The Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission had considered Guyett’s request and recommended approval.
The site is in Councilwoman Vicky Nelson’ district and she moved to deny the permit, but did not say why.
Nelson and Councilwoman Diana Reid voted for denial, while Councilman Jason Floyd and Mayor Pro Tempore Kenneth Shaw voted against the denial.
Councilman Keith Jenkins abstained from voting and this meant a 2-2 vote, apparently a tie.
Mayor Allen Brown voted no to break the tie and open the way for the car lot approval.
But Jenkins then said he believed that abstentions counted as approval of an action.
This produced questions and confusion. City Attorney Linnie Darden was asked to clarify the matter and he left the meeting to research the handling of abstentions while the council continued with other items on its agenda.
Darden returned with word that the Georgia Municipal Association discourages abstentions and that members who abstain from voting will be deemed to concur with the majority. It was unclear what effect this would have on the Guyett permit request.
Jeff Ricketson, executive director of the LCPC, told the council that his agency needed a decision, an up-or-down vote on the special use permit that the planning commission had recommended for approval. Jenkins noted that the site for the car sales lot was in Nelson’s district that he would defer to her and change his vote.
Nelson reiterated her motion to deny the permit and the motion passed 3-2.
The council heard from the city’s chief financial officer, Kim Ryon, who reported continued positive growth in sales tax revenue and said, “We are continuing to close that gap,” referring to a previous lag in sales tax income. Ryon said she was cautiously optimistic about the city’s financial situation. She said revenue from the transit department was up and expenditures were down. The water and sewer operation was six percent under budget, Ryon said.
In other business engineer Trent Long reported on sidewalk projects along Highway 196 and Baker Street.
Sandra Hicks Sheffield was appointed to the Liberty County library board for Hinesville. She replaces Yvonne Woods who has served the maximum of three terms.
The only speaker during the council’s public comment period was Jodee Adams who gave details of the Liberty Regional Homeless Coalition’s drive to collect new or slightly used school uniforms and school supplies. The coalition serves both Liberty and Long counties and drop boxes will be located at many convenient places including Hinesville City Hall. Adams said the Liberty County school system had identified 245 students who are homeless. Call 912 570-1273 for more information.
Hinesville officials are preparing a list of road and street projects that they hope to fund through the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant program.The city expects about $320,000 in LMIG funds which will require a $138,000 match.
The council is moving to formally approve an assistant prosecuting attorney for Hinesville’s municipal court. The attorney started work May 18 and a $500 monthly salary was set Thursday retroactive to the start date.