Before any other business was discussed during Thursday’s city council meeting, Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas and city council members took time to say ‘goodbye’ to a long-time friend of the city, Pastor Richard Wright of First United Methodist Church.
Wright received a plaque, a city coin and an afghan that depicts the city of Hinesville. He is leaving Hinesville for a new calling near Columbus, where he said he will be responsible for two churches. Thomas joked with the former Army Ranger, saying he’d be right at home there at Fort Benning with the 3rd Ranger Battalion. As he accepted the city leaders’ thanks and best wishes, Wright commented on his departure.
“It’s be good working with you all,” Wright said. “(Columbus) is another place I can go where I can say ‘hooah’ and not have to explain myself.”
The first order of business was another presentation, this one to the council and mayor. Anna Phillips and Nancy Melchor, members of the Stars & Stripes Quilt Guild, presented the city leaders with a framed, black-and-white photo of a woman working on a quilt. The picture supposedly was taken in her home or possibly in a smokehouse as there are country hams and slabs of bacon hanging above her head. The woman lived on what is now Fort Stewart. The ladies said the Library of Congress has no idea about the woman’s identity, but they hope someone in the county will recognize her and come forward.
Most of the items on Thursday’s agenda were information items. However, the council did approve the Hinesville’s Design Review Board’s recommendation for planning Renaissance Park, an apartment complex with 42 units to be built on Memorial Drive. They also approved an expansion of Willowbrook Villas on Willowbrook Drive.
The council heard three information items, starting with an update on the Hinesville Housing Authority by Executive Director Debra Williams. They also heard about proposed amendment to the city’s Animal and Fowl Ordinance that would prohibit certain animals from entering indoor and some outdoor city facilities.
“Who has responsibility to enforce the ordinance in city parks?” asked Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier. “I’ve seen people walking their dog even though there’s a sign that says dogs are not allowed.”
City Attorney Linnie Darden said the ordinance needs to distinguish between a neighborhood park and a community park and then decide which parks would and would not allow pets.
Assistant City Manager Kenneth Howard talked about a memorandum of understanding between the city and county regarding the animal ordinance and responsibility for enforcing it. City Manager Billy Edwards suggested any signs currently prohibiting pets in a park should be taken down until an amended ordinance is written and approved by the council.
During public comments, Tyrone Adams, owner of the Coliseum Sports Palace and Grill, addressed the council about a letter he’d gotten from Edwards stating that his business’ maximum occupancy was reduced to 252. He wanted to know why it was changed. Edwards told him he had 126 parking spaces behind his business and that maximum occupancy is based on two people per parking space. He said the previous permit had allowed for parking spaces in front of his business, which in fact belong to Jennifer’s Big Apple. Adams continued to dispute with the city manager, who was assisted by Thomas and Councilman Keith Jenkins. Thomas then suggested they meet privately with Adams to help explain the reason for the change.
Thomas said an economic analysis would be done June 1 on Fort Stewart that could affect the number of soldiers and civilians assigned to the installation. He recommended the council approve funding its own economic analysis through the University of Georgia.