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Midway banks zoning blocks adult-themed business
Preliminary plans for municipal complex discussed
Judson Bryant Midway city council
Judson Bryant of Bryant Associates Architects tells the Midway City Council during its meeting Monday what it needs to do to prepare for building a new municipal complex. - photo by Photo by Tiffany King

The Midway City Council denied an adult novelty business because of the city’s zoning ordinance.

Karen Conner requested a business license for Sensuous Playroom, an adult novelty store, to be located at 150 Butler Road, Suite E. Conner has a Sensuous Playroom store in Hinesville.

Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Planner II Melissa Jones presented the request to the City Council.

According to Midway’s zoning ordinance, the novelty shop falls under adult entertainment, which also includes tattoo parlors, and cannot be within 500 feet of any church, school, day care, public park or residential properties.

The Heritage Bank is on property zoned R-1, single-family residential, Jones said, and the proposed shop location is 488 feet from the bank. LCPC recommended denying the business license because it was within 500 feet.

Councilwoman Melice Grace asked why the bank has a residential zoning instead of commercial. She said she was confused over the zoning and the language of the ordinance.

Jones agreed that banks are not usually on property zoned residential.

“Your zoning was not in place until 1997 and that building, from what we pulled, has been there since 1989,” Jones said. “So I don’t know why it would have remained R-1. How your ordinance reads, it doesn’t look at what the property is being used for, it looks at what it’s zoned. Since it is zoned R-1, in this particular ordinance that we have, we are recommending disapproval.”

Jones advised the council to follow the ordinance.

Conner, who was visibly upset, addressed the council.

“You have a dream. I focus on my dream. I do as I’m told. I check to see which store is located in a possible areas that I can be. I go back to zoning. I put in the paperwork. I call,” Conner said. “No one called me, first of all, to tell me anything you had stated. But I did get a call from Ms. Grace to tell me that there was a mistake on the application that stated I was selling alcohol. There was no alcohol on my permit at all. It’s a novelty shop, intimacy shop that I want to bring in and keep families together. I just don’t understand.”

Grace and Mayor Pro-Tem Levern Clancy Jr. started to discuss other possible locations in Midway Conner can have her business.

Conner mentioned that her Hinesville store is next door to a liquor store.

Jones informed her that there are differences between Midway’s and Hinesville’s ordinances, and what may apply in Midway may not in Hinesville.

The council voted to accept LCPC’s recommendation to deny the business.

Municipal complex

The council heard what its first steps should be towards building the Midway Municipal Complex.

Judson Bryant, of Bryant Associates Architects, went over the process.

Bryant said the first goal is to establish a steering committee — an advisory committee that overlooks the entire process. He said committee members should represent “user agencies that will be in the building,” such as the Police Department, the City Council and one member of the public.

He continued to talk more in-depth about the other steps which included: identifying a site, funding, the process of hiring a construction firm and establishing a schedule for the project.

The tentative location for the municipal complex is Oglethorpe Highway and Charlie Butler Road, City Clerk Lynnette Cook-Osborne said.

Bryant advised the council not to rely on whether the Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax will pass in November or if it will yield the amount Midway needs for the city hall project.

“If SPLOST is going to yield $1 million, plan on getting $800,000,” Bryant said.

He suggested forming a conservative budget and said it is better to ask voters for forgiveness for coming under budget than for being over budget.

After finalizing the budget, the next step would be to hire architects and engineers.

James Rogers, senior vice president of Ameris Bank, talked about three ways the council can finance the project: pay-as-you-go, SPLOST payments over a six-year period, or long-term financing for 15 years.

Rogers suggested a bond issue. Rogers presented the “worst-case rate” the city could have, although he believes it could be lowered. If SPLOST passes, the rate would be 2.64 percent for six years. If SPLOST does not pass, Midway could get a 15-year rate of 2.99 percent.

Rogers also looked into the city’s water-sewer bonds with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development division. The bond is set to mature in 2036, Rogers said, and the bonds can be refinanced, which could save about six years and $800,000.

In other business:
• The council heard about the 2040 Liberty County Joint Comprehensive Plan. No action was taken.
• Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington informed the council that survey work on Butler Street would be completed by the end of this week.
• The council approved the Liberty County 2016 Hazard Mitigation Plan and fire protection services for unincorporated areas.

Council members also approved to a SPLOST intergovernmental agreement. The agreement lists how the city of Midway wants to use its portion of SPLOST funds, including to pay for safety vehicles, road projects and the multi-purpose complex, to total $1,089,570. The council approved the related resolution for the intergovernmental agreement to be executed between the city and county.

There was a Cay Creek Wetland Demonstration Garden ribbon-cutting. Washington talked about the different people who attended the ribbon cutting and added that there has been some rain damage, which washed away some rocks.

A mini excavator was delivered, and the Public Works Department will begin on various projects by the end of the month.

Washington and Midway Police Chief Kelli Morningstar will meet with a county code enforcement official to start the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing in Midway, a program designed to improve housing in communities throughout the state.

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