The Hinesville City Council on Thursday approved changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic.
Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission planner Gabriele Hartage requested approval a design change for the clinic currently under construction at the corner of Oglethorpe Highway and Memorial Drive. Hartage said the revisions to the building design were presented by architect Marc Biagiotti to the city’s design review board. She said the proposed changes give the building a more historical look with a pitched portico and windows similar to the old courthouse and annex. The design also adds cornices to the building.
She said the building’s footprint will remain the same, except for the portico, which will extend over the driveway and allow for a sheltered drop-off and pick-up of patients.
The council approved the changes without questions or comments.
Council members also approved the design review board’s recommendation for a new attorney’s office at the intersection of Fraser Street and Oglethorpe Highway. The office will replace attorney Joel Osteen’s other office, which will be torn down for the construction of Zaxby’s.
A request was approved to rezone 2.89 acres on West Oglethorpe from a single-family dwelling district to highway commercial. Hartage said the rezoning would allow for development of a retail and office stores complex.
The council also approved the final plat for the Retreat at Oak Crest, Phase 1 and Hinesville zoning map, which is adopted annually in November.
Two issues related to alcohol-beverage licenses were approved, but nothing was said regarding the recent approval of Referendum 1 during Tuesday’s election. In earlier council meetings, City Manager Billy Edwards said the referendum’s passing would allow the council to request the city attorney draft a new ordinance governing the Sunday sales of package alcohol. However, the approved referendum was not part of the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.
The council did approve alcohol-beverage license renewals for the sale off-premise consumption of alcohol for nine local retail vendors, including three Flash Foods, Food Lion, Kroger, Kwik Way Food Mart, Parkers, Sunoco Food Mart and Walmart. They also approved license renewal for the sale of on-premises consumption of alcohol at the American Legion, Big Apple, Rodeo Mexican Restaurant, Ruby Tuesday and Star Lounge.
During the public-comments session, Liston Singletary spoke to the council about a campaign he called “Ban the Box” that is intended to end what he called employment discrimination against convicted criminals who’ve served their prison sentence. The campaign would eliminate the “box” on employment applications that asks if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. He said the question is not relevant if the applicant already has served his or her debt to society.
“We want to emphasize they have done their time,” Singletary said. “Reformed citizens deserve a right to return to a normal life ... These individuals could become employees and be paying taxes. They can contribute back to society.”
Singletary said he was not suggesting that employers such as schools and day-care centers shouldn’t be careful about screening applicants, nor does it do away with the employer’s right to request a background check. He said doing away with the prior conviction question simply gives them a chance to compete for a job on their merits, not their past.
Several council members asked Singletary questions. Councilman Jason Floyd, who works with The Heritage Bank, noted that banks have to ask certain questions on employment applications. Singletary said he understood that but added many employers, some cities and two states have chosen to remove the “box” and give convicted criminals who’ve served their time a second chance.
“We’re going to consider this very carefully,” Mayor Jim Thomas told Singletary. “We’ll be getting back with you.”