During the April 15, City of Hinesville Council meeting Davion Mitchell was presented a key to the City by Mayor Allen Brown. Mitchell, a graduate of Liberty County High School, helped the Baylor Bears win the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball championship. Mayor Brown also proclaimed April 15, Davion Mitchell Day.
In regular City business the Mayor and Council listened to the third presentation of the proposed flea market ordinance presented by Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Executive Director Jeff Ricketson. It will be an action item at the next Council meeting.
During their respective Council reports Councilman Karl Riles allowed Shelby Lee, Co-Owner of Rustic Design Home Market, to speak to the Council about her concerns and the proposed ordinance.
Lee said she still feels the City inappropriately shut down her outdoor sale on Feb. 20, despite being told by City employees that she didn’t need a temporary use permit (TUP) or any special permit at all. She repeated that City employees told her that a temporary use permit had never been issued. She said her outdoor vendor sales are identical to the Farmer’s Market hosted by the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority and that she should be treated in the same manner as those vendors.
“We are not a flea market,” Lee said. “We have kind of been pushed into this flea market ordinance...it will kind of work for us but not really because we aren’t a flea market and we don’t operate that way. I want to know what we need to do so we can operate four times a year like a Farmer’s Market…and not have an issue.”
Lee mentioned how the City made immediate arrangements to allow a car show to go on which had more than 100 people in attendance yet her event on the same day of March 27, was only permitted for a gathering of less than 50 people.
“We feel that we are being treated a little differently,” Lee said.
Howard pointed out that the HDDA sponsored Farmer’s Market is done on public property not private property. He also noted that each of the vendors of the market must follow specific guidelines and registrations protocols.
He said the Council adopted the TUP ordinance in 2018 which would allow outdoor sales four times a year and had suggest to Lee she use that permit as far back as November 2020 when he first met her.
Howard said her November 2020 permit was revoked back then due to the increase of COVID-19 and emergency orders in place at the time. However, Howard said the City allowed her to still have that event after Lee expressed some concerns and they sat together and discussed the safety protocols they put in place.
Lee said her November permit was not revoked but the City tried to revoke it 72 hours prior to the event which is why she met with Howard.
As for the Feb. 20 event Howard said Lee was given the option to move the event inside.
“When I called City Hall to ask if I needed a permit and was told no and I called the health department because we were giving out hamburgers and hot dogs…and was told no… Mr. Howard just said that ignorance of the law is not an excuse,” Lee said. “But when I call City Hall and they tell me no…who am I supposed to listen to?”
Howard said he has worked closely with Lee in trying to resolve the problem but reiterated that the Farmer’s Market does have set policies and protocols they follow. Howard again noted the Market is different from what Lee is offering because her business is on private property and not a City sponsored event on public land.
Riles asked Mr. Howard to include him in any meetings or conversations regarding the matter going forward. Council woman Diana Reid asked if the matter could be discussed at their upcoming off-site meeting. Council agreed to discuss the matter.
In other City business, the Mayor and Council approved a design review for a project in the Downtown Redevelopment Overlay District. LCPC Engineer Mardee Sanchez said a new building is proposed at 345 W Memorial Drive. The developer, Ryon Place Investments LLC, Melissa Carter Ray is trying to develop a building to-suit a medical office building which will be used to provide outpatient mental health services to military veterans and their families, with a specialty in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Mayor and Council approved a design review for the new Hinesville Business Incubator on Memorial Drive. The project is a joint venture between the Hinesville Development Authority and Georgia Southern University.
Two separate bids were awarded for the JV Road grinding and screening services. M.W. Collins, of Cobbtown was awarded $50,000 for the grinding services and S&W Farms was awarded $21,750 for their screening services.
Howard made a presentation for the purchase of a Custom Cab Fire Engine. Four bids were submitted and the Mayor and Council awarded the bid to Peach State Truck Centers for $380,000. The funding will come from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).
Assistant City Manager Ryan Arnold presented an information item which would allow city water customers the option of purchasing a water service line warranty program. Customers are responsible for any repairs to the exterior water service or sewer/septic lines that run between their home and the public utility connection.
The program offers customers the ability to purchase affordable emergency repair service plans. Unlike a homeowner insurance rider or home warranty there is no deductible or service charge. The City is expected to send out mailers this month to inform their water customers of the program and its cost.
Paul Simonton of Simonton Engineering gave the Mayor and Council an update on the Wellborn Street / Ashmore Street drainage project saying that the project should be completed this month.