East Ellijay Council continues millage and SPLOST

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EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Finances became a main focus in a late June meeting of the East Ellijay City Council as they addressed the city’s tax exemption and the new intergovernmental SPLOST referendum.

While simply continuing what has been in effect for East Ellijay for years, the city still needed an official motion for continuing the 3.5 mills on the rate as well as the longtime waiving of personal property tax of citizens as well as the commercial tax for all entities and individuals owning or operating businesses in the city limits.

Approved by the council, the city continues this practice throughout its coming fiscal year.

The Council also approved the new SPLOST split presented by the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners. Moving East Ellijay’s percentage from 1.93% to 2.0%. Noted in the meeting for the council members. East Ellijay Mack West spoke with the council about the meetings he attended and the slight change in percentage.

The Council summarily motioned and approved the agreement. As reported when the referendum was made ready for city approvals, citizens could be looking to see this vote in this year’s election cycles.

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McCutchen rezoning raises traffic questions

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council held their February meeting with few items on the agenda, but a zoning request still raised plenty of discussion with a subdivision coming to McCutchen Street.

The zoning request is actually a reduction in density as it was approved to change from an R-3 to an R-1. The two men present at the meeting, Steve Wadley and Paul King, represented the zone change requester 548 MCC, LLC. and the community called The Ridge.

Minor opposition came during the meeting as citizens living on McCutchen Street questioned what would be done about an increase in traffic on the street. Their answer came as Wadley revealed part of their plan in construction was to widen Barclay Street to become a two-lane road. Barclay will be the main entrance to the community and is expected to have most of its traffic using a short spot of McCutchen to connect to Old Highway 5 and North Main Street.

The request for changing 548 McCutchen Street was approved unanimously during the meeting.

Also during the meeting, the council approved a Brew Pub License for River Street Tavern Inc. and its licensee Heather Simmons. The Brew Pub License will allow the Tavern to brew beer on premises for sale in the restaurant. With no comments or questions, the license was approved during the meeting unanimously.

One final note for the city’s business was approval to dispose of one 2006 Ford Crown Victoria at public auction. The vehicle is an older police vehicle that has been replaced.

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Ellijay accepts two roads to maintenance system

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Updates to the project on Victory Circle came in Ellijay’s December Council Meeting.

The project, officially named the Victory Christian Center, requested the city take a new road into its maintenance system. The road will connect Victory Circle, behind the old Blue Ridge Carpet Mill, to Progress Road. This new connection will become the main entrance to the facility, and one of three access points, as Victory Christian continues plans to add another entrance on Maddox Drive near the city limits sign, to decrease traffic stress at the four-way stop of Progress Road and Maddox Drive. Following the back side of the old carpet mill, the road will connect from the first curve on Victory Circle.

The project, according to Randy Durden from the North Georgia Christian Foundation, will be paid for by combining donations, including property from the neighboring PDQ Manufacturing and Waterwheel and money from the Victory Christian Center for construction of the road pending the council’s agreement to accept the road for maintenance. The official approval came as a motion for agreement in principal that the city would accept the road contingent upon it being built to Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) specifications with 60-foot right-of-ways and Ellijay City requirements.

However, this was not the only addition to the city’s road systems. The council officially approved accepting 1.6 miles of state Route 382 into the city street system.

After consideration in November, the council further investigated and attained confirmation that the state would repave the road. According to Ellijay Mayor Al Hoyle, the Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner assured him they would resurface the road and make sure everything is in good shape, including striping and guard rails.

Along with the accepting of the state road, the council separately approved accepting the Lighting Agreement. The new roundabout being built at the intersection of Highway 382 and Old Highway 5 will have street lights for the roundabout for which the city is agreeing to pay the lighting bill.

Ellijay City Councilman David Westmoreland requested consultation from Ellijay City Police Chief Edward Lacey if there would be a negative consequence. Lacey suggested he could not see anything negative stating, “It is contiguous with our current city system of roads.”

Lacey was also requested to speak on a second item, a request for speed bumps on Gilmer Street near the senior center. The council asked last month for Lacey to investigate and speak at this meeting. Officially recommending the street return to a one-way street as it has been in the past, Lacey suggested do not enter signs to prevent traffic from traveling toward Delaware Street. The council did not grant the speed bump request for the street, but instead went with Lacey’s recommendation to make it one way. This means traffic on Gilmer Street must flow toward Broad Street and toward the courthouse.

Cartecay Vineyards is moving downtown with approval for Cartecay Wine and Craft Pub at 19 South Main Street in Ellijay for a wine tasting room.

After an executive session, Ellijay’s city council approved three members to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). With four openings and only three filled, the city is still looking to fill another position on the authority board. Those three approved were Josh Quigley, Mark Luchauer and Joshua Moyer.

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Health and roads dominate Ellijay’s November council

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ELLIJAY, Ga – Prior to the Ellijay City Council’s November Meeting, they heard a proposal from Russel Brown, local paramedic, for a community welfare program similar to programs in other counties like Floyd County.

According to Brown, patients statistically do better recovering at home. This program would encourage and supervise home health. Different from home healthcare programs, Brown said much of the welfare program is focused on prevention of readmission to hospitals and emergency rooms. They would focus on aspects like vital signs and communication for paperwork. If the program moves forward, it would start out within the Ellijay City Limits.

Funding and grants are available, Brown said, and much of the expense would come from strips for glucometers to measure blood glucose. While he hopes one day it could grow into a community paramedic program, he wished to start at community welfare. Those providing the service would be limited in care, and Brown stated that EMS would still be called for necessary situations.

Specific details for the proposal will come possibly as early as the December City Council meeting as the council requested Brown to return with an official written proposal to detail more things like cost and liability among others.

Signs of Interest is proposing this sign change on behalf of the Gilmer Nursing Home and SunLink Health Systems.

Signs of Interest is proposing this sign change on behalf of the Gilmer Nursing Home and SunLink Health Systems.

Another healthcare entity presented a variance request to change the sign for Gilmer Nursing Home on 1362 South Main St.  While the variance request was submitted to exceed the three-foot sign regulation of the city, it would in fact be lower than the current sign. Standing at 21 feet now, the request states the new sign will only reach 12 feet in height. A representative from Signs of Interest, Andy Lawson, told FYN the sign change was partially to clean up the facilities appearance and simplify the extras to a lower “nicer looking sign.”

Officially approved by the council, the sign will include a small message board to be utilized by the nursing home. Lawson provided FYN with a drawing of what the sign is expected to look like. Though the sign change is indicative of a name change as part of a remodeling project, Lawson told the council that SunLink Health Systems still owns the nursing home.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is planning to abandon part of Highway 382 to rebuild it as a direct line to Highway 515.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is planning to abandon part of Highway 382 to rebuild it as a direct line to Highway 515.

Following the same road further south, Highway 382’s changes came to Ellijay with a formal notification by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) that they will abandon the section of Highway 382 that currently extends from the intersection of 382 and Old Highway 5 to the connection at Highway 515. As seen in the picture, GDOT will be constructing a new connector straight across to Highway 515 with a roundabout at the intersection.

The notification comes with the city of Ellijay needing to accept the abandoned portion of 382 into its responsibility for paving and maintenance. However, a motion was made at the meeting to table the item. Citizens can expect the council to revisit the issue in December.

Along with their discussion of roads, an official petition has reached the council to add speed bumps to Gilmer Street near the Senior Center. The petition garnered 20 names and roused discussion from the council about returning the street to a one-way street as well as discussion on purchasing speed bumps for the street. Continued complaints about the speed of vehicles on the street led to suggestions to officially request the change via petition. Discussion took a turn as Ellijay Police Chief Edward Lacey informed the council that the street was, at one time, a one-way street.

Gilmer Street is a more narrow street and discussion arose  as, if the city returned it to one way, they were unsure of which way to direct the traffic. The council tabled the item and requested an official recommendation from Lacey, on how to return it to a one-way street, to discuss along with the speed bumps option. Again, citizens should look for the council to revisit the item in December.

 

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New Executive Director Officially Takes Office Today

Business, News

EAST ELLIJAY, GA – The Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) has gone months through its process of looking to replace its executive director after its previous director resigned.

Today marks the end of that search. While we have known for a while now that Kent Sanford, formerly of Park Sterling Bank, would be taking the position, it is today that the transition has been completed and he officially takes office.

With the job ahead, Sanford told FYN, “As I watched the sun come up from my new office this morning, I was reminded of the bright future Gilmer County has before us.  We have a great deal of work to do, but I am excited to get started and humbled to be part of the process and working with an excellent team of professionals.”

As he begins moving around town, introducing himself to the businesses and beginning to attract more growth to the county, the JDA will hold their fourth quarter meeting this Monday, November 6, at 8 a.m. Also, stay with FYN as we continue updates and sit down with Sanford later this month.

Also, be sure to check out more with our previous article, “JDA Announces New Executive Director.”

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Ellijay Management Changes Through City Council and Special DDA Meetings

News

ELLIJAY, GA – The Ellijay City Council is moving forward to swap out pumper’s for its Fire services.

After numerous problems with its current 2002 Lavern Class A Pumper, the City Council have voted to accept bids on the fire truck. Through their work session, discussion came that a minimum price be set for $85,000. The Council did approve the minimum price on the bids, but can also refuse bids at a later date. The revenue from the sale will offset the cost of the city purchasing a 1996 Smeal Class A Pumper for $60,000.

A First Reader also came at the Council’s July meeting for an “Ordinance For The Demolition and Removal Of A Dwelling Unfit For Human Habitation Located At 19 Hancock Drive.” Designated as parcel 1065. Although this is a First Reader, the demolition could move forward in 30 days if no change occurs in the situation.

Citizens also took time to speak at the meeting with one questioning the Come Play in Ellijay Golf Tournament and the DDA (Downtown Development Authority). Her question was to locate funds raised from last year’s event to support current and future events. The same day as the Council Meeting, the DDA held a special called meeting in which they discussed the Golf Tournament.

During the DDA’s meeting, the Authority officially turned over the Golf Tournament Event to the newly formed Ellijay Merchant’s Association. The Golf Tournament is the latest event to be turned over as the DDA has already relinquished the July 4th event, Light Up Ellijay, St. Petrick’s Day, and the Halloween Festivities.

While turning the events over, the DDA will be giving up the promotions and events committee’s in favor of the Merchant’s Association who have become their own 501c3 organization.

The second action from the DDA’s special called meeting returned the Management of the Welcome Center/Restroom downtown to the City.

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Council Approvals Will Mean New Apartments and Patrol Cars

News

The City of Ellijay may be seeing new apartments off of Highway 282. According to a presentation and approval for rezoning request at 179 Courier Street. The plans, labeled Southside Loft Apartments,  shown during a presentation at the City Council indicated a much larger available space than what is planned to be used for the 50 units expected to be constructed.

Roger DuBois delivers the presentation for Rezoning 179 Courier Street (formerly Courier Dye Plant) from I-2 to R-3.

Roger delivers the presentation for Rezoning 179 Courier Street (formerly Courier Dye Plant) from I-2 to R-3.

Each unit will be a three bedroom apartment with two floors and an estimated 1,600 total square footage. The site is already prepared for city utilities as the lot was previously used for a plant, and will fully include the utilities in the rent price. It is also reported the units will be handicap accessible on the first floor.

The preliminary estimated price could range between $1,000 – $1,100 per month with all utilities included. The owners also wish to dress up the surrounding area and want to add additional amenities. While they did mention a laundry room, ball courts, a recreational pond, and a jogging track, not definite plans were confirmed for these.

In addition to the rezoning request, the City also approved a new Off Premise Consumption License Beer and Wine for Evergreen Corner Inc. doing business as Citgo Food Mart. The Mayor’s Report offered more details saying the Citgo Food Mart, located at 59 South Main, has changed ownership. The new application for the new owners was approved as all requirements had been met.

Finally, after last month’s approval by the council for the lease-purchase of two new patrol cars, the Ellijay City Council did another approval for the lease-purchase agreement as an authorizing resolution, effectively the next step in the process.

The Council also heard citizens comment during their input section, one asking if something can be done about large trucks utilizing compression engine release brakes, “Jake Brakes,” in the city limits. Though Mayor Hoyle mentioned a ban on their usage in certain areas could require an ordinance, he said he had noticed that other cities had similar ordinances.

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Alcohol or Economy? Citizens Revive Subject

News

While not on the agenda, besides one license request, citizens brought alcohol back to the Ellijay City Council as the citizens input of their March meeting was filled with support for issuing a pouring license to the Martyn House on North Main Street in downtown Ellijay.

Having initially requested the license three years ago, representatives from the Martyn House spoke to the Council about numerous requests they have received to stay open later. However, they say as a coffee shop, staying open later would require them to “change from coffee and espresso to beer and wine” in the evenings.

In fact, the majority of the following 13 people who spoke during Citizen’s Input were in support of the Martyn House’s request. However, as people continued speaking, the discussion transitioned from focusing on the Martyn House to Downtown Ellijay as a whole. Some spoke of needing more places to stay open later so that tourists and visitors have something to do at night. Others offered that while Ellijay has bars, they want a more relaxed location for meeting with friends or working on the wi-fi while having a drink, reminiscent of more “lounge-like” atmosphere.

Still others, like Carrie Durden of Moo Bears Ice Cream and Hot Dogs, spoke on needing encouragement and Council support. Durden offered a story of a citizen who called Ellijay’s economy cyclical and held no hope of maintaining the city’s downtown businesses. Many local business owners seemed to want a show of this support through the Martyn House’s request. A motion Mayor Al Hoyle assured citizens he would be speaking with the council on.

The theme of alcohol continued through the meeting with the first reading for a Brewery Ordinance. Being only the first reading, citizens still have time to comment on the ordinance with Mayor Hoyle or attend April’s Meeting to speak during the Citizen’s Input section.

The City’s Meeting continued with approvals of a request for an On Premise Consumption License for Beer and Wine at Lucy’s Fried Chicken and Licensee Jim Stover as well as reappointing Kent Sanford to Library Board. Sanford’s term is ending, but he has indicated his willingness to continue. Although Sanford’s reappointment was approved, the City still needs a second person to appoint to the Board.

One final meeting note came with an Approval for Durden Ventures request for rezoning at 208 Victory Circle. This will change from industrial to general commercial.

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