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.
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.
Ellijay Downtown Development Authority
January 25, 2017
Ellijay City Hall
*Annual Events Calendar
*St. Patrick’s Day
Jim Stover – Chair
Brad Simmons – Vice Chair
Jeff Riblet – Treasurer
The Ellijay Downtown Development Authority received an exciting update to its upcoming Ellijay website at it’s Wednesday , January 11, Meeting.
The website currently under construction is adding new features such as live updates connection with a businesses Facebook page. This is in addition to the already announced links and content that business owners can get from becoming part of the site like the YouTube video tour, business photos, direct map links, and descriptions. However, the moe exciting news to those business owners attending the meeting came as the website membership is becoming free.
Business owners all over the Ellijay’s, according to the DDA, are welcome to join the site to increase exposure by visiting ellijay-georgia.com and following the link in the top right to “Add My Business.” Authority members have dropped the $45 fee in favor of increasing memberships to further aid the DDA. Fund raising will still be a part of the plan, however. As the website will be utilizing some advertisement space to raise those funds later.
Discussion also arose on exposing the website with ideas ranging from window stickers similar to the popular “Gilmer’s Got It!” stickers, exposure to tourists through booklets in local hotels, to cross posts and social marketing through the Cities websites and pages. While the website is still collecting members to become fully operational, business owners can “preview” the site’s setup through the same ellijay-georgia.com address.
The DDA also was set to elect new officers during their meeting. But, due to the absence of three members, was forced to table the elections until February’s meeting.
The majority of citizen’s and council’s input revolved around two issues that faced the Council at Monday nights meeting, November 21.
A Public Hearing was held before the regular meeting to hear citizens speaking for or against a Rezoning of Lot 13 on Legion Road to Commercial. The owner, David Rachlin, stood to speak about his plans for the lot stating he was wanting to establish an RV Resort for visitors to the area.
His Resort idea included 10 RV’s that he would rent to visitors and establish on the premises, so no visitors would need bring theirs. While he expects mostly weekenders and short time stays, the owner also spoke of adding other facilities to accommodate the Resort including a Sauna, Jacuzzi, Game Room, and even a possible Basketball Court.
According to Rachlin, the business has already been tested in a separate area and has been receiving five star reviews on popular sites such as Yelp! The business would be set to open from April 15 to November 1 each year.
However, several neighbors to the proposed lot appeared before the council to oppose the rezoning request such as Gary Blasky, a resident of the nearby Timberwalk Estates, who raised questions about the size of the lot, its boundaries, and the close proximity to his neighborhood.
Another resident of Timberwalk raised her security concerns as well stating the proximity would allow campers in the RV Resort to be only a short walk from residents backyards and their children.
Jim Mahoney, a nearby resident who stated he lived within 200 feet of the lot, opposed the zoning request on concerns about increased noise and traffic on the road in addition to his proximity.
In fact, roughly 10 different people stood in the public hearing to voice their concerns in addition to a report of numerous calls, a 15-signature petition, and a letter from the Environmental Health Department concerned about the size of the lot in relation to the stated plans for a commercial business.
Ultimately, the overwhelming opposition before the City Council led to a 5-0 vote to deny the request.
Other requests before the council involved new and renewed alcohol licenses including, Holts Mini Mart for an Off Premise Consumption Beer and Wine License, Ellijay Convenience for an Off Premise Beer License, Seth’s on Boardwalk for an On Premise Beer and Wine License, American Legion for an On Premise Consumption Renewal, Cajun Depot for an On Premise Beer and Wine Renewal, River Street Tavern for an On Premise Beer, Wine, and Distilled Spirits Renewal, and Lee’s on River Street for an On Premise Beer, Wine, and Spirits Renewal.
All of these licenses received approvals, but those approvals came contingent upon background checks for each as the City has had trouble receiving the checks due to a change in process. According to City Clerk Sharon Nelson, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation recently informed the Council non-criminal checks now have to be done through a third party.
One other subject on alcohol came through the Council’s meeting as they are once again considering an ordinance to allow alcohol on the Downtown Boardwalk. This time, the ordinance would allow for a specific section of the Boardwalk to be an allowable zone for those drinking at the local restaurant.
Ellijay City Chief of Police Edward Lacey was asked his opinion on the possibility in the meeting. He replied as long as clear signs marked the area, it would be enforceable by officers.
The discussion came up to gauge the council’s interest before spending money on the City Attorney to draw up another legal wording document for the council. The First Reader on this specific “Zone of the Boardwalk” will appear before the Council in December’s Meeting.
Two final actions taken by the council at Monday’s meeting appointed new members to two boards.
The Council returned Lex Rainey to the Gilmer County Board of Health for a 6 year appointment. Rainey was already on the Board, but was nearing the end of his term. City Mayor Al Hoyle told the Council that the Board of Health requested the City re-appoint Rainey due to his active roles and support he brought to them.
Finally, the City Council also filled a vacancy on the Downtown Development Authority with Judy Wilson. Mayor Hoyle informed the Council Wilson had already been notified and indicated she would be willing to serve on the DDA.
Budget woes are still haunting Ellijay’s Downtown Development Authority. After having sent a letter at the end of last year, DDA member Larry Robinson states the city still has not responded with answers to why their budget was cut and options to return to proper funding for the DDA. A budget that was said to be expected close to $35,000, Robinson says the actual funding received was less than $10,000.
Available options for funding were also discussed in the meeting including an option to reallocate one of Ellijay’s Mils in taxes inside the Downtown district to support the DDA. Another option revolved around a surcharge on business licenses could be used instead to support the Authority. With this extra support, DDA Chair Jim Stover says a myriad of options could open to further Ellijay’s Downtown area from grants for businesses, small loans for new business, available funds for upgrades, support and finances for new and existing business as needed. Though, no specific decisions on use could be made until the funding becomes available.
Members also discussed public events at Wednesday’s meeting. Vice Chair Brad Simmons spoke about cutting a problem off before it raises with alcohol sales at events like the upcoming July 4th celebration. As the celebration encompasses the local businesses, the city parking lot, the boardwalk, and the adjacent alley, issues could arise as people carry drinks from businesses across these locations. Simmons advised that a wristband begin being used to identify citizens who have been checked for ID and would allow them to carry their drinks into the parking lot event grounds.
This band would also restrict the locations that the alcohol would be allowed. While grounds for the event could encompass certain restaurants adjacent to the event, Ellijay’s open carry restrictions would still be enforced outside of the designated area for wristbands. While this idea is still being investigated by the DDA, they are expected to bring this option before the City Council soon to progress with upcoming events.
Along with that proposal, the DDA also said they will be requesting the city provide email accounts for its members for business use. This would designate specific accounts for the Board members so they are not forced to use personal email accounts that could become part of an Open Records Request for public information.