On August 16, 2021, the Ellijay City Council met to discuss and vote on the approval of several items on the agenda. The hot topic of the evening was the argument against the proposed short-term rental ordinance.
The ordinance if written now would serve as a de facto ban on short-term rentals in R-1 zoning within the city. Several citizens were there to express their opinions on the ordinance. The meeting began at 6:00 p.m. with the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. There was a motion to approve the agenda and the minutes for July were approved as well as the July financial statement.
The first order of business was staff reports in which an Ellijay officer announced the upcoming seminar being held at the First Baptist Church. The seminar would be for instruction on the handling of missing and abducted children and would be presented by two senior FBI agents specializing in this field. The date for the four-hour seminar would be August 23 at 9 am at the fellowship hall of the church.
Also, Mayor Al Hoyle welcomed the new code enforcement officer Andrew Mathis. Next was the citizen’s input, the mayor instructed the visitors as to the rules for addressing the council. Tom Griffith spoke against the ban of the proposed short-term residential rental agreement. Mr. Griffith argued that most of the historic buildings downtown were not even currently up to code presently.
After Mr. Griffith, several others also spoke to agree against the banning of short-term rentals stating that it could possibly promote deterioration of long-term rentals. It was also expressed as a concern that if the property becomes ultimately abandoned that it may promote the building of large hotels and high-rise buildings.
Pam Odell of Blue Ridge, Executive Director of Short-Term Rental Owners Association, stated her reason for not approving this ordinance. One being she believed it to be in conflict with the state law and also that the real problem was not appropriately being identified.
The first order of business was to discuss the short-term ordinance, however, it was explained that because there was no motion put on the table that it dies due to a lack of a motion on the table. The next order of business was a discussion on the presentation for employee health insurance and was voted on and accepted. Next was the review and action of the library board to replace board member Amy Sanford, who resigned and replace with Reese Sanford, all approved.
Next was the approval of the paving bid for the intersection of Progress Rd. and Maddox Dr. and was unanimously approved Kolvids Paving with the lowest bid. Next was review and action of the appointment of election superintendent to replace former Gary Watkins who stepped down. New superintendent Sandra Sales was agreed upon and voted in. Next on agenda review and action to name change on license for beer, wine, and spirits at the American Legion and all approved. Next was review and action on bank account change for covid money and all approved. The business meeting concluded at 6:30 p.m., and council members went into an executive session concluding the meeting.
After the council moved to the executive session, the group of people at the meeting who opposed the new ordinance for short-term rentals waited outside for the council to return still unsure as to the outcome. It should also be mentioned that due to the increase in the COVID-19 all municipal buildings are requiring masks to be worn and have reinstituted social distancing until further notice.