ELLIJAY, Ga.- The Ellijay City Council met on Monday, March 18, 2019, to discuss a number of action items, including a Setback Variance for 171 Skyline Drive, a Resolution and Ordinance to Amend Chapter 6, Articles I through III of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Ellijay, as well as an Urban Redevelopment Plan.
At 5:30 p.m., before the start of the regular meeting, the council introduced Gilmer County’s latest Public Safety Director, Keith Kucera. Kucera stated that his job was to work with all of the entities within the county to try and provide services that we can obtain through grants or other means to assist the county. Coming from a military background (United States Coastguard for 25 years), Kucera states that he’s here to do whatever he can to make things better for this community.
The other order of business that was discussed prior to the regular meeting involved Jodie Beauregard from the Master Gardener Volunteers of the Gilmer County Extension Office, regarding the placement of of a community garden at Harrison Park. The proposed garden is awaiting land clearing, and access to electricity to recharge equipment used throughout the garden. A spigot installation would also be required. Beauregard states that they would need a way to get water into a rain barrel, and so a building with gutters would be preferred if at all possible. Education space is also a request, as Beauregard states they plan on offering education on gardening. The Harrison Park Advisory Board, as well as Mayor Al Hoyle both agree that a Master Plan is an absolute must prior to the installation of the community garden, and so there has been no further action taken at this time.
At 6 p.m., the Setback Variance for 171 Skyline Drive passed with none opposed. This Setback Variance was a request made by the property owner to encroach 12 feet into the required front residential setback and 10 feet into the side setback.
The Resolution and Ordinance to Amend Chapter 6, Articles I through III of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Ellijay also passed with none opposed. According to Hoyle, this Resolution and Ordinance serves the purpose of removing the 60-day waiting period for the home premise consumption license, as well as changes the Farm winery tasting license, stating that anything the state allows, it puts the licensing under the city instead of under state guidance. It also clarifies the application process for Farm winery tasting rooms, making it the same as an on premise consumption license.
Finally, the Urban Redevelopment plan also passed without any opposition.
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Ellijay, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council held a first of two readings of the condemnation of two properties this month, at 47 Boardtown Rd and 292 Cox Creek Rd.
Councilman David Westmoreland noted that some of the issues have “been in disrepair for years.” With the first reading done, the process is underway and action will be taken in February.
The condemnation, according to the ordinances read, will require the property owners to demolish and remove the structures on the properties with sixty days if passed. If not adhered to, the city will remove the structures at the property owners expense.
The two ordinances for reading are below for both properties.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Friends of Harrison Park are already moving forward with plans to improve the park after council approval came this week.
Director Linda Lancaster shared a handful of these plans with the public at Ellijay’s City Council. The group has 16 total plans, but is focusing on 4 in the near future. These plans include Project Bluebird, Project Doggie Poop, Project Park Info, and a Master Plan.
Project Bluebird looks to install bluebird nesting boxes and feeders in Harrison Park to promote a growth in population, community interest, and possible tour programs. Noting a decline in the Eastern Bluebird population since the 1950’s, the Friends of Harrison Park are looking to counter this issue with the creation of Bluebird Trails by strategically location these nesting boxes throughout the park.
Funding for the project comes from donations and yearly sponsorships. While the current planned locations for these nests are tentative at this time, the group has already contacted experts and put plans into motion to install 6 boxes in February and expand to a total of 10 nesting boxes and 3 feeders in the park.
Project Doggie Poop looks to install “dog waste stations” over the course of this Spring. With the creek running along the edge of Harrison Park,concerns over water quality and public health were raised as people are noted to swim and fish there.
For convenience and public concern, they will be installing two stations. Their presentation stated, “One would be attached to or located near the existing park kiosk. The other would be installed further into the park to be easily accessible to those who forgot to get one at the kiosk or who enter the park from a different area.” Each station will be all metal, costing between $200 and $300.
Project Park Info looks to install a glass protected display case in Harrison Park this Spring for info of events, programs, and activities in the park. Seeking permission to modify and use the glass display case mounted on the back side of the Harrison Park Kiosk for this use, the group noted they will have to provide two hinged, locking front panels.
Some examples of items that would be posted include general information about the Friends of Harrison Park, Inc. and its mission, information about special attractions in the park such as the Bluebird trail or special exhibits, History of the Park (including old photographs and items), poster for upcoming events and programs sponsored by Friends of Harrison Park (and other groups approved by the city), and a calendar of events for the park including information about date changes or cancellations.
Funding for the modifications or replacements is planned to come from donations. The group also plans to have one or two members with keys to the case, responsible for posting and removing materials.
Project Master Plan is a request for proposal of a Master Plan for the park. The group is seeking firms to bid on a Master Plan for the park to include preliminary locations of proposed physical structures, detailed landscape architecture designs, infrastructure by municipal electrical and water services, grant proposals, and capital fundraising programs as they look for a 10 year planning horizon.
While the council eagerly approved of three of the projects, no official motion was taken. Additionally, the council did note they wanted further work sessions on the Master Plan and seek to dive deeper into the project in coming months. As the Friends of Harrison Park, Inc. move forward with these projects and others, citizens will notice the changes coming as soon as February with the Bluebird trails and initial work on their other projects.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Council approved a new patrol car for the city police as they trade in two older cars. The 2019 Dodge has a base price of $28,900, but East Ellijay City Police Chief Larry Callihan said they are continuing to negotiate the trade in value of their two cars and is unsure yet how the exact amount of the trade in.
The council has already budgeted for the new car in the amount of $30,000 for the vehicle and $8,000 for equipment, a total of $38,000. With the trade-ins negotiations, Callihan is hopeful to make the final price closer to $32,000.
The council also approved a resolution to amend their payments for their citizen representatives on the Gilmer County Library Board, lowering the pay by $200 because they “misconstrued” the number of meetings the Library Board had in a year according to Mayor Mack West. The reduction goes from $600 to $400.
The Council also approved the expenditures for their yearly Christmas dinner program. Delivering a total of 34 hams and 5 turkeys, the expense for the city reached $648.60 at program end.
Also, two major additions could be coming to Highland Crossing near Walmart in East Ellijay. The Buffalo Luke’s in Jasper is looking to expand in Ellijay. City Manager Mack Wood also noted he had received site plans for a Moe’s Southwest Grill looking to build in the area between Longhorn and Mountain Cinemas.
The City Council is also seeking suggestions of roads in need of restriping. West said he will keep the item on the agenda in coming meetings and is asking for people to add to the list of needs.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga – The East Ellijay City Council met for what became a road-focused meeting on Nov. 14. Three major issues saw progress in the meeting.
East Ellijay tied up the end of their Highland Parkway project. Resolution 17-04 to repave sections of Highland Parkway came with a finished cost close to $9,000 below the expected $131,000. East Ellijay Mayor Mack West reported in their November meeting that the city spent $42,639 from Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) funds for the project. The remaining $79,318 was remitted to the 2004 SPLOST fund, meaning that balance is still just over $100,000. According to West, the city has yet to use the 2014 SPLOST funds.
The City Council also approved their re-striping expenditures with the addition of the thermoplastics. Pro-Stripe, out of Blairsville, finished striping with costs at $8,920. The project included 24 feet of the thermoplastic striping bars, 14 arrows on Highland Parkway, and six arrows at the Highland Crossing intersection. East Ellijay City Manager Mack Wood reported in the meeting that the extra cost for thermoplastics would increase the life span as they are now “interstate quality.”
An additional purchase for roads came with the city’s approval for purchasing speed bumps. The city will be placing these bumps on Greenfield Road. Consistent notes of high speeds past the S-curves were the reason given. Residents close to the city limits, and even some who live past the city limits, have complained for the need of the additions. Purchasing four total bumps, Wood stated the city would be purchasing six-foot long “humps” to be placed on both sides of the roads. The humps are wider than bumps meaning cars should not have the usual issue of the immediate bounce of a smaller bump.
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.
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.
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.
ELLIJAY, GA – For those traveling on Highway 515, you may have been noticing trucks at the intersection of 1st Avenue near Hardee’s.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has changed out the traffic lights with newer models including a flashing yellow turn signal for left turns at the intersection.
Many citizens who have been to Pickens county will recognize the same style of traffic lights as are in use on 515 there. According to Mack Wood, City Planner of East Ellijay, the lights were originally a test in Jasper as a cost alternative to completely remodeling the intersections.
A welcome change to many citizens as they get stuck in those turning lanes on the way to and from work, the new lights have overcome several hurdles to installation. Requiring the removal of trees along the median near the intersection was just the first hurdle as the city has had to have wire repairs in the lighting system and further work to prepare for the change.
This is the only intersection on 515 in Gilmer that will receive the update after Wood originally contacted GDOT for the updates. Stating a sight distance issue, this means the intersection of Maddox Drive and 515 at the BP and McDonald’s and the intersection in front of Wal-Mart will not be seeing their light change anytime soon.