Woodstock OKs first reading for new ward maps
by Megan Thornton
January 16, 2013 12:00 AM | 2730 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A computer rendering of the proposed main gateway sign for the city of Woodstock. Inspired by the city’s history with the railroad line intersecting the downtown area, the proposed signs were presented to City Council members Monday night. <br>Special to the Cherokee Tribune
A computer rendering of the proposed main gateway sign for the city of Woodstock. Inspired by the city’s history with the railroad line intersecting the downtown area, the proposed signs were presented to City Council members Monday night.
Special to the Cherokee Tribune
WOODSTOCK — The Woodstock City Council approved the first reading of new ward maps for the city’s six Council members at its Monday meeting.

In other business, Council approved a budget amendment to add a new building inspector as well as got a first look at the city’s new wayfinding signs program.

The new ward maps were approved 5-1, with Council member Liz Baxter opposing the decision.

City Attorney Eldon Basham presented two similar ward maps, the first option with Phase 1 of Garden Street subdivision, a small cluster of houses at the corner of Rusk Street and Rope Mill Road, in Ward 1 and Phase II in Ward 2. The second option includes

both portions of the neighborhood in Ward 1.

The redistricting was based off of 2010 Census numbers and when city staff created the new maps, they considered parcel lines and the subdivided lots had not been entered in the county’s base map at the time.

“We realized we didn’t want to leave part of a subdivision in Ward 2 and leave the rest of a subdivision in another one, especially one this small,” Basham said. “I just thought from a voting standpoint, you wouldn’t want voters not knowing which ward they are in necessarily. They ought to know pretty easily.”

City Manager Jeff Moon added that in 2010, there were no residents in either tax parcel, so choosing either map would have no impact on balancing ward populations.

Council Member Randy Brewer said he favored keeping the entire neighborhood in Ward 1.

“I asked (Ward 2 Council member) Mr. (Chris) Casdia if he had any concerns and he said he didn’t,” Brewer said. “I think it keeps the lines cleaner and maintains more of downtown in Ward 1.”

No one spoke during the required public hearing.

Baxter asked whether voting for one of the options indicated approval for the entire map, and Basham said yes. Baxter voted against the initial map proposal at the Council’s September meeting.

In other business, Moon requested Council consider adding a new building inspector. After an executive session, the measure was approved unanimously to hire a full-time inspector and a budget amendment needed for the rest of the year for a total of $62,522.71 and will be paid for building permit revenues, which are already at 80 percent of the budgeted revenues for the fiscal year.

The number of single-family permits issued since 2011 have doubled, Moon said.

“We went from 109 new single-family (permits) to 238 in 2012,” Moon said. “In point of reference, 2010 was 69.”

So far this year, the department has done 15 tenant build-out review with 18 more to go at the new Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta development.

“They have told us in March we can start expecting up to 30 inspections a day at the outlet mall,” Moon said.

In 2009, the department completed 1,477 inspections with five inspectors. Those have steadily increased each year, with more than 3,660 completed in 2012 with only four inspectors.

Moon said they hope to hire someone March 1.

“Looking ahead, Woodstock Knoll is getting ready to add another phase, Lakestone is adding another phase and you have two senior living facilities projects coming within the next two months,” Moon said, “The other apartment complex has been approved and is going through the design phase right now. So there’s enough in the pipeline that we feel much better about making this recommendation than (we did in) 2011.”

The Council also was presented and approved a new wayfinding sign presentation commissioned by the city two years ago after receiving a funding grant for the North Main Streetscape Project.

Graham Wimberley of Sky Designs presented the series of signs developed during eight months of meeting with the project’s steering committee, which consisted of several local architects and designers, and said the design picks up a Frank Lloyd-Wright feel.

“As far as the design of the whole project, what we wanted to do is incorporate the historic nature that Woodstock has—the railroad, the history—and the feedback we got from the sign committee was they liked the progressive aspects of Woodstock but they also liked the historic aspect, so we tried to merge those two together,” Wimberly said.

Approval of the sign program now allows the city to purchase and install the signs as funds become available, Moon said. The entire cost of the program is $440,000 and will be phased in during the budget process.

Signs include main gateway signs that will be featured at four major road entrances, illuminated secondary gateway signs that include panels that highlight features of the downtown area, as well as signs to designate vehicle direction, parking, pedestrian directional, regulatory and sidewalk signs.

The sign series also includes either two- or four-sided informational kiosks. Kyle Bennett, assistant director of tourism and visitors center relations, said former Economic Development Director Billy Peppers helped secure a grant that will pay for two of the kiosks—one downtown and one at the Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta.

“This is something you could have a map of the downtown area or have notices for upcoming events or lease the space of advertising,” Wimberly said.

The Council will also discuss the signs during its retreat, which will be held Feb. 1-2 at Magnolia Hall.

In other business, the Council:

* Approved 6-0 a loan by Community & Southern Bank, which took over Cherokee State Bank, for the Ridgewalk Parkway Widening Project for phases I, II and III for $2.7 million at a fixed rate of 1.85 percent for three years;

* Approved unanimously the appeal for a one-year extension for a vehicle-for-hire license for Camila’s Cabs, based on a certified mechanics report that the vehicle is in good condition, though it violates city provisions as the car is too old. The owner said he plans to purchase a new vehicle before the end of the year;

* Discussed variance requests for setbacks for businesses set to be located in the outparcels at Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta. Council members did not formulate a response as the matter will be discussed at the next Council meeting, following meetings with several of the applicants; and

* Discussed topics to be presented for the Feb. 28 town hall meeting to be held at the Deer Run West clubhouse at 7 p.m. Topics set to be addressed are: information about the Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta, progress on downtown parking, trails, the construction of the dog park and community garden off Dupree Road, law enforcement issues, the Towne Lake Parkway widening project and an update on Woodstock West by Walton apartment community.

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