Woodstock mulls economic growth proposal, Trailfest
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
February 13, 2013 12:00 AM | 1741 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WOODSTOCK — Woodstock City Council members discussed the upcoming GreenPrints Trailfest and campaign disclosures during their Monday night meeting.

They also heard from Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens about a proposal for a countywide economic development position.

Ahrens and Misti Martin, president of Cherokee’s Office of Economic Development, presented the idea, which Ahrens said stemmed from this year’s commission retreat where he and other commissioners came to the conclusion that more funding is needed to promote economic development.

“It’s my initiative to ask each of the cities to consider (contributing to) the target to add another $100,000,” Ahrens said.

He said about half of the money would go toward adding another position and would be a three-year commitment for each city that contributes. The other half would go toward advertising and other expenses.

Woodstock’s share would be about 20 to 25 percent of the $100,000, Ahrens said, which is approximately the same amount as Canton’s contribution.

He added the project would only work if all cities agree to contribute funds. So far, Ball Ground is the only city that has confirmed.

Both council members Chris Casdia and Tessa Basford questioned the additional contributions by city residents.

“Woodstock is part of Cherokee County and our taxpayers would pay the same amount as folks who live in unincorporated areas of the county, so what’s the explanation for the city kind of anteing up more?” Basford asked.

Ahrens said he hopes the move brings more opportunities to residents and contributes to the tax base, but there is no guarantee that will occur.

Basford noted Woodstock already has a full-time economic development director, a position recently vacated by Billy Peppers and slated to be filled in coming weeks.

“We’re just trying to come up with a way for the county overall, either directly or indirectly, to drive more people to your location,” Ahrens said.

The council did not move on the item as Ahrens said it was not a time-sensitive issue.

In other business, the council voted 4-1 in opposition to a resolution to support House Bill 143, which calls for returning the responsibility of filing campaign disclosures from the state back to city governments. Liz Baxter was in favor of the resolution. Randy Brewer was absent.

Basford said she opposed the bill, as it called for candidates who raise less than $2,500 during their campaigns to not have to file campaign finance disclosures.

“Everyone should have to report what they collect and what they spend,” Basford said.

The council seemed mixed on whether they wanted filing to be done locally or by the Georgia Government Transparency and Finance Commission, but ultimately voted against it based on the minimum financial reporting requirements.

Baxter said she was in support of the resolution because she would like to be able to file her report with City Clerk Rhonda Pezzello and ask questions whenever necessary.

Additionally, the council unanimously granted a special event request for GreenPrints Trailfest, which will be held Saturday, March 23, for the closure of East Main Street and open container and alcohol sales within the event area.

Formerly called Streetfest, the event is hosted by GreenPrints Alliance and will coincide with the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association trail summit.

From 4 p.m. Friday, March 22, through 12 a.m. Saturday, March 23, the portion of East Main Street adjacent to the Park at City Center will be closed. Open containers within the park will also be permitted during that time period.

David Potts with GreenPrints Alliance said more than 300 people from out of town will convene in Woodstock for the event , but SORBA President Jay Wilkes told him a larger crowd is possible.

Mayor Donnie Henriques also gave an update from a request made during the mayor and council’s retreat. He said he will have met with four legislative delegation members by the end of this week regarding the elimination of a long-standing rule: having to vote unanimously for local governments to bring any potential legislation to the delegation.

“They all talked about maybe a supermajority would be OK,” Henriques said. “Having said that, we’re probably going to move ahead with (requesting) term limits.”

The council had previously voted in November 4-1, with Baxter dissenting and Brewer absent, to propose term limits on both mayoral and council seats. City officials did not bring the measure to a December delegation meeting because of the unanimous rule.

The council also:

* Approved a revision of the land development ordinance to add “Manufacturing Facility-Limited” as a permitted use in the downtown area, which limits the facility to 1,500 square feet or less in an existing building, with conditional use permits available if the space is larger;

* Approved a DDA boundary expansion ordinance;

* Approved Storage Area Network purchase at $58,329.91 and surplus of IT equipment and a resolution for SunTrust loan of $146,000 for the purchase of four police vehicles;

* Approved ratification of Community & Southern bank loan for Ridgewalk Parkway widening project for $2.7 million to be paid with appropriated SPLOST IV funds and modifications to the Phase IV portion of the plan;

* Approved an intergovernmental agreement with Holly Springs for future floodplain mapping;

* Recognized Lt. Mark Hand as employee of the quarter;

* Presented the Lifesaving Award to Cpl. Peter Tinkham and Officers Lance Russell, Jim Oreto and Eric Maddox;

* Presented Diane Rakestraw with a Public Safety Award—the first ever given by the department—for her assistance in helping apprehend a suspect Jan. 29 following the burglary of Cherokee Bank;

* Recognized Joe Linden, a six-year member of the city’s Planning Commission, for his dedicated service;

* Heard a briefing from Joel Reed with Pond and Co. about the Liveable Centers Initiative 10-year update; and

* Went into executive session to discuss real estate, personal or litigation, but took no action upon returning to open session.



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