Thanks were extended to Art Freeman, Executive Director of the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce for their donation of microphones and a sound system – which the Council desperately needed.
The meeting began with a changing of the Agenda – eradicating the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting – and rearranging the order of events – followed by appointments of Judges and Board members by Brookhaven Mayor, J Max Davis. The appointees were sworn in following their appointment.
The appointments are as follows:
Zoning Board of Appeals:
- Tim Nama – Chair (District 2)
- Hope Bawcom (District 3)
- Glenn Viers (District 1)
- Don Bolia (District 4)
- Kent Gipson (District 1)
- Jed Beardsley (District 3)
- Corey Self (District 2)
- Stan Segal – Chair (District 1)
- Shannon Cameron (District 1)
- Jack Honderd (District 3)
- Adrian Schmidt (District 4)
- John Funny (District 4)
- Rob Francour (District 1)
- John Hess (District 2)
- Joseph Patin – Chair (District 1)
- Laura Stevenson – Chief (District 1)
- Johnathan Granade – Pro Tem (District 3)
The Council Meeting started off with time for Public Comments:
First up was Aubrey Villines who explained that the Pink Pony accounts for $465,000 worth of revenue that could be coming to Brookhaven that now goes to DeKalb County.
Next up – a Drew Valley resident who provided an explanation of his experiences living in the Drew Valley neighborhood, his involvement as a volunteer Ambassador with DeKalb County Code Enforcement, and the need for the Council to pay attention to actually enforcing code and perhaps much more stringent penalties for non-compliance.
Next up – a resident from the Cherokee Plaza area. She explained how she and her neighbors are in need of traffic speed control and more of a police presence in and around her community. She added that there are alot of elderly and blind citizens who need a higher degree of public safety efforts.
The Second Drew Valley resident to comment explained he had his truck stolen, a neighbor of his robbed at gunpoint while walking, break-ins and solicitation for prostitution. He stated he hears gunfire at times as early as 7:30 AM. He requested Buford Hwy be held in check with the crime, “It’s going to be like kudzu and it’s going to creep north to the moe affluent neighborhoods. I want everybody to have parks and recreation, I want everybody to be safe…I walk everywhere I go…I want to live…I don’t feel safe right now living in this neighborhood.”
The Third Drew Valley resident to address the Council came after two other Drew Valley residents whose comments were primarily about public safety. “I was looking over the budget and I did see that you have reserves for police services $2.25 million dollars. I am curious how much of that is going to be paid for DeKalb [Police Services] and how much is for startup. What is the realistic number of police officers we are going to have as a start-up for our city?”
The topic of Public Safety and Police Services is the single most publicly commented topic offered by citizens – followed by budgetary concerns.
Interim Deputy City Attorney, JD Clockadale gave a final count on the number of DeKalb County Police Officers that were sworn in to provide police services to the city. That number was approximately 135 – which included special forces and K-9 units.
Jack Honderd, newly appointed to the Planning Board, noted his support for Brookhaven not having a Community Council. “There’s one function that community councils fulfill that I hope we don’t lose…and that is an early warning system to the neighborhoods.” He also suggested that there be mandates on meetings between developers and the local homeowner associations a week or more before hearings, with both the ZBA and the Planning Commission to fall under this guideline.
District 3 Councilman, Bates Mattison, announced two Town Hall meetings. See the Calendar in the Side Bar. One for Feb 27 and one for Feb 28.
On to other Agenda Items:
- The Mayor and Council approved the CBEYOND Contract proposal for telecommunications services.
- District 2 Councilman, Jim Eyre, moved to table the ACTION ITEM: Consideration and Approval of City of Brookhaven Code Compliance Sweeps and Inspections Policy. That motion was seconded by Bates Mattison. Councilman Eyre added, “Part of the reason we are tabling this is that we want to make sure that we have addressed both citizens – not only those in Drew Valley and some of the single family communities – but also the apartment dwellers. We have a number of things going on and we need to make sure that we take some time to talk with people that will be affected on both sides of this issue and make sure that we give due consideration…and that we pass an ordinance this will in fact be useful and helpful to everybody at the end of the day. We are not deferring it to put it aside, we are deferring it so that we can make it better.” This item will be on the next meetings agenda as required for any item that is deferred – although Eyre would like to see more time be granted to engage the community.
- ACTION ITEM: Consideration and approval of franchise agreement for payment of franchise fees to the City for use of the City Right of Way for electrical lines and mayor to sign and execute agreement. This topic stimulated 20 minutes of discussion. There was some confusion as the clarity of the agreement – particularly the exact percentage shown of 4%. Mayor Davis and Councilman Eyre both agreed that more information and an explanation of exactly what this 4% is, and whether or not it is consistent with the CVI estimates. Mayor Davis was adamant that before he signs his name to this that it should be fully vetted and explained by staff. Councilman Mattison moved to approve the agreement as it was written, although after much discussion his motion was amended to read, “I would like to amend my motion. I move that we amend the consideration and approval of the Franchise Agreement for paying the Franchise Fees to the City for the use of City right-of-ways for electrical lines. The Mayor to sign and execute agreement subject to our administrative staff researching the difference between Councilman Eyre’s number up to the legal limit allowed by law as in the proposal tonight. Once the number is confirmed by administrative staff that is the intent to execute the contract.”This topic was debated in earnest, particularly due to the fact that the City would like to start receiving the Franchise Fee revenue from Georgia Power as soon as possible and the perception that delays could result if this agreement is not executed as soon as possible. Mayor Davis and Councilman Eyre made it clear that they wanted to be certain this would not ultimately hit the taxpayers with a higher fee than was noted in the CVI estimate.
- The Fines and Fees rate structure for the Recorders Court was passed. That structure can be found at the end of the council packet here.
Much more can be found in the video of this meeting here.