by Robin Kemp
Welcome back! A rainy Juneteenth weekend didn’t put a damper on the Juneteenth holiday. Looking ahead to the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots that marked the modern LGBTQ rights movement, Forest Park will consider a proclamation recognizing June as LGBTQ Month in the city–possibly the first such official government recognition of Pride Month anywhere in Clayton County. Here’s a look at what’s on the agenda of your local governments:
Monday, June 21
- 5:30 p.m.: The Jonesboro Historic Commission meets via Zoom to consider:
- paint color changes to the facade of 180 N. McDonough Street (the owner, T.H. Weiss Atlanta Customs Brokerage, wants black trim and a lighter gray on the walls; the gables would stay red)
- changing the Citgo signage at 155 S. McDonough Street to Valero and replacing the existing digital sign with a new one. Despite the fact that electronic signs are not allowed in the Historic District under Section 86-490, “the gas station property has been allowed the use of electronic signage for many years,” staff wrote. “The electronic lettering will be for gas prices only and will not blink or flash or change quicker than every 10 seconds.” The Design Review Commission has recommended approval.
- 6 p.m.: The Clayton County Board of Education holds a work session/meeting. On the agenda are items about Omega Charter School (both K-5 and 6-8), Utopian Academy of Arts Charter High School, tentative adoption of the FY2022 millage rate, Policy Seriees G, and the Strategic Improvement Plan. The consent agenda contains items on SPLOST revenue, financial report, SPLOST construction, personnel changes, and purchasing (Communities in Schools and Special Approval for K-5 Language Arts Supplemental Resources). Dr. Ralph Simpson will present on school leadership and improvement.
- 6 p.m.: The Forest Park City Council holds its work session, followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. On the work session agenda: City Attorney Mike Williams will give an update on the Conley Road Cemeteries, which the city has expressed an interest in taking over. The three cemeteries contain graves of African-American residents and have been the site of recent reclamation efforts. Williams says a partnership with adjoining Forest Hills Cemetery may be the best option “if they are open to it,” and that the city would have to exercise eminent domain to take over the site parcels. One of the big expenses will be ground-penetrating radar to locate any unmarked graves. One to three signs could cost $2,500 each (Williams recommends one). Maintenance would cost $1,026 once or twice per month ($9,234-$18,468), and ground penetrating radar (GPR) costs $3,333.33 per acre ($9,999.99), for a total estimated project cost of between $21,733.99 and $35,967.99. The regular session includes a request from Councilman Héctor Gutierrez for the city to recognize June as LGBTQ Month, as well as the second reading and adoption of the FY2022 budget. The city dropped its livestream, unannounced, of the budget hearing, which no citizens attended. For the second meeting in a row, the city has removed any Zoom link from its agenda. Asked to clarify whether the public livestream would be restored today, Cooper told The Clayton Crescent, “Yes, as of last week the service was canceled for live streaming of the meetings per the executive order returning things to pre-COVID operations.” A notice dated June 17 was uploaded to the city’s website stating that the city resumed “normal operations” and that “Our next City Council meeting on Monday, June 7, 2021 @ 6 p.m. with open seating” but made no mention of dropping the livestream. The livestream was instituted after the city barred the public and The Clayton Crescent from attending council meetings in person, claiming reporter Robin Kemp posed a risk of spreading COVID-19 to city staff while allowing contractors and others with business before the council to enter using PPE. The Clayton Crescent’s legal team and the city reached an agreement that made the livestream of the city’s open meetings available to the public. Georgia’s sunshine laws have been interpreted to favor more, not less, access. It’s not clear why the city would spend over $30,000 to install a dedicated livestream to serve the public, only to remove it. Other government bodies, such as Jonesboro and the Board of Commissioners, have long provided livestreamed meetings to their constituents as well as in-person access, before, during, and since the COVID-19 outbreak. The City of Forest Park had contended that its executive order precluded public access to meetings in person. The Clayton Crescent has asked Cooper how the city intends to make meetings accessible to citizens who are older and/or in poor health who cannot or do not want to attend meetings in person, but who do want to keep up with their elected officials. The city continues to hold appointed board meetings via Zoom, such as the Planning Commission’s June 17 meeting–citing COVID-19 concerns–at which they considered a variance for a new subdivision 4975 Lake Drive. No supporting documentation or other details about the proposed project were given on the published agenda.
- 6:30 p.m.: The Lovejoy City Council holds its work session, followed by the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. On the agenda are a zoning application and an ordinance to rezone 2280 Church Street 06164B E002, 2286 Church Street 06164B E003, 0 Church Street 06164B D002, and 0 Church Street 06157D 157001 from RA to R40. The city also will consider a resolution to adopt the Clayton County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Tuesday, June 22
- 5:30 p.m.: The Clayton County Board of Commissioners holds its work session. On the agenda is a proposed change that would tighten up recordkeeping at the county’s more than two dozen appointed boards and require members to take Open Records training. At present, most county boards do not publish current minutes or agendas, and many have not updated their public records on the county website in years. The proposed section reads: “Sec. 2-57. Open Meetings and Open Records (a) County boards and authorities subject to the Open Meetings Act shall prepare minutes of their meetings pursuant to the requirements of State law. The chair of each board or authority or his or her designee shall transmit to the Clerk of the Board of Commissioners the minutes of a meeting subject to the Open Meetings Act no later than five(5) business days following final approval of the meeting minutes by the board or authority.The Clerk of the Board of Commissioners shall designate the method, manner and location for minutes to be delivered.(b) Every appointee to a board or authority shall within forty-five(45) days of appointment undergo training on the Open Meetings Act(O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1, et seq.) and the Open Records Act(O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70, et seq.). The Clerk of the Board of Commissioners shall provide each appointee information relating to the method and location of training and shall retain documentation of the date of completion of such training.” The Board also will discuss funding requests under the American Rescue Plan Act, allowing aerobic/dance studios as a conditional use in General Business districts, allowing fitness centers in General Business districts as a permitted use, and an update from Community Development on establishing standards for residential architectural design.
- 6:30 p.m.: The Morrow City Council holds its work session, followed by the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m., with the work session to continue following the regular meeting. Morrow’s new police chief, Renan Lopez de Azua, is set to be sworn in. The council also is expected to approve the Morrow Convention and Tourism Association’s FY 21 [sic] budget and an agreement with the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, Inc. (as a direct marketing organization or DMO) to produce the city’s Day of the Dead Festival.
Wednesday, June 23
- 5:30 p.m.: The Forest Park Development Authority meets. No agenda was published online as of press time.
- 6:30 p.m.: The City of Lovejoy will hold a public meeting at City Hall’s Atrium to discuss a conditional use permit for a gas station/convenience store. The notice published on the city’s website did not indicate the address, parcel number, or owner making the request. The pre-meeting is at 6:30 p.m., followed by the meeting at 7 p.m.
Thursday, June 24
- 5:30 p.m. The Forest Park Downtown Development Authority meets. No agenda was published online as of press time.
- 6 p.m. The Forest Park Urban Redevelopment Authority meets. . No agenda was published online as of press time.
- 7 p.m.: The Clayton County Georgia Republican Party hosts Georgia Public Service Commission Vice Chair Tim Echols at its June meeting, held at VFW Post 6330, 732 Veterans Pkwy. SE, Jonesboro. Echols, an alumnus of North Clayton High School, will be talking about solar energy, which he has linked to mitigating the state’s coal ash pond problem. The meeting is open to the public.
Friday, June 25
The City of Forest Park will hold a special called meeting and public hearing on the proposed FY2022 budget. As of press time, the city had not announced whether it would restore the council’s livestream.
Did we miss anything? Please let us know directly by e-mailing KempWrites@gmail.com !
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