by Robin Kemp
Greetings, supporters of independent local non-profit news in Clayton County! We’ve got some hot action at this week’s governing body meetings, plus candidate qualifying for the Board of Commissioners District 1 special election. The image above is of a utility worker marking the intersection near the site of a proposed massive medical marijuana operation at Anvil Block and Grant Roads in Ellenwood. Read on:
Monday, July 19
- 9 a.m.: Qualifying for the Board of Commissioners District 1 Special Election is open until 5 p.m. Voters have until Monday, August 23 to register to vote in this race.
- 6 p.m.: The Forest Park City Council meets at City Hall for its work session, followed by the 7 p.m. regular meeting. Watch the livestream on the city’s YouTube page at https://bit.ly/3c28p0A. On the agenda:
- a proposal to hire additional consultants to acquire more land for the proposed new City Hall facility. The city already has hired “special counsel to assist with the acquisition of additional property for the new City Hall facility.” Now, according to the city, “It is necessary that additional consultants (appraisers, surveyors, etc.) be retained and authorized to enter the property (a) to facilitate the acquisition process, (b) to quantify the nature and extent of the potential acquisition of private property, and (c) to determine just and adequate compensation for such potential acquisition.”
- The city also wants to acquire property “for the trailhead access for the Model Mile and Starr Park” and is bringing a similar resolution involving special counsel and “additional consultants.”
- Amid the turmoil in Haiti and in the wake of President Jovenel Moise’s assassination by gunmen from Colombia and the United States, Councilman Dabouze Antoine is looking to send more money through the Sister Cities Program. Originally, the city had approved $15,000, but will “consider approving an additional budget for aid request for FY2022.” The $15,000 is not budgeted; the money would come from the city’s General Fund under the Contingency line item. In September 2020, Forest Park approved three Sister Cities: Mirebalais, Haiti; Mankessim, Ghana; and Yene, Senegal. Antoine, who runs a nonprofit ministry that brings wells to Haiti (Antoine said it costs about $800 to hire crews to dig each well), got council approval on June 7 to send the Fire Department’s old water camel to Haiti; however, Councilman Allan Mears was reluctant to approve the $30,000 it would take to ship the camel there. On June 6, Antoine said, “The city sent me to do a mission technology trip, it was amazing, and I have pictures. We chose two schools, one in the bushes. Schools were awful. We gave out tablets and the children were so amazed they passed out….now they can Google and see the world of those not living in the bush.” He also thanked David Rashmir, managing owner of Rumors Gentlemen’s Club, for donating book bags for the trip.
- A proposal from Planning, Building, and Zoning and Public Works would require City Council approval for event signs for the rest of the fiscal year. The resolution comes amid council discord over Ward 4 Councilwoman Latresa Akins’ signs advertising the city’s Fun Fridays event. The proposal would require “that the City Council provide explicit authorization to the City staff to place temporary advertising and directional signage for all budgeted City events for the current fiscal year. At a recent Council meeting, the consensus of the City Council was that the staff was to strictly follow the provisions of the sign ordinance and apply them to the City in the same way they are applied to business.” It also would specify how big the signs can be, where they can go (generally not in the public right of way and not in residential districts), and how long they can stay up (‘staff is authorized to use prudent judgment” but temporary signs, banners, and directional signs come down “not later than the next business day.”) The city already has funds allocated within each event’s budget for signage.
- The Clayton County Emergency Management Agency wants Forest Park’s Emergency Management Agency to adopt the county’s Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan so that the Federal Emergency Management Agency can sign off on it. Forest Park is one of only two Georgia cities with its own EMA. The city’s emergency operations plan does not include The Clayton Crescent among its listed media contacts, despite the fact that The Clayton Crescent is the only media outlet that regularly covers Forest Park.
- The contract with the city’s longtime HVAC provider, ABM, expires August 1. ABM will present an audit of the city’s existing systems and discuss a price increase (the last one was in 1997), and offer a “paid-from-savings funding solution” to upgrade the old system. In May, the Procurement Department “forwarded an email to ABM…stating the City will not automatically renew the contract.”
- The council also will discuss contracts with three different landscaping services–WCC, Aero Groundtek, and Worldscapes-LGP–to “supplement the Public Works short staffed for landscaping services” on an on-call basis. Public Works “will have the option to allow these firms to compete against each other or they can be in rotation for various sites throughout the City of Forest Park, as well as for the various existing City Boards.” These are three-year contracts with a two-year renewal option “if the City wants to continue any one of the three firms based on their performance.”
- Parks and Leisure and the Procurement Department want to extend Lab Linq’s COVID-19 testing site contract for one year, given “the most recent onset of the Delta Variant and the continued need for testing and vaccines.” Lab Linq’s trailer has set up shop on Hines Ward Pass since March 10 and was up for a contract review and possible extension this month.
- 6:30 p.m.: The Lovejoy City Council meets for its pre-meeting session, followed by the 7 p.m. regular meeting. On the agenda:
- a review of a “concept plan for the proposed apartment development at 0 Tara Blvd” (no parcel number was published)
- a public hearing to consider rezoning–from Heavy Industrial to Gated Residential–“properties located at 06134A D023 (0 Rosecommons Dr.), 06134D A019 (0 Blackbird Way), [and] 06134 134001 (0 East Lovejoy Rd.)” Brothers Investments, LLC, which shows both Lovejoy and Hampton addresses, owns all three parcels. Mark Griswell of Jonesboro is the company’s current registered agent. The corporation was formed in 2011 with Crandle Bray as the registered agent and Jennifer Elaine Griswell as the organizer. The corporation changed registered agents from Crandle Bray to Mark Griswell, noting Crandle Bray as the organizer, on an amended annual registration filed on March 22. The company’s January 16 filing listed Mark Griswell as manager. According to Cortera, the company is in the security brokers, dealers, and flotation business. Griswell and Bray also are involved in Tabora Enterprises, Inc., which Griswell formed in 2001 and for whom Bray is the registered agent.
- a companion ordinance to rezone those HI-to-GR properties
- 6:30 p.m.: The Clayton County Parks and Recreation Board meets. Public comment is encouraged.
Tuesday, July 20
- 9 a.m.: Qualifying for the Board of Commissioners District 1 Special Election is open until 5 p.m.
- 6:30 p.m.: The Clayton County Board of Commissioners meets at 112 Smith Street in Jonesboro. Among its zoning matters is a proposed medical marijuana facility that has some Ellenwood residents unhappy. The applicant is Freedom Pharmacy Operations, LLC, on behalf of McDonald Ventures XXIV, LLC (which co-owns the parcel with Property Tax Consulting LLC, which today (July 19) was issued a notice of administrative dissolution/revocation by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Corporations Division. The registered agent is John E. Hunsucker). John R. McDonald is a real estate development mogul and Freedom Pharmacy was formed by Chester J. Hosch of Burr Forman LLP. The company is requesting a conditional use permit “for the development of 140,000 square feet for warehousing, greenhouse, light manufacturing and mineral extraction.” Planning and Zoning recommends approval, while the Zoning Advisory Board recommends approval with three conditions: the greenhouse has to be indoors, no other breaks on zoning, and “a certified training program shall be made available in Clayton County for employment opportunities with Freedom Pharmacy operations for Clayton residents.” In January, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that Freedom Pharmacy had partnered with Morehouse School of Medicine in order to get a Class 2 state license for “a 50,000 square foot cultivating and manufacturing facility to produce medical cannabis products.” As of press time, Ellenwood homeowner Maury Gusta said that 139 people had signed a petition opposing the facility: “We don’t oppose the product, even though I do have concerns about ground level ozone pollution and water consumption to grow the plants,” Gusta said. “However, it’s more of a concern that more green space is being taken where entertainment, dine in restaurants, high end apartments, retail shops, and medical clinics could go.” Gusta said area residents, whose home are worth about $250,000 each, bought in because they were told retail development similar to College Park’s Camp Creek Marketplace was coming. With “over 21 warehouses” in the area and trucks “tearing up roads,” he said, “we are becoming saturated with warehouses.” More to come on the agenda.
- 6:30 p.m.: The Morrow Zoning Board is scheduled to meet. See the published agenda and the April 20 minutes, which detail the board’s last meeting and friction over who should chair the board–Wayne Collins or who Collins has alleged is Mayor John Lampl’s handpicked appointee, Tamara Patridge.
Wednesday, July 21
- 9 a.m.: Qualifying for the Board of Commissioners District 1 Special Election ends at 12 noon.
- 12 p.m.: District 3 Commissioner Felicia Franklin will hold a vigil and butterfly release at noon in front of the Harold R. Banke Justice Center, 9151 Tara Blvd., to mark the 25 people who have been killed in Clayton County traffic accidents so far this year. Eleven of those people were pedestrians. Tara Boulevard is among Georgia’s ten deadliest roadways.
- 5:30 p.m.: The Forest Park Development Authority holds its regular meeting. No agenda had been published as of press time.
Thursday, July 22
- 10 a.m.: The Smart Pedestrian Project takes place until 3 p.m. at the Flint River Community Center, 153 Flint River Road in Riverdale. You also can take the online survey, which takes about 15 minutes, to tell officials about your walking habits, what you think about the county’s walking environment, and where you think the county needs to add or fix sidewalks. You can make your voice heard by visiting https://smartsurvey.claytoncountyga.gov. Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Regional Commission are also taking part in the project.
Friday, July 23
- None as of press time. Let us know if we missed something!
Saturday, July 24
- 11 a.m.: The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will hold a special called in-person meeting at the Walker County Civic Center, 10052 US-27, Rock Spring, GA, “as part of the Commission’s Competitive Request for Proposals for Class 1 and Class 2 production licenses,” which is listed as Georgia Procurement Registry Event ID #11232020. (The venue is a little over two hours’ drive on I-75 N from Clayton County and just south of Chickamauga.) On the agenda are notices of intent to award production license contracts for Class 1 and Class 2 applicants. A company called Trulieve, GA, Inc., which on March 9 announced that it, too, had partnered with Morehouse School of Medicine, has filed a protest. At its July 7 meeting, the board went into executive session “to discuss records as part of the Commission’s Competitive Applicant Request for Proposals for Class 1 and Class 2 Production Licenses….The Commission later declared the meeting to be ‘open’ pursuant to the Open and Public Meeting Act, O.C.G.A. 50-14-1 et seq.” Then the board “voted to validate the schores” for the Class 1 and Class 2 applicants. However, the board authorized the executive director “to discuss continued interest in RFP, extensions of RFP responses, and withdrawals, as necessary… and to contact the next highest scoring applicants as applicable, in preparation for the Commission issuing Notices of Intent to Award (NOIA). Chairman Christopher Edwards reminded the public that the validation of scores is not a notice of intent to award and that such notice will be voted upon at a later meeting.” You can read minutes and see videos of previous meetings at https://www.gmcc.ga.gov/commission/meetings.
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