by Robin Kemp

Getting you up to speed on ethics and antics, warehouses and tree allowances, here’s your running-late Monday roundup. You only have a few hours left to register to vote in the November 2 municipal elections. Check back for updates as we crank out the week’s sausage-making sessions.

It’s all on you, Clayton County. We’re just the messenger.

Monday, October 4

5 p.m.: The Clayton County Board of Education will swear in Joy Tellis Cooper as the new District 8 board member at tonight’s meeting. The ceremony will be livestreamed on CCPS’ YouTube and Facebook pages. Take a look at the board’s construction update, which notes that studies are “ongoing” for the graduation facility slated for the former Sears store in Southlake Mall.

6 p.m.: The Forest Park City Council holds its work session, followed by the 7 p.m. regular meeting. Watch online at or in person at City Hall. On the agenda: approval of $10,000 to hire an outside attorney to hear ethics cases (at least two are pending against Councilwoman Latresa Akins-Wells, who recently posted a Facebook video saying that she is being targeted by her political opponents. In one case, Wells allegedly refused to greet a constituent at an event; in another, an apartment manager alleged the councilwoman was rude to her. It’s not clear that either constitute ethics violations.). Two firms, Robert Jackson Wilson, PC of Lawrenceville and Chandler, Britt and Jay, LLC of Buford, are up for consideration. The council also will consider whether to buy back another $32,000 of vacation time from city employees, and discuss creating a mixed-use downtown entertainment district for “a more business-friendly environment, and a more pedestrian friendly atmosphere,” complete with go-cups bearing the city’s logo:

6 p.m.: The Jonesboro City Council holds a public hearing on whether to adopt the proposed 2-mil property tax rate increase for FY 2022 (the city says no one has made any public comment about the pending property tax increase). If the increase passes, Jonesboro property owners will be paying $8 on every $1,000 of their property’s value to the City of Jonesboro. However, owners can apply for a homestead exemption on the first $30,000 of their property’s value. On a property worth $100,000 with no exemption, the new tax would be $200. A work session follows the millage rate hearing. On the agenda: discussions about adopting the millage rate and whether to reduce the amount that the developers of Hearthside Jonesboro, a modern multi-story senior housing facility overlooking Main Street, would have to pay to replace trees it cuts down. The “tree inch deficit,” which is the measure used to determine the value of trees that are removed for development, is 563, which means the developer owes the city $58,059.10 for the Tree Bank Fund. However, “The developer is seeking from the Mayor and Council a possible reduction in this amount.” If the city gives Hearthside Jonesboro’s developer a 33.3% discount, the company would pay the city $38,899.60. If the city feel particularly generous and offers a 50% discount, the company would pay $9,029.55. It’s not clear how the city would make up for the missing money in the Tree Bank Fund, which is “used for the planting and installation of trees on public property, parks, schools, streetscapes, or other approved property.” The city’s Specimen Tree Protection Ordinance states developers shall either plant substitute trees or provide recompense funds to the City Tree Bank. (The site doesn’t have enough room to replant the 1,278 specimen inches it’s cutting down.) However, “If the Zoning Administrator determines that it is not feasible to relocate or replace required trees on-site, the developer/property owner may satisfy the specimen tree replacement requirement by paying into the hereby established tree bank or tree bank fund.” 

The council also will consider whether to approve KeyRisk as the city’s workers’ compensation insurance provider (rates up, personnel down means a $1,496 savings, over last year plus another $108 saved if paid in full by November), a resolution recognizing Georgia Cities Week, and a retail package dealer license for beer and wine sales at 226 N. Main Street for Tara Business LLC, dba Exxon One-step Gas and Grocery. The store has been there since 2008 (Next Level Food Mart) but has a new owner. The licensed representative is Kamal Mahara. The application number is 21ALC-002. 

In addition, the council will discuss two requests for conditional use permits. Omer Ahmad Syed of Marietta wants to open a convenience store with existing gas pumps at 249 N. Main Street, with a store in Suite B,  (Parcel 13240B A005), which is owned by Georgian Investment Properties LLC. The application number is 21-CU-108. Bhavesh Shah is the applicant; the store would be called Minex Kwik Mart, LLC.Community Development Director David Allen wrote, “In view of meeting all of the approval conditions, and the fact that the property was already operating with this same use (and same pumps) years ago, staff recommends approval of this request. The use could produce significant revenue for the City in terms of sales tax and alcohol sales. (Note: the beer and wine alcohol application is a separate item on the Council agenda.)” However, the business would have to be sure the gas tanks and pumps “conform to all applicable regulations” and give the city copies of “governmental approval and inspections for these items.” In addition, any new signs would have to follow city code. 

Timothy J. McBride of Tabernacle of Praise Church International wants to open a church in the old Hoops Fitness building at 8557 Tara Blvd (Parcels 13242D A016 and 13242D A002), which is owned by Cathy Morris Fields. The application number is 21-CU-017. Cynthia Middleton, who is with the church, told the city this would be the church’s third location and that it is “leasing space from Kaiser in Jonesboro. Can we use this building for Religious purposes? Owner will not allow due diligence for rezoning, SUP application, etc.” The property is in the Tara Boulevard District. Allen wrote that McBride asked for zoning verification of the site last month. Because the building has been empty for so long, it “needs significant renovations/upgrades.” McBride also put four adjacent parcels on his application, which staff recommends combining into a single parcel if the conditional use is approved. The site would require 330 parking spaces, but only has 130, and none of those could be within 25 feet of the residential area. The rear of the building is 35 feet, not 50, from the adjoining residential area: “Normally, a new development would require a 50-foot-wide buffer between commercial / institutional uses and detached residential. However, the existing building is 35 feet from the rear property line abutting the residential district. Perhaps, a landscape plan can show an evergreen shrub / tree hedge in a 10-foot-wide landscape strip along the rear property line.” In addition, “The parking situation will have to be dealt with. The building will also need significant renovation and possibly a sprinkler system. Per the Future Land Development Map, the property is within the “Tara Boulevard Corridor”, which allows for a wide variety of uses, including institutional uses. A large church at the property could have economic benefit to the City, in terms of customers for local restaurants, etc. With the building remaining vacant for so long, there is a point where the property may be no longer viable in its current state if it continues to remain empty.” Any variance on the parking would have to be approved before a building permit is issued, “or the rear parcel shall provide a new parking lot,” Allen wrote.

Tuesday, October 5

6:30 p.m.: The Clayton County Board of Commissioners meets. On the agenda: $3,929,129 in federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rescue funds to address homelessness; authorize $1,321,428.57 from the Georgia Public Library Service to add a maker space, children’s activity area, and meeting room by enclosing the Riverdale Library Courtyard; $30,000 match for the Huie Nature Preserve to add a Scout Lake Group Camping and Nature Center; an MOU with Goodwill of North Georgia to provide training classes; an eminent domain condemnation of certain properties from the Flint River Bridge to Winter Valley Court for the Valley Hill Road widening project; new employment agreements for Chief Operating Officer Detrick Stanford and Chief Financial Officer Ramona Thurman Bivins (transparency note: Bivins’ husband, Charlton Bivins, is a member of The Clayton Crescent, Inc.’s Board of Trust); and. aresolution of support for Southern Regional Medical Center applying for state funds “to
increase resources and retain and support its personnel in providing healthcare for the citizens in Clayton County.” Appointments are pending for vacancies on the Behavioral Health (Davis), Zoning Advisory (at-large), and Library (Hambrick) Boards. The October Veteran of the Month is retired Air Force Technical Sgt David A. Vollmer.

Wednesday, October 6

4:30 p.m.: The Jonesboro Design Review Commission holds its regular meeting. On the agenda: a new three-building complex, the Jonesboro Logistics Center, at Jonesboro Road, Old Morrow Road, and Raymond Street (parcels 12049C D002 and 12049D A006); a new panel sign in the Historic District for Total Lifestyle Change, 177 N. Main Street (parcel 13240D C004); a new sign panel for Main Street Grocery Mart, 281 N. Main Street (parcel 13209C C003); and renovation of an existing business for a restaurant at 234 S. Main Street (parcel 05241D D008A).

6 p.m.: The Hampton Development Authority meets.

Friday, October 8

All day: Clayton County Public Schools observe the third third Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom (ELBC) Day this school year. That means all students, fro pre-K through 12th grade, will stay home for asynchronous (independent) learning while all staff work virtually.

More to come shortly!

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