The Lookout Mountain, Ga.,City Council voted Thursday afternoon to accept a plan for the new Village Center that was proposed by Jimmy Chapin and Greg Voges. Mayor Bill Glascock and the council members that were present told the developers that conceptually they believe the plan is the right thing for the city. Many details are yet to be worked out.
In the general discussion about how to move forward, there was concern with the original timeline as presented by Mr. Chapin. City Attorney Bill Pickering said it is not possible to go through all the required steps in the timeframe that was originally proposed. After the council votes in favor of the plan, it must go to the planning commission for study. Recommendations from that board will then be given to the city council. The next required step is a public hearing followed by approving the final plan on a first and second reading. It would take a minimum of three months for these steps before construction could begin. Mr. Chapin and Mr. Voges originally planned for demolition to start Nov. 1.
When the city developed a PUD (planned unit development), it was intentionally kept vague so that it could adapt to a specific plan. The city has around 80 ordinances on the books that regulate what can and cannot be done. To allow the Village Center as planned, ordinances will need to be modified to fit the design. This is expected to be the biggest challenge for the development.
Some of the ordinances that will need to be changed for the commercial district include creating a commercial subdivision ordinance which the city does not now have. This will allow for different sizes of structures than the residential ordinance specifies. There will need to be an allowance for zero lot line buildings and a change of size requirements for front and side yards. An ordinance will need to be established to allow for an amphitheater along with changes in the size required for parking spaces and stormwater easements.
In order to allow sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages, another rule will need to be altered. The existing ordinance requires a distance of 100 yards from the site to a school or church for the sale of malt beverages and 1,000 yards for the sale of alcohol. It was noted that these requirements are not strictly enforced now since wine and beer sales are allowed at the Shell station. These distance constraints can be altered by the city council.
The council decided to have a committee consisting of City Attorney Pickering and Councilmen David Bennett and Jim Sabourin to be the city’s liaison with Mr. Chapin to move the plan forward. Attorney Pickering will prepare a contract for sale of the property, which, in addition to the price, will include expectations by both the city and the developers for items to be done with the land. The contract will provide protection by ensuring the provisions of the contract will remain the same for the city in the event the development ever has a different owner. The city also will have the option of buying the municipal buildings at any time for $1,500,000.
The current design of the development is for a greenway through the center of the property to connect Lula Lake Road to two municipal buildings that sit toward the back of the site. The Town Hall is planned to be 1,500 square feet and the building for fire and police to be 4,500. An amphitheater stepped with grass and stone will be at the back of the land between the buildings, taking advantage of an existing slope. A grocery store with a deli and outside seating is designed to sit on the left side of the entrance, and a building to accommodate a medical office for Dr. Bill Moore Smith will sit on the right side. The exterior appearance will be very traditional, using local, natural materials in keeping with the Fairyland style. A clock tower with fireplaces and outside seating is also included in the plan. There will be about 28,000 total square feet of building area. The municipal buildings and amphitheater will occupy close to one acre. The city will lease this property for $7,000 per month.
Mr. Chapin told the council that he has no problem in committing to purchase the property if he can be assured that the development will not get bogged down and will progress. The council members agreed to move as fast and efficiently as they can.
In other business, the council members voted to keep the existing millage rate of 9.9. Less the “roll-back” of 1.45 that is the city’s portion of Georgia’s sales tax, the net millage rate will be 8.5. This keeps the city’s property taxes the same as the year before.
David Bennett announced that Fairyland Elementary School has been designated as being in the top seven percent of all elementary schools in Georgia. He also said that the Walker County superintendent will now allow Lookout Mountain students that live in Dade County to return to the school for a $400 fee, subject to space.
Mayor Glascock announced that both ties and T-shirts with the Lookout Mountain logo are available for purchase with the proceeds benefitting the sidewalk fund.