Fussell Joins Lookout Mountain, Ga.; Commission; City May Sell Town Center Site; Chapin Still Wants To Build His Plan

Friday, July 26, 2013 - by Gail Perry

The first order of business at a special meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Ga. City Council meeting Thursday afternoon was to fill the empty seat left when Bill Glascock resigned as mayor and Councilman Sandy Gothard moved into that position. David Fussell was appointed as the fifth councilman and was immediately sworn in.  

That move created a vacancy on the town’s Sewer Board. Cindy Whitaker was recommended and nominated to replace Mr. Fussell on that board. The committee is still waiting for the appointment of a representative from Covenant College and Krupski Loop.

In the monthly stormwater and sewer report, City Manager and Superintendent Brad Haven reported that several culverts and drains are known to have obstructions. Two that are causing problems are on Peter Pan Road and Mother Goose Trail where the culverts are eroding, causing the roads to collapse. The worst is on Fort Trace Road where the city has patched the problem areas with gravel and concrete, but the problems will re-occur, he said. An estimate to repair these blocked wastewater drains, is 20,000-$30,000. It is a budgeted expense coming under the public works department. Mr. Haven also said that a storm water management plan has been submitted to the state of Georgia, and the town is waiting to receive approval.

In order for Dr. Bill Moore Smith to build a new office, the council discussed the need to re-zone a portion of the parking lot at the Methodist Church. To do this, it will be necessary to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to add a part of the church’s land to the city and remove that area from the church property, City Attorney Bill Pickering told the council.

Discussion of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) began when the council was told of a county meeting Monday night in LaFayette to discuss the tax. The cities within Walker County all have to be in agreement with how the money will be divided, said Mr. Pickering. That means that it will be necessary for Lookout Mountain, Ga. to have a game plan for the projects that they hope to do with money it receives from the SPLOST funds.

Municipalities are not allowed to solicit votes to implement this tax, but they are allowed to educate the public about what it is and how the tax money would be used. The Georgia sales tax is currently four percent. Each county in the state has the option of adding up to an additional two percent to the tax, but the decision must be voted on. Once established, the tariff will be in effect five years. The money that counties receive from this levy is only allowed to fund capital projects and cannot be used toward operating expenses of the city.

Projects that are needed by the town and that qualify for SPLOST funding have been compiled. Mr. Haven told the council members that the list adds up to more than the town will get, so a decision will have to be made about which plans will be done. A committee of Mayor Sandy Gothard, Councilman Jim Sabourin, and City Manager Haven will meet this weekend to make the list that will be taken to the county-wide meeting Monday evening.

The wish list talked about Thursday included an updated telephone system, two new patrol vehicles, replacing the wooden street signs, re-paving several streets, and completing 800 feet of sidewalks along Scenic Highway. The laws have changed this year and a project started must be completed within the year. Because of that condition, it would likely become a problem to use SPLOST money for building the town center, said Mr. Pickering.

The sale of city-owned property for the development of the Town Center desired by the city officialswas taken up in an executive meeting. Before the public left the room, developer Jimmy Chapin asked for the status of the property. Bill Pickering explained that if the city offers the property for sale it will have to advertise it at a minimum of 30 to a maximum of 60 days. It then becomes a Request for Proposal. No decisions have yet been made since budget discussions will be needed first to actually determine what the city can do.

Mr. Chapin told the council that he and architect Garth Brown are still excited about the project that they submitted to the council earlier. He told them that two other partners are considering joining his development team, and he emphasized that he is concerned about his project being used by someone else. 


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