In the month since the last Lookout Mountain, Ga., town council meeting and public hearing, Mayor David Bennett said he has been talking to consultant Phil Walker and to the council members about how to proceed with the proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) ordinance. At the April council meeting, the board decided unanimously to postpone any decisions about the PUD until a final comprehensive plan is adopted.
Walker was the consultant who worked with the city in 2009 to create a master plan, but it has never formally been adopted. He told Mayor David Bennett that the problem of struggling with the density issue was because a comprehensive plan has never been approved. He encouraged the council to back up and create the comprehensive plan, which will serve as a guide for moving forward with the PUD.
All council members agreed to put off further discussion pending the adoption of a comprehensive plan. Mayor Bennett said the positive factor that has come from the contentious proposal is that it has created community involvement. He stressed the importance of this document for guiding the city’s future and asked that the residents continue to be engaged.
The planning commission will direct the process. Councilman Arch Willingham announced that next Tuesday at 5 p.m. a special called planning commission meeting will be held to discuss two subjects. One is the comprehensive plan and the other is to discuss and draft a chicken ordinance. Research will be done to find a consulting firm to help complete and implement the comprehensive plan. The budget to do this is $10,000.
At the last planning commission meeting Keith Sanford was elected as the new chairman and Jimmy Campbell as the vice chairman. Earl Carsten, longtime member of the group, resigned. Mr. Sanford, Kevin Leckenby and Thompson Pettway were reappointed to their seats on the Municipal Planning Commission by the town council.
In school news, Council Member Caroline Williams said that in the next two weeks Georgia Milestones testing, which is a key component of the state’s college and career ready performance index, will be given to Fairyland Elementary students in grades 3-5. The Fairyland Festival is scheduled for April 26 with a rain date of May 1. An adults-only event will take place on Wednesday night before the festival -- a parent pre-party with music, fun and a taco truck. Wristbands can be purchased before school for the next two Fridays or via Venmo. Other new events at the festival will be a farmers market, a hoops contest and classic black and white, 8x10-inch head shots of kids that will be for sale for a minimum donation of $5.
Officials said $130,000 of the $150,000 goal for the Aquaponics project has been raised. It is now in the engineering stage. Construction is set to begin this summer and teachers are in the process of being trained. They are working in conjunction with Ridgeland High School, which already has an aquaponics program. The facility at Fairyland should be completed by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
The goal of the Fairyland Education Fund is to raise $150,000. Ms. Williams said that while the community and parents are extremely generous, it is difficult for some families and so corporate partners have helped by contributing over $50,000 of the total. The PTA spends about $600 per child, and this year there are 295 students at the school. She said that the PTA is looking for additional corporate sponsors.
Councilman Jim Sabourin gave the Recreation Board update. Until now, different sports have had separate boards, but now the baseball board has been merged with the rec board. On Saturday, April 14, baseball season will start with a parade leaving Fairyland at 9 a.m. which will end at The Commons. Immediately after the parade, the T Ball field will be dedicated to Rick Dockery, who was the Recreation Director for 35 years. “He has elevated sports on the mountain,” said Councilman Sabourin. Also, Lee Dyer, longtime member of the baseball board, will be honored that morning.
Wes Hasden, representing the sewer board, said that since delinquent sewer charges have been pursued, $12,000 has been collected. Two large delinquent accounts totaling $2,000 remain unpaid. A lot of maintenance and repairs will be made to the sewer system. The work is scheduled to be done this summer, he said. The cost estimate for the project is $60,000, of which $30,000 will come from SPLOST funds. A pumping station is slated to be replaced and, while it is being done, sewage will have to be transported by a tanker to another pumping station. He said the work will mostly be performed at night when the sewage flows are the lowest. Costs to the city will include paying the plumbing company, the environmental company and related charges such as police directing the tankers and employees of the town needing to be on-site during some of the work.
Mayor Bennett said that work is continuing on the Town Center plan and that architectural designs should soon be done.
Ann Brown announced a Pollinator Festival organized by the Bee City USA groups on the mountain. It will take place on May 20 from 1-4 p.m. at the Lookout Mountain School Gym and is free and open to all. There will be activities for children to learn about pollinators. For adults there will be free gardening advice by experts from Tennessee Wild Ones and the Tennessee Aquarium. Some of the advice that will be available includes how to attract pollinators and butterflies to your yard, organic solutions for common yard problems, how to increase yields of vegetable gardens and what to do about invasive plants. There will also be a beekeeper display and live wildlife that live on the mountain to see up close.