Lookout Mountain, Ga. Town Center Work To Start Soon; Jim Sabourin Resigns From Council And Is Replaced By Kevin Leckenby

Thursday, August 22, 2019 - by Gail Perry

After eight years of talking and planning, Lookout Mountain, Ga., is ready to begin building a new Town Center. To begin with there will be two municipal buildings, City Hall and a fire station. The design of the area has space for private developers to build commercial buildings in the future. 


Adhering to design guidelines provided by the city and aiming for a cost of $2.8 million, architect Bob Franklin has created the plans.

At a special meeting Wednesday night, he gave the council members an update on the design that he said is now 98 percent complete.


A painted brick exterior accented with mountain stone and having gas lanterns is planned for the Town Hall. Mr. Franklin said he wants the public spaces of the building to be impressive. The front entrance leads into a lobby with 14-foot ceilings and a slate-look tile floor. To the right will be the council chambers with a 17 ½ foot vaulted ceiling, an engineered wood floor and a fireplace with gas logs on one end. French doors across the front of the room open onto a covered patio area. A break room with a kitchen will be off the council room. To the left of the lobby are offices and a storage room. There will also be a conference room and two restrooms. 


The fire hall will be built on the slab of the current building. The entry leads into a small vestibule. Offices in this building will be behind locked doors. There are two bedrooms, a bath and a great room with a kitchenette as living space for overnight fire fighters and police. There will also be two offices, an evidence room, a small workout room and a laundry area in this building. 


The buildings purposely look different from one another, which fits into the design guidelines, said Mr. Franklin. City Hall will have a steep, gabled roof and the firehall will have a flat roof with a parapet. He told the council that the most important thing to him is for the fire hall to have red doors. He said that structure will be a civic building where kids can go in and look at fire trucks. This apparatus bay is the only space designed as a public area; the rest of the building is for the staff.  


The town hall will face a pedestrian street that is elevated four or five feet above a “village green”. This space will have 12-foot-wide sidewalks and a grassy lawn that will tolerate people using it. If the budget allows, the council would like to have a water feature in the middle of the lawn. 


In a week and a half, when the architectural plans are 100 percent complete, “an invitation to bid” will be prepared for construction of the development. The architect said he knows three or four contractors who are interested in it. 


Before any construction begins, a zoning change will be needed to remove the set-back distance from property lines. This will require approval from the planning commission, a public hearing and two readings before the council can approve the zoning change. The current set-backs of buildings from the surrounding property lines would take up so much space that the new buildings would be too small. The plan is based on zero set backs in order to fully utilize the available land and would apply only to these properties. 


The bids will go out for the work on Sept. 3. Opening the bids will be on Sept. 26.


At the special called meeting on Wednesday, Vice Mayor Jim Sabourin who has served on the council for two terms, submitted his resignation. He said that he is not planning to run for city council again and because he will soon be leaving his employer, he plans to take some time to travel. If he remained on the council, he said he would be absent for several months. “We hate that,” said Mayor David Bennett. You’ve been an incredible servant for all you’ve done.”


For the election that is coming up in November, there will be two vacancies on the city council, Mr. Sabourin’s and Taylor Watson’s seats. As of now, two candidates have qualified, Ms. Watson and Kevin Leckenby. Mr. Leckenby currently serves on the town’s planning commission. 


Mayor Bennett nominated Mr. Leckenby to fulfill the remainder of Mr. Sabourin’s term as councilman. At the end of that term, he will have to run for the position and be elected. The nomination was approved unanimously.   

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