It wasn’t the outcome local resident Margaret D. Fennell Judy was hoping for during the city council meeting on Jan 15.
Judy’s been asking for approval from Richmond Hill to rent out her adjoining house, located on Linwood Avenue off Hwy. 144, as a private professional office for more than a year, but to no avail.
During the city’s latest meeting, the board unanimously disapproved Judy’s third request for a conditional permit. Mayor Richard Davis excused himself during the voting, as he and Judy are first cousins.
Planning and zoning Director Steve Scholar cited issues with things including traffic and the location of the home within a residential neighborhood.
"There is nothing more I can do or say. Tonight, I could never reiterate the many reasons as to why I should be allowed to rent my adjoining house as a professional office," Judy said, comparing the situation to a baseball game. "I would like to leave you with the following thought: You’re playing at the World Series. The bottom half of the ninth inning, the bases are loaded and you’re up to bat knowing you have to hit a home run to win the game" she said, ending with thanks for the council's time and consideration.
While many Richmond Hill residents were at the meeting, only one spoke up against Judy’s request. Steve Crops lives down the road from Judy and said the parking area for the proposed business would be right next to him. He was also concerned that approval would set a precedent for others that the neighborhood was open to commercial businesses, and strongly opposed that.
Board member Joanne Bickley said she was worried about the home's close proximity to the Richmond Hill Elementary School.
With children coming and going to school each day, she was concerned it could be an additional traffic hazard. Bickley suggested that, in the future when the school is moved and the current building is used for administrative purposes, it could be a better time for Judy to try and turn the home into an office.
In other business:
- Mary Burns, president of the Garden Club, asked for permission to go ahead with a Blue Star Memorial Marker. She said the club wishes to erect the marker, used by Garden Clubs of America since 1947, to honor the men and women of the armed forces. Burns said, thanks to successful Pumpkin Patch events, they finally have the funding to purchase the marker but need a written letter of approval from the mayor. Burns said the J.F. Gregory park crew has already agreed to help put it up and she and Davis decided the marker should go in the entrance of the walkway to the park’s Veterans Memorial. "I think it’ll enhance the park and the walkway," Davis said. "It’ll be very meaningful and appropriate." A dedication will be held for the marker once they have everything ready.
- Resolutions for the annexation of two tracts of land, totaling about 57 acres, were approved on the Tranquilla Tract for DEA Enterprises. City Manager Mike Melton said the annexation was previously approved but the resolutions need to be finalized. Melton said the property is slated for a residential subdivision but no plans have been set forth yet.
- Janet Thayer was approved the use of J.F. Gregory Park for the upcoming year’s Seafood Festival, Oct. 17-19.
- Floyd Hilliard was voted as the Mayor Pro-tem for 2008.
- Changes to the city’s Employee Handbook, which were mostly administrative, were approved. Davis said the biggest change was the addition of another holiday, for Presidents Day.
-City Fire Chief Vernon Rushing gave an update on the monthly and end-of-year reports. "It was a real good year for the fire department," he said, thanking the council for additional personnel in 2007. "In 2006 we had 407 calls for assistance and we had 644 in 2007; extra personnel allowed for us to do these additional medical and first response calls. I’m proud of the department."
- David Buchanan from Public Works said controlled burning of the wetlands was done Monday, keeping cattails intact but helping burn out underbrush. He said it controls vegetation and allows proper sunlight filtration. Buchanan also said mulch from the Christmas tree donation will likely be available at the end of March.
- Desiree Baisden was approved serving beer and wine at her 10th anniversary party at the Wetlands Center on July 19.
In other Planning and Zoning business:
- The city approved the site plan and building elevations for the Harris Trail complex assisted living facility in the Main Street subdivision. PZ Director Steve Scholar said the site shouldn’t impact wetlands. Hilliard commented that the plans were "first class," and developer Herb Black said the facility will be affordable and much like community living.
- The city approved the final plats for the Madison and Habersham phases of the Richmond Hill Plantation.
- The El-Cheapo Service Station on Hwy. 17 was approved an alcoholic beverage license for the sale of beer and wine.
- The city approved the resolution to transmit the Community Assessment and Community Participation portions of the Comprehensive Land Use plan to the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Scholar said some changes are still going to be made but the plan is on a fairly tight timeline and by signing the resolution, it will allow everything to be finalized.