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Plans for new chocolate shop, plaza move forward
Council approves 3-1 to waive traffic study
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Plans for a new development along Ford Avenue in Richmond Hill moved forward at the Oct. 16 Richmond Hill City Council meeting.
During the meeting, the council approved the tree plan, site plan and building elevations for Ruby Rose Plaza at the corner of Ford Avenue and Hill Street. The council also voted 3-1 to waive a traffic study for the development. Council member Russ Carpenter cast the nay vote, citing fairness as an issue.
“My problem with waiving a traffic study is we’ve made everybody else do a traffic study,” Carpenter said.
The project’s engineer, David Aspinwall, said the development would not bring a significant amount of traffic to the area, so he felt a traffic study was not needed.
Mayor Harold Fowler said while he understood Aspinwall’s point of view, the council had made other developers in the city conduct traffic studies.
“I kind of agree with what you’re saying there, David, but then again we get into this splitting hairs that if we decide how big of a project (does require a traffic study), when do we decide we’re going to not require one — we either do right now or we don’t,” Fowler said. “And if we change (our requirements) … we’ve got to have some guidelines. We can’t just say ‘well this one does or this one doesn’t,’ because if we start that, somewhere we’re going to get bit.”
The developer, Dominick Riccelli, owner of All Things Chocolate in the Publix shopping center, intends to build around an 8,000-square-foot shopping plaza at that location to house his business and a few other businesses.
The council also approved to investigate a cost-sharing mechanism for the cost of two fire hydrants to be installed on the plaza’s side of Ford Avenue after Aspinwall explained they would be required for the project. Currently, the only nearby fire hydrants are on the opposite side of Ford Avenue and on Greenwich Drive off of Hill Street.
The cost to install two fire hydrants would be around $15,000, he said. Aspinwall said he believed the developer should not have to bear the entire cost of the two fire hydrants.
Council member Van Hutner agreed.
“If we’re going to go to the trouble of putting two fire hydrants in … that still leaves the issue we’ve got with everybody else on that side of the road who doesn’t have access to fire hydrants, except coming across (Highway) 144, which we’d have to tie up traffic,” he said. “So my point here is maybe the city needs to take a look at another alternative besides two fire hydrants for one building when you’ve got several two story buildings that don’t have a fire hydrant.”
City Manager Chris Lovell told the council there were several options when it came to installing fire hydrants in that area.
“(Our) options are to allow Mr. Riccelli to pay for it, we pay for it, we split it, or we pay for it up front and create some type of special district that we assess that fee back,” Lovell said. “But if we went that route, it’d be a much longer meeting than tonight to handle that.”
Also during the meeting, the council approved new rates for trash pick up in the city to include recycling fees.
The unanimous vote set the new garbage rate at $15 per month for residential customers and $19 per month for commercial customers beginning Jan. 1. Recycling services are included in the new fee.
Until Jan. 1, recycling services will be provided free to residents, and the program is expected to begin in November. Lovell told the council he expects the 96-gallon recycle bins to be arriving to city residents soon.
The council in August approved to implement a city-wide recycling program after many residents requested one.
In other business:
* The council approved a text amendment request from 17 Properties to allow a fitness center in a commercial zoning district. The location will be 3448 Highway 17.
* The council approved a bid from BRW for $959,850 for the influent/effluent force main project at the Sterling Creek wastewater treatment facility.

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