Richmond Hill City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to let voters decide whether they want Sunday package sales of alcohol in the city limits.
Such sales became legal in January in unincorporated Bryan County after a 2014 referendum was approved by voters, and the sale of liquor by the drink on Sunday is also legal in both the county and in Richmond Hill.
Tuesday’s vote approved a resolution calling for a Nov. 3 referendum.
“We approved the process to be started last meeting,” City Manager Chris Lovell reminded council members. “This is the actual resolution to petition the elections board to put it on the ballot.”
New lift station funding approved
Council also voted Tuesday to approve a bid of $1.74 million by Jordan Construction of Hilton Head, South Carolina, to build an offsite sewage force main and pump station for Richmond Hill Plantation.
The project, which also eventually could help pipe reuse water to Sterling Links golf course, is being paid for by a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loan.
That loan will be repaid by “growth payments,” according to Lovell, who was quizzed by council members John Fesperman and Johnny Murphy.
“Chris, if I understand it correctly, this will be completely paid back by permits associated with growth in that development?” Murphy asked.
“Not permit fees, per se, but specifically by fees to tie into this line,” Lovell answered. “It’s important to note none of our residents are picking up the tab for this. It’s totally paid by new development. If you moved here yesterday, then you’re not paying for it.”
The city is under an Environmental Protection Division mandate to build a new $22-million plus sewage treatment plant, expected to be completed this year. Although Richmond Hill currently doesn’t have to reuse treated wastewater from its plant, it will have to reuse water when the new plant expands from treating 3 million gallons per day to 4 million gallons per day.
Council approves project spending cap
Council also approved spending no more than $165,000 on upgrades to the traffic signals at the intersection of highways 144 and 17.
The signals are currently strung on wires, but the state Department of Transportation intends to replace the wires with mast arms as part of an overall overhaul of the intersection.
Also in the works is new landscaping, after the city was awarded a $50,000 DOT “crossroads” grant to spruce up the intersection.
The new landscaping will take place once the upgrade is in effect, and planting is expected to begin in October, Planning and Zoning Director Scott Allison told council members. It’s unclear, however, when two live oaks at the intersection will be removed.
Arborists said the trees, estimated to be more than 200 years old, are dying and pose a risk to public safety.
The overall project should be completed by October, officials said, though by setting a cap the city may be sending a message, one council member noted shortly before the vote.
“I doubt it will get any cheaper, especially if we cap it at $165,000,” Councilman Russ Carpenter said. “I tend to think the bids will come in right at $165,000.”
If bids are too high, the city can throw them out and start over, Allison said.
Townhomes, outdoor storage approved
Council also approved a change to the master plan of Brisbon Village in Richmond Hill Plantation. Murphy, a developer with business interests in Brisbon Village, recused himself during the vote to redesignate about 16 acres originally intended as the site of a clubhouse to allow townhomes to be built there, along with outdoor boat and RV storage.
Under the change, approximately 70 townhomes will be built on roughly 9 acres off Brisbon Road. It will be separated by a 3.8-acre section which could be used for boat and recreational vehicle storage.