Ron and Nan Thomas, who lease the Covered Bridge Store from the city, and members of the council spent the majority of the hour-long meeting in a back-and-forth over changes made to the business. As part of the historic downtown area, the Covered Bridge Store is subject to historic preservation and guidelines set forth by the city to oversee those efforts.
The Thomases said when they signed the lease, they were not informed of the proper procedures or the requirements for altering aspects of the facility. The couple replaced the front door, which did not close properly, and windows.
Debate hinged on why the Thomases replaced those portions without the city's consent and the couple's assertions that they were unaware of the rules.
Ron Thomas said he had held discussions with the head of maintenance for the city about the door, and after no action was taken to correct the problem, a replacement was bought as a safety measure for securing the property.
City Manager Trish Sullivan denied the Thomas' claims that she had seen the door and windows, and the claim she had given clearance for the head of maintenance to order a new door.
"Quit looking at me like I'm lying. I don't lie," Sullivan said to Nan Thomas at one point in the conversation.
Dialogue eventually cooled, with Mayor Kathy Foulk saying a "breakdown in communication" on the part of the Thomases and the city had led to Tuesday's fallout.
Planning and Zoning Administrator Ron Goss was given instruction to contact the state about verifying whether the replacement fixtures will work. The Thomases were asked to return to the February council meeting for further discussion of what procedures will need to be followed to correct the problem. As it stands, the Thomases are subject to a citation and a fine under the city's code.
In other action, the council discussed posting signage along Euharlee Road advising motorists of the historic district. Those signs will be included in the community's master plan. Goss said an agreement for the master plan is on the desk of City Attorney Boyd Pettit awaiting his approval.