Kingston denies zoning request, appoints new city attorney
by Jason Lowrey
Nov 13, 2012 | 1153 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A zoning application from Michael McFarland to have his property rezoned from residential to commercial was denied during the Kingston City Council’s Monday night meeting.

The request, which the Kingston Planning and Zoning board did not recommend, had generated some controversy with city residents as they had been concerned about traffic from large trucks and property values, as McFarland had planned to operate a trucking firm or repair business on his property.

“I hate to see a person not to be able to use their property like they want to,” said council member Chuck Wise. “But we’ve still got to be able to honor all the other ones in the community because they are the property owners and it will affect their property.”

In a related discussion, the council considered making Dawson Street off limits to large trucks and other vehicles. Mayor Ron Casey noted tractor-trailers had knocked down signs on that street at least twice and one Kingston resident’s fence had been damaged. However, since no ordinance has been written yet, the council tabled the motion until City Attorney Peter Olson could draw the up necessary ordinance.

The council also named Brandon Bowen the new city attorney effective Jan. 1, 2013. Olson recommended Bowen on the basis that he was one of the few attorneys in Bartow County who was experienced in municipal law. Olson said Boyd Pettit and David Archer had been approached for the position in the past, but turned the offer down as they were too busy.

Bowen told the council he has worked in Bartow County for many years, as he started working as a clerk in the county court system after graduating law school in 2001. He said he has served as city attorney for a small town in north Fulton County as well.

His appointment was made with a unanimous vote.

While a vote to decide whether or not to accept a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to repair the city’s water system was on the agenda, the council made no decision on the issue. Council Member Harold Posey said he wanted to hold off voting until the council could get feedback from Kingston residents, as he was unsure if residents were fully informed — or informed at all — on the water system repairs. He also questioned if the city could afford the repairs as there has been no review of the city’s budget.

The USDA loan comes to $1.35 million coupled with a $980,000 grant. The funds would repair roughly 30 percent of the city’s water system by replacing existing pipes with those of a larger diameter and adding flow pumps and water tanks.

Olson said the USDA would ensure the city could pay the loan back by requiring Kingston to raise the water rate. He continued, saying a 5,000 gallon bill would rise from $28 to $37 and a 7,000 gallon bill from $45 to $51.

The entire council said the repairs were necessary if Kingston wanted to continue operating a water utility. However, they wanted to speak with a USDA representative again to ask additional questions before making a decision. Casey said he would contact the USDA office and ask for a representative to be at the next work session.

Casey also announced that Kingston Police Chief Clay Patterson is scheduled to hold a community outreach meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Kingston Cafe in order to hear any concerns or complaints that residents may have.

Other city council business included:

• Discussing which streets, including Hardin Bridge Road, should be submitted to Georgia Department of Transportation for repaving and patching.

• Approving the 2011 financial audit.

• Tabling the city limb and leaf ordinance.

• Approving the purchase of Christmas decorations in an amount starting at $500 and not to exceed $800.

• Approving a hazard mitigation plan with Bartow County.

• Holding an executive session for an update on legal matters.

The Kingston City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at city hall.