The vote was 5-to-1 in favor of approval, with Louis Tonsmeire Sr. casting the lone dissenting vote.
Acuff submitted the special use application in order to legalize an apartment built underneath his office building, which is zoned professional services. He had previously rented the apartment without the special use permission, which violated city zoning laws.
That violation formed much of the debate during the work session, with council members asking what the timeline was for the apartment’s occupation and how the occupancy was discovered.
City Manager Sam Grove urged the council to remove personalities and previous actions from their decision.
“I think the question is: is it appropriate for residential at that location? Do you want to mix residential and commercial? That’s the issue,” he said.
The council’s approval came with a requirement from the Cartersville Fire Department that Acuff replace the apartment’s existing storefront windows with windows that can open. The replacement would bring the apartment into compliance with fire codes, as an occupant would have more than one way to exit the building.
A second 5-to-1 vote occurred later in the meeting with the awarding of a water department grit collector rehabilitation bid to A&D Contracting & Welding. Lori Pruitt cast the single nay vote.
The bid was a second source of debate during the work session and meeting, as the Cartersville Water Department did not recommend awarding A&D the project even though the company was the lowest bidder. Assistant Director Ed Mullinax said his staff was concerned about A&D’s capacity to finish the project in a reasonable time. Instead, the water department recommended the bid be awarded to Southern Machine Company — whose bid came in at $78,500 — even though it was $184 higher than A&D.
Council member Jayce Stepp said during the work session A&D had called him, saying they were not going to be awarded the contract.
“The phone call I got was ‘Look, we’re ready to do the job and we low bid it, and we’re not getting the job’ Well, they’re saying you’re not large enough to do the job,” Stepp said as he explained the conversation.
Mullinax said the water department was concerned A&D was not large enough to handle the city’s project and any other projects they may encounter from other clients.
“They’ve never completed not completed a job, but they are a smaller company. They do have clients or customers that are much larger than us, that are much more important. So if one of their other customers has a job requirement, they would more than likely stop working on our job,” he said.
Mullinax also said the department was satisfied with A&D’s work on previous projects, including work on the department’s other grit collector. However, Southern Machine was recommended for the job because the department felt the extra $184 would ensure the project was finished in a timely manner and save money in the long run, as city employees would spend less time working with the company on the project.
City council members, though, did not believe any cost savings outweighed what they believed was an unfair recommendation. Nowhere, Stepp said, did the bid give a time limit or timeline for when repairs must be completed.
Council member Lindsey McDaniel Jr. said the lack of any real difference between the three companies competing for the project made it apparent A&D should get the bid.
“The way I look at it you’ve got three sources here and we don’t have any kind of criteria that states one is better than the other, in writing. I hear what you’re saying about low cost overall versus the $184, but I believe that, well, like I said I’ve got a lot of buying experience...but, anyway, A&D would get that bid,” McDaniel said.
Other city council business included:
• Approving a text amendment by Cliff Acuff to add automotive and light truck rental facility as permitted use in the multiple use zoning district.
• Approving the city’s application to the Community Home Investment Program as a step to help first-time homebuyers.
• Appointing Lara Jenneret and Jill Mitchell to the Downtown Development Authority board to fill Harry Finchum and Susan Howard’s vacant seats.
• Approving a right of entry agreement for Legacy Sod Farm for work along Douthit Ferry Road.
• Approving a right of entry agreement for Habitat for Humanity for property city property on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
• Approving a confidentiality agreement with Southern Natural Gas.
• Approving the purchase of a horizontal directional boring machine in the sum of $196,500 for multi-department use.
• Approving the purchase of three new Dodge Chargers for the Cartersville Police Department in the total sum of $69,702.
• Approving repairs to the Cartersville Electrical Department office in the sum of $6,570.
• Approving the purchase of two new meter reader trucks in the sum of $32,052.
• Approving the purchase of a residential garbage truck in the sum of $201,779.04.
• Awarding a bid for the Tennessee Street Walgreens water main replacement to C&L Contractors in the sum of $86,510.
• Awarding a bid for a 16-inch water main connector running from Main Street to Center Road to C&L Contractors in the sum of $489,981.91.
The Cartersville City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. for a work session and 7 p.m. for the regular meeting at city hall.