Tucker City Council approves temporary ban on e-scooters
By Cathi Harris, contributor
Citing the difficulties nearby cities have experienced with them, the Tucker City Council voted to implement a 120-day ban on the use of rental e-scooters inside the city limits at its meeting Monday night.
“This will allow us to get through a legislative cycle–because most people believe this issue will be taken up by the state Legislature,” City Attorney Brian Anderson told council members. “It gives us time to study the issue, at which point, we will come back with an informed policy that best serves Tucker on the use of rental electronic scooters.”
District 2 Council Member Noelle Monferdini opposed passing the ordinance as unnecessary, since e-scooter companies have yet to establish a presence there.
“I guess I am not really seeing what the issue is,” she noted. “They are in Decatur; they are in Atlanta, and they are an alternate mode of transportation to get from point A to point B.”
Other council members felt that Tucker should be proactive before they experienced some of the problems that other communities faced: injuries to riders, unattended scooters parked blocking sidewalks, hazardous operation of the vehicles and unclear civic liability.
“This gives us the opportunity to manage it ahead of the fact,” said District 3 Council Member Michelle Penkava. “We’re not going to be in the position of trying to undo something that happens to us, because that is what has happened in a lot of communities. It is pretty prevalent. They just show up.”
The ordinance specifically bans the use of rental electronic scooters — defined as “ two tandem wheeled motor vehicles without a seat (electronic scooters)” — on any highways, rights of way or sidewalks within the city limits for 120 days. The ordinance also suspends the issuance of a business license or receipt of an occupational tax from any business engaged in the rental of electronic scooters in the City of Tucker.
The vote was 5 to 1 in favor of the ordinance, with Monferdini voting no.
In other business, the council:
– Tabled consideration of a measure to regulate short-term rentals of residential property to allow for further study
– Passed an amendment to the city’s comprehensive plan, as well as an amendment to its zoning ordinance allowing for the construction of a 33-unit townhome development at 2301 Fuller Way, a 3.53-acre vacant plot of land between the H.B. Fuller adhesive manufacturing plant and the commercial district at the corner of Fuller and Hugh Howell Road.
The amendments change the lot’s character area designation under the land use plan from Light Industrial to Downtown, and the zoning from Commercial to Medium Density Residential-2.
The city Planning Commission had recommended denial of the development due to concerns about locating medium-density residential in proximity to the manufacturing plant and deviating from the city’s comprehensive land use plan, which was just finalized in April of last year. However, the commission did indicate that residential development could benefit the city, recommending a list of conditions for approval, if the City Council decided to go ahead with amending the comprehensive plan.
During the meeting, council members were divided over whether they should approve a change to the land-use plan, but seemed ultimately persuaded that the land stood a better chance of being developed as residential rather than its previously designated use.
“My understanding is that this property was for sale for a very long time with nobody buying it,” District 1 Council Member Pat Soltys said during the meeting. “That parcel has been seen as too small for most light industrial uses and there has been no interest in the adjoining office complex or anyone else [in acquiring it].”
The vote was 4-2 for approval of the land use designation change, with Council Members Monfredini and Matt Robbins voting against amending the comprehensive plan. Once amended, the rezoning passed unanimously, with the conditions recommended by the Planning Commission, including alterations to the layout and traffic design of the site to minimize interaction with the Fuller plant, and the inclusion of a covenant notifying all townhouse owners and potential future owners of the development’s location next to an industrial site, and the potential for heavy truck traffic throughout the day and night.
– The City Council also updated the city code covering public nuisances to prohibit the placement of stand-alone collection boxes or drop boxes on private property that are not associated with the property’s main use and are poorly maintained or not maintained.
Under the new regulations, property owners will have 30 days to remove any collection box (for example, clothing or shoe donations) not associated with the property’s principal use, or apply for a license with the city to keep the box. If the property owner chooses to apply for a permit to keep the collection box, the owner, any business tenant leasing the property, and the property manager all have to be named on the application for the permit, said Tucker Community and Economic Development Director John McHenry.
In many cases, the boxes have been placed on properties without the property owners’ knowledge, McHenry told the council. Many of the boxes are not maintained, either by the company putting them there or the entities charged with maintaining the properties in question. Some are in poor condition and many are stuffed with garbage. Those apply for a permit for the collection boxes have to agree to comply with minimum standards for the design and maintenance.