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Avondale Estates City Commission approves zoning amendment and renovation plan for city hall

Avondale Estates

Avondale Estates City Commission approves zoning amendment and renovation plan for city hall

Photo obtained via the city of Avondale Estates website.
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By Zoe Seiler, contributor

Avondale Estates, GA – The Avondale Estates City Commission on April 27 approved an amendment to the zoning ordinance regarding general commercial properties and approved a resolution for renovations to City Hall.

At the City Commission’s meeting on Monday night, the board further discussed and approved an ordinance to amend the zoning ordinance to exempt property zoned general commercial from parking requirements.

City Manager Patrick Bryant explained at the work session on April 22 that the amendment is meant to do two things.

“One, amend the zoning ordinance for the general commercial zoning designation,” he said at the work session. “It [removes] the minimum parking stall number requirement for parcels within that zoning designation and removed the landscape requirements within a parking lot established on a parcel within that zoning designation.”

The second thing is to remove the landscape requirements for inside a parking lot from the tree ordinance, Decaturish previously reported.

City staff recommended the text amendment because there is no variance process built into the zoning ordinance nor the tree ordinance to allow for a variance of any of the requirements, Bryant said at the work session.

There also is no variance process for a review by the Architecture Review Board.

“So, a project would either meet the requirements subject to ARB review or not meet the requirements subject to ARB review,” Bryant said at the regular meeting.

The City Commission could appeal the ARB’s decision if it finds that the ARB abused their power when they made the decision that the plan didn’t meet their guidelines, Bryant said.

He added that the city’s staff didn’t think that would happen and also mentioned that the ARB appeals process is held quarterly.

“It’s a quarterly appeals process and this was an issue that we needed to take care of in a timely fashion,” Bryant said. “That’s the impetus for making the recommendation in the text amendment as we did by removing the inner landscape requirements from both the zoning ordinance and tree ordinance for parcels designated general commercial.”

At the regular meeting on Monday night, Bryant clarified that the text amendment only applies to the section of the inner parking lot requirements, not the buffer requirements.

Additionally, the City Commission approved a resolution for renovations at City Hall.

At the city’s strategic planning session in February, the board asked city staff to move forward with a renovation plan to City Hall to create more office space.

Bryant said city staff consulted with a contractor and an interior designer to figure out the best solutions for the renovation.

“We settled with moving the court office to an office adjacent to the council chambers, moving the permit office into the space now occupied by the court office, moving the reception desk to the lobby outside of the council chambers and creating two office spaces in the administrative suite,” Bryant said.

That is phase one of the project and phase two will be work done on the second floor of City Hall to clear out the unfinished area of the building to create more offices, Bryant explained at the previous work session.

The city was able to attach to the state bid for all of the work and the cost of the proposal is up to $49,000.

The city must put work out for bid that is over $20,000 unless that state already has a bid out, Deputy City Manager Paul Hanebuth said at the work session.

“For these types of services, the way that works is the state determines a unit cost for various materials like X number of dollars per square foot of this type of carpet or this many square feet of paint coverage,” Hanebuth said. “Then they bid out to contractors, what they call an adjustment to that, so that whoever has the smallest addition to the cost of the materials is who wins the bid.”

The money for this project will be added to the budget as a line item amendment that city staff will present to the City Commission at some point during the year and it would be considered capital funds, Bryant said.

Some concerns were again raised about where the money is coming from. Commissioner Lionel Laratte said he understood that the funding had to do with money being moved from what was allocated to the public works building renovations.

“I think we need to be as a staff, especially for legal purposes, very clear that the two projects are completely exclusive of each other and the pots of money aren’t necessarily the same,” Bryant said.

The City Commission also allocated up to $50,000 for renovations to the public works building. City staff is estimating the cost of these renovations to be $8,000. Bryant said that the remaining $42,000 would still be available for public works renovations unless the board reappropriates that money.

Bryant said it will take about five weeks to complete the renovations to City Hall.

The City Commission will meet again at 5:30 p.m. on May 13. Mayor Jonathan Elmore previously stated that all meetings will be held virtually until further notice. Meetings details will be available on the city’s website at a later time.

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