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Avondale Estates City Commission moves one step closer to changing legislative process

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Avondale Estates City Commission moves one step closer to changing legislative process

Lake Avondale. Source: Avondaleestates.org
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By Zoe Seiler, contributor

Avondale Estates, GA – The Avondale Estates City Commission, at its Jan. 27 meeting, approved — for the first time — an amendment to simplify the city’s ordinance reading process.

The amendment passed with a 4-1 vote.

The City Commission met for a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. and held a work session when that adjourned.

The amendment is a change to the city’s charter, so it has to be approved twice by the City Commission at two regular meetings. The board will vote on the measure again at the next meeting.

The change will reduce the current three required ordinance readings down to two, and potentially to one reading with a unanimous vote from the board, Decaturish previously reported.

Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher explained that currently the board does not have any flexibility when it comes to the ordinance reading process. All ordinances have to go through three readings.

This amendment aims to shorten the process slightly, especially for mundane tasks.

“The specific example that comes to my mind every time is every year when we have to set a millage rate but we don’t get it from DeKalb County until a day or two before we have to do it. We do all of these odd meetings to make the three readings happen. We have no way to speed that up,” Fisher said.

He and other board members explained that the commissioners can defer an item as much as they want. They also do not have to start the reading process immediately after a work session discussion.

Fisher said in the five years he has been on the board, he has not been aware of a situation where the City Commission has held the first reading without discussing an ordinance multiple times and coming to an agreement as a board.

Commissioner Dee Merriam remained opposed to this measure, previously citing concerns of limiting public input and reducing the opportunity to fully understand an ordinance, especially as the board changed its meeting format.

In other business:

— The city additionally plans to update an agreement with Fabric Developers for the Town Green project, the construction of a four-acre park and a mixed-use building along Highway 278/ North Avondale Road. The project is a joint venture between the City Commission, the Downtown Development Authority, the Urban Redevelopment Agency and Fabric Developers.

The memorandum of understanding between the city and Fabric was an agreement to exchange information throughout the development process. Fabric planned to construct a mixed-use building with residential and retail space on the park property, but in May it was determined that was not financially feasible at the time.

The board approved a temporary solution to have food trucks at the park, but plans to incorporate the mixed-use building at a later time. Because the commercial development is on pause, the project became a public works project.

“Because of that amendment to the MOU, the URA’s attorney felt that the scope of the project had changed such that it had gone from being a public, private partnership to really a public works project,” City Manager Patrick Bryant said.

He further explained that when a city takes on a public works project over $100,000 then they have to follow public bid law.

“So we had to reconfigure the agreement to ensure that Fabric acting as project manager would in fact be responsible for following that law in the solicitation of bids,” Bryant said.

The agreement also states that Fabric will continue to act as the project manager throughout the construction process and provides for Fabric to be paid an administrative fee, Bryant added.

The plan is to present the agreement at the next regular meeting for approval and potentially begin the bid process.

The City Commission continued discussion of a policy for expressing condolences. Mayor Jonathan Elmore brought this to the board at the Jan. 13 work session as a way to make sure the city is consistently responding when tragedies occur in the county.

The draft resolution states that the City Commission would send a condolence letter signed by Elmore upon the death of city or county leaders or employees in the line of duty.

“Yes, it is about building relationships, but it’s about paying proper respect and I think it’s something we need to really pay attention to,” Elmore said.

He also took a moment to acknowledge the death of Tucker Councilman William “Bill” Rosenfeld who unexpectedly passed away last week, the Tucker Observer reported.

Elmore said Rosenfeld was a great guy and acknowledged that he was a dedicated public servant, a longtime resident of Tucker and a business owner.

“I just wanted to say on behalf of the city we would like to express our condolences to the family and to the city,” Elmore said.

The City Commission will meet again on Wednesday, February 10, through Zoom. The regular meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the work session immediately following.

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