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Stone Mountain City Council discusses return to in-person meetings, Juneteenth event

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain City Council discusses return to in-person meetings, Juneteenth event

City of Stone Mountain seal on the historic railroad depot. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

By Tenesha L. Curtis, contributor 

Stone Mountain, GA — The Stone Mountain City Council discussed returning to in-person council meetings, the renaming of East / West Mountain Street, funding for a Juneteenth celebration, and more at a virtual work session on Tuesday, May 17. 

Because this was a work session and not a regular meeting, no votes were taken. The next City Council regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. 

Interim City Manager Warren Hutmacher stated that there is currently a “good plan” in place for a return to physical council meetings, including plastic partitions and six feet of distance between chairs. Councilmember Teresa Crowe asked about the requirements for attendance for council members versus residents. 

Hutmacher explained that the council members would be meeting in person while residents would have the option to attend in person or attend virtually, creating a hybrid meeting. Council members would be required to attend the meeting at city hall consistently, and would be allowed a limited number of meetings they could opt to attend virtually each year. 

The limit on the number of virtual meetings a council member could attend would go into effect after the lifting of the current emergency order. Council members would be allowed to attend virtually if they had tested positive for COVID ahead of any particular meeting. 

Councilmember Clint Monroe expressed his view that the order should not be lifted any time soon. It’s scheduled to be lifted on May 21st, 2022. “The pandemic has not gone away, no matter how many people would like to stick their head in the sand,” Monroe stated. 

Monroe believes surges are imminent in the summer and winter seasons of 2022, based on data he cites as coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Consider extending the city’s emergency ordinance because of COVID-19 for another 30 days, just to see where the numbers are going.” 

Council member Chikara Johnson noted that the city was  “beyond the ‘emergency’ aspect of this pandemic,” and needs to move forward by figuring out “how to work within the new situation we are in.”  

The council also discussed the prospect of renaming East / West Mountain Street after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Past concerns about the inconvenience of changing a street name were raised. For residents of East / West Mountain Street, changing their postal address on things like banking accounts and identification cards would be necessary. 

Mr. Hutmacher shared an image of a brown street sign topper that could be placed above the current green street signs. These brown signs would commemorate Dr. King by giving the road an honorary name plate without residents having to actually change their postal addresses, presumably alleviating that concern. 

Councilmember Crowe said that “90% of the [home]owners” on Mountain Street do not want the name change. She went on to say that numbers from DeKalb County state that 51% of owners don’t want the name change. She suggested that homeowners be allowed to voice their opinion on the topic in some way, not renters. “The owners are the ones who should have the final say-so on this.”

Mayor Jones let Ms. Crowe know that her numbers were incorrect, and that only 65% of residents on the street had been contacted about the name change and that the majority of those were in favor of it. “Everyone who pays taxes in this city, the residents, we want to hear from them whether they’re owners or renters.” 

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