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Clarkston City Council rezones property on Woodland Avenue, elects new vice mayor

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Clarkston City Council rezones property on Woodland Avenue, elects new vice mayor

Clarkston City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Clarkston, GA — The Clarkston City Council, at its Jan. 10 meeting, voted to approve rezoning an assemblage of properties on Woodland Avenue following a back and forth between two councilmembers.

Councilmembers also chose a new vice mayor, Debra Johnson, following a tie-breaking vote by the mayor. The council was split between Johnson and the outgoing vice mayor, Awet Eyasu, who declared his interest in serving another term.

Debra Johnson. Photo obtained via Clarkstonga.gov

The council voted to rezone an assemblage of property at Woodland Avenue to allow for multifamily housing, changing it from light industrial to neighborhood residential community development [NRCD]. The property is at the corner of North Decatur Road and Church Street.

In September, the city council passed a temporary moratorium on car washes that expires in March. During the discussion, it became clear that there had been some interest in putting a car wash on that property.

Councilmember Eyasu asked whether the property owner was present at the meeting, and City Manager Shawanna Qawiy said the owner was not present but had attended the previous meeting. Eyasu also echoed concerns raised by resident Brian Medford about possible environmental contamination. Medford told the council the property had been used as a junkyard in the past.

Councilmember Laura Hopkins said the public had been misled about the rezoning, saying during the meeting that the rezoning doesn’t allow any commercial uses besides childcare and senior centers.

“I would love to see a live-work-play nice district right there,” Hopkins said. “That’s not what we’re proposing. I suggest we need to continue the moratorium on the types of things that concern us in that corner and re-do this as a town center district, which would allow for mixed use.”

Councilmember Jamie Carroll pushed back on Hopkins’ claim that the public has been misled about the intent of the rezoning, saying the matter could be discussed without “personal attacks” against people involved with the process.

“I don’t appreciate the attacks on integrity and honesty,” Carroll said.

Hopkins said the city had the opportunity to redo the rezoning as a town center before the car wash moratorium expires, but the council ultimately went with the rezoning as proposed, with Hopkins voting “no” and Eyasu abstaining.

In other business:

— The city council awarded a $132,185 contract to Russell Landscaping for right-of-way maintenance and landscaping.

— The city council voted to roll over its Local Maintenance Improvement Grant funding from the state. The city was expected to receive about $94,000, which would’ve required a local match of $28,000. Instead, the council will combine that grant with next year’s grant to pay for street improvement projects within the city.

“We’re going to have a nice chunk of change next year,” Mayor Beverly Burks said.

— The city council voted to reappoint City Attorney Stephen Quinn, Municipal Court Judge David Will, auditing firm Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC, and appointed council members to standing advisory committees. Here are the council’s advisory committees approved at the Jan. 10 meeting.

— City Manager Qawiy provided her report to the council. Here is her report:

1. Clarkston Zoning Rewrite: The draft report is being prepared for the public review. The goal is to present the document for first review to the February 2023 Planning and Zoning Board.

2.  SPLOST Rowland Street Stripping and Green Crosswalk project.  Weather permitting, work will commence this week for completion by the end of January.

3. The city’s public participation initiative Name that Pocket Park project on Church Street warranted 14 responses from our residents.  The top three responses that council will make a final decision on are: 1. Trailside Green 2. Sanctuary Park and 3. Clarkston Pathway Park.

4. The city received a Georgia Economic Placemaking Collaboration grant of $500. Georgia Power also awarded the city $1,500 for the placemaking initiative.

5. Flock Safety is working with the Clarkston Police Department to conduct a pilot program testing the utilization of drones as first responders. There is no cost to the city. Pilot duration is less than 90 days and will not exceed one year.

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