The Union Recorder

April 24, 2013

City mulling restricted historic district zoning

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —

A recent Milledgeville City Council meeting applied a moratorium on special use zoning requests within the historic district. City Planning & Zoning is considering an ordinance adjustment limiting Greek house special use requests to a certain downtown area.

The current ordinance says the applicant can apply for a group residence with more than three unrelated people living together anywhere inside the single-family historic district.

Zoning administrator Mervin Graham wanted more direction from council in Tuesday's work session. She suggested limiting requests to a smaller area named by streets.

Mayor Richard Bentley said the ordinance limiting unrelated persons within the single-family district originally came about to protect the historic areas.

“I think the idea that we are trying to do is designate an area, though we are still going to have to consider a special fraternity or sorority house use, where we have them restricted. In other words, we would not consider them on Liberty Street,” Bentley said. 

City attorney Jimmy Jordan said the ordinance doesn't require any rezoning.

“We would simply be shrinking the area to which you could have a group residence,” Jordan said. “Instead of covering the entire historic district, it would cover whatever strip council wants.”

The area tossed around Tuesday included seven total blocks. Council is considering the blocks in front of Montgomery bounded by North Columbia and North Clarke Streets, as well as four blocks by North Jackson, West Hancock, South Clarke and West Montgomery.

Bentley said the discussed special use area already covers housing blocks near residences granted group use. According to the mayor, the city is trying to create an area for the absence of a Greek Village.

Steve Chambers, District 6, warned this wouldn't turn into a wild college party area.

“We would only consider the special use,” Chambers said. “It is in no way form or fashion going to make this party central or have a free for all as far as fraternities, sororities or big group homes.”

Col. (Ret.) John Alton, a concerned Liberty Street homeowner, said the current ordinance lacks teeth. Alton urged council to enforce the rules already on the books.

Jordan said how the city uses manpower to gather and investigate evidence is the issue. 

“It's not a matter of the ordinance in what it allows. I will say from a practical standpoint it can be a most difficult situation to investigate and prove to the satisfaction of having our municipal court judge find beyond a reasonable doubt that something is taking place in a certain house or area,” Jordan said.

Alton said he could name 12 houses currently breaking the single-family property ordinance. 

“I have four in my neighborhood right now on Liberty,” he said.

Once council reaches a consensus, the city will draw the ordinance and present the suggested area through the hearing cycles starting at Planning & Zoning.

• City paying for summer fireworks

The city aided in the July 4th fireworks event held at the Milledgeville Mall over the last two years.  The city's cost was $1,500 out of $8,000 total for the 17-minute show handled by Pyrotechnico.

City manager Barry Jarrett said raising the remaining funds by way of local business donations proved difficult last year. Certain city officials suggested the city brunt the entire cost of the show as a form of community giving.

“It brings a lot of people to come see it,” Jeanette Walden, District 2, said. “I think it's a good thing.”

Phillip Joiner, District 4, agreed that funding the show in whole would be simpler. The city could still utilize willing large-scale sponsors like Louie Herron to increase the show's magnitude. 

Jarrett will contact the fireworks company to get the ball rolling.

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