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 FRONT PAGE - OCTOBER 13, 1999 - COMMERCE, GA


Fire Damage Heavy
Firemen from Commerce and Nicholson put out a fire Monday afternoon at the residence of Syble and R.L. Stephens, 2415 Ila Road, after a passerby noticed the smoke and called 911. The cause of the fire was not known at press time, but the house, which was fully involved when the firemen arrived, was heavily damaged. No one was at home at the time.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

'Phenomenal, Excellent'
Commerce's Financial Situation Draws Praise From Auditor
"Pretty doggone good, phenomenal, excellent."
No one could have envisioned 10 years ago, when local banks would not lend the city of Commerce any money, that such words would be used by an auditor to describe Commerce's financial condition.
But Charles Brabson, an accountant with Ross Lane & Company, LLC, used those words and other favorable adjectives as he presented to the Commerce City Council Monday night the audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
"The cash management of this city is excellent. Phenomenal. Flash back 10 years ago and it is really amazing," Brabson told the city council. "Mr. (Clarence) Bryant and Shirley (Willis) and the crew over there are doing a good job."
Highlights of the audit, according to Brabson, are the city's cash position ­ it had $4.6 million on hand, some $2.6 million in its enterprise (utility) fund and the rest in the General Fund; a total fund equity of $9,137,974 ("pretty good for a city this size, real good," Brabson noted); and a combination of revenues that were $93,434 more than budgeted and expenditures of $86,297 less than budgeted for what he called a "favorable variation" of $179,201 for the fiscal year.
During the year, the city's utility departments generated $2,153,199. Of that, $1,265,000 was transferred to the General Fund.
"Thanks to the staff for making this fine report," stated Mayor Charles Hardy. "It's been y'all, not us, that did it."
If there was any bad news in the audit, it was Brabson's report that new accounting standards coming into play will require the city to list the value of its fixed assets ­ all equipment, utility lines and pipe, inventory, etc. The city audit has always had an "exception" in the auditor's notes because those items are not listed, but in the past both Brabson and the city council agreed it was not worth the expense to calculate the value of those items.
"It boils down to priorities, to what's important," Brabson said. "It's gotten important now."
City manager Clarence Bryant predicted that the new accounting standards, set by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, will require the city to employ at least one full-time person.
Brabson said he would meet with Bryant and city clerk Shirley Willis to come up with a recommendation for meeting the new standards.



Commerce Council Approves
Zoning Change For Industrial Park

The Commerce City Council rejected the recommendation of its planning commission Monday night and approved a zoning change to allow a 51-acre industrial park on the Maysville Road.
The Commerce Planning Commission had recommended that the request of Bobby Caudell to rezone land on Georgia 98 at Wilbanks Way from R-1 to M-1 be denied.
But Councilman Sam Brown made a motion to not concur with the planning board and to grant the request. Councilman Archie D. Chaney Jr. provided a second.
"We've been looking to try to get some commercial and industrial development," Brown noted. "To deny him this zoning change would not only hold up his progress, but would hold up ours too."
Mayor Charles Hardy agreed.
"This is going to open the whole side of the interstate to Hurricane Shoals for development," he said. "Everybody out there has got to understand they're sitting on prime industrial property."
Councilman Bob Sosebee also concurred.
"There is no more residential property on 98. There is no more agricultural property on 98," he asserted, noting that the property is "right across from the mega-tract," which is one of the state's top two potential major industrial sites.
Brown's motion passed unanimously.
The council also rejected a recommendation of the planning commission that the council approve a moratorium on the construction of telecommunications towers and antennas while the planning commission works on an ordinance to regulate them. At the recommendation of City Attorney John Stell, the council voted to ask the planning commission to have the ordinance ready by the next council meeting.
"You can't have a moratorium before the next council meeting, because you didn't advertise it," Stell advised, indicating that passage of an ordinance would be the quickest way to regulate the towers, construction of which is booming due to the digital and cellular communications industry.
In other zoning-related matters, the council:
·accepted the recommendation of the Commerce Planning Commission and voted to rezone from A-R to R-2 73.92 acres on Mount Olive Road at Ridgeway Street so Broughton Cochran, Gainesville, can build a subdivision with 146 lots for site-built houses. The council attached stipulations requiring that the development be as much like the conceptual plan as possible, that the end of Ridgeway Street be rerouted around a small cemetery, with Cochran providing the right-of-way; that houses on the Mount Olive Road side face Mount Olive Road; that the interior roads be bonded for a year; and that all houses have two-car garages and concrete driveways. On a related action, the council voted to deny a rezoning request on a 7.39 acre tract across Ridgeway. Cochran had withdrawn a request to rezone the land for nearly 50 townhouse apartments, but the council chose to deny the request so Cochran could not resubmit it for six months.
·approved a request from Ty Cobb Health Care to rezone from R-1 to C-1 a lot on Bolton Road at Tara Place. The company plans to build a dialysis center.
·approved a request from Sam Edwards, Ridgeway Street, to rezone from R-2 to R-5 a lot for the location of a mobile home.




The Commerce News - Commerce, Georgia
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