The Commerce City Council made quick work of a short agenda Monday night, approving an amendment to its zoning ordinance and giving employees an extra week’s pay in the process.
At the recommendation of the Commerce Planning Commission, the council amended the zoning ordinance to allow religious institutions to locate in the OCR (Office, Commercial, Residential) zone.
The move clears the way for Trinity Lutheran Church, Athens, to rent a South Broad Street house from Councilman Donald Wilson.
Wilson did not vote on the matter.
Likewise, the council took city manager Pete Pyrzenski’s recommendation and approved a “one-time salary benefit” for city employees in lieu of raises.
Pyrzenski called the move “the next step” in getting back into the practice of providing regular raises. The move will cost the city $69,000, including benefits.
Also on Monday, the council:
•authorized Mayor Clark Hill to sign a “transportation enhancement agreement” with the Georgia Department of Transportation, a step in the process of building the long-awaited (and grant-funded) sidewalk from Commerce Middle School to Lakeview Drive.
•approved a pair of budget amendments, one to fund the payroll benefit and the other to fund a software upgrade that was originally scheduled to be done in the previous fiscal year.
•approved a new customer services policies and procedures manual compiled by finance director James Wascher.
•reappointed Neal Smith to a four-year term on the Commerce Civic Center and Tourism Authority.
•approved the closures of streets around Spencer Park for the Aug. 28 Tigers on the Town Pep Rally.
•voted to hold the September “work session” meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2, due to the Labor Day holiday.
•heard Wascher report on city finances after the first month of the fiscal year. He reported that all funds are “trending normally” and that all but the Gas Fund are in the black.
•heard Donna Swain of Orchard Circle recite a litany of complaints about her neighborhood, including abuses of rental housing, people parking in their front yards, unkempt yards, people burning bonfires in their front yards, a homeless person camping in a yard, a child molester and other felons in the neighborhood, speeding and other issues. “Renters and some owners are causing the value of our homes to come down drastically,” she complained. She offered to host a meeting with the city manager or other officials “to get our neighborhood to a place where we’re not afraid or ashamed to live in.”
•heard Timothy Redmon express concern about the city’s new weapons policy, which would prohibit firearms beyond certain points at recreation facilities. He suggested that the law will not stand up in court and asked the council “not to proceed” in implementing the policy. Redmon also advised that city ordinances requiring permits for parades, demonstrations pickets and assemblies are violations of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “A permit turns a right into a privilege,” he argued. Pyrzenski told Redmon he would consider his concerns and respond to them.
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