The Statham City Council on Tuesday, April 20, approved reducing the speed limit on Broad Street from 35 to 25 miles per hour between Dooley Town Road and 8th Street and also endorsed a plan to install speed-detection devices within school zones in the city.

The changes come as several council members have advocated for improved pedestrian and children safety around the schools, particularly Statham Elementary on Broad Street.

“I don’t want to wait for somebody to die for us to do something,” councilwoman Tammy Crawley, who sponsored the measure to reduce the Broad Street speed limit, said during a council work session earlier this month.

The speed-limit reduction on the road within the city limits will take effect almost immediately, as the city installs new signage.

The council also approved signing on to an agreement with Blue Line Solutions to place laser-technology speed-detection devices within the school zones at Statham Elementary and Bear Creek Middle. The agreement stems from a countywide effort led by the Barrow County School System and Barrow County Sheriff’s Office to place the devices in every school zone. A traffic study of the Statham school zones determined that a speeding problem “does exist,” Mayor Joe Piper said earlier this month. A 30-day warning period will be issued to the public upon implementation, and after that citations would be issued automatically to a vehicle owner’s address, Piper said.

Blue Line Solutions will install and maintain the devices at no cost to the city, and, under the agreement, the city would get 65 percent of money collected from fines, which would go into the police department’s budget. The company would keep the remaining 35 percent to help offset maintenance and any necessary repair costs.

The signs are only allowed by law to be in use during and for certain time periods before and after school hours, Piper said, though license plate readers will remain turned on at all times.

The vote for the speed-limit reduction and the speed-detection devices was unanimous Tuesday among council members.

“I think both of these will significantly help us with the speeding issue,” McCormic said at the April 8 work session. “If it does help, we may not have to put in those pesky speed bumps that nobody wants.”

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business Tuesday, the council:

•approved a one-year insurance agreement with the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency (GIRMA) for May 1, 2021, through May 1, 2022, to cover general liability, cyber-security, property, automobiles and officials’ errors and omissions with a $25,000 deductible per occurrence. The coverage comes at a cost of $75,402 to the city, a 6-percent increase over the past year. City attorney Jody Campbell said the city accountant had spoken with two additional insurance providers for cost estimates and been told that they would not offer a quote because they deemed the city “uninsurable” due to a bevy of lawsuits against the city in recent years, primarily dealing with police and open-records and open-meetings issues. Councilwoman Betty Lyle voted against approving the policy. Crawley said she voted for it “reluctantly.”

•approved a unified development code amendment that requires a major subdivision (more than five lots) to have a preliminary plat that would be subject to council review and approval.

PIPER MISSES MEETING DUE TO COVID

Piper was not in attendance for Tuesday’s meeting after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. The mayor confirmed his diagnosis in a post on the city’s Facebook page Friday, April 16, saying he began experiencing symptoms on April 12 and that he had not been at city hall since April 10.

Piper said he was feeling better and hoped to return to work later this week.

McCormic, who is currently vice-mayor, presided over the meeting in Piper’s absence.

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