Work could soon begin on 300 new townhomes in Hoschton following action by the Hoschton City Council on Dec. 21.
The council approved the preliminary plat for Cambridge at Towne Center, a move that should allow Rockhaven Homes to begin work on the project. Zoning and other approvals were given in 2019.
The action came as the council began to wind down 2020 and gear up for 2021.
Among the items approved by the council were:
• the swearing-in of Joesph Hayes as the town's code enforcement officer. The city had earlier worked out a deal with the Jackson County Magistrate Court to hear city ordinance violations. Officials said the town is now positioned to be more aggressive in citing city codes.
• transmitting the city's comprehensive plan update to the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission for review. The update will then come back to the council for final action.
• a hearing of the city's 2021 budget. Nobody spoke in opposition to the budget and city officials didn't discuss any details during the meeting. Among the items in the budget are funds to start up a town police department, likely in the third quarter of 2021.
• changing the monthly council meetings for 2021 to one meeting per month to be held on the third Monday at 5:30 p.m. The town's planning commission will now meet on the fourth Monday at 7 p.m.
• a rezoning for Eddie Butler at 126 New St. to divide the property for two single-family homes.
• variances on three tracts of land so that the city can build two new water tanks in town.
• a resolution for a storm water facility maintenance agreement.
• an updated ordinance stormwater ordinance for post-construction.
Although the council took no action on the matter, Mayor Shannon Sell again discussed his idea to hike the pay of the council and mayor. Sell had earlier said he wants the pay to go from $25 per meeting (with a cap of $75 per month) to $500 per month for council members and $1,000 per month for the mayor.
Sell said Dec. 21 that the reason for the pay hike, which wouldn't take effect until 2022, is to encourage people to run for office and that serving on the council shouldn't be a financial burden to people.
"In the future when I'm no longer mayor, I want a qualified person on this council and mayor," he said. "I want somebody that's smart, that's willing to work and that's not up here wasting time. I want an educated person that's got the best interest of the city at heart and also that knows what they're doing."
Sell said he also wants to expand the council to six members from the current four. He said the total cost to the city for a better-paid council would only be a total of $48,000 per year, an amount he said was worth it.