The Commerce City Council will vote at its Jan. 21 meeting on giving raises to 69 employees as part of a compensation study done last summer and fall.

The raises will cost $77,225. City manager James Wascher said earlier the raises could be paid out of the currently budget because the city budgeted more money than it will cost for health insurance.

The study was done by Evergreen Solutions and the increases are covered by the savings. The total does not include the benefits for city employees.

The pay study will establish the minimum, maximum and average of salaries for a host of city jobs. The city current has a grading and pay scale system.

The council also heard a report and discussed conditions for buffers between industrial and residential property and between residential and commercial property.

The issue came up over a proposed annexation of property owned by James Bouchard that is adjacent to industrial land already annexed into the city and is adjacent to property owned by families on Lords Mill Rd.

The planning commission recommended the property be annexed and rezoned to M-I industrial. It put conditions on it for a buffer of 80 feet.

However, the Twin Creeks subdivision also is planned for an adjacent area and the city council directed the planning commission to consider buffer zones for all property in the city.

The council also directed that no building permits would be issued for Twin Creeks for up to 90 days or until the question of buffers are resolved.

Council members Monday discussed a buffer of 25 to 50 feet for residential property and about 50 feet for industrial. That would leave a buffer between the industry and residential of about 100 feet.

Jordan Shoemaker, Commerce planning and zoning administrator, said Jackson County has a buffer of about 150 feet – all from the industrial property.

Mayor Clark Hill said developers of residential property are required to have 20 percent of the land in greenspace and the buffer could be part of that 20 percent.

Shoemaker said the planning commission will have a work session on the topic in a 6 p.m. meeting Jan. 16. The commission expects to vote on conditions for buffers at its January meeting and forward that to the council in February.

Council member Bobby Redmon asked about using berms for buffers as another option. He said areas such as Mt. Olive Rd., where roads are right next to subdivisions, should have guard rails installed for residents’ safety. He said a vegetative buffer for sound and sight might also be required.

The Twin Creeks property of about 57 acres will be on the Jan. 21 agenda for annexation and re-zoning from AR in the county to R-1 in the city.

OTHER ITEMS

Other items on the Jan. 21 agenda include:

•an agreement with the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority for buying and/or selling water between it and Commerce. The agreement, which is through the end of 2022, provides up to 1 million gallons of water to cost the buying party $3 per thousand gallons; between 1,000,001 and 5 million gallons, it will be $2.90 per thousand gallons; from 5,000,001 to 10 million gallons, it will cost $280 per thousand gallons and 10 million gallons or more will be $2.70 per thousand gallons. The two parties agree for either to get 750,000 gallons per day from each of two connections, one on Hwy. 98 at Wheeler Cemetery Rd. and one on Hwy. 334, 600 feet north of Bolton-Gordon Rd. The total amount to be bought or sold shall not exceed 1.5 million gallons per day on a monthly average.

•a contract with Ideal Exterior Solution for $65,750 to replace the roof on the Commerce Cultural Center. Wascher said the unknowns on the contract are for replacing decking. He said he would prefer using plywood, costing $67 for a 4 x 8 sheet, and he would prefer having exposed gutters rather than an enclosed gutter system.

•a quit claim deed from the city to the Downtown Development Authority from the Municipal Electric Association Group for a piece of land on Harmony St. The DDA is building two new houses with a $300,000 community housing improvement program grant there and on Barber St. Natalie Thomas, DDA director, said construction should start in March.

•an annexation of 1.74 acres and a rezoning to R-1 on Westwood Dr. for a residence for Lynn Burchett and Kevin Minish.

•agreements for the Georgia Municipal Employees Benefit System and the county’s hazard mitigation plan.

•the re-appointment of council member Johnny Eubanks to the Downtown Development Authority board.

•acceptance of the following for Main Street events in 2020: Folk to Fine Art Festival, March 6-7, civic center; Easter parade, April 11, downtown; spring beautification, April 18, downtown; Commerce Criterium bicycle races, April 26, downtown; Cruisin’ Commerce, May 9, downtown; Farm to table dinner, June 11, civic center; music and fireworks, June 26, downtown; Concert on Cherry, Aug. 1, downtown; Bridal Expo, Aug. 9, civic center; Bands, Brews & BBQ, Nov. 7, downtown; Commerce by Candlelight, Dec. 3, downtown; Holiday Market, Dec. 4-5, downtown; and Christmas parade, Dec. 6, downtown.

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