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City Council May 18, 2011 Work Session: Agenda Summary

Council discusses changing downtown parking credits, Leach Landscape contract is approved with stipulations, latest round of revisions to TADS were presented and Water Master Plan advances.

City Council May 18, 2011 Work Session: Agenda Summary

A continuation of this meeting is scheduled for May 25, 2011 at 3:00 p.m. in City Hall.

AGENDA SUMMARY

Special Call Meeting

Old Business

Item 1: DOWNTOWN PARKING CREDITS—Councilman Tony Powell citing the need for the city to make downtown businesses parking an incentive, purposed changing the amount paid for parking spaces by business and, or land owners. Payments, said Powell would be contingent upon individual business owners contract and negotiations with the city.

Powell initially purposed making that amount for now zero dollars. He said the city should target some of the soon to be adopted (Tax Allocation Districts) TAD’s funding to downtown parking. TAD’s, he said, with components of property taxes paid by business owners, tenants and a public component, should be used as the primary tool to solve the (downtown parking credits) problem. The same people are paying, but are just paying over a longer period of time, he said.

City Attorney Lee Thompson, Jr. said the issue is there is one contract that provides for some payment. He said it reads that if the city does away with parking requirements in the Lawrenceville downtown overlay district it would have to pay a fair market value as oppose to trading out something. Therefore, Thompson said the city should keep parking requirements to avoid changing zoning ordinance. He advised council to memorize set amount paid for parking credits.

Thompson said the city does have the option of reducing what a business owner pays to get parking credits, without breaching a contract. He said if the city does away with parking requirements for business owners in the overlay district that would cause some issues. 

The city council, Thompson said, can change the amount paid for parking credits at anytime through a resolution. He said that council should not reduce amount to zero because the only way a business owner can prove the allotment of parking spaces is by paying into the parking credits fund. Currently business owners, he said, are paying $6,000 for each parking credit upfront, when seeking permit(s) from the city. He said there are parking requirements in the zoning ordinance allocated by the types of businesses.   

Councilman Peter Martin asked Thompson to look into if parking credits payments can be paid in increments instead of a lump sum.

Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson asked Thompson to look into options and to meet with the land owner with the contract in question.  

After hearing Thompson’s advice Councilman Powell made a motion (seconded by Councilwoman Marie Beiser) to change the parking credits amount to $100 per space. Powell said approval of credits amount change would be contingent upon Thompson being able to eliminate the city’s exposure in contractual obligations. Powell then asked that the legality of this change be discussed in Executive Session.

Councilman Martin said council should know what the legal ramifications are before voting to change the parking credits amount.

With the mayor casting the deciding vote the motion was defeated 3-2.

This item will be placed on the June Work Session agenda.

Item 2: LEACH LANDSCAPE AGREEMENT—Councilman Powell said council voted to award a new contract to Leach Landscape using raw bid numbers. He said that in reviewing the proposed contract that the omission of specifics related to contractual services in the new contract for $91,000 was troubling. He said the way the contract reads materials such as mulch, pine straw and flowers are not specifically included. He said the contract lists the seven areas to be serviced by Leach, but not what will be done.

In response to the Powell’s questioning the city paying Leach an additional $20,000 this month, Johan Louw told council that those payments were for services done under the previous contract. Jim Steadman said in an effort to get caught up to start new contract “on an even keel” these additional invoices were paid.

Councilman Powell asked when would the city, after paying for mulching and planting of flowers under prior contract, receive those services under the new contract. No definitive answer was given.

Councilman Martin asked who from the city ensures that Leach does services agreed to in contract; Jim Steadman said he was that person. Martin said there is no schedule given in the contract, but that mulching and putting out pine straw should be done on a regular basis. He said there has to be an expectation as to when Leach will perform services.

Martin said he feels the city is on “the backburner” and that Leach will get to the city when it can. He said Leach needs to get on a schedule that includes what will be done and when it will be done. Martin said part of his frustration is due to the “hit or miss” weed treatment and prevention by Leach.

Steadman agreed and said he has personally driven around to identify areas that need servicing. Martin said that the city should not have to do that because that is what Leach is being paid to do. Steadman said Leach’s billing was very confusing. In trying to understand the contract process, Steadman said he has met with other cities and that Louw, to make contract clearer, has created a document that lists services and cost.   

The city receives a packet of invoices from Leach that includes “billing for materials” and a total, Powell said that doesn’t match up. He said the city should receive an invoice for the flat fee of $6,500 a month or one-twelfth of the fixed basic bid amount. With cost adjustments at the discretion of the city up to $2,000, per month, with spending limit of $86,000 for basic contracted services, Powell said.   

Powell asked the city attorney to adjust language in Item 4 of contract to avoid the appearance of the city being charged extra for those additional services. 

Powell made a motion to approve the new Leach contract subject to those specifications to read “all materials including plant materials and supplies are included” to the subjective requirements of the city under the same pricing structure.

Councilwoman Katie Hart Smith asked for an amendment to the motion to include requiring Leach to submit a schedule indicating dates, locations and exact services to be provided. This she said will ensure that the city and Leach knows exactly what is expected; and will make Leach more accountable.

Councilman Martin said bidding in the future should require these specifications.

Voting on the amendment first, it carried 4-0

On the motion to approve the new Leach contract with added specifics requested by council and for a meeting to take place with the mayor, Mr. Leach, Steadman, Louw, city attorney and city clerk, Bob Baroni, included, the motion carried 4-0.

(After this Special Call Meeting vote, council moved into the Work Session agenda.)

WORK SESSION

Item 2: UPDATE on OPPORTUNITY ZONES—Instead of updating council on Opportunity Zones, Ken Bleakly of Bleakly Advisory Group updated the council on the proposed Tax Allocation Districts (TADs), Highway 120 Corridor and College Corridor plans.  On Monday, May 16th Bleakly said he met with the county’s representative, (Allan/Allen/Alan) Durham, and took him on a tour of the city’s Tax Allocation Districts (TADs).

Bleakly told council of Durham’s suggested changes to the proposed plans to get their reaction. He said after this round of revisions were done the plans should be done.

County suggested changes for 120 Corridor: 1.) From the 120 Corridor map, include the vacant gas station on the corner of Highway 316 as a site to re-development. City clerk Baroni said the Gwinnett Medical Center might take control of this property. Councilwoman Smith said Tom Shepard with GMC expressed “a great interest in” that property; and Mayor Johnson said that Phil Wolff, a Gwinnett Medical Center Executive Committee member, said that part of the 316 development would take the vacant Waffle House lot and possibly go into the vacant gas station. With interested parties information provided by council, Bleakly took instructions to leave gas station out of redevelopment plans.  

2.) The building at 455 Phillips Boulevard which is a new building that does not require redevelopment, therefore the county suggested removing it from proposed plans.

3.) The use of TAD’s on what is called “green sites or green field sites”, which are considered to be undeveloped sites. The county’s re-action was not to include these if they have never been developed, but let the market eventually address these sites. Bleakly would like to revisit one of these sites with the county because this property has several issues. One it doesn’t have frontage back onto 120 and in isolating little parcels along the front of the property isn’t big enough to develop unless the property in the back is included. Because this property hasn’t been developed and could be classified as a green site, due to its terrain, Bleakly suggested leaving this property in the plan. Council did not oppose this action and gave Bleakly consent to go back to the county to discuss this decision.    

County suggested changes for College Corridor: 1.) As a policy the county doesn’t allow historic areas, or older residential areas, to be included in TADs.  The county doesn’t want TADs used as incentives to tear down historic properties that should be preserved. Bleakly said there is a block of property next to the old vacant school site that the county suggested leaving out of the plan; but county suggested putting the street right-away into the plan to allow streetscapes improvements on any of the streets, including connecting the streets. The county suggested not including small parcels in the middle of the property, but the county was very excited that the city would include the old school site in redevelopment plans. Councilwoman Smith agreed with Bleakly that these were reasonable, historic preservation, suggestions made by the county.

2.)  Other identified green field sites that the county suggested leaving out of plans were the corners at the intersection of Collins Hill Road and property located on the edge of the 316 Corridor; with this property’s prominence on 316, the county believes it should be developed via the market. But Bleakly disagreed with the county to leaving out property on the corners on Collins Hill Road intersection. He said in order for the city to do comprehensive development all four corners must be included in redevelopment plans. Councilman Martin said due to the city considering building a hotel and ’s need for space for continuing education classes, that property on the corners of Collins Hill Road intersection should remain in plans. The city is looking to use TADs funding to build proposed hotel and, or parking structures. Bleakly said he will revisit this property’s inclusion in plans in talks with the county.

Bleakly said there is a potential that property values will decline again next year. He said if values go down one or two percent, the city will not be impacted and should proceed as planned. But if values drop by five or seven percent, the city could not spend any TADs funding and that the city would have to get back to the amount started at the base in 2011. He said this would mean a significant amount of funding would not be available.  

To council Bleakly suggested two ways of dealing with declining property values. One is for council to wait to adopt TADS, at the beginning of next year, after receiving 2012 digest. The drawback of doing this is not having TADs in place if someone comes along and is ready to develop in districts. And second is for council to proceed with adopting TADs this year on the 2011 digest. In doing this if the city gets big construction project(s) it can reset the base. Securing projects that could then be presented to the Board of Commissioners and the School Board should garner support from both.     

Bleakly said he would meet with the county, then add changes discussed and then bring revised TADs plans back to council in June Business Meeting. After council approves plans, public hearing(s) will be arranged.

Item 4: BID RAW WATERLINE-WINER INDUSTRIAL WAY—Instead of bidding this project through normal process, Mike Bowie of city’s water department asked council for consent to fast track this project. This request was made due to the Board of Education planned opening of a new school located at Johnson Road and Highway 49 in August. Bowie asked if the department could get a bid and advertise for a week because of time constraints to complete project.

City Attorney Thompson said that because this project cost should be less than $40,000 the water department could get three quotes and Mr. Steadman, water department superintendent could then sign off.   Thompson said if the project will be more than $40,000, the department will have to go through the next procurement process unless council instructs differently. Bowie said the project probable construction cost will under $40,000.

Councilman Martin said if this request fits under the procurement ordinance the water department should proceed. Councilwoman Smith said the department already has budgeted funding to do the project and isn’t seeking any additional funding.

Bowie said he would get all related contracts documents to the city attorney “to make sure everything is covered”.

Item 5: HIGHWAY 29/JOHNSON ROAD WATERLINE PROJECT—For Contract 1A, Bowie said the opinion of (Crowthal) Construction Company the cost for this project is $541,724. Initially Bowie said now that the city has the last easement that would allow the city to bring water from Johnson Road to the city’s new water plant (tentatively scheduled to open on June 12, 2011). He then corrected his statement and said the city does not have the easement from the county. Bowie therefore asked for the removal of that easement in the contract.

Actual construction of this project includes two boars and a twelve-inch waterline on the back side of plant from Dogwood; and construction cost includes installation of two Johnson Road well sites. Because the city doesn’t have the Lawrenceville/Suwanee property that construction will be held off until phase II.   

Councilwoman Smith asked if this project was also budgeted, response from Bowie was yes. He then said additional engineering cost would be incurred in the amount of $5,500.

Bowie said contract is divided to indicate having easements for well sites four and eight. And if city gets the final easement from the county it will have easements specified in Contract 1B for well sites five and six, said Mayor Johnson to which Bowie said yes. Contract 1B notes easements not yet acquired by the city. Bowie said both of these easements are owned by Mr. Baggett.  Bowie asked council to approve Contract 1B contingent upon getting the two easements from Mr. Baggett.

Contract 1B cost in the opinion of (Crowthal) Construction Company is $567,915; with additional engineering cost of $5,500.

Councilman Powell asked the water department to create as much competition among bidders as possible to get lower bids. He said it was hard to justify spending a half million dollars and hard to project the city’s savings of bringing water to city’s customers without wholesale agreement in place with the county. He said the county could increase water rates forcing the city to pass the increase onto its customers.

Bowie said the city has gone from supplying five percent of water to twenty percent. He said the new plant should increase city supplied water to thirty percent.

Item 6: WATER MASTER PLAN—After discussing Items 4 and 5, council was asked by Bowie to approve Water Department Master Plan; the cost of Master Water Plan is $21,750.

Council members said that this plan should be in place before voting on Items 4 and 5.

 Councilman Martin asked that Water Master Plan be placed on the Consent agenda of June Business Meeting.

Item 9: CHANGE ORDER #3-WINDER DRAINAGE PROJECT—Paul Austin presented a change order request to replace a deteriorating headwall to the creek alongside the Water Department building. This damaged headwall Austin said was discovered by a Water Department construction contractor. He said based on similar projects they were confident that the cost of this project would be less than $40,000.  Therefore they advertised to companies that have worked for the city in the past.

The only estimate received said Austin, was from Contour Grading in the amount of $24,840 dollars. Because Contour Grading is doing the work at on Winer Drainage Project, Austin asked council to approve adding headwall replacement as a change order to the Winder Drainage contract to expedite quicker. Austin estimated total cost of project to be $35,000.

Due to Contour Grading already being on site, Austin said that contributed to them submitting a low bid at not having to charge the city a mobilization fee. But Councilman Martin noted a $1,000 mobilization fee included in change order. Martin also asked if Contours’ work was satisfactory and if the current project was on time, Austin said yes.

Councilman Powell asked if Austin recommended granting of this project to Contour Grading, Austin said yes. Powell then asked that this item be placed on the Consent Agenda of June Business Meeting.

Item 31: USING ASSET FORFEITURE FUNDS--Chief Randy Johnson asked council for consent to purchase: a video server, a mobile server, six in-car video cameras, 55 tasers with holsters, 135 live smart cartridges, 110 training cartridges and 5 x2 data port download kits, all totaling $112,077.25.

Council asked that this item be placed on the June Consent Agenda.

Council moved into Executive Session.

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