The city of Georgetown’s stormwater management plan is on hold after a motion to adopt it was voted down 3-3 during the Nov. 21 city council special meeting/workshop.
Voting down the measure were Tupelo Humes, Rudolph Bradley and Clarence Smalls. Voting in favor were Sheldon Butts, Al Joseph and Carol Jayroe. Mayor Brendon Barber was absent.
The almost $20 million project would have raised storm water utility fees for both residential and commercial customers. Residential rates would have risen from $6 to $8 a month and commercial properties would have been charged according to their impervious surface.
The proposed plan had 12 total projects in the Historic and West End district that consultant WK Dickson identified as key areas subject to flooding. Humes was concerned the 12 areas didn’t take in consideration of every citizen.
“We are asking the citizens to pay extra when there’s nothing going to be done in their community,” Humes said. “That’s the problem I have with this plan. You have residents here in Georgetown who have to during a flood, their going home by boat and we’re doing nothing in those areas. Either we have a plan that’s going to address everyone, or we shouldn’t move forward.”
Some council members were concerned about the commercial rate.
“There are some commercial businesses with large impervious areas that are going to have a significant increase in their storm water bill,” Council Member Jayroe said.
Most council members agreed that a storm water plan should have been in place already.
“Those of us here today are having to make the hard choice because of deferred maintenance and lack of action since 1993,” Council Member Joseph said.
“WK Dickson spent a year doing this process,” Council Member Jayroe said. “They’re the experts here. We’re not. We have underground systems that aren’t working properly. They’re not going to start working again on their own.”
After the measure was voted down, Council member Bradley suggested to city staff to meet with council and “get feedback on what they really want. It (measure) is not dead in the water.”
Creech and Associates came before council and presented the schematic design for the new city hall. The 16,000 square foot, two-story sloped roof building will feature a clock tower out front just like the tower at the Rice Museum.
“We tried to follow your direction and I really want to commend you for being so decisive in what you liked,” David Creech said. “It helped us to move forward with a design.”
City Administrator Sandra Yudice said they hope to break ground in July 2020 with a completion date of 12 months after the notice to proceed.
Harbor Club development
Council voted 4-2 to approve an incentive package between the city and the builder Beverly Construction. 60 homes are scheduled to be built at the Harbor Club neighborhood in the Maryville area.
Voting in favor were Jayroe, Bradley, Joseph and Smalls. Voting against were Butts and Humes.
The incentive package will refund 50% of Building Permit fees and 50% of the total gross development Business License fees collected by the City. The total reimbursed fees are estimated to be $38,100 based on a total development (60 homes) costs from Beverly Construction of $12,960,000.
The city staff recommended council deny the request “based on the Public Purpose Doctrine.” The Public Purpose Doctrine states that public monies may only be spent for “public purposes.” The doctrine is a judicially imposed constitutional limitation on the manner in which federal, state, and local governmental entities may spend public funds.
Council went into executive session at the end of the meeting. Afterwards, Bradley made a motion to have City Administrator Sandra Yudice enter into negotiations with Charlotte-based Edifice General Contractors for the construction of city hall.
Just like the stormwater plan, the vote ended in a 3-3 tie. Voting against the motion to hire Edifice were Humes, Joseph and Jayroe. Bradley, Smalls and Butts voted in favor.
Mayor Barber can bring the items back up for another vote at any time.