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Alcohol Ordinance Overhaul, Smoking on GGC Campus and More Tackled by Council

City’s Alcohol Ordinance is being totally rewritten. GGC requests same smoking restrictions as imposed in the city. Southern Cross gets green light for two change orders totaling $17,700. And election results are now official.

December 12, 2011: City Council Business Meeting Summary

X. Council Business

     A. New Business

 Item 1. Gas Department is Requesting the Approval of Two Change Orders to the Southern Cross Contract – This item was presented by the new Gas Department Director, Mike Hutchins.  He said in order for the city to comply with federal mandates that a leak survey over one-fifth of the city’s underground facility must be done annually. This survey must include the business district. Hutchins said that when the contract was awarded to Southern Cross the city had defined its business district as being very small. Using the federal code definition of a business district, Hutchins said has “greatly expanded” the size of the city’s “correct” business district. The newly defined business district now includes territory in Grayson, Loganville and Walnut Grove. These districts include most churches, hospitals, schools and shopping centers “of any decent size” said Hutchins.

These change orders are being sought by Southern Cross to bring the current leak survey, scope, up-to-date and to fund the completion of 2011 leak survey; projected for completion in February of 2012. Southern Cross is requesting $6,700 to bring the current leak survey, scope, up-to-date. Southern Cross is also asking for an additional $11,000 to complete the 2011 leak survey.

Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson asked Hutchins to provide an explanation of a leak survey. He said if gas pipe corrosion leads to holes in the pipes gas can escape. The gas leak survey is conducted using instruments to detect methane from holes along the gas pipelines. The survey locates these leaks, hopefully while they are still small, in the system, before they can become larger issues, said Hutchins.   

The motion to approve change orders requests by Southern Cross was made by Councilman Peter Martin and second by Councilman Tony Powell.

Before the vote Councilman Powell asked newly hired Hutchins to introduce himself and to inform the public about other projects the Gas Department is undertaking under his authority. The twenty-nine years former employee of Atlanta Gas & Light Company and 1973 graduate from Georgia Tech said that the Gas Department was conducting underground pipes replacement. The city is also installing “plastic gas sleeves” in several communities; also performing above ground corrosion protection that includes, to date, the painting of over 10,000 meters. Hutchins said there are an estimated 44,000 meters in service in the city and that all of them will be painted. In addition to painting, Hutchins said if needed some meters will be raised if sunken to level that causes corrosion and others will be repositioned to avoid corrosion.

Powell said that in recent months a number of professional staffers have been hired in the Gas Department. When asked if anything else was needed in the Gas Department to bring the city into Public Service Commission (PSC) compliance, Hutchins said that by way of a PSC consent order that the department is, on a line item bases, 90 percent complete. On a workload bases, he said, the city still has a “good number of meters to paint” to be in compliance.  Overall, Hutchins said the city has about 50 services to insert to be in compliance of PSC requirements. With the exception of one to two meters that the city is having difficulty “getting in” repairs on meters have taken place.

Motion carried 4-0 to approve the two requested change orders by Southern Cross.

Item 2. Ordinance to Prohibit Smoking on the Campus of Georgia Gwinnett College Except in Designated Areas – In the absence of City Attorney Lee Thompson, Jr. this item was presented by Attorney Ryan A. Fisher with Thompson, Sweeney, Kinsinger & Pereira law firm. This was the 1st Read for this ordinance. Section 116 of Chapter 31 was determined to be the “perfect place” to put this ordinance (into the City Codes). The prior ordinance was entirely deleted and replaced with this prohibition of smoking on except in designated areas, said Fisher.

Motion to approve the 1st Read of this ordinance was made by Councilwoman Katie Hart Smith and second by Councilwoman Marie Beiser.

Councilwoman Smith said that as the city passes the ordinances this will allow campus police and the college to enforce this ordinance on their campus. She said this request came from college; and this was something the city could do to help with enforcement.

Most of GGC is located within the city limits, said Councilwoman Beiser. In other words, GGC’s location makes all city adopted ordinances applicable.

The motion passed in a 4-0 vote. A 2nd and final Read of this ordinance will take place in the council’s January meeting.

Item 4. Certification of 2012 Election Results – City Manager Robert “Bob” Baroni gave the final number of votes cast in the November 8, 2011 Special Election; between incumbent Peter "P.K." Martin IV and former mayor Rex Millsap. During this election was voted in to fill the Post 3 seat, currently held by . This election also included the that received 1,002 votes for the selling and 591 against the selling of alcohol on Sundays in beverage shops and grocery stores. Council was also asked to certify the December 6, 2011 run-off election results; this election lead to (497 votes).

Councilman Powell and Mayor Johnson commended the elections staff/volunteers and the City Clerk, Karen Pierce for all of their work during these elections.

A motion to grant certifications to the elections results was made by Councilman Martin and second by Councilwoman Beiser.

The motion carried 4-0 to certify November 8, 2011 Special Election and December 6, 2011 Run-off results.

Item 6.  1st Read of Alcohol Ordinance – This item was added to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting by Councilman Martin. Attorney Ryan Fisher presented the item to the council. Councilman Martin said that with cooperation from City Clerk Pierce that the city attorneys have rewritten the Alcohol Ordinance. Martin said that the rewrite should make the city more competitive and protect its citizens better. Fisher said that there are still a couple of areas that need more work, but overall the ordinance is nearly completed.

Councilman Martin made the motion to approve the 1st Read of the city’s revamped Alcohol Ordinance; second by Councilman Powell.

Powell asked Fisher for the code section for the Alcohol Ordinance; he said that it was Chapter 34, Section 101-34350. Powell said the purpose of 1st Reads is to put everyone on notice that (change) is under debate and in consideration. He said that due to inconsistencies in the codes, outdated codes that prohibit comprehensive amendments and the establishing of new businesses like the wine shop and other revenue generating events, all dictate the city’s need to revise this ordinance.

Mayor Johnson said that council should begin studying this entire ordinance now; not to wait to get familiar with its content the weekend before (it is approved). She said because the city wants to do it right the first time; if it is not right, she said council members need to speak up until it is right.

The motion to approve 1st Read of the city Alcohol Ordinance carried 4-0. The mayor said that 2nd and final Read of this ordinance will take place in council’s January meeting.

(Fisher said, after the meeting, that Councilman Martin would like for this ordinance to be completed by the beginning of 2012; and that the ordinance does include Growler regulations and definition. A Growler is an establishment that allows customers to bring in a container which is then filled with an alcoholic drink. The container, after it has been filled, is then sealed by the server and the customer, after purchasing, is allowed to carry the sealed container outside of and away from the establishment for consumption.)

With no Public Comment registered, council moved into Executive Session to address Personnel, Litigation and Real Estate items.

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