With the Fourth of July in the rearview mirror and Labor Day a few weeks away, Catoosa County has approved an ordinance to regulate pop-up fireworks stands within the county.
During the July 3 Board of Commissioner's meeting, City Attorney Chad Young discussed the details of a new ordinance in a both public hearing and the regular meeting.
"This is an ordinance for firework sales in unincorporated areas of the county," Young said. "It's pretty limited in its scope. As the board is aware, in 2015, the General Assembly authorized the sale of fireworks in the state of Georgia statewide. There's nothing that this county or any other county can to do prevent or regulate that."
However, Young did explain that the county can oversee licensing and permitting of temporary businesses that come around seasonally.
"One limited part of the statue that says if a retailer that has a license from the state wants to set up one of these temporary stands on the Fourth of July or other days when fireworks
sales are popular, that the county can regulate that by issuing them a license and a special-use permit, and we're authorized to collect a fee," Young said. "The statute sets the fee at $500 for the license and $100 for the special-use permit."
The statute in question requires that those funds collected from the licensing and permit fees goes back into funding public safety programs throughout the county.
Young reiterated that the ordinance would only apply to those looking to setup a temporary location in the unincorporated areas.
He added that the issue recently came to light when a proprietor inquired about such licensing.
"This came about actually because we had one retailer that wanted to set up a temporary location," Young said. "They issued the check made payable to the county and delivered it to our fire chief. We have to have a mechanism in place to be able to collect that money and to do something with it."
The board unanimously approved the ordinance after agreeing that having something on the books would be a good idea moving forward.
"The ordinance authorizes us to collect these fees, issue the license, and designates the fire department as the point of contact to take the application and issue the license," Young said.
Catoosa County officials have delayed a vote regarding the rezoning of a proposed development that would bring more than 100 homes to the area of Moore Road.
During the July 17 meeting, the Board of Commissioners expressed concerns with school overcrowding and sewer hookups, which prompted a vote to delay the matter until the next meeting in two weeks.
Hoyt Lance requested the rezone of approximately 52 acres from A-1 agricultural to an R-3 residential to accommodate 103 homes off Moore Road.
The county's zoning director stated that the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the request with a 4-0 vote on June 26.
Attorney Brandon Bowen and Engineer Mike Price spoke on Lance's behalf about the development, which would have homes on smaller lots in a walker-friendly neighborhood.
"According to your comprehensive plan, this area is designated as 'suburban neighborhood' on county maps," Bowen said. "It states that the intent of the suburban neighborhood character area 'is to create new suburban neighborhoods to improve the quality of life with an increased sense of place and community'."
Bowen contended that the development plans are a perfect fit with what that county wants to do in that area.
"In requesting an R-3, we're squarely in what your comprehensive plan says is the right thing to develop on this property," Bowen said. "The development we're proposing is going to be 2.7 units per acre, which is squarely in what your comprehensive plan says is appropriate for this district."
Price explained that all the homes will be single family, but that other type homes were discussed when the project was first discussed.
"Initially, we thought maybe townhouses, but the planning commission sort of indicated that that might not be in keeping with what they felt was appropriate for the area, so we did look at going with single-family homes," Price said.
Price added that they want to have a lot of community space within the development for residents to enjoy.
"We see an opportunity here to gather walking trails for people to be able to utilize; you can also see where we've put some green spaces to sort of allow the interconnectivity of walking trails to be within the subdivision," Price said. "Sidewalks would be installed as part of the development, and we would see some of these community lots that would have walking trails as well."
Although no one has voiced opposition with the development, the board unanimously voted to delay the matter two weeks in order to talk with the school system and examine the sewer needs as well.
"I make a motion that we table this until the next meeting and get with the school system," Commissioner Jeff Long said, "since this is large and I know several of the schools are already maxed out on their students."
Price admitted that the developers haven't applied for sewer through the city of Chattanooga yet either.
"We didn't want to get the cart before the horse," Price said.
"Sometimes the cart changes," Chairman Steven Henry said.
Even when and if the zoning does go through at the next meeting, Price said the group would still have to go back to Planning and Zoning to request a variance to make the lots 50-foot wide instead of the normal minimum of 80-foot for the R-3 zone.
The next Board of Commissioner's meeting will take place Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 6 p.m.
Catoosa County officials have approved a construction bid to renovate the historic Old Stone Church and Museum on U.S. Highway 41.
The Board of Commissioners awarded the bid on Tuesday, July 3, after Building Maintenance Director Greg James explained some of the issues that have existed during the bidding process where initial proposals came in way higher than projected.
"We held bid openings on April 12 and only one bid was received, which was for $65,234, which was way more than I thought it should be," James explained. "So, the project was re-bid in later April and we opened them May 10. This time again, we took extensive measures to contact local contractors to see if they may want to bid."
James says bids were high, but that his department was eventually able to work something out with JB's Roofing and Construction out of Douglasville, Ga.
"They attached two estimates — one for the roofing, which was $14,935, and then the wood replacement, painting, and handrails for $14,986, which would bring the total estimate to do the restoration to $29,921," James said. "They previously replaced the roof at the animal shelter and had good results and good feedback from that."
The board unanimously approved awarding the bid.
The issue was first brought to the attention of the board last October, when former commission chairman and local historian Bill Clark explained that repairs were much-needed.
The facility is operated by the Catoosa County Historical Society, and is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places.
The building was built in 1850 and served as a military hospital during the Civil War.
James said the high bids for the roof, replacement of rotten wood trim, painting, exterior woodwork, etc., was not something his department was prepared for.
"$65,000...that was not going to work for us, it was way over budget," James said.
Funding for the work will come from the 2009 SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).
Commission Chairman Steven Henry praised the diligence of James and his staff in trying to get the best deal for the work.
"A lot of people think we just blow money, but we've been working a year on this to save $30,000," Henry said.
"Yes, sir...I thought it could be done for $30,000 and we're right at that," James replied.