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Annexation, 2 housing proposals on planning commission's agenda Monday

Local builder Donald Evans is asking to annex the vacant tract on U.S. 411 across from Tractor Supply Co. into the city of Rome.

It’s one of three land use applications the Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission will consider at a special called meeting set for Monday.

The 13.37-acre parcel just west of Callier Springs Road has been graded and has a driveway already cut in from the highway. It is zoned for community commercial development and the annexation request is not seeking an immediate change.

The property does not currently have water or sewer service. The planning department, which is recommending approval, notes that a connection to public water is available but a private septic system would be necessary.

Planning Commission members are citizen appointees of the Rome city and Floyd county commissions. They make recommendations to the elected boards.

Evans’ application, along with the other two on the agenda, are slated to go before the Rome City Commission for a final decision at its June 28 meeting.

One is seeking a special use permit to build a duplex at 226 Grady Ave. The other seeks a rezoning to allow construction of a single-family home at 521 S. Broad St.

The Grady Avenue parcel is currently vacant and zoned for high-density tradional residential development. The house that previously occupied the lot burned down and has been demolished.

Tiffany Scott wants to put a two-story duplex there, with plans to rent the units, according to the plannng department report. Staff is recommending approval, based on the conceptual plan submitted.

The South Broad Street property is zoned for community commercial development but it’s a small, narrow lot and somewhat uneven.

“Staff believes that the lack of square footage and the topography on this parcel would make commercial development costly and difficult and therefore unlikely,” the report states.

Chris Forino is asking for low density traditional residential zoning instead, to buid a single-family home. The planning staff is recommending approval.

The planning commission meeting is set for 2:30 p.m. in the Sam King Room of City Hall, 601 Broad St.

Festival and 5K race brings throng to Cave Spring

Rolater Park was packed this weekend for the annual Cave Spring Arts Festival and 5K run.

Almost 200 runners braved the steamy humid conditions for the race and a near record number of vendors showed up with arts, crafts and food for people to enjoy.

More than 90 vendors were set up in Rolater Park for the Saturday event, along with a dozen food booths.

Andy Hamilton came all the way from Tampa, Florida, with his Twisted Mind Rusty Metal crafts.

“My wife found it on a schedule,” Hamilton said about the festival. “We were here about 10 years ago and I liked the town.”

Hamilton was a brick and block mason for more than 40 years before he got into crafting items from just about any kind of metal he could find.

“It’s all recycled art made from old tools, car parts and golf clubs,” he said.

Kent Huisingh and his wife were among the visitors at the park Saturday. The couple moved recently from New Mexico to Centre, Alabama. He stopped by Curtis Burch’s floral booth to see if the Cave Spring businessman could help ID some plants.

“We’re gardeners and we’re just trying to identify what we’ve got in our yards,” Huisingh said. “The lady before us planted a whole bunch of stuff and all of the labels are gone.”

Toff Rothwell may have had the most unusual menu among the food vendors. He was cooking up alligator sausage with lots of fresh onions for curious visitors to his booth.

“My gator comes out of Florida and it goes to Colorado (for processing) and then it comes back to me in Temple and I spread it all over the Southeast,” he said.

Rothwell, who does about 35 arts and crafts fairs a year, said his Real South Concessions booth travels all across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions for large weekend events.

Doyle Newton made the short trip from Anniston to Cave Spring with his stained-glass crafts.

“A lot of people think ‘If I get it smaller, it’ll be cheaper,’ but it’s actually just the opposite,” Newton said. “Smaller pieces are harder to grind and harder to produce.”

His wife, Vonzille Newton, creates his patterns on a computer and has produced over 3,500 designs. The couple does six or seven shows a year and Doyle said he’s excited to be out in a post-COVID environment.

“It allowed me to build up some of my inventory,” Newton said. “We had several shows earlier in the spring and people were so hungry to get out and mingle with other people. We had two remarkable shows on back to back weekends.”

The couple has been coming to the Cave Spring show for four or five years and said they have fallen in love with the community.

The Cave Spring Arts Festival benefits the Cave Spring Historical Society and many of its efforts. Billy Wayne Abernathy said they are hoping the show and road race would net about $30,000 for the society.

Help targeted to homeless young adults

An area nonprofit has received a federal CARES Act grant to expand its assistance to homeless young adults.

Advocates for Children, based in Cartersville, provides RISE Youth Independent Housing Program services in Floyd, Bartow, Cherokee, Douglas, Gordon, and Paulding counties.

RISE, which stands for Resilience, Independence, Success, and Empowerment, works with young adults ages 18 to 24 with the goal of supporting self-sufficiency. The program has been available locally since 2019.

“The belief and hope that young people can succeed in independent housing as long as we support them and connect them with the services they need is vital in ensuring youth success in this model,” said RISE Director Rhonda Hall.

The program services include, but are not limited to, helping find permanent housing and providing temporary rental assistance, transportation, childcare, and life skills training. The life skills, which are tailored to individual needs, range from budgeting and maintaining a clean and organized household to goal setting and time management and scheduling.

In 2019, 48 individuals received assistance from the RISE program. The grant is specifically aimed at addressing some of the issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the additional money, Advocates for Children will be able to take on more clients. Young adults experiencing COVID-19 related hardships are encouraged to visit Advochild.org/RISE/CARES to submit a prescreening form for assistance.

Eligible participants may receive a one-time payment toward rent or utility arrears; first/last month’s rent, up to two months’ rent for security deposit; a 30-day emergency stay in a hotel or motel; and utility deposits and payments.

The overall mission of Advocates for Children is to provide services to children and families who have been the victims of abuse and neglect. The organization operates in 11 Northwest Georgia counties and has served over 13,000 individuals a year.

Rome to consider amendments to parking, animal control ordinances

Rome City Commissioners will consider amendments to the city parking and animal control ordinances Monday night.

The commission is also expected to approve wastewater pretreatment surcharges for local industry during the 6:30 p.m. public session in City Hall, 601 Broad St.

The parking provisions are slated for final approval on second reading. They are aimed at clarifying language with respect to the appeal of tickets.

The amendments state that if a ticket is issued by the downtown parking enforcement personnel, any appeals must be made through the Downtown Development Authority office.

Tickets issued by Rome police can be appealed only to the Municipal Court. The proposed change also calls for any fines assessed by the Municipal Court to double if not paid within five days of the final determination.

Animal control amendments are up for a first reading with final action not slated until the June 28 meeting.

The proposed changes include specific definitions for the terms “adequate shelter,” “unsanitary conditions” and “vicious animal.”

Another change would let Animal Control authorities petition the court system to require that people whose animals were impounded for violations bear the cost of their care until the case is resolved.

A section is also being added that prohibits animals from being tethered or chained outside, except under certain circumstances while being attended to by their owners. That change is designed to keep animals from be left out unsheltered on a nearly 24-7 basis, a practice often done when they’re being used as guard dogs.

New wastewater surcharge proposals were sent up from the Water and Sewer Committee.

Water Reclamation Plant Director Johnny Massingill said the law mandates that the city charge industrial customers the actual cost of pretreating their waste. While the increase could amount to thousands of dollars, he said it is still much cheaper than a company having to construct its own treatment facility.

Water and Sewer Department personnel have been communicating with companies that will be impacted so the new charges are not expected to come as a surprise when they go into effect July 1.

Those charges will be explained in detail to commissioners during their 5 p.m. caucus session which, like the regular meeting, is open to the public.