In a rare move, three Rome City Commissioners objected Monday to a first reading of a proposed amendment to the Unified Land Development Code.
Commissioners Bill Collins, Sundai Stevenson and Bonny Askew questioned the change — aimed at encouraging development — that would eliminate minimum lot sizes for projects within the city limits.
Collins argued that minimum lot sizes helped promote smart growth. He and said eliminating the standards when consultants are poised to start work on a rewrite of the land development code is not appropriate.
“Absolutely, I do object to it on first reading,” Collins said.
The nearly hour long debate that followed is usually reserved for a second reading, when a vote on the ordinance would take place.
Nonetheless, the issue was pushed forward on a 6-3 vote with Mayor Craig McDaniel and Commissioners Jim Bojo, Mark Cochran, Wendy Davis, Jamie Doss and Randy Quick voting in support.
Davis, who heads a Special Committee on Housing, said Rome can’t wait 18 months for a new land development code before doing something to promote new residential development, particularly infill development.
A public hearing and vote on the amendment is set for June 28.
Tweaks to to clarify several issues in the city parking ordinance were approved unanimously. The changes specify that appeals of parking tickets issued by Downtown Development Authority enforcement personnel are to be made through the DDA office while tickets issued by police are handled through the Municipal Court.
Once an appeal is adjudicated, if fines are not paid within five days they automatically double.
Commissioners also approved increases to wastewater surcharges for major industrial sewage users. The panel opted to stagger the increases over six months to lessen the impact. Half the increase will be levied July 1 and the other half will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.
Based on 2020 fees, a company like Ball Corp. will see its wastewater treatment surcharges go from $492 up to as much as $6,566. Marglen could see a $72,299 surcharge in the coming year as opposed to the $15,284 it paid last year.
Water Reclamation Plant Director Johnny Massingill explained that pollutant levels have dropped but the cost of chemicals needed to remove industrial waste has gone up dramatically. He said the increased surcharges are still way below what it could cost the companies to operate their own wastewater plants.