Stankiewicz vetoes decision by council

Published 3:35 pm Wednesday, July 4, 2018

HOGANSVILLE – A decision made Monday by the Hogansville City Council was vetoed by Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz less than 24 hours later. The city council voted 3-2 to grant a rezoning request for 1633 East Main Street in Hogansville from Commercial (GC) to Single Family Residential (R1), with city councilmen George Bailey and Frank Higgins voting against and Reginald Jackson, Marichal Price and Theresa Strickland voting in favor.

Stankiewicz issued a veto of the resolution on Tuesday afternoon, referencing the authority granted to the mayor in Section 2.14 of the Hogansville City Charter.

“It is my judgement that this resolution is not in the best interests of the city for the following reasons,” Stankiewicz wrote in the memo. “The zoning change would violate the city’s land use plan established with the help of zoning professionals. It would create ‘spot’ zoning, creating a residential tract between commercial properties. It violates Section 102-152 (c) (6) (a), (b), (c) and (e) of our Code of Ordinances; “Map of Amendment Criteria.”

Stankiewicz said Tuesday that it was the first time he had used his veto power in four and a half years as mayor.

“I thought it was an extremely bad precedent to put a residential property in the middle of our area that we had designated as the commercial corridor,” Stankiewicz said.

“The problem with sticking a residential parcel in the middle of it is our ordinance requires 100 foot setback and a 20 foot buffer, which would render the property on one side unbuildable because it’s only 88 foot wide. You couldn’t possibly put a structure there.”

Stankiewicz said the city had offered the property owners five different pieces of land as part of a potential swap.

“We said ‘here’s five different parcels, pick one, and we will swap out a property swap with you,” Stankiewicz said. “You swap a city-owned parcel for this parcel in the commercial district, and they didn’t want that.”

Stankiewicz said the council can override his veto, but they need a two-third majority — or a 4-1 vote — to do so. That means one of the council members who voted against the rezoning would have to change their mind.

Approximately 30 individuals attended Monday’s city council meeting, which included two public hearings and two citizen appearances in addition to normal business. The second public hearing dealt with the potential rezoning of the East Main Street property from commercial to residential, and multiple individuals spoke for and against the decision.

“I’m the one who applied for the rezoning because there was no communication that the lot had been rezoned,” Pamela Walker said during the meeting. “We’re still paying taxes on this lot as residential.”

Walker submitted the rezoning request to the Hogansville Planning and Zoning Commission on behalf of property owner Annie Ruth McGhee. The request was reviewed June 26, with the Planning and Zoning Commission voting 3-1 to recommend the city council approve the request.

“This particular use is clearly within a commercial district,” city resident Ellen Shellabarger said during the meeting, speaking against the proposal. “If a city council allows what is called ‘spot zoning,’ it sets a dangerous precedent for the future. This process to begin to allow nonconforming uses dilutes greater revenue possibilities for the city.”

This proposal was brought about as a result of a separate home catching fire in Hogansville some time ago, leaving the residents in need of new lodging. The Walker’s own the property in question on East Main Street and wanted to relocate the residents to this site.

The property is within the Interstate Corridor specified by Hogansville’s 2010-2030 Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Mapping. Single family residential is not an approved land use of the corridor.

Those speaking in favor of the proposed rezoning request said they never received notice the property had been rezoned for commercial use prior to the adoption of the 2010-2030 Comprehensive Plan.

“This property hasn’t always been commercial,” another man who professed to be a partial owner of the property said. “Our concern was that we never got notice of the rezoning of the property.”

Others spoke in opposition to the proposal, ensuring the city council proper notice was given when the area was rezoned.

“When the property was rezoned, proper notice was given,” said Mack Blevins, an attorney representing an adjacent property owner.

“This property has been commercial zoned for 20-plus years I’m sure. We are making real progress getting commercial businesses coming. If we stop that, it will stop growth.”

After the public hearing was closed, the city council discussed the decision briefly during new business.

“I would hate to be a citizen and find that out about my own property,” Jackson said, as the only point of discussion on the subject.

The council originally voted to approve the rezoning, but this decision was overturned on Tuesday by Stankiewicz.

The following also took place during the Monday evening meeting:

  • The city council listened to a long, emotional plea from Kathleen Costly, the property owner of 815 East Main Street in Hogansville. The house on the property has been condemned by the city. The council voted to table discussion regarding whether or not to move forward with the house’s destruction to its next meeting.
  • The council voted to approve an adoption a telecommunications ordinance, an amendment to the zoning ordinance. 
  • “This would prevent someone from erecting a cell tower in the middle of downtown Hogansville,” Stankiewicz said in relation to the amendment. “Right now, we don’t have an ordinance to prevent that.”
  • The council approved a tap fee ordinance, stating that a tap fee purchase shall now allow for installation within two years of purchase without fee modification.
  • Ernest Ward and Pat Darden spoke, asking the council to consider repealing at-large voting within the city and establish voting districts for city council seats.