Mayoral veto stands as Hogansville property remains commercially zoned

Published 7:15 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2018

HOGANSVILLE – An attempt to overturn a mayoral veto was unsuccessful during Monday’s meeting of the Hogansville city council. 

Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz exercised his authority to issue a mayoral veto earlier this month on July 3, after the city council voted to grant a rezoning request to the owners of 1633 East Main Street in Hogansville on July 2. The rezoning request was made with the intention to rezone the property from commercial to single family residential and was originally approved by the council by a 3-2 vote.

This was the first mayoral veto issued during Stankiewicz’s four-plus year tenure as mayor and was issued because he felt the council’s decision set “an extremely bad precedent” to place a residential lot in the midst of the city’s interstate corridor, which is zoned for commercial use. The city council had the authority to overrule the mayor’s veto but needed a 4-1 decision in order to do so. 

“My thoughts are still the same,” said city councilman Reginald Jackson, who originally voted to rezone the property. “I know we said (we’re worried about) spot (zoning), but if you look at all that land out there, it’s spot (zoning) all the way to the expressway. There are houses on the other side of this one.” 

Jackson brought forth a motion to override the veto, which did not receive the required four votes as only Jackson, Marichal Price and Theresa Strickland voted in favor of the override. Councilman Fred Higgins voted to oppose the override and councilman George Bailey was absent from the meeting. 

There was some confusion related to the override of a mayoral veto when one council member is absent from the vote, but this confusion was cleared up quickly by Stankiewicz and City Attorney Jeff Todd. The Hogansville city charter states that a mayoral veto can only be overturned with a 4-1 vote from the council, or in the event one present council member abstains from voting, then a 3-1 vote will suffice. Bailey was absent from the meeting entirely, which does not qualify as abstaining from the vote. Therefore, Monday’s vote needed to be 4-0 in order to override the veto.

“If one member abstains (from voting), then it takes three votes to override, otherwise, it takes four votes to override,” Stankiewicz said.

The city had discussed swapping properties with the owners of 1633 East Main Street, but Strickland said the options presented to the owners were untenable.

“The property owners had properties made available to them that were nowhere comparable to what they have, especially in the location they had,” Strickland said. “That is not an option.”

In other business, the city council voted to table a decision related to whether or not the city should opt out of its agreement with Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA) until Todd has an opportunity to review the necessary materials associated with the decision and give a recommendation. 

SEPA provides hydropower to certain cities within Georgia and has traditionally provided power at cost-effective rates. However, this reality is changing, per city manager David Milliron and Stankiewicz, for a number of reasons. Milliron’s suggestion to the council was to authorize the city manager’s office to initiate cancellation of that agreement. Cities must give 25 months notice prior to cancellation, meaning Hogansville would not be clear of its involvement with SEPA until at least August 2020. 

Strickland initiated a motion to table the discussion and have the city attorney review the material and give a recommendation at the next council meeting. Strickland’s motion passed.