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City Council reduces DASH cuts, approves HUD grant application

Two allocations for affordable housing development were passed at the LaGrange City Council meeting on Monday.

The city has allocated $200,000 to housing nonprofit Dependable, Affordable, Sustainable Housing for several years, but in the spring budgeting process cut that back to $100,000. At the time, the council was divided over the issue and made plans for DASH to come and present a report at a later date to reconsider the funding.

DASH chairman Ricky Wolfe spoke to the council during its morning work session, talking through DASH’s operations and challenges, such as renovations it’s working on, old mortgages it holds, grant applications, tax credits and marketing efforts. Wolfe said DASH has received $3.3 million from the council since its inception in 2002, and that DASH had invested $52 million in improving housing in LaGrange since then.

The council unanimously approved a $50,000 allocation Monday night that had been set aside for the community development fund in the city budget but had not been allocated.

The council also approved $75,000 in matching funds to be allocated to the LaGrange Housing Authority, should the authority be successful in receiving a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The HUD grant would provide $450,000 in funds, but the housing authority must match it with $150,000. The housing authority will have to find the remaining $75,000 before it can be eligible for the grant. The housing authority may ask the Callaway Foundation for those funds, or be able to use some of its own funds.

If the grant is approved by HUD, it will be used to revitalize the neighborhood around The Phoenix homes on Whitesville Road in Southeast LaGrange, focused on replacing obsolete housing, creating neighborhood amenities and improving services.

The area would potentially be transformed into a more sustainable mixed-income area with better outcomes and quality of life.

Council Member W.T. Edmondson made a motion that the city provide matching funds of $75,000, which was seconded by Council Member LeGree McCamey. The motion passed 4-1, with Nathan Gaskin opposed. Gaskin did not want to vote in favor without seeing a recent financial report from the housing authority, which was not immediately available.

A resolution to amend the Haralson Street Lease Agreement with the Callaway Foundation was unanimously approved. The resolution carves out a piece of the agreement where the Thread runs behind North Greenwood Street in order to construct a sidewalk between the Thread and a soon-to-be coffee shop, Local Groundz, on Greenwood Street.

The council held a first reading of, but did not vote on, an amendment to the city noise ordinance that would prohibit the shooting of fireworks between 9 p.m. and 2 p.m., except on certain state holidays. The ordinance comes as a result of residents complaining of fireworks being shot several days after the Fourth of July, often late at night. The council will host a public hearing on the ordinance at its next council meeting on Aug. 25.

The council unanimously approved the annexation and rezoning of a property adjacent to Cameron Mill Road. The property is owned by Synovus Trust Company and was rezoned to residential in order for 10 single-family homes to be built on 2-acre lots. Visit LaGrange board members Bobby Carmichael, Greg Hall and Katie Van Schoor were all unanimously reappointed to the board by the council.