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LaGrange names roads, considers fire inspection fees for businesses

The LaGrange City Council voted Tuesday night to name Mill Creek Parkway, which had already been accepted into the city road system.

The road, already constructed by a developer, runs between Hogansville Road and South Davis Road as part of the new The Yard on Mill Apartments.

In other business, fees may soon be associated with business inspections conducted by the LaGrange Fire Department. On Tuesday, the council held a first reading that would create a schedule of fees.

At a Sept. 22 work session, LaGrange Fire Marshal John Thomas said LaGrange was one of the few cities in Georgia that did not already have fees for fire inspections. This has led businesses to take advantage of that leeway, he said, requesting several inspections to identify problems instead of ensuring they are up to code before inspections take place.

“We feel like, a lot of times we’re going out to businesses, three or four times to do these [sprinkler] tests … we’re kind of being used as a quality assurance program, versus them being prepared for the inspection,” Thomas said at the Sept. 22 work session.

The schedule of fees was drawn up after examining those of other cities. Mayor Jim Thornton emphasized at the Sept. 22 work session that this would not apply to residential homeowners, but rather larger developments, industrial spaces and the like.

“This is not an individual residence or homeowners, these are institutions or businesses that are already required to meet the fire code,” Thornton said at the session.

Some inspections would remain free, while others carry fees of $75, $100, $150 or $200.

The fee for plan review of buildings exceeding $5,000 square feet would be 20 cents per square foot. For some inspections, the schedule dissuades failing – for example, annual inspections and first reinspections (after failing once) are free, but second or third reinspections carry fees. 

Under delegations, two members of the LaGrange Youth Council, Mollie Olinger and MacKenzie Mitchell, were sworn in as members for the 2020-2021 council. Most of the council was sworn in at the last weekend, but Olinger and Mitchell could not make it and had to be sworn in Tuesday.

A first reading was held to add “Farm Winery” as a permitted use in the general commercial zone. The consideration to change the zoning ordinance is due to Wild Leap Brewing Co. wanting to manufacture wine at its facility, which is not currently a permitted use in the general commercial zone.

The Farm Winery definition will be taken from state law, which includes the requirement that a  Georgia Farm Winery must make at least 40 percent of its annual production from Georgia grown agricultural produce.

A resolution was passed authorizing the city to apply for a $3 million Georgia Recreational Trails Program Grant. If received by the city, the grant would cover some costs of constructing a multi-use, non-motorized recreational trail through property currently owned by the Development Authority of LaGrange.

In another resolution, the council accepted new streets in the Bryant Lake subdivision under the condition that certain documents the city had not yet received were submitted.

A first reading of an ordinance to name the streets was also held.

Finally, the council held a first reading on rezoning property adjacent to Hunnicutt Avenue from general commercial to R-2 residential.