Members of Villa Rica’s City Council met for the first time in 2022 during their Jan. 11 council meeting.

Before the meeting, the council welcomed its newest member, Anna McCoy, who was elected to represent Ward 4 in November. McCoy was sworn in by Mayor Gil McDougal.

Also sworn in before the meeting were two council members who were re-elected in November: Ward 3 Councilmember Leslie McPherson and Ward 5 Councilmember Danny Carter. Both were sworn in by City Attorney David Mecklin.

During their meeting council members unanimously approved a change to the process by which the city does its preliminary plat review and approval. The process is designed to streamline that process by allowing the city’s Community Development director to review the preliminary plat checklist, rather than to have that done by the city’s planning commission. The commission only meets once a month, so this change should shorten the time needed. A public hearing would still be required before final plats are approved by the city council.

The council also reviewed three requests for code variances; two of those applications involved projects discussed at the Dec. 14 council meeting.

Last month, the council approved a request by Starlight Homes of Alpharetta to rezone a 29.21-acre parcel north of West Bankhead Highway to build 268 townhomes, but with the condition that the developments include gates on the private streets within the project. The developers returned Tuesday night to ask the council for a zoning variance to allow garage doors on the townhomes to be oriented to the front instead of the rear, which was approved.

Also, the developer of a 305-unit apartment complex planned for Commerce Drive asked the council to allow variances in city zoning rules to reduce a landscape buffer, to encroach on stream buffers and to reduce front, side, and rear yard setbacks to 20 feet. In December, MMCC LLC, of Villa Rica had received permission to rezone the property to build high-end apartments with a national sit-down chain restaurant. Council members on Tuesday denied the landscape variance, but approved the developer’s modified requests for other variances.

In other action, the council denied a request by Villa Rica RTH Owner of Atlanta for a variance on side yard setback rules for two units of a planned 110-townhome project planned for Hickory Level Road. However, the council did allow the developer to encroach into the stream buffer on the site to overcome some topographical issues that would hinder building on the parcel.

During the meeting, the council approved a number of items that council members had shown a consensus for approval during a work session that preceded the regular session:

Approval of the mayor and city clerk to execute two resolutions requested by the state Department of Transportation regarding the North Loop bypass when it is completed. GDOT plans to label the roadway Highway 61 and remove that designation from downtown streets. The state also wants the city to accept ownership of that downtown property and be responsible for its maintenance, etc.

Approved the rental of a water aerator for the North Plant for four months, while delivery of new aeration equipment for the plant is delayed. Total cost of the rental from Aeration Industries International is $26,865.

Approved contractors for the first phase of a large project that will, when finished, improve water distribution, flow, and pressure along North Avenue. HD Excavations and Utilities, and Consolidated Pipe and Supply will do initial work for the project in the areas of Cleghorn and Anderson streets. The $826,814.86 cost of the work (which includes labor and materials) will be funded through a low-interest loan through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

Approved a partnership with TextMyGov to provide residents with a quicker and more efficient way of getting city staff’s help to resolve numerous issues; everything from uncollected trash to downed trees. The system, which will be rolled out over the next two months, will work from phone text services and be available 24 hours a day.

Approved two sets of budget amendments.

Authorized the City Manager to contract with demolition experts to raze the former Butterballs Auto Repair building at 121 West Bankhead Highway. The city purchased the building in March 2016 in hopes that it could be renovated into a visitor’s center, but further inspection determined that the building is not structurally sound.

At the end of the council’s agenda, council members adjourned for an executive session, during which they reached a consensus on a plan designed to resolve a dispute between two families over the construction of a wall and damage to one gravesite at Hillcrest Cemetery.

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