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Blue Ridge to Host Town Hall Meetings on Parking Feb. 5

The City of Blue Ridge, along with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), will host two town hall meetings on parking Wednesday, Feb. 5.

Parking, rezoning requests, crosswalks and replacement of retaining walls were among issues the Blue Ridge City Council discussed and approved Jan. 14 at their monthly meeting.

DDA President Cesar Martinez and Mayor Donna Whitener announced last Tuesday that two town hall meetings are scheduled for Feb. 5 at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for city residents and community members.

The forums will allow the DDA parking committee and the City to discuss parking challenges and development taking place to address concerns.

Ideas will be shared and considered and the two scheduled times will give a chance for more people to attend based on varying schedules.

Matt Cole, representing Green Rocks LLC, addressed the Council about a rezoning and special land use permit request from Mike Galinski.

The property at 51 Ada St went before the Planning Commission to change the property from C-2 general commercial to Central Business District (CBD).

Cole said the property is currently in a lease arrangement with Executive Parking Systems and they plan to continue until more space comes available.
Planning, Zoning and Project Manager Jeff Stewart said recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Commission were to approve the request with conditions that permits or upgrades come before the council for approval before changing intentions for the property.

Roads and sidewalks are the responsibility of Galinski to upgrade or maintain.

Council member Nathan Fitts motioned to approve the request with final site plans coming back to the Council and conditions being followed.

Council member Harold Herendon opposed but the motion passed with a three to one vote.

During public comment Bruce and Hope Killingsworth suggested consideration of putting crosswalks near railroad tracks at Messer Street and West Main Street so visitors in the area can have access along Roberts Way to East Main.

City Attorney James Balli said the tracks are leased from Georgia Department of Transportation by the railroad.

“In order to have a crossing there, you will have to get the railroad’s permission but we can’t do it as a city,” he said. If the railroad agrees then the crosswalks can be installed. Killingsworth said she plans to compose a letter to Patriot Railway.

The crosswalks would provide safe crossing with the railroad putting up fences and give areas adequate access to downtown. Stewart told the council a review of deteriorating retaining walls in the city has identified two initial locations as areas needing attention first.

The multi-phase project 1051 to 1081 East Main Street and another completely collapsed wall on Mountain Street are the first needing attention. Stewart said a request was made for quotes on rock and concrete but no one wanted to give quotes on a rock structure.

The council discussed whether to consider a plain concrete wall that could possibly have rock added or a mural painted on or stamped on concrete.

Council members agreed with it being a multi-tiered project and the lowest cost would be the best choice.

The council unanimously approved Jim Mashburn to pour plain walls at the cost of $35,400. One quote was for $14,900 while the second wall was priced at $20,500.

In Other Matters the Council:

  • Approved a two percent cost of living pay raise to all employees–the last raise having been given in 2019;
  • Approved modifications to two Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) grant loans from phase three and four of the City’s water replacement project totaling $40,990 with principal forgiveness increased on both project phases;
  • Approved hand and safety rail installations by Mike Holloway for $10,528.80;
  • Approved $10,800 to Holloway Trenching to repair property damage from washout where a curve was widened near Fannin County Middle School; and
  • Approved multiple invoices for $7,885 from Oliver Electric for emergency repairs at the Aska Pump Station.

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