City to throw in $4,000 towards $50,000 DOT
By Stephanie Johns
The Corridor Design Commission (CDC) heard an update on a recently obtained grant, a request from a business owner seeking input into his building design, and input from another business owner regarding trees at one of the Madison shopping centers.
Madison City Planning Director Monica Callahan told board members that they have received the final documents from the Department of Transportation pertaining to their $50,000 Gateway grant.
While the grant does not require that the city match any funds, the city will put in about $4,000 in irrigation that is not grant eligible.
She said City Manager David Nunn will be ready to bid the project for vegetative improvements in November. Callahan said they will check for business licenses and will use local contractors.
G.B. Sharma of Augusta then provided pictures showing the type of material he would like to use to replace the lower portion of stucco on the lobby façade and columns of his Comfort Inn hotel on Eatonton Road.
The hotel, originally built in 1997, has a problem with leaks on the outside of the building due to the original stucco. While stucco was popular at one time, Sharma said that it has caused “a number of headaches.”
Sharma proposed to remove the lower 36 to 40 inches of stucco right below the windows at the water table and replace it with a painted concrete split-face block. He noted that the stucco is difficult to color match but that he would choose several close shades and consult with city staff before painting it.
He added that the hotel’s parent company, Choice Hotels/Comfort Inn, has turned down the use of brick and that the city has turned down his stone choice, hence his request to use the block, which is considered an alternative material.
Sharma added that people cannot see the property as it is set back from the road and down. Also, the portion of the building he would like to use the alternative material on is on the side and does not face the road. He said that the block would add value to the building, is long-lasting, and is easy to make it conform to future changes.
Because of the limited use of the block and the low visibility, the commission approved Sharma’s request.
“I don’t like that it’s nonconforming but those two factors help soften the blow,” said CDC Commissioner Rick Wadsworth.
Buckhead resident and businessman Larry Conn spoke to the CDC regarding the Madison Crossing Shopping Center.
Conn and his wife own six Great Clips hair cutting salons but none of the stores are in Madison, he said. He shared his interest in opening a salon in Madison Crossing but said that the trees prohibit storefront visibility.
“You just can’t see the storefronts,” he said, adding, “It’s a nice shopping center with a good design.”
CDC Chairman Sonny Pennington asked Conn whether or not he had spoken to the property owner. Conn replied that he had and that the owner was “very receptive” to making changes.
Conn advocated changing the tree requirement to draw businesses to the center.
Callahan explained that overstory trees were planted there so that they would grow above signage and that understory trees will lead to the current problem in time.
As to using bushes, Pennington said that would be for the city council to decide as the CDC does not have the variance to change the number of trees.
Callahan added that while the center had to have a minimum of 10 percent of its ground area given over to trees, it was up to the developer and contractor as to where the trees were planted.
Wadsworth said that no more than seven parking spaces may be contiguous without some type of breakup. He also said that the property owner could come to the CDC with a redevelopment plan.
“I don’t think it’s the ordinance causing the problem,” he said. “A bunch of trees haven’t been maintained and someone could do something with the landscape plan.”
Callahan said that they have an arborist who could help the property owner determine which trees to trim and prune. If there is an overabundance of trees – more than 10 percent – they could remove the excess trees, she said.
The CDC’s next order of business was to hear from Callahan regarding their appointments as their terms are up at the end of the year. Callahan asked that any CDC member interested in continuing to serve let her know. She added that they have received one application already.
She explained that CDC commissioners may continue to serve past an expired term until someone replaces them.
Printed in the November 22, 2012 edition