City impact fee hearings move forward
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Madison city council members observed a moment of silence Monday night in observation of the passing of Roy Lambert, long-time city attorney and avid community supporter.
“We will miss himI speak from the heart,” said Mayor Tom DuPree. “When you talk about Roy, you can't do anything but.”
Lambert, 82, passed away last Friday following a short illness [see related story, page 1].
Bill Ross, Jr., was on hand to give the city council an update on the actions of the city's impact fee committee, the group that is exploring whether or not the city should enact an impact fee ordinance. The group has been inactive for several months, but new public meetings are scheduled for the weeks ahead; the first is March 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the old Senior Center, 440 Hancock Street, Madison.
The city is looking at adopting an impact fee program, the possibility of thatno decision has been made, said Ross.
At least three more public meetings of the Impact Fee Committee are scheduled before they make their final recommendation to the city council. Chief among the groups responsibilities in coming weeks is the creation of a Capital Improvements Element, a document explaining what local impact fees, if collected, could be used for. This document is necessary for the implementation of an impact fee ordinance, and must be reviewed by the state of Georgia for compliance with its impact fee statutes. Impact fees in Madison would likely go to defray the costs of fire and police services, parks, roads, and water and sewer.
“We need to decideshould we have impact fees? And if so, what should we charge?” said Ross.
In other business, the council tabled once again a final decision on whether or not indoor play centers should be permitted in I-1 zones. The council did determine at an earlier meeting that the centers were appropriate for C-3 zones, but did not make a determination on the actual request of the local applicant to have the centers added as a conditional use in I-1 zones.
“It's difficult for us to say 'no' to an applicant who is coming in and bringing something that has benefit to the community, as this clearly does,” said DuPree. ”We hope that this business will come, in the most appropriate area.”
Andy Williams, of the Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, presented to mayor and council a proposal for a new advertising campaign that would make use of billboards along I-20 to bring travelers into Madison.
The new campaign, if followed for three years, could cost $50,000; council members and CVB and Main Street officials all had different ideas as to how the cost could be funded.
“I think billboards are a great idea,” said DuPree. ”The easiest way to bring people into Madison is to target those who are already traveling through this area.”
Still, the price tag could be a sticking point. The Main Street program and CVB have for years shared a $36,000 budget for joint advertising that comes from hotel/motel tax dollars. But an additional $50,000 over three years would be a large commitment on the part of the city.
“We started researching billboards because we have business owners who ask us regularly, 'Why doesn't Madison have any billboards?'” said Main Street Director Ann Huff.
“This plan is an attempt to answer that, to explore how much it would cost and maybe try something new to bring people into Madison, out at the interstate and downtown.”
“We don't want to be missing a market,” said Williams.
The group will continue to refine potential plans and also discuss funding mechanisms in the weeks to come.
In new town park news, city manager David Nunn announced that the parking around the new square on the west side of town could be operational within 60 days; a contract for the curb and gutter and parking-space striping has been let.
City officials would love to see the parking in place before the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta commences in April, but that may not be possible.
Finally, Nunn noted that a Department of Revenue visit to Madison on Monday that involved compliance checks for O'Hara's, Madison ChopHouse, and Los Gallosall of which were cited for providing alcohol to minors last yearresulted in no violations for the businesses. “They all passed with flying colors,” said Nunn.