While the meeting did manage to accomplish some things, a special meeting held prior to the regular working meeting was requested by Alderman Peter Martin to resolve time conflicts with planning and zoning commissions meeting times. Martin said the set meeting time of 1 p.m., for the commissions meetings causes conflict with the general public's ability to be present. The motion to require the commission to change their time was defeated.
The meeting drew a large crowd of concerned citizens who reside in some of the white areas that may be annexed. They wanted to ask questions, but few were allowed to speak. Alderman Russ Stokes said, "For us to hear issues as a public body tonight would not serve a purpose." One lady, who resides in Cherokee Acres, an area targeted for the potential annexation, was angry over a statement made by Cherokee Village Mayor Lloyd Hefley about the residents paying their taxes in Fulton County. She had a paid tax receipt showing her taxes in both Fulton and Cherokee Village. Others were concerned with who had given permission for their land to be surveyed. Others were adamant they did not want to be incorporated due to the increased Suburban Improvement District taxes.
Last week, Hefley gave a potential date for a public meeting in which the residents could be heard regarding the issue. The majority of the aldermen took the stance, " They are getting their cart before the horse," as Alderman Verna Mae Newman said. She and others said the annexation issue has not been voted on, and didn't seem to understand why the residents were so upset. Alderman Russ Stokes said if it does come to a vote, at that time there will be a public hearing set where the residents will be notified and allowed to speak before a decision to annex will be made.
Although the city has agreed to pay for the survey and allocated funds to do so, most members of the council said that is just preliminary, although authorizing the spending seemed to verify the city's intent to go forward with the planning for annexation according to some residents at the meeting.
The issue has three parts, which have been submitted to council from planning and zoning for consideration; the only portion authorized to act on was the survey.
The Planning and Zoning Commission outlined advantages for the potential annexation of the white areas in Cherokee Village in their proposal.
Some of the advantages included the residents not being responsible for the SID tax, no increase in fire protection cost, access to Cherokee Village Police, upgrades on roads as needed, and a tourism tax that could be passed on rentals and the millage tax can be applicable to all. By annexing, the boundaries will be cleaned up and the city may qualify for more grants and turnback money. Residents can also have a voice in the governance of the city.
Besides the issues brought up by the annexation issue, the working meeting was able to accomplish some other goals set on the agenda.
The city has been contacted by a logger to remove logs and debris left from the ice storm in a unpopulated area in Cherokee. The logger would do this free to the city and keep the firewood and logs.
A grant has been submitted to help with a drainage problem near the Highland High School construction project.
Cherokee Village Fire Chief Mike Taylor read the three bids which had been submitted to the city for repair on the roof at the fire station. Richie's Roofing submitted the winning bid of $12,184.27. The bid was approved by a vote from council.
In other business, Stokes suggested having the city attorney draft a memo of understanding to be attached to the contract that would allow Ozark Acres to renew its agreement to be part of the animal shelter.
Alderman Ray Torbit presented to council a proposal to rename Spring River Animal Services with a name that would better reflect the entity's status as a department of the city of Cherokee Village.
Council agreed to come up with perspective names before the next regular city council meeting.
Prior to discussion of the annexation issue, Stokes suggested having the city attorney go through the numerous new laws that went into effect July 1. Stokes said this needs to be done to see if any ordinances need updated or new ordinances need passed to keep the city in compliance.