The Stonecrest City Council may have set a record for deadlocks at the longest council meeting it has held since the city government was born a year ago. The council met for seven hours on April 16, starting at 6 p.m. and ending a little past 1 a.m.
The Stonecrest City Council deadlocked 3 to 3 on rezoning request for a 16.79-acre tract at 1882 Coffee Road from M (light industrial) to heavy industrial (M-2). Several questions were raised by the public as to whether the proposed site would be used for industry that might create environmental waste and pollutants after Attorney Bernard Knight said his clients did not yet know how the site would be used. Knight, who represents Daniel H. Kelley, James W. Kelley, Jr. and Judy Keley, said he was seeking the rezoning namely for uniformity with other tracts the family owns in the industrial park.
Faye Coffield said during public comments that without knowing what type of business would go on the tract, she could not be in favor of a rezoning.
“When you approve it, you can’t change it back,” said Coffield. “I understand we need to have economic development. But we were first told this land was going to be given to Amazon.”
Dr. Barbara Lee, who also spoke during public comments, concurred.
“We need to be careful when we don’t know what the plans are,” Lee said, noting that would be like giving someone a blank check.
Knight acknowledged the public’s concerns but said it was important to show activity.
“Ms. Coffield actually makes a good point about Amazon. We have not rejected Amazon. This is not something inconsistent with Amazon. We continue to hope that lightning will strike and Amazon will come, but if it doesn’t, you don’t want to have sat and done nothing,” said Knight.
The council also deadlocked on awarding a multi-million dollar contract to Grice Consulting for the management of the city’s SPLOST program.
Mayor Jason Lary urged the council to consider other options after explaining that Grice Consulting invoiced the city for large sums of money immediately after being brought on board in August 2017.
Lary said the city received the first invoice of $56,840, just 10 days after the City Council voted for the firm. The second invoice of $14,840 was received on Oct. 1, 2017. The mayor said Grice billed the city a total of $162,000 through November 2017, including $20,000 for handling SPLOST public meetings. He said John Funny, who is CEO of Grice Consulting, provided no details for the scope of work or evidence of deliverables.
“I want you to tell me: What did (he) do for my entire year’s salary?” Lary said referring to the $20,000 bill related to the SPLOST public meetings. “Citizens, It’s my job and council’s job to take care of your money.”