Clarkston prepares to adopt comprehensive plan

Clarkston City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Clarkston, GA — At its Feb. 22 work session, the Clarkston City Council agreed to place the updated Clarkston Comprehensive Plan on the agenda for adoption at the next council meeting.

The revised plan was transmitted to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Atlanta Regional Commission in the fall of 2021, and has been determined to be in compliance with all applicable requirements. The plan must be formally approved by the city council and notice sent to the GDCA to renew the city’s Qualified Local Government status.

In other business:

– Vice Mayor Eyasu proposed that the city use $100,000 of ARPA Funds to provide supplemental financial aid to residents tested positive for COVID-19 by a medical test provider. Eyasu stated that when employers don’t provide sick leave, people may go to work when they are ill so that they can pay their bills.

“The idea is to remove the financial incentive to go to work when they are sick, so we can hopefully reduce transmission,” said Eyasu.

Several council members had questions about the specifics of how the plan would be implemented, but Eyasu rejected suggestions to refer the idea to a committee or discuss it at the council’s upcoming retreat. He promised to address all the concerns so that the plan can be discussed and voted on at the next council meeting.

– The council is considering an ordinance to amend rules of procedures. Under the proposed ordinance, any three council members, including the mayor, can add items to the agenda.

Previously, any three council members or the mayor plus three council members could add items. The change was first proposed by Vice Mayor Awet Eyasu in December and continues to be a topic of lively discussion. The council appears to be in broad agreement with the proposal as written, but differ in how they think the process of gaining two seconds for a proposal should happen.

Eyasu feels that allowing more discussion in committees and outside of meeting time would be more efficient and keep meetings from running late. Council member Laura Hopkins said that she would prefer that discussions happen in view of the public, even if it takes up more time. The council plans to take up further discussion of the change at their upcoming retreat.

– Change orders to a SPLOST 04 project on Rowland Street and one for a SPLOST 08, a Market Street resurfacing and sidewalks project, were placed on the consent agenda for the next city council meeting.

Council member Y.T Bell proposed a collaboration with the Housing First Initiative to provide funding for homeless people in the city of Clarkston. The council discussed how to connect the city’s efforts with the network of local organizations which deal with those issues. Bell suggested that the subject be taken up by the Community Development Committee.

“I think if we’re going to talk about people being unhoused, we need to talk about the issue of housing availability in the city,” said Clarkston resident Brian Medford.

– A petition requesting the installation of speed tables on Waggoner Street was presented to the city council. Residents say that the street is frequently used as a cut-through and that it is affecting their quality of life. Clarkston resident Kathleen Andres said that the amount of traffic affects the residents’ ability to get out of the driveways.

City Project Engineer Larry Kaiser recommended that if the council wanted to place traffic-calming measures, that it would be more cost-effective to resurface Waggoner at the same time.

Hopkins said that previous traffic-calming measures were driving more traffic to Waggoner but that closing the street might block emergency services access.

Clarkston resident Amy Medford said that the planned traffic-calming project on Rowland may solve the problem, and that she believes the city should wait until that project is finished.

The council plans to measure traffic in the area and wait until the Rowland easeabout is completed in the hopes that the traffic will reduce.

– In other news, at their next regular meeting, the council plans to vote on a resolution to encourage Dekalb County Commissioners to provide additional translations for voting information and materials. The resolution states that the most commonly spoken languages in Clarkston outside of English are Somali, Burmese, and Arabic. The resolution also suggests providing closed captioning or American Sign Language where appropriate. In response to questions from council members, City Manager Shawanna Qawiy said that providing more translations of city materials is already in process.

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