Clarkston resident raises questions about zoning rewrite

Clarkston City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

UPDATE: After this article was published, the city of Clarkston sent Tucker Observer the following response:

STATEMENT FROM SHAWANNA QAWIY- CITY MANAGER 7/6/22

The City of Clarkston operates in an open and transparent manner because we value resident input and take our obligations under the Georgia Open Records Act seriously.

With regard to Mr. Medford’s request for emails between consultant Pond & Co. and City officials regarding the zoning ordinance rewrite, the City had its IT vendor perform multiple searches using the terms included in Mr. Medford’s request.  These searches resulted in no responsive emails being discovered.  Thus, the city informed Mr. Medford accordingly.  In light of Mr. Medford’s assertion that he is in possession of responsive documents that were not returned by the IT vendor’s search, the city has asked the vendor to perform additional searches using additional key words.  Any responsive documents that are identified will be provided to Mr. Medford.

Mr. Medford’s broader allegation that the city is not considering public input in connection with the zoning rewrite is premature and false.  The zoning rewrite is at an early stage.  So far, input has primarily come from the city’s planning consultant, Pond & Co., and the city’s own technical review committee.  The technical review committee is a group of city residents appointed specifically for the task of providing community input that will help develop the zoning ordinance, and their meetings have been open to the public.  The draft zoning document has been posted on the city’s website for weeks, along with a button that residents can use to provide their comments on the document.  In addition, there will be multiple public hearings held in the future, both at the planning & zoning board and the city council, where residents will have the opportunity to provide input on the draft document before it will be considered for adoption by the City Council.

Residents that wish to provide input on the draft zoning document are encouraged to use the comment button on the City website, as well as being welcome to present their comments at upcoming public meetings.

Here is our earlier story…

Tucker, GA — At the city council meeting on July 5, Clarkston resident Brian Medford said that he had submitted a Georgia Opens Records Act request to the city for emails regarding the new zoning ordinance, and had been told there were no records responsive to the request.

However, said Medford, he was already in possession of some emails that should have been part of a response. Medford said that he has filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s office.

Medford said that in his review of the zoning ordinance draft, he saw sections that do not include public input that he knows was given and also new sections that were not discussed at the public meetings.

“I am concerned that the city is ignoring community input in favor of the interests of a select few,” said Medford.

The city of Clarkston is still seeking feedback from residents about the zoning ordinance rewrite currently underway. Residents can read and comment on the draft of the new zoning ordinance online.

– City council member YT Bell and commenter Nadia Osman spoke during the meeting about the overturn of Roe v. Wade and how it will affect Georgia residents. Bell stated that she brought a plan to educate Clarkston residents about their reproductive rights to the city council in 2020 that was not approved at the time and that she felt it was time to revisit the idea.

– The city council voted to rescind a previous Memorandum of Agreement with Fresh Harvest that was approved in December 2021, and to issue a new MOA that does not include funding for a truck. Clarkston’s city attorney Stephen Quinn stated that he and other city employees recommended that the MOA be changed after new rules regulating how ARPA funds should be spent were released following the December meeting.

The city is allocating $20,000 to Fresh Harvest for food distribution in the city of Clarkston in 2022 and 2023, with an initial report due on June 30, 2023. The city will reimburse Fresh Harvest for money it has spent for food on a monthly basis.

– The council approved a resolution for the issuance and sale of a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) in the amount of $500,000 and voted to amend the FY 2021 operating budget from $12,648,463 to $12,720,463.

– The council also approved a change order to the SPLOST 8 sidewalks and resurfacing project for Market Street.

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