January 6, 2020 — Commission Chairman Phillip Beard called the January 2020 City of Buford Commission Meeting to order at 7 p.m. in the Commission Chambers at Buford City Hall. After the pledge was recited, the Commission approved the agenda with two additional items added and the December 2, 2019 meeting minutes. City employee Ricky Etheridge was recognized for his 20 years of outstanding service to the City and its residents.

Buford officials swearing in January 2020
City Attorney Gregory Jay (far right) is swearing in Commission Chairman Phillip Beard (left), School Board Member Daren Perkins (left center), and School Board Member Matt Peevy (right center).  Photo – Alicia Couch Payne

Officials elected in November were given their oath of office.  Those sworn in were Daren Perkins and Matt Peevy for the Buford City Schools Board of Education and Phillip Beard for the Buford City Commission.  The Commission elected Phillip Beard as the Commission Chairman for 2020 and Chris Burge as the Vice Chairman for 2020. City department heads were also appointed for the year, as well as, Mitch Peevy, Russel Phillips, Jr., and Homer Whiting were reappointed to the City’s Downtown Development Authority.

The first item for rezoning was for Oakmont Pacolet Acquisitions, LLC from C-2 to M-1 for 31.058 acres located at Gravel Springs Road and Sunny Hill Road. The neighboring landowner, Carter Wilson was in attendance and was opposed to the rezoning.  The item was requested to be tabled by the applicant until February’s Commission meeting. Laurie Attaway requested her property of 5.157 acres located on Tuggle Greer Road be rezoned from M-1 and R-100 to all M-1 zoning. The request was approved.

The first zoning modification request was for William R. Fricks, P.C. for 2343 Brown Road.  This is a modification to the original conditions set on March 4, 2019. These included a reduction of the undisturbed buffer, 30 additional parking spaces, eliminate curb, gutter, and sidewalks, and eliminate landscaping and parking lot light requirements. Mr. Beard advised the representative of the business that for the owner’s liability sake that they should consider the lights.  The modification was approved. Casey Durden, Hill Foley Rossi, LLC requested a zoning modification for property at 3335 Gravel Springs Road from conditions set on June 5, 2006. The request was approved with modifications to allow storage in two buildings, shorter fencing, and allow for doors on the residential side.

Sewer allocation for the Best Western development behind the Quik Trip at Buford Drive and Satellite Boulevard was approved. The 2020 membership dues for the Georgia Municipal Association were approved. The Commission approved an Intergovernmental Agreement for Statewide Mutual Aid and Assistance with the State of Georgia and Gwinnett County. The pledged funds were approved for Peoples Bank & Trust with Mr. Beard abstaining from the vote. Payments were approved for the SR 316 at Harbins Road gas relocation project, SR 324 at SR 124 gas relocation project, Bona Road gym renovation project, Legion field improvements, and the Buford parking deck project.   The City approved the acquisition of .72 acres known as 221 and 221A Roberts Street, City of Buford, Gwinnett County Georgia in the amount of $142,000.00. The Commission approved a ninety (90) day moratorium on exemption plats with lots not meeting certain code and minimum lot size requirements in the Downtown Development District.

City Manager Bryan Kerlin called upon Todd Cleveland with the Buford Community Center. The BCC had a great holiday season and the first performances of 2020 will begin over the weekend with a Temptations review and a Bluegrass band. Carpet is being replaced in the ballroom in February.

Mr. Kerlin stated that work continued on the parking deck.  Demolition of a small structure is allowing work to continue on Jones Alley and also allowed the pedestrian bridge to be moved to a better location.  Redesign of the bridge is underway. A final completion and opening date are still pending and weather dependent. The parking deck will be named Samples Milling Parking Deck after the Samples Milling Company, circa 1938 – 1987, which was located on the parking deck site. General maintenance and repair took place at Buford Waterworks. He and Dr. Downs were working on warranty items for the new BHS. The Gas, Sewer, and Electric Departments have various projects taking place. The renovations to the Legion Fields are progressing nicely with one turf field laid down there.  Phase II of the Legion Field renovations have been finalized. The BHS baseball field’s renovations and turf are mostly complete. Work at the tennis courts is finished.

Mr. Beard stated that the City’s revenues were ahead of forecasted amounts.  The City is running well day-to-day. There are several contributing factors.  The City’s Gas Department is growing and producing expected revenues. Buford buys and manages its gas purchases and when the prices for buying natural gas are low, the City buys saving the City money and customers.  The City’s electrical sales are growing and the water and sewer departments are running well with a new waterworks facility in the planning stages. He explained that Buford has a diverse tax portfolio which is well-balanced with commercial, industrial, and residential taxpayers producing school taxes for Buford City Schools and contributing to the success of Buford.

With nothing further to add from members of the Commission, City staff, and the audience, the meeting was adjourned.  The next Buford Commission Meeting is on February 3, 2020, at 7 p.m. in the Commission Chambers at Buford City Hall.

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