October 5, 2020 — Commission Chairman Phillip Beard called the October meeting of the City of Buford Board of Commissioners to order at 7 p.m. at the Buford Arena. Following the pledge, Beard recognized a special guest. Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash attended the meeting, which will be her last as county chairman. She presented the city with a heartfelt thank you letter for the City of Buford’s support of the county over the years. She especially thanked Beard, Bryan Kerlin and Gregory Jay for their countless hours assisting in negotiations between the county and cities. Nash thanked Bryan Kerlin for his contributions as part of the Gwinnett County Water and Sewer Authority Board. Nash will retire at the end of this year.

The meeting agenda, as well as the meeting minutes from Sept. 8 regular meeting and a special called meeting, were approved. Abdul Asaad requested a rezoning of a parcel of land on Buford Highway be changed from RM to C-2 to construct a convenience store/gas station. The land is next to the Hartford Run apartments. The request was approved with conditions. Dillon Lee asked for a zoning modification for 279 Alexander St. to change condition #1 from the Nov. 5, 2018, commission meeting. He would like to reduce the required square footage of 11 two-story townhomes from 2,400 sq. ft. to 2,000 sq. ft. The commission approved the request with the condition that the townhomes be four sides brick.

A public hearing was conducted on the 2020 property tax millage rate rollback and proposed tax increase for Gwinnett and Hall counties, as well as the Fiscal Year 2021 operating budget. Beard opened the floor for discussion but no one came forward.

The commission voted to approve the 2020 property tax millage rate for Buford City Schools for 12.65 mills in Gwinnett and 13.194 mills in Hall with a Local Option Sales Tax rollback of 0.544 mills. The 2020 net millage rate for property taxes in both counties is 12.65 mills. The Fiscal Year 2021 operating budget was approved. The 2021 budget has the city’s revenue at $163,031,795 with expenses listed at $157,326,469. The city will have an estimated surplus of $5,705,326.

A subrecipient agreement between Gwinnett County and the City of Buford for use of the U.S. Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief Funds was approved. The commission approved an Intergovernmental Agreement between Gwinnett County and the City of Buford regarding the Thompson Mill Road at I-985 interchange study. The commission approved the chairman to be able to sign an amendment to the gas supply contract and supplemental contract between the Municipal Gas Authority and the City of Buford.

An amendment to the Code of Ordinances for Chapter 6, Alcoholic Beverages was approved. The amendment will allow open container consumption for businesses along Main Street to sell alcoholic beverages in approved containers to their customers and the customers can carry the beverage on the rights-of-way within the Downtown Development District. The Downtown Development District is bounded by South Hill Street to the north, Railroad Avenue to the South, Main Street and Moreno Street (east/west) and addresses on those streets. Jones Alley and Parking Deck are not included in the ordinance. Each eligible Main Street establishment possessing a consumption on the premises license shall register with the city a transparent plastic cup 16 ounces or less with a logo of the restaurant, single servings only. Such cup shall be approved by the city. During the provisional period, the city may approve an alternative cup design due to timing of delivery of logo cups. Alcoholic beverages shall only be sold and consumed in these containers. The city reserves the absolute right to revoke or suspend open container consumption within the downtown district. Said pilot or trial period is expected to last 90 to 120 days at which point the City will re-evaluate same.

The commission approved the advertisement of intent to sell surplus property located on Old Swimming Pool Road and Mount Salem Road. A pole attachment license agreement for distribution poles between Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation and the City of Buford was approved. The commission ratified the purchases of properties located at 106 Main St. and 96 Main St. for $165,000 and $300,000, respectively. The properties will be transferred to the Downtown Development Authority and will be sold for new development.

An amendment to the Buford City Schools budget in the amount of $32,250 for the purchase of new football helmets with splash shields was approved. Expenditures for plaques and for the installation of the Stonehedge Garden Club’s art structure on Main Street was approved. The art will be located on Main Street in the amphitheatre area. Completion is expected in the next 60 to 90 days. A one-year hardship request extension was granted to Faith Free Gospel Church to allow for an additional mobile classroom at 539 Washington St. Pledged funds for People’s Bank & Trust were approved to be released. Beard abstained from the vote.

The commission authorized payments for the Church Street stormwater improvements project, the Moreno Street water improvements project, the SR324 at SR124 gas relocation project, the Dacula Road at SR8 gas relocation project, the Buford parking deck project and the Legion Fields improvements project.

City Manager Bryan Kerlin updated the meeting attendees on city matters. He said the tennis courts were open and have been allowed to lessen some of the restrictions previously in place due to COVID-19. The city is taking extra steps to ensure public safety by thoroughly disinfecting city buildings, the playground and areas at the youth football fields. Since quarantine, electric consumption is still down 7 percent but is slowly picking back up.

Todd Cleveland with the Buford Community Center said they are slowly booking a few corporate meetings, a reception and a new show in November.

Signage will be installed at the new Buford Greenway on Harris Street. The parking garage project is moving along with curbing on Moreno Street to begin along with paving and streetscapes. The waterworks expansion project will be advertising for bidders with the contract recommendation being presented to the commission on Dec. 7. A filter went down at the waterworks plant and is being repaired. Water production remains adequate, however, the city maintains a back-up connection with Gwinnett County and will use it as necessary during repairs. The extension of the decel lane on Buford Highway at Robert Bell Parkway should be completed next month. Fiber installation along Main Street is progressing for the city to install updated cameras. The Legion Fields renovation project phase II is in progress. The tennis director reports they currently have 113 participants in the junior activity classes.

Beard turned the meeting over for public comments. A gentleman who lives in Bogan Estates off of Bogan Road asked the city to help them with the matter of a warehouse development that is being constructed just behind his property. Concrete trucks are pouring concrete starting around 1 a.m. and lasting for hours. The constant beeping sound is keeping the neighborhood awake. The city said it would look into the matter and see about altering the times the concrete trucks can operate. Another gentleman expressed his concerns about properties along Shoal Creek Road that are leasing out homes by the hour for parties and video production. This is causing numerous problems. The city stated it was already working on the issue.

With no further comments, Beard adjourned the meeting. 

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