The Sugar Hill City Council began its Monday, Sept. 12, meeting with the swearing-in of its 2022-2023 Youth Council members.
Mayor Brandon Hembree and council members expressed pride in the incoming Youth Council and their eagerness to be active in their community and city government. A representative from the incoming members said the new Youth Council just finished interviews and the group is still getting to know each other and working on team building.
The first Youth Council meeting will be held Wednesday, Sept. 21, and the members will review how the Youth Council works and what progress they would like to make in the city. They will also meet with department heads from the city to be properly introduced and to understand better how their departments work. Youth Council members will attend the monthly city council meetings and work sessions in addition to two Youth Council meetings every month.
Presented by council member Marc Cohen, the Paint Gwinnett Pink Proclamation honors a project put in place by Northside Hospital System. The 5K walk/run that benefits cancer research will be held Saturday, Oct. 15, at Coolray Field and memorializes those lost to cancer, honors cancer survivors and offers hope to the future for cancer treatment and survival in Gwinnett County. The Sugar Hill City Council unanimously accepted the proclamation, and Cohen expressed his excitement at the city working with the hospital and local nonprofits for the project.
A proclamation designating Sept. 17 as Constitution Day was read by council member Jenn Thatcher. This proclamation also designates the week that follows, Sept. 17-23, as Constitution Week. The purpose of the proclamation, and the designated day and week, is to allow Sugar Hill to honor and celebrate the United States Constitution and its influence on American society. The vote to accept the proclamation was unanimous.
Hembree expressed his excitement during the meeting as he read a proclamation joining the Mayor’s Reading Club sponsored by the Georgia Municipal Association. The club is designed to improve literacy and educate children about city government. It will allow Sugar Hill City Hall to work hand in hand with local schools in efforts to support literacy in the community. Sept. 13, was designated as Mayor’s Reading Club Day, and the proclamation was approved by a unanimous vote.
During the reading of reports, Thatcher praised how well run the passport office is, saying she had recently received several compliments from local residents. She also thanked the staff for a great job and for providing outstanding customer service to the community. In addition, Thatcher thanked the events team for a great job on recent events and expressed excitement about upcoming events.
Cohen expressed his appreciation for the new marshal’s service and their action in the community, specifically the way they affect safety and morale. He also mentioned the upcoming Saturday, Sept. 24, concert at The Bowl at Sugar Hill featuring the Robert Cray Band, and the Brett Michaels concert scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21.
Council member Alvin Hicks congratulated the incoming Youth Council Members and encouraged the community to be part of the mentor program through the school system to support local children. He expressed praise for the marshal’s service and their positive contribution to the community. Hicks also extended an invitation to the community to bring their children from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, to watch the mayor and council play basketball at the E Center.
In other reports, City Clerk Jane Whittington reported the city issued 11 new business licenses — six commercial and five home-based — and 166 new passports in August. She also encouraged the community to donate to the North Gwinnett Co-op to help families within the local area. Donation information is on each resident’s gas bill.
The city of Sugar Hill is hiring for several jobs, including custodial, street maintenance and a part-time position at the Post Office. City Manager Paul Radford mentioned the importance of recruiting, maintaining and rewarding employees. He praised recent promotions and the handling of recent events, as well as those who work behind the scenes around the city.
The city’s Chief Marshal Diane King reported that more than 4,071 areas in the community had been patrolled in August.
In addition to the Robert Cray Band concert and upcoming Brett Michaels concert, the city is planning events with Lonestar and a Christmas concert with John Berry. The children’s theater is preparing for performances of “The Addams Family” and “Aristocats” at the end of September. More information on upcoming events around Sugar Hill can be found at the city’s website, cityofsugarhill.com.
The public works department announced it is working to upgrade the metering system in the gas department to an automated radio read system.
During citizen comments, former state Rep. Valencia Stovall introduced herself as a guest at the meeting. Stovall was in attendance with a group of residents from Clayton County as part of a program to help participants better understand how city governments and nonprofits work so that they can better offer help to the community. Stovall and the group will attend multiple meetings across the state and hopes the program will help ensure residents understand their rights and how to better interact with elected officials.
Wayne Tuck of Walker, Piercer and Tuck, presented the city’s 2021 audit report. The report was due in June and the city was granted an extension through the end of the year. Tuck thanked the city’s department heads for their assistance in obtaining necessary info and said the audit appears successful and the 2021 financial statements for the city appear correct. The audit report was accepted by a unanimous vote of the council.
In additional council business, a public hearing was held for annexation request AX-22-001. This annexation is for 16.5 acres, specifically 5768, 5778 and 5788 Suwanee Dam Road, which are part of a development by ONRB LLC. This annexation request is for single-family residential RS-100/PRD and includes 41 single-family detached homes. Planning Director Kaipo Awana recommended approval with seven conditions that include private roads, the establishment of an HOA for maintenance and site plan and construction approval by the city manager. The developer must fulfill the requirement of a dedicated left turn lane provided at the project entrance on Suwanee Dam Road and is also required to provide an easement for future construction of the Sugar Hill Greenway. Builders shall provide a minimum of three gas appliances in each home before certification of occupancy, and covenants shall stipulate that no more than 10% of the total number of dwelling units are allowed to be leased at any one time.
Resident Gary Pirkle expressed concern for the PRD designation and the amount of land set aside that would potentially be unusable. He said he is also concerned about whether or not the number of homes that will be developed will generate enough money to cover the paving of the necessary roads. Despite these concerns, the annexation request was approved by a unanimous vote with the listed conditions.
The council also voted unanimously for a contract guaranteed maximum price for Ridge Lake Park, Project 22-005.
The Alcohol Ordinance Amendment listed on the agenda was tabled by unanimous vote and will be revisited at a later date.
The council then went into executive session followed by a unanimous vote to conclude the meeting and reconvene at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10.
FEATURED PHOTO: Members of Sugar Hill’s 2022-2023 Youth Council, pictured with Mayor Brandon Hembree and members of the city council, were sworn in during the council’s Monday, Sept. 12, meeting at City Hall.