The Woodstock City Council at its most recent meeting voted to deny a sign waiver request from Sam’s Club intended to advertise its gasoline pumps.

The request from Sam’s Club was asking for a waiver to modify its sign on Main Street and the one on Georgia Highway 92 for the purpose of replacing a panel on both sides with new panels that would include an electronic component to advertise the prices at the Sam’s Club gas station. Prior to the start of the hearing, Councilwoman Tracy Collins recused herself from the case, because she works for Walmart, the parent company of Sam's.

“The electronic portion is 16 square feet, and then the overall panel that’s being replaced is 95.8 square feet,” City Process Planner Dakota Carruthers said.

According to the criteria the city uses for sign waivers, Carruthers said there are no other electronic signs in the immediate area around the Sam’s Club, but it was somewhat consistent with other nearby signs and that the electronic portion of the sign would be less than the city’s limit of 20 percent of the whole sign. She said both the Planning Commission and the Development Process Committee had recommended denial on the waiver.

Representing Sam’s Club in the matter was Kerri Little, who acknowledged that the signs currently on site are non-conforming, but said the modification would serve an important purpose.

“Where the gas station lies on the property, it is very far on the interior. Sam’s, Walmart, ultimately is just trying to be able to advertise their fuel that they have on site,” Little said.

Council members acknowledged the need for the modification, but also noted other gas stations in the area have manual signs. They also noted city law states a non-conforming sign cannot be replaced by another sign that is also non-conforming. Council members voted unanimously to deny the request.

After opening the floor to public comment, the council heard from a group of residents who voiced their support for lowering speed limits in certain portions of town. For example, they supported the reduction of the speed limit on Rope Mill Road to help with keeping residents safer, such as those in the Inwood subdivision crossing Rope Mill Road to visit the community’s pool during the summer months. The concern was also brought up regarding a couple of sections on the road where there are no sidewalks. City Manager Jeff Moon said one of the two spots would be getting sidewalks in the next few days, while some right-of-way would have to be acquired for the other portion to receive sidewalks.

“We’re in the middle of a speed study, which is the basis for speed limit changes,” Mayor Pro Tem Colin Ake said. “Generally speaking, there’s broad support for making it a lower speed limit road, but for us to be able to do that and enforce it, there’s state requirements we have to follow.”

The Woodstock City Council also handled the following items:

  • The consent agenda, which included the second reading of proposed changes to the land development ordinance, the second reading of the Northside Hospital annexation request, an alcohol license request from Towne Lake Food Mart, a ratification of the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank Agreement for Grant Program, a year end budget amendment for fiscal year 2020, a request to surplus/demolish 702 Neese Road, the surplus/disposal of the house at 117 Dupree Road, an updating of the memorandum of understanding with the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, requests for document destruction from city agencies as per the state’s retention schedule, the purchase of DocuSign E-signature software, a resolution establishing the authority to use DocuSign for electronic documents, the notification of emergency procurement and request of scope change regarding the replacement of water and sewer pumps and 14 major budget amendments, many of which are related to CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act money the city received, was approved.
  • Senior City Planner Katie O’Connor presented an officially written code change, allowing the Development Process Committee a little more power for granting architectural variance requests. Nobody signed up to speak during the public hearing, and a motion to approve the first reading of the changes passed.
  • After Johnson recused himself, the council approved both a work authorization for the final design of the Hub Transformation project and a budget amendment allowing for the continuation of a traffic study that began earlier in the fiscal year with the Arcadis firm.
  • The council approved a contract with Georgia Power to design an undergrounding of a power line coming from the Woodstock station, as well as its related budget amendment, in the total amount of $15,000.
  • A motion to appoint Johnson and Kris McKeeth to the Cherokee County Housing Study Advisory Committee was approved.
  • During the announcement part of the agenda, it was noted that the city was looking for public support for its Adopt-a-Road program. It was also announced the Woodstock Visitors Center was hosting an exhibit related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks until Sept. 27 and that residents could submit requests for action from the city on certain issues from the city’s website.
  • Woodstock Tourism Manager Kyle Bennett said all spots for the 2020 Scarecrow Invasion were registered within the first week it was open. He said scarecrows would begin going up on Sept. 28 and would be on display throughout the entire month of October.
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