OFFICIAL MINUTES OF THE OXFORD MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING
MONDAY, January 27, 2020 – 6:30 PM
|ELECTED OFFICIALS PRESENT: ||APPOINTED/STAFF PRESENT: |
|David Eady – Mayor ||Matt Pepper – City Manager |
|George Holt – Councilmember ||Marcia Brooks – City Clerk/Treasurer |
|Jim Windham – Councilmember ||Stacey Mullen – Deputy City Clerk/Elections Superintendent |
|Jeff Wearing – Councilmember ||Jody Reid – Utility Superintendent |
|Avis Williams – Councilmember ||Dave Harvey – Police Chief |
|Lynn Bohanan – Councilmember ||David Strickland – City Attorney |
|Laura McCanless – Councilmember || |
OTHERS PRESENT: Chris Madden, Erik Oliver, Hoyt Oliver, Theresa Eady, Juanita Carson, Peggy Madden, Judy Greer, Nick Cole, Barbara Cole, Cheryl Ready, Louise Eady, Dave Huber, Melissa Hage, Mike McQuaide, Art Vinson, Laurie Vinson
Agenda (Attachment A)
1. Mayor’s Announcements
Mayor Eady explained the purpose of this meeting as a less
formal session. Audience members are welcome
to ask questions.
2. Yarbrough House Renovations (Attachment B)
Mayor Eady provided a brief history of the city’s actions
regarding the Yarbrough House (107 West Clark Street) since its purchase by the
City of Oxford. The City of Oxford has
made repairs to the roof and shored it up to prevent any deterioration while
the city decides how to use it. A
committee of the Council came back with recommendations to use it as a history
center/community center. Erik Oliver
also provided recommendations related to the history of the house and concurred
with the committee’s recommendations. A
second committee worked to come up with some recommendations for
renovation. The attachments include
three design options. All three options
include modifications to bring the facility into ADA compliance. The first option retains the current
layout. The second and third options
include modifications to the layout to create different sizes of rooms and a
different number or location of bathrooms.
The third option involves extensive wall removal.
Mr. Holt commented that it would be more economical to have bathrooms
located in the same area.
Ms. Williams asked if we have an official recommendation
from the committee. Mr. Eady advised the
committee recommended Option C. Mr.
Wearing advised the committee’s recommendation is based on facilities they saw
in other cities. The goal was to create
an open area to display items for the city, such as pictures of historical
locations. A bookcase is also included
in the plans for selling books and other items.
for meetings. The building could
also be used as a meeting facility for various civic groups.
Mr. Wearing clarified that the structural integrity of the
building still needs to be evaluated.
They only took steps to make it safe enough to walk through while
determining how to use the building.
Ms. Bohanan expressed concern that Option C takes away from
the charm of the interior and compromises the historical integrity of the
house. As an example, she referenced the
built-in woodwork next to the fireplaces that would be removed if the walls
come out. Taking the walls out makes it
more like a contemporary floor plan. Mr.
Wearing commented that the fireplaces are coal fireplaces and are not original
to the house.
Ms. McCanless agreed that the historical integrity is
retained in Option A and removed in Option C.
She also noted that the footprint of the original bathroom remains the
same with Option A. She feels there are
more options for use of the facility in Option A, as well as more charm with
Ms. Bohanan asked if the doors are ADA compliant. Mr. Eady advised they are all 35 or 36
inches, which is ADA compliant except for one bathroom door.
Ms. Barbara Cole asked about the historical significance of
the building. She expressed concern
about spending $500,000-$600,000 on this building when we could have built a
new building that would be energy efficient and meet all the city’s needs.
Mr. Eady clarified that the City of Oxford has spent about
$250,000 on the house thus far and has $350,000 reserved in this year’s Capital
Budget for the renovation. It is not
known at this time if that much will be spent on the renovation. The purpose of the discussion is to determine
which direction to go in so that the cost for renovation can be determined.
Mr. Erik Oliver provided a history of the house and its
significance to the City of Oxford. It
is the only historic home left from the original era of Oxford that will
provide access to the public. It is also
where Atticus Haygood, perhaps Oxford’s most famous resident, boarded when he
went to Emory College before any dorms were built, and where he met his future
Mr. Oliver advised that the Oxford Historical Society
recently met to discuss plans for the building. It is the consensus of the
Oxford Historical Society that the integrity of the house is critical to
telling the story of Mr. Haygood and helping people understand how life was
during the early era of Oxford (this house dates from about 1850). The group also wants to limit the amount of
money spent on renovations, given the amount already spent on the house from
taxpayer money. They feel the core
integrity of the house as a 4-room with a dogtrot needs to be retained. There is no need for another large meeting
space, nor is there a need for a large kitchen.
Also, they need walls in order to display the kinds of items they want
The Oxford Historical Society is very glad to work with the
City of Oxford to curate displays in the facility. They feel it is more important to make it
useful for now while the actual use of the building for the long-term is
Ms. Bohanan asked if the City of Oxford had explored a grant
for this project. Ms. Williams indicated
she is in favor of keeping the house the way it is. Mr. Oliver indicated he had researched grant
options and identified several possible options. One option is for structural renovations, but
it is usually granted to much larger projects, and he did not feel that an
application for this structure would be competitive, especially since the City
of Oxford has the capacity to complete the renovation as opposed to some other
cities whose fiscal positions are not as stable. The Oxford Historical Society also has the
ability among themselves to raise money for minor changes to the interior.
Ms. Williams stated she agrees with Option A to keep the
structure historic. She agrees with Ms.
Cole that we could build a new building if we just want another space. But we want to keep the integrity of the
building, tell its history and have a place to share. She also wants to make the outside pleasant
so that people attending events can enjoy using the deck and moving between the
deck and the interior. Keeping the
historical integrity of the building lends itself to having simple events,
which is how things were during the era the house was built.
Mr. Holt advised he is in favor of Option A.
Mr. Windham advised he does not have any specific comments.
Mr. Hoyt Oliver feels that what we have will be attractive
to visitors. The Oxford Historical
Society has rich resources that he would like to see included. A book was written to commemorate the 175th
anniversary of Oxford, which he hopes can be reprinted. They also have a website that includes a
great deal of information. He would like
for a computer to be available for visitors to view the website information. Several citizens have donated historic
artifacts that can be displayed. He does
not feel that another meeting space is needed.
He believes attracting people to historic Oxford is more important.
Mr. Wearing inquired about the number of bathrooms. Mayor Eady clarified that Option A has two
bathrooms that would be unisex bathrooms.
One is ADA compliant; one is not.
Only one ADA compliant bathroom is required.
Mr. Wearing stated the roof would have to be extended on the
back to keep part of the deck from being exposed to the elements. Mayor Eady stated his assumption was part of
the deck would be open for fair-weather days, but the Council can decide
specific architectural changes for the back area once one of the designs is
voted on by the City Council. The back
porch will be shored up to support the ADA ramp, and the deck can be left off
at first and added later if that is what is desired.
Mr. Wearing inquired about next steps for the project. Mayor Eady advised the Committee will suspend
its activities, and there needs to be some offline discussions with the
architect. The Council will vote on
which option to support at its next formal meeting.
Mr. Erik Oliver invited the public to the next meeting of
the Oxford Historical Society at Old Church for its annual business
meeting. The program will be about
potential displays at Yarbrough House.
They will also have some books and items available that attendees can
look at to help facilitate the discussion.
The meeting will be February 10, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. The fee to join the Oxford Historical Society
is $10 per year for an individual or $15 per year for a family, but the meeting
is open to the public and all are welcome.
3. The FY2021 Budgets
Mayor Eady and City Manager Matt Pepper presented a mid-year
review (July 1, 2019-December 31, 2019) of the FY2020 budgets compared to
actual expenditures and revenue projections as a kickoff for preparation of the
FY 2021 budgets.
Mayor Eady observed that the FY2020 budget is on track, and
one of his goals with development of future budgets will be to reduce the
amount of funds we move from the Electric fund to the General operating fund
through increases in other revenue sources.
4. Traffic Calming (Attachment C)
Mayor Eady explained the need for traffic calming devices on
East Soule Street. Additional traffic is
anticipated on Williams Road/East Soule Street when Covington’s Town Center is
completed on City Pond Road. The City
Manager and Utilities Superintendent have researched how traffic can be calmed
within the city limits on this road, and possibly even create a disincentive to
utilize this road as a cut through to/from the development.
Matt Pepper stated that a proposal was presented for speed
tables, but it was cost prohibitive. The
attachment includes an estimate of the cost for two speed humps, which are more
cost effective. Mr. Pepper displayed the
map showing where the speed humps would be placed between Highway 81 and the
city limits on East Soule Street with appropriate signage for each speed hump
on both sides of the road. In the
proposed configuration, an adequate amount of space has been left to insert
another speed hump between these two if the City of Oxford later determines it
Theresa Eady asked if the proposed speed humps are like the
one in front of Old Church. Jody Reid
advised they are not; they are rounded and made entirely of asphalt.
Ms. Bohanon asked if there is a type that is bolted down to
the pavement. Mr. Reid advised the City
of Oxford had tried that type on Moore Street, and although they are less
expensive, the bolts end up sticking out in the street, making them dangerous
and destructive to vehicles.
Ms. McCanless asked who would be responsible for installing
the signs. Mr. Pepper advised the City
of Oxford would be responsible for the signs.
The bid does not include signage, only the cost of the speed humps.
Ms. Eady asked if the Covington Town Center is definitely
being built. Mayor Eady and Mr. Pepper
both stated that is their understanding.
Mr. Erik Oliver stated that the speed hump in front of Old
Church is on the July 4th parade route and cannot support low-rider
vehicles. This restriction needs to be
noted in the parade application.
Mayor Eady advised the bid we have is from Jim Williams, who
installed the other traffic calming devices in the City of Oxford. We will get additional bids and vote on
moving forward with this project as soon as possible if the Council members are
comfortable with doing so. The Council
members concurred with this plan.
5. Large/Heavy Vehicles
Mayor Eady explained there are two inter-related issues that
the City of Oxford has been discussing for several months:
- The City of Oxford has an ordinance regarding parking of
large vehicles in yards. Such vehicles
must be parked on the side or in the back of property.
- The City of Oxford has weight limits for the streets within
the city limits of Oxford based on what weights they can handle according to
their design. The city has signage that
indicates what these weight limits are.
Larger vehicles that exceed the limit will cause damage to the streets.
Mayor Eady, Matt Pepper and Jody Reid have discussed a
permitting program tied to the size and weight of the vehicle. The larger and heavier the vehicle, the
higher the permit would be to compensate for the additional wear and tear to
city streets. There would also be an
absolute limit to avoid catastrophic damage to streets. Research is ongoing as far as reasonable
break points with a three-level scale and finding out how other municipalities
are addressing this issue. The permit
would also make the permit holder aware of the ordinance requiring parking on
the side or back of their property.
Mayor Eady stated that he had discussed this issue with Chris
Madden and asked Mr. Madden if that seemed fair to him. Mr. Madden answered yes. Mayor Eady stated that the City of Oxford
also wants to treat everyone fairly and equitably. Mayor Eady advised the details will be
brought back in a future meeting for a vote.
Mr. Windham asked if there had been any discussion regarding
buses. Emory College at Oxford brings in
six to eight buses at a time, and all exceed the weight limit. If we are going to encourage tourist buses they
will need to be addressed. Large RVs and
tractor trailers making deliveries also should be addressed.
Mayor Eady stated that the ordinance regarding parking large
vehicles addresses RVs, but buses had not been discussed. Jody Reid stated he believes the buses coming
to the college are justifying their presence on Oxford’s streets because they
are making deliveries of students.
Chief Harvey asked about residents parking tractor trailer
cabs (tractors) beside their houses and running them all night. Mr. Reid advised the tractors are likely under
the weight limit so they can be parked there.
Mr. Holt stated that could be a problem if someone’s yard where the
tractor is running all night is right next to another home. Mayor Eady advised it may be necessary to
cross-reference the city’s noise ordinance in dealing with that issue.
6. Right-of-way to Meadow Experiment Site (Attachment D)
Ms. McCanless read her statement explaining that the group of
citizens and Council members that installed the George Street Park pollinator
garden would like to use leftover funds to place a meadow of native plants on
the right-of-way on Wesley Street. It would serve as a pollinator garden. The location is on Wesley Street just north of
Fletcher Street along a chain-link fence.
Stuart and Alice McCanless are fine with the installation, but contact
has not yet been made with the other resident whose property is contiguous to
the proposed meadow (Goldie Fletcher). Ms.
Fletcher has a stand of dense evergreens along the chain link fence. If this experiment is successful, the meadow
could be extended almost to the decorative trees across from Old Church if the
Oxford Historical Society is amenable to this extension.
Erik Oliver stated that a sewer line runs along that right
of way, and it is also clay, which would require cultivation of a lot of new
soil. However, the proposed location is
good because it is just above a spring, so it stays moister than other places. Another good location is on George Street. Ms.
McCanless agreed and stated there are many possibilities for pollinator gardens
throughout Oxford. She would like to see
a pollinator corridor.
Mayor Eady stated the meadow would also reduce the amount of
mowing the City of Oxford would have to do.
Theresa Eady stated that she feels permission from
contiguous homeowners is necessary. She
also recommended signs because the area will not look good immediately.
Ms. McCanless agreed.
She also stated residents could also request the gardens adjacent to
Ms. Bohanan asked how much of an impact the stand of evergreens
along the fence would have. Ms.
McCanless stated that the meadow will get five to six hours of sun each day,
which is adequate, so the stand of evergreens should not have an adverse impact
on the meadow.
Mayor Eady asked Ms. McCanless to obtain permission from Ms.
Fletcher. If she agrees, this issue can
be brought for a vote at the next official meeting.
7. Maintenance Facility Fence (Attachment E)
The fence around the maintenance facility is in poor
condition. Mr. Windham had asked staff
to obtain bids to repair. Mr. Jody Reid
has obtained quotes from two vendors.
Bently Cannon was not willing to repair the fence because he would not
be able to match up old and new parts, so his quote only addresses replacing
the fence. The original builder, The Fence Man, Tim Kirkland, provided quotes
for replacing the fence, repairing the damaged portions, and removing the fence
and replacing with chain link fence.
Mr. Holt expressed concern with replacing the entire fence
for $20,000 if there are parts that are still good, and it can be repaired for
Mayor Eady and Mr. Reid clarified that parts of the fence
are falling over, but the entire fence is in poor condition and will require
repairing again soon if it is not replaced.
The rationale behind replacing the fence is to get it all done at once
and keep it on a repair cycle. Also, new parts cannot be matched back to old
Ms. Bohanan asked about the chain-link option. Mr. Reid advised it is just an option someone
had asked about. Mayor Eady added that
when the maintenance facility was built, it was the City Council’s desire to
make the fence aesthetically pleasing since it was being built in a residential
Mr. Holt asked Mr. Windham if he feels the fence needs to be
replaced. Mr. Windham advised he does
not think it needs to be replaced. He
feels most of the damage is not as conspicuous to the public, and those parts
should be repaired, specifically, the part hidden by landscaping on Highway 81,
the part perpendicular to Highway 81, and the part along Asbury Street across
from where Tommy Ballard used to live. These
parts have less exposure to sun and wind, and therefore have deteriorated more
quickly. He suggests that the other
Council members go look at it and see what they think.
Mr. Wearing suggested a fence with a mural as another
possible option along the part that faces Highway 81 as a way to show off
Oxford. Mayor Eady advised as a nearby
homeowner he would not favor this option because it would take away the
landscaping. Mr. Wearing advised the
landscaping could be modified so that it could remain, but a mural could also
Mayor Eady agreed with Mr. Windham’s suggestion that other
Council members go look at the fence.
Ms. Bohanan asked how the subject matter would be determined
and who would do the mural. Mr. Wearing did not have that information, he is
just putting the suggestion on the table.
There are several artists around who could paint murals.
Mayor Eady clarified that an estimate has not been obtained
for this suggestion, and the type of fence needed is not known.
Mr. Reid advised the total length of the portion along
Highway 81, excluding the indentation, is 181 feet.
Ms. McCanless agreed with Mayor Eady that nice landscaping
is preferable to her along this part of the fence (Highway 81).
Mr. Windham pointed out that the Trees, Parks, and
Recreation Board had invested a lot of time, including getting permission from
the State of Georgia, to put the landscaping on the right of way.
Ms. McCanless asked if a bid good be obtained for synthetic
wood-like material. It may be more
expensive to begin with but might save money in the long run. Mr. Reid advised we can get a bid, but it
cannot be stained. Mayor Eady asked Mr.
Reid to check into this option.
Since there is no consensus on this issue, it will be discussed
at the next work session, which will give Mr. Reid time to obtain a bid for
repair using synthetic material, and the
other Council members can go by and look at the fence.
8. Transportation System Analysis and Prioritization Study (Attachment F)
The City of Oxford’s participation in the Transportation
System Analysis and Prioritization Study by the Northeast Georgia Regional
Commission (NEGRC) was approved at the January 6, 2020 Council meeting. Mayor Eady is asking for nominations from the
Planning Commission, the Downtown Development Authority, and the Trees, Parks
and Recreation Board of individuals to serve on the committee which will
represent the City of Oxford on this study being conducted by the NEGRC.
Mayor Eady allowed others to speak who previously had their
hands raised. Ms. Greer commented that
since the maintenance facility fence is next to the new park, it is much more
visible now. She also asked how a mural
would change maintenance needs for the fence.
A comment was made that the split-rail fence at George
Street park is in bad repair. Ms. Cheryl
Ready commented that it has long been on the Trees, Parks and Recreation
Board’s list. They have one bid for
repair and are waiting for another one.
Once they receive a second bid, they will be ready to proceed with
Mayor Eady advised that the City Council would convene for
Executive Session following a five-minute break, and no other matters would be
discussed or voted upon afterwards.
Mayor Eady entertained a motion to go into Executive Session
at 8:20 p.m. Mr. Wearing made a motion
to go into Executive Session. Mr. Holt
seconded the motion. The motion was
approved unanimously (7/0).
The City Council
discussed real estate litigation exposure issues.
Mr. Windham made a
motion to adjourn Executive Session at 8:58 p.m. Mr. Holt seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously (7/0).