Berkeley Lake council hashes out procedures

BERKELEY LAKE - Thursday night's City Council meeting in Berkeley Lake got a little heated when the question was raised about proper procedure in dealing with city staff.

Councilwoman Debbie Guthrie opened the discussion in response to a question posed by City Administrator Leigh Threadgill several months ago: What should she do in the case of being given specific instructions by the council, then being directed to do something different by an individual council member?

The specific issue that raised Threadgill's question concerned cell phone records for Mayor Lois Salter and the city clerk. During a regularly scheduled council meeting, council members decided obtaining actual call logs for the two was unnecessary, since the issue was whether the city could get a better deal from a different service provider.

According to Threadgill, a few days later a councilman approached her and directed her to proceed with obtaining the call logs. That action prompted Threadgill to seek the council's guidance in such cases.

"This is something we shouldn't have to discuss," said Guthrie, adding that if circumstances arise in which council's decisions are changed, all council members should be made aware of those circumstances and Threadgill would receive different instructions following a group decision, not one council member's suggestion.

Councilman George Sipe, referring to the case of the call logs, disagreed with Guthrie and maintained all elected officials should have access to public records upon request. Guthrie agreed with Sipe's opinion but said the issue is not access to information but properly communicating with the city administrator.

When the discussion became heated, Salter intervened and said Threadgill should not be put in a difficult situation nor should other council members be excluded from such decisions. She asked for agreement from all council members and for their compliance in the future.

The same question was then raised about individual council members giving City Attorney Dick Carothers tasks without the knowledge of other council members. Salter again suggested all council members show courtesy to others by informing the entire group of tasks given to Carothers.

Guthrie maintained the city's legal expenses are high and individual requests from council members just add to the city's operating costs.

Property owner to be cited for code violations

Berkeley Lake property owner Carol Christa, who owns the properties at 828 and 830 Valley View Lane, will be cited for zoning violations and asked to demolish or remove all or part of the house she is building.

Christa is building a house without a valid-use permit as the result of moving, then restoring, the properties' lot lines.

Although Christa has told Salter that Gwinnett County environmental health department will issue a septic permit, part of the house may still have to be removed.

"Up to this point, we've been very accommodating," said Sipe.

The non-compliance has been an issue for about a year and a half now, and Christa had been given 90 days to present a viable solution to council members. According to Sipe, that has not happened.

Sipe went on to say the structure is an "attractive nuisance" and as such should be demolished. Council members passed a resolution giving Carothers the go-ahead to pursue the matter in Superior Court should Christa not rectify the violations.