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Lawrenceville mulling expanding mayor's vote

LAWRENCEVILLE - All four members of the Lawrenceville City Council on Monday passed the first reading of an amendment to the city charter that would expand the mayor's voting powers.

The second reading of the amendment will be on the agenda for action at the council's May meeting.

Currently Mayor Rex Millsaps can vote in case of a 2-2 tie or when only two council members are present at a regular, called or emergency meeting. Three votes are required for passage.

The amendment would allow Millsaps to vote if only three council members are in attendance, the vote is 2-1 and the mayor's vote would constitute the third affirmative vote. Also, if four members are present and one abstains, the mayor could vote.

In other action at the meeting:

The council imposed an emergency moratorium on accepting applications and issuing permits for the construction of metal buildings in the city through Aug. 3.

The moratorium, proposed by Councilman Bob Clark, gives the council time to consider amending the city's zoning ordinance regarding construction standards and appropriate locations for metal buildings.

Millsaps questioned the need for passing an emergency moratorium and pointed out the council usually discusses matters in work session and conducts two readings at separate meetings before adoption.

"It's time for our city to embrace higher construction standards," said Councilman P.K. Martin. Other cities around Lawrenceville have done so, he said.

The second reading of a special-use permit for Gobran Auto Sales at 417 Buford Drive was approved by a 3-1 vote of the council after reviewing a revised site plan that included additional landscaping. Clark cast the "nay" vote.

The Lawrenceville Planning Commission had recommended approval of the permit for the dealership with four conditions. The city's planning staff had recommended denial on the basis the city is oversaturated with used auto sales dealerships. Councilwoman Marie Beiser expressed appreciation for eight conditions improving the appearance and operation of the dealership that the applicant added.

The Quinn House was granted a 21-month extension on its special-use permit to relocate to Hurricane Shoals Road by the council. The extension will provide time for the group home to tie into a sewer line.

The council also approved a special-use permit for the Italia Café to serve alcoholic beverages in a supplemental zone. The cafe has been serving beer and wine only.