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Duluth City Council talks rezoning ordinance, saving trees

DULUTH -- Trees were a major topic of discussion at Monday's Duluth City Council meeting as council members were unanimous in all corresponding areas.

After announcing that the 23rd annual Duluth Arbor Day Celebration would take place Friday at Bunten Road Park, a measure was brought up by the city planning commission concerning a rezoning ordinance.

The ordinance called for rezoning a 2.886-acre property located across the street from the Korean Church of Atlanta. The church, which owns the property, plans to use the property as a multi-purpose activity field and occasional overflow parking area.

That's when multiple council members spoke up concerning many aspects including safety, enforcement and agriculture.

"We're a tree city," City Councilman Jim Dugan said. "I'd hate to see us knock down what we're trying to support."

Dugan expressed concern after seeing an aerial photo of the site, which was almost exclusively covered with trees.

"How many trees (are going to be cut down)?" he asked. "We want as little as possible."

Other concerns brought up dealt with the conditions for the rezoning, which included an undisturbed 35-foot buffer on the northern property boundary; the use to off-duty police during activities and that the site would only be used eight times for overflow parking.

"How do we enforce the eight times," asked councilman Billy Jones. "And, what happens if they park nine or 10 times?"

Planning and Development department director Glenn Coyne told the council that it would be enforced the same as all other zoned facilities, but didn't have an answer for some of the other council's questions.

With that, the city council postponed voting on the zoning request indefinitely.

"We need a more defined plan of the field and parking space," Dugan said.

In other business, the council also discussed:

• Intergovernmental Agreement: Duluth and Gwinnett County have agreed on a 50/50 split on costs for putting a traffic signal at the intersection of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Chattahoochee Drive. The Gwinnett Department of Transportation will pay for the preparation of the detailed design for the signalized intersection, including interconnecting the signal timing to match the Sugerloaf Parkway and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. signal during morning and afternoon rush-hours. The estimated total cost of the project is $100,000, which $50,000 is committed to the project by the city.

• Citizen's Budget Committee: City expenses have surpassed revenue the last few years, according to Joy Thompson, chairman of the Citizen Budget Committee. With that, a committee spent a two-month period reviewing the city budget recommendations, looking at constraints and opportunities. Once looking at those restraints, and telling the council of the need to have a four-month reserve fund, Thompson shared things the city could do in the future. Should there be less than four months worth of expenditures in the reserve fund, the committee came up with various ways to cuts costs, including every department to reduce spending, which would save the city $100,000 a year, and a hiring freeze on all non-essential positions, which would save the city $125,000 a year.

• Trendsetter: Duluth was named one of six Georgia cities as Trendsetters by the Georgia Municipal Association for its Korean Task Force, which was created to help bridge the cultural and language barriers between the city's Korean residents, businesses and city hall. The city was judged on its abilities to demonstrate creative service delivery, enhancement of quality of life, effective/efficient use of resources and creation of resident engagement, among other things.