DULUTH -- In what was thought to be a closed issue, the Duluth City Council revisited the issue of medians along Buford Highway.
The plan, which is already in the hands of the Georgia Department of Transportation, raised new concerns for Councilman Greg Whitlock and he wanted to address them with the rest of the council.
"I want to say that I'm not against the medians on Buford Highway, but I think there are some issues we didn't look at," Whitlock said. "My concern is with the design. It seems like we're directing traffic into certain businesses."
The proposed median will be between Highway 120 and Davenport Road. Within that stretch, there will be two breaks, including one at Box Road, to prevent drivers from having to go to one end or the other to make U-turns to get to their destination.
According to the original plan, the breaks were placed in their locations after traffic studies were conducted as to where the highest volume areas were.
"My concern is the median breaks are too close," said councilwoman Marsha Anderson Bomar said. "The closer the median breaks, the potential for more friction and conflict (among drivers)."
During the original vote on Aug. 13, Bomar and Whitlock were the two council members who voted "no" on the plan, which passed 3-2.
Whitlock also raised the concern over what happens to the businesses that aren't getting the median break in front of their business.
"While the traffic study showed certain businesses were getting a majority of the traffic, what are we telling those businesses that didn't get a majority of the traffic?" he asked. "We need to have a plan that will help all of these businesses thrive."
Clouding the discussion among the council was the fact that all of the businesses are basically islands, without adjoining parking lots.
"We need to encourage those store owners to look at the possibility of fixing that," Bomar said. "That would solve some of the problems."
Bomar and Whitlock suggested there needed to be a Plan B should the need arise. However, city planning director Glenn Coyne said that when the project was originally proposed at the beginning of the year, only one break was in the plan.
"We presented it that way and we were told there were too few breaks," he said. "Now, there's too many breaks. So, essentially, what's been submitted to the DOT is our Plan B."
The council asked for Coyne and his staff to see if there were any adjustments that could be made as to where the breaks are.
"We're not looking for an artist's rendering, just something very simple to give us an idea of what (another possible plan) could be."
In other business, the city decided to place on the November City Council agenda an amendment to Article 17 of the zoning ordinance that deals with certificate of occupancy for a change in tenancy. The ordinance currently doesn't call for new tenants to get a new certificate of occupancy if the space is being used for the same purpose.
However, the new amendment calls for all new tenants to get a fresh certificate of occupancy for many reasons.
"Although it's another fee these business owners are going to have to pay, it's going to allow them to discover issues up front instead of six or seven months into being in that building," Bomar said. "By having an inspector come out there, those issues will be found in advance, allowing the tenant to raise those concerns with the building's owner before moving into the building. It also allows for the city to build a relationship with the business owner."