WINDER – Michael Welch took a leap of faith. The owner of Smokin’ Po Boys Barbecue restaurant, located at 67 Athens Street in Winder, commissioned a mural to be painted on the side of his restaurant. The problem is, he did not seek the city’s permission or a sign permit for the mural, which is nearly complete and proudly displayed in downtown Winder.
The other problem is, Winder does not have an ordinance regulating murals; the closest thing the city has to a mural ordinance is their sign ordinance. Welch’s mural is 480 times the size of a permitted sign — a whopping 720 square feet, as opposed to the city’s maximum permitted sign size in the downtown area, which is 150 square feet.
Welch requested a variance to the sign ordinance Tuesday evening, one that would accommodate the sizable mural/ad/sign advertising his restaurant. City leaders voted to table the variance request until the November meeting. The reason, said councilman Sonny Morris, is that new regulations have to be established in order to even consider Welch’s request. “I think we need ideas and guidance here,” Morris said Tuesday, adding that whatever the city allows Lynch to do with respect to the mural will set a precedent for years to come.
Councilman Travis Singley summed up the problem with one sentence: “What’s brought before us tonight is a sign ordinance, and what he wants is a mural.” Singley stressed in Tuesday’s council meeting that the city of Winder wants to do whatever it can to enable businesses to succeed.
The matter will be brought before mayor David Maynard and council members again at the regularly-scheduled November council meeting.
Police Department to purchase two new cruisers
City leaders voted Tuesday to approve the purchase of two new police department vehicles, each costing $27,323. An additional $13,000 per vehicle will be required to properly equip each car. The total cost of the approved purchase is $80,646.
Online municipal court payments OK’d
Officials approved an agreement between the city of Winder and Tyler Technologies Tuesday, one that will allow online payments for citations that do not require a court appearance for violators. The city will pay an initial $400 setup fee, then $100 per month for the service. The first year contract will be for a total of $1600, and every subsequent year will cost the city $1200. These costs will be passed on to violators, at an expected $2.50 to $3.50 per citation.
City to borrow $3 million
Winder will borrow $3 million from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, in order to finance the Sensus Flex Net automotive meter reading system. The interest rate for the loan, which will span a 10-year period, is .7 percent.