The East Ridge City Council on Thursday night voted on second reading to ban new extended-stay motels within the city limits. The action will not affect the city's current nine extended-stay motels - except they will lose their "grandfather" status if they cease operation for 180 days or more.
Four council members approved the measure and Denny Manning abstained.
City Manager Tim Gobble said there had been a number of citizen requests to crack down on the extended-stays, citing health and safety and crime problems around some of them.
Bill Brenneman of the city's hotel/motel association had asked that the matter be tabled for more study.
Mr. Gobble said the city had gone along with two requests by the group. He said a section dealing with small appliances was changed to make it clear that those could still be in regular motels. And he said it was noted that on some occasions guests stay at a motel for longer than 30 days due to their homes being flooded, a FEMA official on a long-term project, etc.
Also, City Attorney John Anderson said the contract is due to be signed soon transferring property to a developer for the Jordan Crossing development at the entrance to Camp Jordan.
State officials earlier gave East Ridge a $107,000 price for 37 acres of flood-prone land between I-75 and Camp Jordan. The plan is for East Ridge officials to transfer it to developer Matt Wood for the commercial complex..
The state said that about half the property is within the "floodway" and cannot be developed. The remainder is in the "floodplain." It could be developed, but would require fill and devices to prevent stormwater runoff.
City Manager Tim Gobble said the price the city would require would be around $125,000 counting such expenses as getting an appraisal, legal costs and other expenses.He said the legal fees were between $5,000-$6,000.
East Ridge would also sell another seven acres to the firm.
The development will be along the left side of the entrance road to the park.
Wolftever Development earlier announced plans for a 329,912-square-foot development that would include restaurants and stores. A new motel is also a possibility.
Mr. Gobble said the fire hall at the entrance to the park will stay. He said the entrance road will not be moved as had once been discussed..The developer has an option to purchase part of the fire hall parking lot and impound lot at a later date, if desired, and will pay all costs to reconfigure the parking lot with the same number of spaces and will pay all costs to relocate the impound lot.
East Ridge officials are hoping to gain $2.17 million in annual revenues from the development and to capitalize on a law allowing border cities to set up a "retail district" and get enhanced sales tax revenue.
On another matter, Mayor Brent Lambert said he would like to see a dog park within the city. He said a dog park at Heritage Park in East Brainerd is a big hit. And he said numerous East Ridge residents can be seen walking their dogs in neighborhoods.
He said possible sites would include Springvale Park and at Camp Jordan behind the arena.
Another councilman mentioned the swimming pool property. Councilman Jim Bethune noted it already has "plenty of cats."
The mayor also said he would like to see the city hold community meetings advising citizens of what government can and cannot do. He said that should clear up some misunderstanding about the role of city officials and some of the actions they take or don't take.
The council agreed with a recommendation by Mr. Gobble to raise the pay of the five city employees who make less than $10 per hour. Mr. Gobble pointed out that the city is paying several part-time workers $10 an hour.
Attorney Anderson said the long-vacant Trippence Apartments should be torn down soon. He said he has been in contact with Northwest Georgia Bank on the derelict property.
He said a hearing on the matter had been set before the city's new administrative law judge.
Camp Jordan will be the site Sept. 22 and 23 of a program that offers free medical, dental and vision services provided by volunteer medical personnel. It will be on a first come, first serve basis, and many are expected to start lining up early in the morning.
The first reservations will be given out at 3:30 a.m.
Dot Guinn, who was born the year the city of East Ridge was formed and who has lived in the same house in East Ridge for over 60 years, wanted to know what kind of money the "firecracker places" are bringing to the city.
Mr. Gobble said permitting fees have amounted to $7,500. He said it is too soon to know how much new sales tax they will generate for the city.
Ms. Guinn said she wants to see the city get rid of "the tattoo places, the tanning salons and the check cashing places and go back to the old East Ridge."