County to purchase snow plows, more spreaders
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Supporters of a public skatepark in Coweta County appeared before the Coweta Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.
Stephen Porrello and Andrew Churchill represented the Coweta County Skate Park Committee at Tuesday’s commission meeting.
There used to be an indoor skate park in Newnan, but it closed four years ago. “It was a business, but nonetheless, it was a skatepark,” Porrello said. The owners sold the business and a new owner thought he could make a go of it but was unable to.
“We watched the place that we thought was our home shut down, and four years later we’re still here,” he said. “We want to create a skatepark.”
“We have created a vision, a plan” to bring a skatepark to Coweta, he said. “We feel like there is a need. We feel like this is something that can benefit the community. We want to make this a reality.”
Porrello thinks there are “probably over 1,000 different individual in Coweta County who are very interested in this.” The Coweta County Skatepark Facebook page has more than 400 likes, and a petition for a public skatepark has 229 signatures.
“We’re not just a bunch of punks,” Porrello said. “We really do have a vision and we think we can do this. We think this is better than sitting around playing video games and watching reality TV.”
Porrello said the skatepark could also be for roller blades, scooters and bicycles.
The biggest question is the location. Porrello said he has seen skateparks by grocery stores and in other locations.
“I think there are a lot of creative options,” Porrello said. “We appreciate you coming before the board,” said Chairman Bob Blackburn.
County Administrator Michael Fouts said “we need to evaluate” the proposal and speak with the recreation department to “see if there is any opportunity.”
Skateboarding is an art, said Churchill. “Providing a skatepark for the youth of this community could be very beneficial, by bringing these like-minded individuals together to allow them a safe place to perform their art, as well as experience that camaraderie, that companionship and that sense of community.”
The activity level of today’s youth tends to be very low, thanks to things like video games, he said. “They sit around a lot, so we are seeing problems with inactive youth. Skateboarding creates an active lifestyle and promotes good health.”
— Grantville Mayor Jim Sells also spoke to the commissioners about recreation, but didn’t mention the city’s proposed skatepark.
Sells said the library is popular, but the ball fields are under-utilized. Sells said they want to try using some of the baseball/softball fields for other sports. There’s also a need to get a walking trail around the ball fields.
“We need more recreation in Grantville and we’re addressing that,” Sells said. The city is looking to hire a full-time recreation director.
“What I want to bring forward is our need for a gymnasium,” Sells said. The city has $135,000 for recreation in the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. “We’re hoping we can work with the county” toward getting a gym. “All I’m doing is throwing this out there,” he said.
In other meeting business:
• The board approved extended operating hours and year-round operation for 13 Stories Haunted House at 320 Temple Ave. Commissioner Tim Lassetter voted in opposition.
• The board approved the completed update to the joint Comprehensive Transportation Plan for Coweta and its municipalities. Senoia approved the plan Monday, and the other municipalities are set to approve it in the next few weeks.
• The board approved a change to zoning ordinances regarding “non-conforming uses.”
A non-conforming use is one that doesn’t meet current zoning regulations, building codes and the like, but did when it was originally established.
Previously, once a non-conforming property or use was vacant for a year, it couldn’t be re-established without coming into conformity with current regulations.
The amendment extends that window to five years.
“The thought behind it is, it would be better that the building is being used versus that building being abandoned,” said Planning Director Robert Tolleson.Coweta County will be buying its first snow plows.
On Tuesday, the Coweta County Board of Commissioners voted to use some funds left over from buying three new dump trucks to equip two of the trucks with front snow plows and “slide in” salt/sand/gravel spreaders.
Coweta purchased three dump truck spreaders and one pickup truck-mounted spreader after the 2010 snow storm. The equipment got a workout during the past two months. County Road Department crews have used “motor grader” equipment as makeshift snow plows for years.
The new dump trucks were bought with proceeds from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, said County Administrator Michael Fouts. There was enough budgeted money left over to add the plows and spreaders.
“They believe they can outfit these for $65,200, to be prepared for future events,” Fouts said.
The plows and new spreaders will improve efficiency and reduce the amount of personnel needed for each truck. “It also frees up the motor graders and pickup trucks, and increases the amount of equipment available to remove snow and ice,” Fouts said.
Fouts added after the meeting that the new spreaders are different, and better, than the spreaders the county currently has. When using certain types of material in the existing spreaders, the dump bed had to be raised, Fouts said. That won’t be the case with the new spreaders.
Commissioner Paul Poole praised the county staff for “how hard they worked during these last two snow events.” Poole said he is still getting comments from members of the public “on how well they handled these two back-to-back events.”
“It’s a heartfelt thank-you,” Poole said. "And I want to make sure they have the equipment they need.”
In other meeting business:
• The board heard a presentation about Atlanta Gas Light’s plans for a 17-mile natural gas pipeline in Coweta.
Jodie Huiett of AGL said that 90 to 95 percent of the new pipeline will be laid on existing power line right-of-way.
“We tried to pick the most strategic and least invasive route for all the citizens of Coweta County,” Huiett said.
The next step is surveying, and all the property owners within 200 feet of the proposed pipeline have been notified by certified mail, Huiett said. “We are going to be asking them for permission to survey,” she said.
• The board approved a contract with Jimmy Gantt, who recently retired as fire marshal with the Coweta County Fire Department. Gantt will be providing fire plan review services on a contract basis until the county is able to appropriately “backfill” the plan review position.
• The board approved an amendment to the alcohol ordinance regarding pouring licenses for facilities under the Limited Use Historic zoning classification.
Under existing ordinances, to obtain a pouring license for alcohol, any business must get at least 55 percent of its revenue from food and nonalcoholic drinks prepared on premises.
The amendment changes that requirement to food prepared on premises or provided by a caterer, but only for businesses in the LUH zoning.
The properties will have to come into compliance with some regulations: the Americans with Disabilities Act; current stormwater management requirements; “life safety” issues; and, to the extent the property will permit it, parking standards.