Official Statement – City of Dahlonega

Official Statement – City of Dahlonega

February 20, 2017

For Immediate Release Contact: City Manager Bill Schmid

RE: Clarifications to recent news reports

Prior and Current Reviews by the City for Garrett Hotel:

Payne-Parks Building - An application of August 4, 2015, for demolition of the Payne-Parks building was followed by a long public involvement period and holiday season. It was approved by the Dahlonega City Council with three conditions February 1, 2016, on appeal from a denial by the City's Historic Preservation Commission. Hotel plans for roughly 30 rooms and required parking were incomplete and no specific redevelopment plan was approved. The applicant committed to further HPC review and approval before actual demolition was to occur.

Butler Building - The City met with the Garretts in April 2016 to discuss their interest in a larger project to roughly double the size of the building to 75 rooms. The Garretts must next obtain approval of the replacement building and obtain authority to demolish the Butler building also. Despite much informal discussion, a complete application for a Certificate of Appropriateness (required for projects in the City's B-3 and CBD zoning districts) has not yet been received. Ms. Green-Garrett requested six variances from city ordinances to prepare the plans for the replacement buildings. Some of those were granted and some were denied. November 7, 2016, the City Council, acting in their capacity as the Board of Zoning Appeals, denied the Garretts' request to reduce required parking space sizes below City minimums and denied proposed intrusion of two floors leasable enclosed space over public right of way. Four other variances presented to the Planning Commission were withdrawn before the BZA review.

Staff met with the Garrett's attorney and architect in December 2016 and has confirmed meeting notes and required submittal documents for the way ahead. If plans are not changed, the building concept last seen (two levels of deck parking and lobby with two levels of guest rooms) would exceed height limits for the district and the applicant was advised a Conditional Use permit will be required.

February 16th an illegal sign was observed and removed from the building. Later that day the City was informally advised a filing of a complete application for both the approval of the replacement building and the demolition of the Butler building was soon to be made for the hotel. As of the posting of this article, a complete application has not been submitted.

City Sign Permitting Process:

If a sign application does not meet City regulations, it will not be permitted and should not be erected. If a non-permitted sign is erected, it will be taken down.

 
Announcement - Tree Replacement Work Downtown Dahlonega

Over the past year and a half, the City of Dahlonega regularly coordinated with experts to assess the healthiness of the Pecan tree at Main St & Park St in downtown. Pecan trees have surface roots, are structurally weak and tend to develop internal cavities. These common problems are intensified with age and in urban environments where trees often lack oxygen, water and nutrients. As the health of any City-owned tree declines, or private and/or public property is damaged, the City has a responsibility to look for replacement options and coordinates with the Georgia Forestry Commission's certified arborists for recommendations on how to proceed.

When considering how to proceed with the Pecan tree, the first option considered was re-laying and slightly elevating the sidewalk to eliminate the buckling caused by roots. Elevating was determined to be a temporary fix only because additional oxygen and water will only promote further root growth, which risks compromising the adjacent building. Additionally, as the roots continued to grow the buckling sidewalks would return, creating the same accessibility concerns that currently exist.

The second option of severing and removing the large roots which are causing the buckling would destabilize the tree, accelerate its decline and increase risk for spontaneously falling under high wind conditions. Additionally, this option would require duplicated work and expense.

The third option of removing and replacing the tree was presented to Council by staff as the preferred option and most permeant solution. The tree will be professionally removed on January 31, 2017. The sidewalks buckled by tree roots will be restored to a flat, safe walking surface, tree and root debris will be removed and the planter bed restored. Upon completion of this work, the replacement tree will be planted the week of February 20.

A male Gingko biloba "Golden Globe" has been selected as the replacement tree. This tree will serve as an eye catching focal point with its bright green leaves that turn to a vibrant golden yellow in the fall. Ginkgo trees have proven to grow successfully in urban environments despite pollution and other root obstacles. Benefits of this specific tree include it does not produce messy, foul smelling fruits and it requires a very small amount of maintenance to live a healthy life.

The "Golden Globe" Gingko along with others will be presented at this year's Arbor Day celebration on Thursday, February 23 at 11 AM. Please join us!

 
Drought Notice of September 16, 2016

Dahlonega Drought Notice September 16, 2016

 
City Streetscape Project Suspended

The Dahlonega City Council held a Special Called Meeting on May 9, 2016 to discuss the projected expenditures associated with the Dahlonega Streetscape Project and related sewer repairs. The Dahlonega Mayor and Council, City Manager Bill Schmid, City Attorney Doug Parks, Interim Finance Director Sabrina Cape, City Engineer Mark Buchanan, Downtown Development Authority Director Joel Cordle, and transportation consultant Charles Trammel were present.

The Special Called Meeting was held based on the increasing probability the City would be forced to deplete the financial reserves in order to complete the upcoming Phase 1, 2 and 3 streetscape construction and related sewer repairs. Over the last several years, the City has applied for and been awarded nearly $8 million in competitive state and federal grants. The grant funds have specific uses and none fully fund the entire streetscape project through completion. Based on the most recent projections, the City is expected to be faced with a $5 million financial gap after all phases of construction. This gap would therefore force the City to incur additional debt.

Staff's recommendation is to use the completed design work for Phases 1, 2, and 3 to serve as the base for smaller projects, scheduled over shorter periods of time and within the City's budget. Locally funded enhancement projects have more flexibility in the schedule, and result in less construction impacts to transportation routes and businesses.

After the key facts above were presented to Council, the Dahlonega City Council unanimously voted to temporarily suspend the Dahlonega Streetscape Program until further notice.

 
Tree Press Release - April 1, 2016

The City of Dahlonega is committed to growing a healthy and safe city center, while maintaining an extensive and diverse tree canopy for residents and visitors to enjoy. Efforts from City staff and many community volunteers have earned the City of Dahlonega the Tree City USA designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation since 2001. The City is one of only a few its size to have the services of a Certified Arborist on staff.

Tree selection and placement are the two most important decisions one makes when landscaping an area. Urban tree planting is more complicated than planting in a rural area. In an urban area, the trees and cities grow simultaneously, creating pressure on each other for the limited space. At the time of a planting, it is often unknown the amount of space a root system may need 75 years later in order to remain healthy.

Tree species that have surface roots, are structurally weak or tend to develop internal cavities should not be chosen for high pedestrian or vehicular traffic areas. These common problems are intensified with age as urban trees often lack oxygen, water and nutrients. The City of Dahlonega regularly coordinates with experts to assess the healthiness of community trees because an unhealthy tree creates a liability for public or private spaces. As the health of a City-owned tree declines, or private and/or public property is damaged, the City has a responsibility to look for replacement options and coordinates with the Georgia Forestry Commission's certified arborists for recommendations on how to proceed.

The first option considered was re-laying and slightly elevating the sidewalk to eliminate the buckling caused by roots. Elevating was determined to be a temporary fix only because additional oxygen and water will only promote further root growth, which risks compromising the adjacent building. Additionally, as the roots continued to grow the buckling sidewalks would return, creating the same accessibility concerns that currently exist. The City is working to better meet ADA standards and accessible design throughout the entire community. The sidewalk at the Fudge factory is a single part of a larger sidewalk repair and replacement plan.

The second option of severing and removing the large roots which are causing the buckling would destabilize the tree, accelerate its decline, and increase risk for spontaneously falling under high wind conditions. This option would require duplicated work and expense.

The third option considered was removing the tree. The City of Dahlonega makes efforts to strategically plant the right tree, in the right location at the right time. There is a precedence for successfully replacing trees, as demonstrated most recently by the planting of the oaks on the north side of the square. The end of a tree's lifespan can be viewed as a positive opportunity to plant a tree that is more appropriate for the space. An oak or elm tree are great options for an urban environment. Both species have beautiful color, large canopies and more appropriate size and root space needs.

After consideration of all three options, the third option of removing and replacing the tree was presented to Council by staff as the preferred option and most permeant solution.

Pecan Tree Facts:
• Health and age assessed by local GA State Forester and Senior State Forester.
• Approximately 75 years old, structurally weak and may contain cavities.
• Root system pushing up sidewalk searching for oxygen, water and nutrients.
• Expected continual decline of health over the next 12 – 18 months resulting in limb dropping.

Replacement Tree Facts:
• The existing tree will be professionally removed.
• Stump and roots will be ground and/or removed to allow proper reconstruction of the sidewalk and planter.
• The replacement tree will be a species suited to the location and will be planted at an appropriate time for the species. This may mean temporary planting of the planter with annuals through the summer.

 
Calling All Farmers Market Vendors!

Vendor Recruitment ImageAre you interested in selling your locally grown or produced items at the 2016 Dahlonega Farmers Market? Follow this LINK to sign up for our email distribution list and stay in the loop as we get closer to opening day, Saturday May 7!

2016 Dahlonega Farmers Market Permit Application

Learn more about the Dahlonega Farmers Market HERE!

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