By Laura Camper / email@example.com
Grantville City Council members took a first step toward removing the old mill from the city’s historic district — but not from the National Historic Registry — at their meeting on Monday.
The members voted 3-0, with Councilwoman Ruby Hines abstaining, to begin the process of amending the map of the city’s historic district without the old building.
As the meeting began, Selma Coty, chairwoman of the Grantville Historic Preservation Commission, told the council that she had spoken to the Department of Community Affairs, which oversees historic preservation in the state.
“I understood what Mr. (Councilman Jim) Sells said about the cost of rehabbing that building,” Coty said. “But let me tell you something; there is money out there to do these things.”
At a week-long class, she learned about the tax benefits and revenues to develop historic properties, Coty said.
“One item that was cited was a $9 million project,” Coty said. “Do you know what the bottom line when the man got through with it was? Three hundred twenty-five thousand dollars. That’s what his mortgage was going to be.”
She said the mill may be decaying and an eyesore, but it was not beyond being rehabilitated and repurposed. Its value as a piece of the city’s history was worth preserving it, Coty said.
But Sells said he did not expect the building to be torn down if the historic designation is removed. Rather it is to remove the building from the purview of the Historic Preservation Commission.
“This is a business decision. This does not negate them from every required permit they’ll need to do the clean up, to do what they requested earlier, to repair the roof,” Sell said. “He needs not to be encumbered by Historic Preservation.”
Councilman Alan Wacaser agreed.
“If you think this out and we don’t take it out of the historical preservation and it sits there very long, it’s just going to deteriorate and get worse,” Wacaser said.
City Manager Al Grieshaber said he was told by an architect at Lord Aeck Sargent that the tax credits mentioned by Coty would still be attached to the building because it would still be on the National Register of Historic Places.
Before the vote, the city’s attorney Mark Mitchell said he had been unable to do a full review of the process of removing a property from a historic district. At the very least it would require two readings of the proposed change since it would be changing a city ordinance, he said.
“The city’s ordinance, historic preservation ordinance, doesn’t address a process for removing properties,” Mitchell said.
It does say that the Historic Preservation Commission can recommend that the designation can be removed or revoked, he said. He was unable to reach someone at the Department of Community Affairs directly.
“Late this afternoon, I received some emails Ms. Coty forwarded to me. Apparently, she made contact with someone there,” Mitchell said.
He was not able to review the emails before the meeting, though, he said. He would do so if they approved moving forward with the removal.
During a call for public comment at the end of the meeting, Coty accused the council members of serving themselves rather than the city in reference to the vote.
In other business, council members:
— approved an agreement to purchase power from a Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia member to satisfy the city’s required 15 percent reserve. The agreement is an annual requirement, City Manager Al Grieshaber told the council members.
— approved a special fund permit for Family Fun Day and Movie Night organized by the Kiwanis Club of Grantville. The event will be on Oct. 8 beginning at 3 p.m. at Colley Park.
— declined to vote on Coty’s request to appoint Megan Williams to the Historic Preservation Commission to finish the term of Rodney Mowery, who resigned from the commission. Ruby Hines made a motion to accept the nomination, but her motion died for lack of a second. None of the council members nominated anyone else for the now empty seat on the commission.
— approved purchasing a LMX100 portable ground penetrating radar and Geode GNS35 receiver as well as the necessary mapping software for $21,923. The equipment will allow the city to locate and map underground utilities. The purchase will be made with special purpose local option sales tax proceeds, Grieshaber told the council members.
— approved rezoning a property on Holtzclaw Road to general commercial to allow a Family Dollar-Dollar Tree store to be built there. Sells, who owns the property, abstained from the vote.
— approved repealing an emergency COVID-19 ordinance to allow the city to reopen its event venues.
— approved a special meeting to allow council members to participate in the local option sales tax negotiations scheduled for Oct. 17 at 9 a.m. in Newnan.