North Augusta City Council took a dive into the deep waters of the city’s draft Comprehensive Plan in a special session Monday, starting with priorities.
The current plan, which has been approved by the Planning Commission, includes 10 top recommendations.
Leading a special called study session, Mayor Bob Pettit said right off the bat that needed to be changed to a set of priorities that were equal in terms of overall importance but would get done at different times.
First, for example, comes downtown, council seemed to agree by consensus. Several Planning Commission members who attended the session nodded their heads as well.
The draft plan calls for a downtown master plan, connecting the Greeneway to downtown and hiring a downtown development director in three separate recommendations. Those could be combined into one priority, Pettit said, and council seemed to agree.
Overall, they decided – though votes are not taken in study sessions – that the Comprehensive Plan should be a general guiding document.
“It’s the view from 30,000 feet,” said Acting Planning Director Charles Martin.
Council members found several goals they thought should be added to the current draft.
Fletcher Dickert wanted it to address infrastructure and the need to maintain it. Pat Carpenter wanted it to include sidewalks that are wider than what’s typically found downtown. Jimmy Adams said code enforcement should be a priority.
City Administrator Todd Glover pointed out that the city has only one code enforcement officer, and Carpenter said maybe it should hire another one instead of a downtown development director.
After about an hour-and-a-half of discussion, Pettit said he would work with staff to produce a new priorities list and distribute it to council for further discussion and eventual adoption. The city has given the plan first-reading approval, so second and third readings remain.
As the meeting concluded, Sintonio Hobbs, an Augusta resident, addressed the group, praising the city for what it offers and encouraging them not to forget its small-town roots.
“I want to give y’all kudos,” he said “You’ve got half the people in Augusta over here – from Pizza Hut to Publix — and I applaud y’all.
“Accommodate growth but keep your small-town atmosphere. Don’t forget that, like Atlanta (did),” he said. It once had a collection of nice, smaller towns like Decatur and Doraville but swallowed them as it grew.
Reach James Folker at (706) 823-3338 or james.folker @augustachronicle.com.