Blue Ridge, Ga. – Change and growth have become inevitable in the City of Blue Ridge. Cindy Trimble, a board member of both the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals, brought before the Blue Ridge City Council on Tuesday a small step in establishing direction, consistency, and beautification of our growing town.
Trimble along with help from council member Nathan Fitts rolled out conceptual drawings for new way-finding signs in Blue Ridge.
“It is critical that we have a plan for signage,” Trimble stated due to growth, extra pedestrians, and extra traffic in the area.
The designs included newly structured street signs with stone bases, covered kiosks with maps of businesses downtown, and gateways to the city. Trimble noted that those traveling along Hwy. 515 often do not know where to turn to enter the downtown historic area.
The gateways would be strategically placed in five areas to direct visitors to downtown. Trimble proposed placing the gateways on East First Street and Hwy. 515 near Bill Holt Chevrolet, Cook Street and Hwy. 515 near Burger King, West First Street and Hwy. 515 near McDonald’s intersection, Windy Ridge Road and Hwy. 515, and lastly Orvin Lance Drive and Hwy. 515 near CVS.
“Because these are city owned signs we cannot put them on the DOT right of way,” Trimble said explaining that the signs would need to sit back on side streets away from Hwy. 515 itself.
The gateways, designed as archways with mountain scenery and stone pedestals, would be back lit as to be visible at night and are designed to hold seasonal posters to display festivals and happenings in town.
Suggestions came from council to perhaps look into painting the Windy Ridge Road overpass to go along with design and planning. This option would require grants and permits, as well as permission from the state, but Trimble noted that it has been done in other towns and would be worth looking into.
Discussion also arose about the business directory or “you are here” map kiosks. These freestanding structures will be double sided and not only display downtown businesses, but also parking areas and trolley stops.
“There is an opportunity for advertising on this and it is something that we haven’t developed further,” Trimble stated of the kiosks.
Trimble presented the idea of digital maps as an option: “That way as businesses change it would be easier to change it.” She also noted that it would give more opportunity for advertising and that the advertisements might be a way to supplement income to purchase the new signage.
“The next step is to take some of these, if the council is comfortable with the design direction,” Trimble explained the plan moving forward, “then what we will do is, we will have several of us get together and take a map of the city and we will go around and look at where we need some of these signs immediately.”
Mayor Donna Whitener questioned, “Is the goal to replace all the signage in town?”
Trimble replied that it would just be key locations for the time being. She noted that certain areas of town might experience more street scaping such as Roberts Way and the City Park, and would not move forward in those areas until work is completed.
Council chose to move forward with obtaining pricing for the new way-finding signs and this information will be presented in a later meeting.
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BLUE RIDGE, GA – A recent decision by Election Superintendent Barbie Gerald resulted in the disqualification of City Council Post One Candidate Jane Whaley. Now two other candidates, David Stuart and Brendan Doyle, are being challenged as to the legitimacy of their residency.
Whaley, along with several of her supporters, attended an all day hearing on September 25, 2017 to argue her residential status.
City Attorney David Syfan argued that Whaley’s lack of physical presence at her apartment on East Main Street was case enough to dismiss her from the election.
Whaley’s attorney Frank Moore stated that her intent to move in was enough to claim residence, and that she had only been prevented from the physical move by circumstances beyond her control.
Gerald ultimately came to the decision that Whaley did not meet the qualifications to continue to run for City Council Post One. In a letter sent to Whaley, Gerald stated, “since I have determined that Mrs. Whaley is not qualified, in my position as Election Superintendent, I shall withhold Mrs. Whaley’s name as a candidate upon the ballot, or strike her name from the ballot if the ballots have been printed.”
It went on, “If there is insufficient time to strike her name or reprint the ballots, I will post a prominent notice at the City polling place advising voters that Mrs. Whaley is disqualified as a candidate and all votes cast for her shall be void and shall not be counted.”
In response, Whaley stated, “I believe I am a legitimate candidate, and I am going to appeal this decision.”
Frank Moore sent a letter late last week asking for a stay of Gerald’s decision. He stated that Whaley’s name should be included on the ballot until a decision has been reached in her appeal.
The letter states that Whaley “will be permanently and irreparably harmed if the Court does not grant a stay of the Determination because she will be unable, prior to the printing of the ballots and the conducting of the election to challenge successfully the erroneous Determination.”
Moore also sent a formal letter, with regards to a complaint filed by another city resident, to Election Superintendent Barbie Gerald requesting the investigation of residency for two additional candidates in the Blue Ridge City Council Election.
The letter brings into question the residency of City Council Post Five Candidate David Stuart. Stuart listed his address as a property that is currently zoned C-2. Properties that are commercially zoned C-2, can only have residential units above the first floor.
It also brings into question the residency of Candidate for Blue Ridge City Mayor Brendan Doyle. The complaint against Doyle states that an urban dwelling living space within the Central Business District must average 1,000 square feet in area per building.
The letter states that both of these candidates fail to meet these standards.
It asks for an investigation and if the claims are proven to be correct asks for the removal of both candidates from the ballot for the 2017 Election for City Council.