The Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, scheduled for Sep. 4, to discuss the Hampton Inn floor limitations was canceled. Blue Ridge City officials decided to cancel the meeting after a recommendation letter was sent out by Blue Ridge City attorney, James A. W. Balli, stating that, in his legal opinion, the zoning meeting was no longer necessary due to the current city ordinances.
This begs the question as to why there was a variance request in the first place? Surely no corporate company would purchase land without doing their due diligence to ensure that their goals of building onto the property would come to fruition. Would Hampton Inn buy land without having their attorneys review city ordinances beforehand?
Balli investigated the city’s zoning rules and concluded that the law allows for the building of up to 60 ft, so the question of floors is void, but rather, the height of the Hampton Inn is what matters most.
In an open letter Balli states, “Therefore, it is my legal opinion that, in its current form, the Zoning Ordinance limits the height of any structure within the CBD to 4 stories or 60’ feet. Accordingly, the Applicant need not request the height variance if the hotel does not exceed 60’ feet. It would be my advice that the hearing scheduled for September 4, 2018 be cancelled as unnecessary and that a zoning certification be issued to the Applicant which is complies with the legal opinion in this letter.”
There could be some potential issues with the construction of the Hampton Inn.
Note that in the open letter, Balli added Article 3 General Provisions, which states, “G15.2-3 Delay in Construction. In the event that construction is not begun within two years from the date of approval by the Council or is begun but is halted for a period of more than one year, said approval shall be void. Re-approval must follow the procedure set forth in Section 15 .1 and 15 .2 of this Article.”
Several issues have come into question by citizens of Fannin County that could delay construction. Among these issues are power lines over the now vacant lot, the city’s current infrastructure capabilities, and whether Fannin County’s fire department is equipped to handle a five-story building.
There has yet to be a sit-down between Fannin County and Blue Ridge City officials regarding these matters. Fire Chief Larry Thomas spoke on the matter of fire protection, “We (Fire/EMS) are aware of the request of a five-story building in the downtown area, and we are being proactive. We want to make sure that we have the right equipment to handle the new growth.”
With possible infrastructural changes and accommodations needing to take place, could there be a new five-story hotel on the horizon? Or will the lack of city preparedness be the downfall of the new Hampton Inn?
ATLANTA – Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) attended President Donald Trump’s infrastructure announcement at The White House this morning. Speaker Ralston was one of several local and state elected officials invited to participate in a series of discussions with the president as well as members of his cabinet and senior staff about the plan and the infrastructure needs facing our nation.
“I appreciate President Trump’s emphasis on public-private partnerships, as well as rural areas of America, as we look to address the nation’s infrastructure needs,” said Speaker Ralston. “Much like his Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, this measure will make a real difference in projects of profound economic importance like the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project or long-overdue efforts like expanding broadband infrastructure into rural areas. This is another example of President Trump focusing on creating jobs and expanding economic opportunity across our country. I am honored to represent the state of Georgia at this important announcement.”
President Trump’s infrastructure plan looks to leverage the power of public-private partnerships to improve the nation’s infrastructure including transportation, water/sewer and other critical needs like broadband internet access. More details on the president’s plan are available on The White House website at http://www.whitehouse.gov.
I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when Irma came through Blue Ridge doing relatively little damage. But, what if it had lived up to all the dire predictions? Would the city have been ready?
We know that our emergency management team works hard to ensure readiness when needed. You may have seen them performing practice drills that encompass a variety of possible disaster situations. It is comforting to know we have a fine group of men and women at the ready when we need them.
But, is our city infrastructure ready for the next disaster? We have seen the flooding on Ada Street and on W. Main Street after it rains. One can only imagine the damage that would be done to property in the event of a major weather event. And how difficult would it be for our emergency responders to get to people in need if the roads are impassable?
If elected, one of my first priorities will be to address our outdated infrastructure. We need to know what, where, and why we are having these issues.
Once we have answered those questions, we move on to how we are going to remedy the situation. These are hard questions that will require hard answers, and elected officials that are willing to tackle these issues.
Our city is beautiful, indeed. We have lovely public spaces, a fine playground, a renovated train depot. Our newly completed downtown streetscape makes our city even more tourist friendly. All these are reasons that Blue Ridge is included in so many “best of” articles.
But, it won’t matter how beautiful our city looks if it is not built on a sound infrastructure. We must address this issue now, or pay the consequences later.
Your vote for me will be a vote for someone not afraid to tackle the tough issues!