A Macon City Council committee parked regulations for food trucks Monday afternoon, likely ensuring that no standards specifically addressing that type of business will be voted on before city and county governments merge at the end of the year.
Councilman Henry Ficklin, who made the motion to table the matter, said the city shouldnt be passing new laws in its last three months, while a transition task force is working on unifying existing Macon and Bibb County ordinances.
I think the (consolidation) transition committee has already indicated that they really dont want any more legislation sent over there, he said. His motion passed 3-2, and Ficklin was backed by votes from council members Elaine Lucas and Virgil Watkins.
We are not going to get this legislation done under this council, it looks like, Committee Chairman Tom Ellington said. The transition task forces Laws Committee, on the advice of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, has decided that any ordinances the city or county pass after Oct. 15 will be sent to the new Macon-Bibb commission separate from the list of unified ordinances that probably will be adopted quickly.
Several people showed up to talk about the proposal, and Ellington offered to let them speak, though Council President James Timley argued that shouldnt be allowed since the item already had been tabled. Ellington allowed people to speak despite Timleys objection.
Roger Ruiz, owner of Doughboy Pizza at the corner of Third and Cherry streets, said he didnt want to lose business on his most profitable nights to fly-by-night food trucks, and that they should be required to park a good distance from existing downtown restaurants.
Gary Schechterle, owner of Lemongrass Thai Bistro on Cherry Street, said food trucks need stronger regulation than the proposed ordinance would provide. Right now, in the absence of specific rules, food trucks can operate unhindered downtown, he said.
Its really the Old West out there, Schechterle said.
Plans to transfer city alleyways to Mercer University in exchange for sidewalk work -- worth more than the alleys -- made it through the Ordinances & Resolutions Committee on Monday, but not without controversy.
Mercer wants 6,672 square feet of land just off College Street, between Centenary United Methodist Church and Alexander II Magnet School, for use in the third phase of The Lofts at Mercer University. The alleys are valued at $46,704, according to the Bibb County tax assessor.
In exchange, developer Jim Daws of Sierra Development Corp. offered to do work worth $71,344 to city right-of-way along College Street.
The city got a $1 million grant for work on a two-block stretch of College Street, including a roundabout at the corner of Oglethorpe Street. Work from Mercer and Daws is to complement those plans.
Timley and Lucas objected, with Timley openly scoffing at city attorneys opinion that the exchange is legal, while Lucas claimed that agreeing to trade the land for more valuable work is cheating our taxpayers. But Timleys attempt to table the resolution died for lack of a second, and its expected to appear on the full councils agenda for a final vote Tuesday night.
The councils Appropriations Committee voted 5-0 Monday for a nearly $1.2 million appropriation to close out the fiscal 2013 budget book in preparation for the annual audit. Thats the sum total of line-item changes made during the year, not new spending, and wont affect the citys cash reserves, Ellington said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.