Warner Robins launches building moratorium for older area

mstucka@macon.comFebruary 18, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- An aging part of Warner Robins hasn’t had much redevelopment lately, and a City Council vote Tuesday will stop any more for several months.

The city approved a 120-day moratorium for commercial and industrial building permits as well as other kinds of city permits through the city’s “redevelopment area,” a sizable stretch of the city.

Council members made the move with no discussion and waived a second reading. The issue had not appeared on the original or revised agendas.

The resolution for the moratorium says it’s necessary to prevent “irreparable harm” while the city drafts, adopts and implements new construction standards for the area. The moratorium covers commercial and industrial uses within the redevelopment area, which is generally enclosed by Green Street, Ga. 247, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Shirley Drive and South Pleasant Hill Road.

Mayor Randy Toms said the city wasn’t trying to rush a moratorium through but wanted a new look for the area, which includes a stretch of Watson Boulevard with the city’s new police station.

“We want this area down here to look good,” he said. “We want to establish some kind of uniformity.”

The measure did not receive any no votes, and Councilman Mike Davis was absent.

Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins, who made the motion to approve the measure and waive a second reading, said the Warner Robins Redevelopment Agency requested the moratorium to give it time to develop better building standards.

Separately, the City Council punted on the question of what to do for the city’s Fourth of July celebration. Events planner Benny Brantley of Blue Duck Events Inc. had proposed running the city’s event this year. Toms said the Downtown Development Authority had also proposed taking over the city’s celebration, which last year was delayed several times due to rain before only fireworks went off.

After a discussion, Toms declared, “We vote on something in two weeks.”

City officials focused most of their precouncil meeting sharing ideas of how to retain Warner Robins police officers. Police Chief Brett Evans said statistically the department’s retention rate is good, but he wants to keep more officers.

In a roving 40-minute discussion, officials talked about measures such as creating incentive pay for different kinds of college degrees, for military service or for law enforcement experience with a different agency. Evans will bring more information back to the council. He said the city’s benefits are good, but the salaries don’t compare well to competitors’.

The council also voted to shift the position of the Redevelopment Agency’s executive director into the general fund as a Regional Development Agency and Economic Development Director position. The vote moves the position from Grade 21 to Grade 23 and has the director now reporting to the mayor. Robbins said the salary of the current director, Gary Lee, falls within both salary grade ranges and won’t be changed.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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