Byron council backs access measure

BYRON — City Council passed a measure Monday to help ensure access to one of the community’s commercial areas remains open.

Tommy Dollar and members of the Chambers Road Merchants Association informed council the Georgia Department of Transportation may have plans to close access to Chambers Road from Byron’s main thoroughfare, Ga. 49. Chambers Road runs north of the highway just west of Interstate 75.

According to longtime Byron businessman Dollar, owner of the Country Cupboard Restaurant, the DOT is looking once again at the possibility of reconfiguring the exit. Some possible configurations might mean closing the Chambers Road-Ga. 49 intersection. Byron Mayor Larry Collins said the possibility is not a new one.

“We went through a process several years ago with the DOT about this,” he said. “We were left with the understanding the intersection would remain open and become a right turn, enter only intersection as you are heading west. There would be a safe return to the highway further west where there will be a stop light.”

Council voted unanimously to support the association’s efforts along with legislative representatives in seeing access to Chambers Road is not simply blocked off.

“There has been no final decision yet,” Dollar said. “We want to get ahead of this and act.”

He said shutting off access to Chambers Road would cause businesses to suffer greatly and that some of the other state-proposed solutions would create more problems as opposed to the simple right turn-only plan suggested by the city and the merchants group.

In other business, City Council approved measures to become recertified in the Georgia Municipal Association’s Certified City of Ethics Program. Council also voted to amend the Byron Police Department General Orders Manual to include sections with guidelines regarding personnel and their activity on Internet social networking sites, blogs and Web sites. The manual does not prohibit use but outlines appropriate use and how it reflects on official work.

Council voted to authorize Collins to sign agreements for participation in the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement (SAVE) Program, a mandated information-sharing program designed to allow government agencies to share information to verify individual’s immigration status. There was one dissenting vote from Mayor Pro Tem Michael Chidester, who voted no to protest the fact the city will have to pay for individual’s paperwork to be submitted into the program. The board also had a first reading on a measure to annex property off N. Houser’s Mill Road along I-75, which will be home for a Hindu temple built by International Swaminarayan Satsang.