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Leesburg City Council adopts sign ordinance

LEESBURG, Ga. -- With what Southwest Georgia Regional Planning Commission Planning Director Paul Forgey called "a couple of changes (from Lee County's) tailored to the city of Leesburg," the Leesburg City Council approved a new sign ordinance with a 5-1 vote at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

Council member Rhonda Futch voted against approval.

"I don't understand the need to monitor temporary signs or charge retail businesses for them," Futch said during a public hearing prior to the vote. "To small business owners, that can get costly."

Forgey, who put together the ordinance with input from interested "stakeholders," said costs were built into the ordinance to pay for enforcement.

"That part of the ordinance is necessary to regulate orderly signage," the regional planner said. "The fee was put in because if it costs to enforce the ordinance, it should pay for itself.

"The reason you need a new sign ordinance is there were parts of your existing ordinance that were not constitutional."

The council also voted to adopt a water conservation plan required by

the Environmental Protection Division. After a lengthy discussion, during which Stevenson & Palmer Engineering Vice President Ronny Dudley explained that the difference between water used (11,966,000 gallons during October) by city utilities and water charged for (more than 1,800,000 gallons less) represented a 22 percent loss, the council voted to approve a general plan but to further discuss auditing the water loss issue.

"Is there an accepted standard (of water loss)?" City Attorney Bert Gregory asked Dudley.

"I can't give you an exact figure, but it's closer to 10 percent," Dudley said. The city's engineering consultant added that the potential loss in revenue from the water differential amounted to more than $49,000 a year.

He and City Clerk Casey Moore said they would further discuss with officials the feasibility of a citywide audit of the city's water system.

In other action, the council granted approval sought by the Lee County Chamber of Commerce for the closing of a portion of Starksville Road during the city's Dec. 4 Spirit of Christmas Festival; gave tentative approval for an alcohol license sought by Bhavna Ray for his Shell service station (pending FBI fingerprint approval); and OK'd a request by County Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander that the city adopt a resolution establishing the newly refurbished Robert B. Lee Drive as an alternate truck route for State Route 32.

The council tabled a proposed 911 address ordinance and a change to commercial water/sewer deposit pending further committee discussions.