The sparks started flying at the government center last night, and that was simply during the Albany City Commission’s pre-brieff. Citizens for area neighborhood asked for the commission’s help to prevent a drug treatment group home from being established in their neighborhood.
Chris McMillian spoke for his neighbors before the commission, asking for help to keep the home out of their neighborhood. McMillian cited some of the concerns of the residents including decreased property values, the idea that the business doesn’t belong in a private neighborhood, and the “emergence of unwanted elements” in the area.
City Attorney Nathan Davis and commissioner Bob Langstaff told the assembled crowd that work was ongoing to see if it was even possible under federal law to make the city’s ordinance more restrictive. Davis cited the federal Fair Housing Act has a law which prevent neighborhoods from blocking out certain kinds of residents, and said that any ordinance that the city passes will have to be in accordance with that particular law.
However, residents of the neighborhood, offered up potential solutions such as one in Clark County where the number of non-related person able to live in a single residence is capped at a specific number. Commissioner Langstaff said to the audience that the example was one of the ways Davis was looking at how the ordinance can be worked.
This looks like it may be the first fight along this lines of what could be many more throughout the state. “I heard today that the state is trying to move 1,000 people from state programs to private ones,” Langstaff said. If true, any potential fight in Albany could have statewide ramifications.
After a brief break, the commission set about the business for the day. The biggest news was the commission voting down a measure that would pay for funding another study for the new site of a multimodal facility in Albany.
A previous study had presented a site on Roosevelt Avenue as the prime site, but that location fell through. Georgia Department of Transportation officials are now saying that the city must fund another study or face losing out on state and federal funds to help pay for the project, despite what looks like a desire for the city to keep the bus station at its current location. For some, that’s sufficient reason to vote for the expenditure. “I’m not against the bus station, I just want to take advantage of these federal dollars,” said commission Roger Marietta.
However, the opposition was less than convinced. “We can’t let then lean you down a path because they’re dangling money,” said commissioner Langstaff.
The vote was 3-3 with Tommie Postell absent. Commissioner Langstaff moved, as a favor to Mayor Hubbard, for the funding to be reconsidered despite his comments that he felt the vote went “the correct way”. The motion was passed and the issue will be revisited. Commissioner Marietta made a motion to table the next vote.