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Flowery Branch City Council starts year divided

Election qualifying, meeting days, times trip up members

POSTED: January 8, 2009 12:10 a.m.

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FLOWERY BRANCH — The Flowery Branch City Council got 2009 off to a bumpy start Wednesday when they had trouble agreeing on housekeeping details such as when to hold meetings and the duration of the election qualifying period.

The split was between two groups, one comprising council members Allen Bryans Sr., Pat Zalewski and Mary Jones and the other made up of Councilmen Chris Fetterman and Craig Lutz, with the larger group winning the vote each time. The first sore point had to deal with meeting dates and times for 2009.

Fetterman and Lutz pushed for at least one night meeting per month to give residents more opportunity to see their government at work.

But the others wanted things to stay the same. Currently, the council typically meets the first and third Wednesday of every month, starting at 9:30 a.m. Public hearings on specific items generally are held on the second Thursday of the month at 6 p.m.

Also, Fetterman and Lutz wanted to expand qualifying for the Nov. 3 election to five days from three.

"We really need to give every citizen every opportunity to participate in government and obviously limiting the qualifying period limits the ability and certainly the convenience of our citizens," Lutz said.

"If they want to participate in government, we should encourage that," he added.

Bryans, Zalewski and Jones favored a three-day qualifying, which is set for Sept. 2-4.

That measure was approved on first reading. The final reading is set for Jan. 21.

Mayor Diane Hirling and Bryans, Zalewski and Jones are up for re-election this year.

In another matter, the council discussed setting up an advisory committee for the city’s planned tax allocation district, an area the city has designated for improvements using property tax increments.

Again, the two council groups butted heads.

Fetterman asked council to approve naming himself, Bryans and Mayor Diane Hirling, but only he and Lutz approved the motion.

"I believe this is a good balance," Lutz said.

Bryans, Zalewski and Jones voted to name themselves, in a motion by Zalewski, to the committee.

During an earlier, lengthy debate on the matter, Lutz said at one point, "What I’m hearing ... is you don’t want Councilman Fetterman or Councilman Lutz on (the committee) ... whether or not the mayor is on it."

"That doesn’t matter. If you’re looking for longevity, Diane was here a long time before we were, with the exception of Allen and Pat," Jones said.

Lutz repeated his assertion.

"I’m not saying that," Jones said.



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