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Flowery Branch aiming to change meeting structure
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Weighing a change to its meeting schedule, Flowery Branch is taking steps to make sure code and zoning changes don’t get bogged down in 2018.

The Flowery Branch City Council is considering a slight change to how it meets in 2018 that, in a worst-case scenario, could drag out ordinance approval and zoning changes to as long as two months because of the city’s two-hearing requirement.

In order to approve an ordinance — and all zoning changes are made by ordinance in the housing-heavy South Hall city — it must have two votes in two hearings.

That’s currently not an issue because the council meets twice a month every first and third Thursday. Both meetings include both a work session and a voting portion — essentially packaging two meetings into one evening.

Both the Gainesville City Council and Hall County Board of Commissioners hold informal work sessions before their voting meetings. In the county commission’s case, that means having four meetings each month.

But in Flowery Branch. the council and city staff are weighing a new meeting structure in 2018 that would make the first meeting each month a full work session and the second meeting a full voting meeting.

That wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the city’s charter, as City Manager Bill Andrew and City Attorney Ron Bennett explained at the council’s Thursday meeting, which requires the two hearings before an ordinance change.

To change the city’s charter, Bennett and the council would need to request permission to change the charter from the Georgia General Assembly. The council opted to avoid that road.

“I think we can still do the two reads and really not take any more time than it normally would take,” said Councilman Joe Anglin. “I’m fine with the two reads on ordinances being that they’re city laws.”

Instead, the council likely will schedule “floating” voting meetings at the end of each session, according to Bennett, meaning that if an ordinance needed two hearings or the council needed to move a code change through in one month, it could still vote at the end of the work session meeting at the beginning of each month.

Council members unanimously approved the 2018 meeting schedule on Thursday.

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