The Gainesville City Council voted Tuesday, Aug. 7 to adapt the city’s land development code to address aesthetic and safety concerns about boarded-up structures, outdoor furniture, tarps on buildings, registered agents for apartment complexes and trash gathering near community donation boxes.
Councilman Sam Couvillon was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, and all other councilmembers voted in support of the changes, which will go into effect immediately.
Boarding up structures
Anyone who wants to board up a building will have to apply for a permit with the city. That permit will last for six months and can be renewed once, so the maximum amount of time a building could be boarded up is one year.
In emergency situations, including damage caused by weather, fire or vandalism, the building can be boarded up for up to 30 days. After 30 days, the building owner would need to apply for a permit.
Any building that is boarded up needs to have posted 24-hour contact information so the building owner can be reached.
According to the ordinance, outdoor furniture has to be designed for outdoor use and made from materials that can be kept outdoors. Councilman George Wangemann said at Tuesday’s meeting that this may be an overstep, especially for residents who may not be able to afford outdoor furniture.
“It’s nice to improve your city and make it look better and that sort of thing, but not every section of the city is going to look like the country club,” Wangemann said. “…This is a concern that I have, that we have to prescribe every little detail for people to live, and sometimes money prevents people from buying patio furniture that they can’t afford.”
Mayor Danny Dunagan said that although the changes had already been approved, city staff could discuss how the outdoor furniture regulations would be enforced.
Community donation boxes
Community donation boxes will only be allowed in areas zoned as light or heavy industrial, and they should be located on the same property as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and up against the wall of a building.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Zack Thompson amended the definition of community donation to be a receptacle for clothes, shoes, furniture and household goods. Small boxes for books or food are exempt.
Plastic covers and tarps
The ordinance prohibits anyone from putting up a plastic or nylon tarp on the exterior of a building. Tarps designed to cover outdoor equipment such as lawnmowers or grills are allowed.
Firewood can be covered with a clear or brown tarp, as long as it is in the side or rear yard of a property.
Camping tents are permitted for up to 72 hours.
Registered agents for multi-family properties
All multi-family properties, defined as properties with six or more units, are required to have a registered agent available to deal with potential code violations.
The agent must be located in Hall County and be available seven days a week to accept violation notices.
Properties must have a registered agent in order to be issued a business occupation tax certificate.