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Rome comission to discuss River District plans

December 17, 2018

An update on plans to develop the River District tops the list of agenda items for the Rome City Commission’s last meeting of the year.

Commissioners moved their second session of the month to Monday from Dec. 24, Christmas Eve. A presentation on recommendations for the district — mainly Fifth Avenue and West Third Street across the Oostanaula River from downtown — is set for the board’s 5 p.m. caucus.

The regular meeting follows at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 601 Broad St. Both meetings are public.

Consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard of Atlanta has been meeting with staffers, officials and stakeholders for several months to determine the best future use of the district. Funding for the analysis is through a $100,000 Georgia Department of Transportation grant.

Commissioners have discussed encouraging a focus on the arts, although there’s been no formal move to limit the use of the area.

What’s fairly certain is a desire for a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. The 2017 special purpose, local option sales tax package contains $2 million for improvements, which were presented to the SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee as some type of streetscaping.

Rome-Floyd Planning Director Artagus Newell said connectivity to the existing downtown is a linchpin of any successful plan. He and Associate Planner Brice Wood also promoted UMU zoning during the Downtown Development Authority’s annual meeting last month.

Urban Mixed Use zoning allows for high-density residential, commercial and office developments. Buildings can be as tall as 100 feet, there are no lot-size restrictions and businesses don’t have to provide off-street parking. Wood said it’s a more flexible category than the CBC, Central Business Commercial, zoning in the downtown district around Broad Street.

During the city commission’s regular meeting, the board is slated to hold a second reading of an ordinance that bans vendors from selling on public property without permission.

City Clerk Joe Smith said the ordinance already specifies vendors can’t be on the street or sidewalk, but some have been setting up in public parking spaces during special events. The amendment will clarify that parking spaces also are off-limits for sales.

“This is not changing the $75-a-day permit for itinerant vendors setting up on private property,” Smith said. “Yes, it’s high, but we try to discourage that because it takes business away from our permanent business owners.”

City Manager Sammy Rich also is expected to announce the holiday schedule for city operations.

Administrative offices will be closed Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Those garbage, recycling and yard cart routes will be moved to Dec. 26 and Dec. 27 respectively. Customers who are normally serviced on Dec. 27 will be added to the regular schedule on Dec. 28, but there will be no yard waste pick-up that day.

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