The city of Demorest met on Tuesday evening for its monthly working session to discuss, among other things, the status of the city’s departments and the new entertainment district.
Rainwater in demo rest
When Public Works Director Brian Popham and Engineering Management’s Fletcher Holliday shared their monthly reports, the city council realized that the rainwater damage the city continues to suffer needed to be repaired.
Pool of water in front of the Demorest Post Office after heavy rainfall on Tuesday, August 31, 2021. Sandbags were placed in front of the building to prevent indoor flooding. (nowhabersham.com)
Popham alerted the council to failing drain pipes while Holliday discussed the more than one million gallons of water that came through Demorest’s water treatment plant during the storm this month.
At the suggestion of Popham and Holliday, the council discussed the creation of new minimum standards for development to compensate for the discharge of rainwater in unsuitable places. These standards, which the council and city attorney will work through before their next meeting, hope to ease some of the pressures as storms from the public works department sweep across the city.
The city is discussing new cybersecurity measures with ACG Solutions to better protect it from viruses, malware and ransomware that would take over the city’s IT if the city accepted their proposal.
Ransomware attacks have cost cities and towns across the state millions of dollars to recover their information while compromising the security of sensitive data.
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“It’s not just the money,” said Alderman Shawn Allen. “We have to protect the information of our employees and the information of our customers.”
Changes in the entertainment district
The city’s entertainment district could see some changes at the upcoming September 7th council meeting as city council asked Nathan Davis to add the building he currently owns to the entertainment district.
While the building is for sale, which houses two short-term vacation rentals (most commonly known as some of AirBnB’s demorests) and Davis’ former salon, the next owner could invest in new options for the building, such as a restaurant.
Demorest Councilman Nathan Davis is selling his former hair salon and AirBnB. He has asked the city council to rededicate the property to include it in the city’s new entertainment district. Habersham County’s election officer Laurel Ellison said Davis first listed the property as his residential address when he qualified for city council candidacy in 2019. He later changed his home address to his parents’ next door on Georgia Street and kept 475 Hazel Avenue as his mailing address. (nowhabersham.com)
Davis also raised the inclusion of the currently vacant 205 Sosebee Lane property in the entertainment district, although Mayor Rick Austin was against including the property in question in the entertainment district due to its residential nature. According to Davis, the property is currently designated for historic commercial use.
“I know there are residents on Sosebee Lane who probably won’t be happy with that.” [districting] Problem, ”says Austin. “I want you to have the opportunity to interfere.”
The council also discussed an excise tax on short-term tourist rentals and everyone seemed to agree that a tax should be introduced on tourist accommodation in the city. This is usually a small tax imposed on a guest at a hotel or other short term rental that is common in many cities to generate income from tourism.
“We’re losing revenue,” Davis said at the working meeting. “Not just with my units, but with everyone else [in Demorest]. “
The Council is likely to vote on the tax and other items above at its next meeting. Those wishing to speak on any of these points should attend the September 7th session at 6:00 p.m. in the Demorest City Court.
During Tuesday night’s session, the council and members of the audience did not mention a controversial self-published book written by City Councilor John Hendrix’s wife Vivian Fong. The book presents Fong’s version of the events that have dragged the city into multiple lawsuits since her husband became a councilor in 2019.
A livestream of the Demorest City Council working session on August 31st can be viewed on the city’s Facebook page