Weeks after leaders in McDonough weathered cosmetic changes to a building in its downtown area, the topic has once again reared its bright, yellow head.
The McDonough City Council is mulling the possibility of a moratorium on painting brick buildings on, and near, the city’s historic square. The move is being considered in the wake of an impending Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) study by the Atlanta Regional Commission.
“Because of the LCI, there’s an opportunity to put a moratorium on painting brick buildings in the downtown area until new standards are developed,” said McDonough’s Interim Community Development Director John Cheek.
City Councilwoman Gail Notti expressed her concerns about painting downtown buildings, during a council workshop meeting, Thursday. Notti said one reason the moratorium proposal has resurfaced, is the yellow Party Time store, which opened in September, at 16 Macon St.
The exterior of the building, which specializes in party-themed decor, was painted yellow prior to its opening, drawing the ire of some in the city, including Notti.
Changing the appearance of buildings on, and around The Square, “devalues” the area, said Notti.
“The LCI is a long way down the road from getting things done,” said Notti. “There’s nothing to keep somebody from coming in and making [a given building] whatever color they want,” she continued.
Party Time, after it was painted, stood in contrast to the other, darker buildings on The Square. The color was later adjusted to a softer hue, after owner Kenn Yancey, met with the City of McDonough’s Community Development Department.
“The finished color did not turn out to be the color that was approved by the city,” Yancey has acknowledged. “So, in good conscience, my wife and I realized that we needed to bring it into compliance with what was approved.”
Notti advocated creating an ordinance to prevent business owners from making drastic changes to The Square, until enhancements resulting from the LCI study are put in place.
City Attorney Leigh Hancher cautioned Notti and councilmembers against enacting a moratorium. Hancher said such a change would require a notice of a public hearing, before a moratorium could take effect. Thus, the attorney said, such a measure has the potential to be “self-defeating.” Some business owners could make changes to their buildings before it is enacted, she added.
Hancher said restricting a moratorium to a particular area of the city would, in effect, amount to a change in a zoning ordinance. The attorney added that, in general, moratoriums are not looked upon favorably by Georgia law, and are reserved for emergency circumstances, to be used for a short period of time.
“For those reasons, I think it’s premature to talk about it right now,” said Hancher.
No votes were taken on the moratorium concept. The council agreed to continue its discussions on the issue at a future meeting.