During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the Council approved plans for Guthrie’s Restaurant on the corner of East Glenn Avenue and South College Street.
During the proposal’s public hearing, some residents commented on a drive-thru restaurant not belonging in Auburn’s Downtown Master Plan. The Planning Commission believed that the drive-thru’s 11-car capacity should keep traffic to the restaurant out of the street.
Griswold noted that downtown Auburn currently looks nothing like the Downtown Master Plan. He also believes the property may be the worst location for a drive-thru. A law office next door also objected to the project at a planning commission meeting, Griswold said.
“[I do not] object to Guthrie’s,” Griswold said. “It would be a nice addition to downtown. I simply object to a drive-thru restaurant.”
Hovey noted that the building, the parking lot and the drive-thru are all pre-existing.
The Council approved the restaurant in a 5-4 vote. Griswold, Ward 1 Council member Connie Fitch-Taylor, Ward 6 Council member Bob Parsons and Ward 5 Council member Steven Dixon voted no.
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At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Ron Anders announced the employees of the month for June and July. The City also highlighted various employee milestones during Tuesday’s meeting.
Anders congratulated the six members of the Auburn Fire Division who received promotions. He also congratulated the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center, which was announced as the best performing arts center in Alabama.
City Manager Jim Buston announced that there will be consequences for businesses and individuals who do not comply with the Safer at Home Order. Those who receive citations will receive a fine and will have to appear in court.
“Lee County was once a ‘hot spot’ for COVID-19,” Buston said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of people come to town with the start of school at [Auburn University], and many of them are not adhering to the governor’s orders.”
Multiple businesses have not adhered to the health order, Buston said. The University is now requiring masks everywhere on campus, and the policy will be actively enforced.
“We’re just asking for the public to hang with us a little bit longer,” Buston said. “We’re on a downward trend … but we will be punitive if you do not comply.”
Anders reminded residents that Auburn has routinely been voted as a great place to live, retire and go to school. He wants residents to go out of their way to be respectful and careful.
“My challenge to everybody in the community is to treat each other as the Auburn Family,” Anders said. “[Our actions] impact the health and welfare of others in the community.”
Ward 3 Council member Beth Witten reminded residents that Tuesday’s meeting fell on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the United States’ 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
Witten also thanked Auburn City Schools for opening in a safe manner. She acknowledged that the reopening of schools was not perfect, but it was commendable.
Fitch-Taylor announced that she is holding a back-to-school event at 11 a.m. on Aug. 29 at Sam Harris Park. Residents will be able to drive through and pick up needed school supplies and senior citizen lunches.
Ward 7 Council member Jay Hovey asked that the Pledge and a moment of silence be added back to the Council’s meeting agenda, which were both a part of in-person meetings, and Hovey wants to see their return now that meetings will be held over Zoom for the foreseeable future.
The Council approved an extension of the student housing moratorium by 120 days. All Council members approved the ordinance except for Ward 4 Council member Brett Smith, who abstained.
Ward 2 Council member Kelley Griswold asked that the ordinance last indefinitely. It would allow for the Council to vote to end the moratorium at a later date without having to renew it. Buston said not having an end date is possible, but the Council was originally advised to have an end date included. The ordinance was not altered from its 120-day expiration.
The Council unanimously approved a grocery store and retail space on South Gay Street. According to planning documents in the Council’s agenda, a Publix is planned to enter the location.
The Council also unanimously approved for a third phase of construction of cottages in Midtown Auburn at 1200 Opelika Rd.
Griswold brought concerns towards the development being used as unofficial student housing, which would bypass the student housing moratorium. Cotten stated the project will consist of 41 single-bedroom dwellings, and the City cannot prevent students from living in them.
Ward 8 Council member Dawson said he appreciates the positive change in the property he has seen over the years. He believes the current development is better for the City than some previous uses of the property.
After a discussion on zoning for the area, the Council also approved an affordable housing development on Mimosa Avenue and North College Street in a 8-1 vote. Griswold was the only Council member to vote no.
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