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A spirit that is not afraid

City Council rewards bid for construction of new facilities

A resident speaks to the City Council against the Auburn Board of Education's decision to require masks on Aug. 4, 2021, in Auburn, Ala.
A resident speaks to the City Council against the Auburn Board of Education's decision to require masks on Aug. 4, 2021, in Auburn, Ala.

City Council approved an item of the consent agenda that rewards a bid to Stone Building, LLC  to build a new Environmental Services and Public Works facility for approximately $27 million. 

Council member Tommy Dawson of Ward 8 said he requested to remove the item for individual discussion to highlight that this was a much needed improvement. 

“I know its a lot of money and that’s one of the reasons I brought it forward, so citizens know what were spending it on,” Dawson said. “But I see some of those folks in the back, back there that I’ve been knowing for a long time and this is a long time coming and I’m just proud to be a part of getting this to y’all.”

The project relocates environmental services, fleet services and public works from its location on North Donahue to Wire Road at the intersection of Beehive Road. It contracts the construction of pole barns and wash buildings. 

City Manager Megan Crouch said that employees of these departments have been operating under tough conditions. 

Council member Jay Hovey of Ward 7 agreed with Crouch that the upgrade was exciting to see the expansion and needed changes to the city. 

“It’s also representative of sort of the first domino in a series of upgrades and additions and changes to the city that we’ve been talking about and anticipating for a few years,” Hovey said. 

Council members Beth Witten of Ward 3 and Bob Parsons of Ward 6 provided an update on the findings and progress of the mural committee. 

Scott Cummings, development services executive director, came up and reported on the proceedings and objectives of the study group committee. 

He said that the committee watched presentations from the Montgomery Community Arts Commission, Auburn Opelika Tourism and the Jule Collins Smith Museum. 

“That presentation mostly focused on art programs, community art and really focused on the community synergies that art programs were able to bring and also a sense of corporate partnerships as well,” Cummings said. 

The committee conducted studies and contacted planning commissions of surrounding cities on the same ordinances in other cities like Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Florence, Mountain Brook, Hunstville, Montgomery and Opelika.

Cummings outlined the objectives of the committee regarding murals in the ordinance and objectives regarding public art, in general. 

These objectives include removing the prohibition of murals from the zoning ordinance, reviewing and amending the mural definition, consideration of potential limitations of murals in residential neighborhoods, looking at regulations regarding nuisances and obscenities and consideration of restrictions on public health and safety.

Cummings said the committee will have to consider free speech, graffiti and placement of murals. 

The committee determined that the City needs to focus on public art already in Auburn and use resources to point people toward available public art. Cummings said this includes social media, interactive maps and a potential subcommittee for community stakeholders to discuss what kinds of art the community would like to see. 

The committee was able to meet Tuesday morning to address the first objective and draft a text amendment. Cummings said the goal is to hold a joint work session mid-May with City Council and the planning commission to present the drafted text amendments. 

“I think it’s positive steps forward and I am excited to see how the joint works session evolves and what our next steps are because I think art has a place in Auburn,” Witten said. 

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The council approved a request for road service use from Chipotle which would reinstall a drive-thru specifically for pick-up of mobile orders. 

Council member Kelley Griswold of Ward 2 said he was concerned about the addition of the drive-thru increasing traffic on West Magnolia Avenue. Parsons said he was concerned with the pedestrian traffic around the restaurant. 

Steve Foote, director of planning for Auburn Planning Commission, said that the planning commission took into consideration the use of the drive-thru for mobile pick-up rather than implementation of a menu board and how it affects the business and surrounding area. 

“I don’t know that it would increase the number of cars coming out already,” Foote said. “The existing driveways are not changing, so the site is remaining substantially the same with the exception of about a 252-square-foot addition for the actual window where you receive your order.”

Foote said that the conditional use under which the resolution would be approved prevents the restaurant from adding an ordering board without seeking further approval to do so. 

This was the last meeting starting at 7 p.m. before the new meeting start time. 

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