Matt Malone is ready to scrap the ordinances that regulate changes to downtown businesses in Augusta. The rest of the Augusta City Council wanted to take a closer look before deciding to change or dismantle this set of rules.
During the comments portion of the meeting Monday, Malone seemed to surprise several members of the governing body by making a motion.
Malone moved to rescind the current ordinance and “put together something that meets our goals instead of hindering business downtown.”
Malone’s motion would have left downtown businesses under the same ordinances that govern other areas of the city with no special rules in place despite the efforts of the Save Our State St. fundraising drive or the work of the Downtown Augusta Inc. project which was funded in part by grants from the state.
“Are you proposing leaving a gap between passing this and putting something new in its place?” Mayor Kristey Williams asked.
“What are you scared of?” Malone asked. “That someone will paint their business bright pink?”
Williams said the city received grants to restore the downtown area to its historic appearance.
“The grant was to revitalize, not restore historic Augusta,” Malone said. “We need a better way to work these problems out. It isn’t working the way it is.”
Councilor Mike Rawlings said he took exception to what Malone was saying.
“Someone from the state came down and made pictures and recommended going back to the historic look,” Rawlings said. “The state did have historic value in mind when they gave us that money.”
After more discussion over different views of what has caused the problems with the downtown design committee, Councilor Mike Huddleston said he believed the city needs to find common ground from which to work.
The council denied Malone’s motion with Malone as the only vote in favor and the other six against. Ron Reavis was absent from Monday’s meeting.
Councilor Sue Jones said Malone’s motion was a wake up call for the council.
“Matt’s motion gave us all a kick in the patoot,” Jones said. She made a motion to have the staff schedule a workshop before the end of this year to take a closer look at the ordinances that regulate downtown buildings.
The motion passed 6-1 with Rawlings voting against the measure.