Butler County Times Gazette
  • City Council: Work session Monday on Downtown Design Codes

  • Bill Morris, who was instrumental in developing the current design ordinance, said a member of the governing body told him he could attend but he could not address the council at the work session.
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  • The Augusta City Council will have a work session at 6:30 p.m. Monday to discuss the Downtown Design Building Codes.
    The public is invited to attend but one Augusta businessman addressed the governing body at this week's meeting to complain about one of the members of council telling him he would not be allowed to speak.
    Bill Morris, an architect with an office in downtown Augusta, did not name which member of the council came to his office, but he said he was told he could not speak at the upcoming work session.
    "I worked with the council on many occasions and our relationship was built on trust," Morris said. "But a city councilman came to my office last week and insisted that I would not be allowed to speak at the upcoming workshop."
    Morris, who was instrumental in developing the current design ordinance, said the member of the governing body told him he could attend but he could not address the council.
    The work session is the result of a motion by Councilor Matt Malone to do away with the special design ordinances that preserve the unique character of downtown buildings.
    That motion failed but the council agreed to discuss the ordinances at a work session to see what, if any, changes need to be made.
    "Generally, our workshops include information from residents and experts from either side of the discussion," Mayor Kristey Williams told Morris. "I don't have a problem if the council chooses not to hear information from someone, but I do have a problem with it if any one member would preclude that conversation."
    Mike Huddleston, who pointed out that he was not the council member who visited Morris, said work sessions are for the council to get a better grasp on an issue and no votes are taken.
    "If the council wants to ask for information, sure," Huddleston said. "But this is not a public forum type of meeting. That comes at a later date."
    "The only reason I would want to speak would be to make sure the council had all of the facts about this ordinance and how it has been used," Morris said. "It wasn't my intention to debate, just inform."
    "I think we would be remiss if we didn't seek your input on this issue," Councilor Matt Childers said.
    The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

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