THOMASVILLE -- The Thomasville City Council hasn't acted quickly enough on some issues, according to more than one citizen who addressed the council before a semi-filled meeting room Monday night.
Warren Stafford, owner of Stafford's on Smith Avenue, addressed the council first.
He told the council he not satisfied with the slow response time it has given him on a personal request.
Stafford requested at the council's April 6 workshop meeting that it consider changing the city code's architectural standard that requires a 5:12 pitch on certain buildings.
Stafford said he has been trying to erect a building to expand his more than 60-year-old outdoor clothing business.
He said the work has been stalled due to a three-month moratorium in the past, the need to redraft building plans and getting his plans approved.
The roadblock stopping him now is that current city ordinances bar him from constructing the building he wants with a 3:12 pitch roof.
If he makes the building have a 5:12 pitch roof, the eave height would extend more than 40 feet, which would not meet standards in another section, he said. Stafford assured the council the building would be expensive, but beautiful.
In a short prepared speech, Stafford said he was losing precious merchant time the longer he had to wait for the council to make a definite decision.
"You misinterpreted our intent at the workshop last week," he said. "We asked that you change the standard."
During the workshop meeting immediately preceding the regular one Monday night, city manager Steve Sykes told the council the Planning and Zoning Commission would investigate the impact of different roof pitches.
Then, the commission would kick back a recommendation to the council regarding the current standard, he said.
In his rebuttal to the council's workshop discussion of the issue, Stafford said during the regular meeting that he didn't feel the council intended to discriminate against him at the beginning of the project.
"I've been held up over a year-and-a-half waiting for some action on your half," he said, regarding the building.
He named some churches, banks and professional buildings as examples of buildings that would not meet today's architectural standards if they were built by today's code.
"That is what I feel is the crux of the problem," he said.
He also hinted that perhaps someone might be afraid that his business would compete with downtown retailers.
In addition, Stafford explained he hasn't asked for any government grants or other special money from outside agencies to help him. He said he was investing his own money into the expensive project.
"You know the standard needs to be changed," he said. "After all, it's not your money. It's my money."
Stafford also hinted that he had been advised he could take "legal recourse" in this matter.
"But that would mean more time and money is wasted," he said.
" ... Our dream was to build a building we would be proud of, ... " he continued.
"We don't have the time to sit there and wait," he said.
He told the council he was unhappy with waiting another 30 days to receive the answer he was looking for.
The audience applauded Stafford as he made his way back to his seat.
Another Thomasville businessman, Kevin Glass, stepped to the podium after Stafford.
"I'd like to applaud Mr. Stafford," he said.
He supported Stafford and said he had "complete confidence in his building."
Sykes addressed the issue, stating the council received the request five days ago and he felt it would "be irresponsible" to change the standard without further review.
"That's why we're recommending it go through the same process," he said.
The heart of Glass' response focused on the city's commercial development.
"Commercial construction is flat," he said. He proposed that might be because many buildings can't meet some of the current architectural standards.
"I know the intent is good," Glass said.
Glass said he understood everyone wants to make Thomasville prettier, but that the county doesn't comprise a million people and that some commercial projects have had to make changes to meet the current standards.
"It's really hurting Thomasville," he said, referring to commercial development. "I don't think you know how much."
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