Posted on

LaGrange to Receive $100k in CARES Funding, Approves Changes Postponed Due to Virus

Tommy Murphy
Staff Writer

During Tuesday’s LaGrange Mayor and City Council meeting the city approved a measure to allow Mayor Jim Thornton to enter into an agreement to accept Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding and approved a number of changes that were postponed to allow for public hearings.

The council unanimously approved the acceptance of the CARES funding. The coronavirus relief funding was approved by congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in March.

Of the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package, $339.8 billion was earmarked to state and local governments. About 45 percent of the funding received by Georgia is to be distributed to cities per capita.

LaGrange is allowed up to $450,000 of the funding, but the law only allows the funding to reimburse actual expenses due to the virus, not to supplement revenue lost. According to City Manager Meg Kelsey, the City of LaGrange has spent about $100,000 in efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 since the outbreak began.

These expenses include, but are not limited to, the purchase of personal protection equipment for city staff, over 73,000 reusable masks that have been distributed to the public, and the rental of the Del’avant event center to allow for proper distancing during city council meetings.

While revenue losses due to virus are extensive, the current wording of the law does not allow for the funding to be used to replace lost revenue. There may be some hope though, as Mayor Thornton noted that Senator Mitch McConnell, who has been a holdup for the funding, has recently indicated that he is considering allowing 25 percent of the funding to be used to replace lost revenue.

In other business, the council unanimously amended C-1 zoning to modify restaurant size restrictions to up to 2,000 square feet inside the business. Previously, the zoning ordinance was overly restrictive as it limited the overall footprint of the business to 2,000 square feet.

The council also amended the sign ordinance within the C-1 district to allow for signs on the rear of businesses to be visible from a publicly maintained multi-use trail, namely so that they can advertize their business to users of The Thread.

The council also approved changes to the alcoholic beverages ordinances that will allow for restaurants to sell beer and wine inside outdoor seating areas without the need for a physical barrier. The change was made at the request of local restaurants who want to be able to serve patrons who prefer to eat outside due to the pandemic.

The council also signed off on a series of rezonings that were postponed due to public hearing requirements. The council unanimously approved rezoning property at 610 Greenville Street from G-1 (General Industrial) to C-3 (General Commercial), a property a 105 Cooley Road from C-1 (Neighborhood Commercial) to R-2 (Residential), and a property at 407 North Greenwood Street from OIR-1 (Office Institutional Residential) to C-1.

An annexation and rezoning of a property adjacent to Cameron Mill Road was also tabled to August 10.

The council also voted to move their next City Council Meeting to August 10.

The author of this article can be reached via email at [email protected].