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The Atoka City Council Meeting began on Monday, July 20, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. with the swearing in of Ward #2’s new Councilman, Pat Turner.
With a packed crowd, in attendance for the meeting were: Mayor Brian Cathey, Vice-Mayor Diane McGee, Councilmembers Erica Pogue, Coby Sherrill, Pat Turner, Interim City Manager Joye Angel, Deputy City Clerk Phyllis Bates, City Treasurer Kelly Ingram, Atoka City Industrial Development Authority Director (ACIDA) Carol Ervin, and City Attorney Pat Phelps.
Technical difficulties at the previous meeting brought several agenda items onto this motion.
The council approved the City Attorney contract with Pat Phelps.
Per city ordinance number N.C. 568 the City Council has approved the new ordinance regulation book for 2020 for publication, sale, and adoption regarding the City of Atoka’s ordinances.
The hot topic of the meeting was the possible rezone of a lot at 215 North California Avenue from a single family residence to a R-2 General residence.
The Atoka Planning Commission met on Thursday, July 16, 2020, to a tense room of residents who live on California Avenue. After members of the community spoke out against the rezone, the commission agreed to suggest denying the application to the Atoka City Council.
Viewers of the meeting for and against the Sarah House rezone spoke at the meeting on Monday.
Sarah House representatives re-explained to the community that the project is not a rehabilitation home or half-way house. The Sarah House is a second chance home for women, that pay rent to live there, who are recovering addicts.
Residents of North California expressed concern over the possibility of decreased property value, increased traffic, and the temptation of drugs being too strong in that area. One resident suggested the home be placed outside of city limits or by the airport.
The Sarah House made the decision not to contest the Planning Commission recommendation. During the vote Councilwoman Erica Pogue voted for the rezone with the majority of councilmembers voting to uphold the Planning Commission decision.
After the vote all public spectators for the meeting left the council room.
Due to there being no police uptake reports about speeders or the need for a speed bump on West Ninth Street the motion failed.
The City Council agreed to open a new bank account with FirstBank for USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Grant. The City has received a grant from the USDA in the amount of $719,600.
The matching amount of $239,912 must be deposited into the account before the grant funds will be available. The total cost of the project will be $959,512. The grant is for police, fire, and emergency management equipment.
Tension built as the council revisited the item of a social media policy for city employees and councilmembers.
Vice-Mayor Diane McGee expressed the need for a social media policy due to being approached by a citizen who was upset about the idea of a pool in Atoka.
Councilmembers Coby Sherrill and Erica Pogue, the only councilmembers on social media, explained that what was said did not state the council planned on building the pool, which was quoted at two million, nor did Sherrill express any ill feelings towards his fellow councilmembers.
With the vote, the motion carried as the City Manager would decide if a social media policy was needed for city employees and there would be no social media policy for the councilmembers. Vice-Mayor McGee voted against the motion.
The Sports Complex hosted the OK Kids State Tournament over the weekend. Due to COVID, the original location of the tournament was cancelled.
ACIDA Director Carol Ervin was approved for an increase of $20,000 for expenses relating to the Industrial Development of Atoka.
ACIDA was also approved to create 10 micro grants for business owners in Atoka. The grants will be up to $5,000 with a 50% match.
Businesses in Atoka may use the grants for building improvements.