DECEMBER 10, 2020 – 2:00 p.m.


Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the regular meeting of the City Council was held via Zoom video communications at 2:00 p.m. Following the roll call, Mayor Johnson asked Alderman Detric Leggett to offer the invocation. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited in unison.


PRESENT:  Mayor Van R. Johnson, II, Presiding

Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter, At-Large, Post 1, Chairman

Alderwoman Alicia Miller Blakely, At-Large, Post 2

Alderwoman Bernetta B. Lanier, District 1

Alderman Detric Leggett, District  2

Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan, District 3

Alderman Nick Palumbo, District 4, Vice-Chairman

Alderwoman Dr. Estella Edwards Shabazz, District 5, Mayor Pro-Tem

Alderman Kurtis Purtee, District 6



Acting City Manager Michael Brown

City Attorney Bates Lovett

Chief Budget Officer Melissa Carter

Director of Planning & Urban Design Bridget Lidy

Clerk of Council Mark Massey

1. The Invocation will be Presented by Alderman Detric Leggett, District 2

The Invocation was presented by Alderman Detric Leggett, District 2.

Mayor Johnson acknowledged the beginning of the Hanukkah Holiday.  He wished all Jewish residents a happy Hanukkah.

2. Adoption of the Regular Meeting Agenda for December 10, 2020

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to adopt/approve the agenda as presented, Alderwoman Lanier and Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

3. Approval of Minutes for the Work Session & City Manager's Briefing held on Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 11:00 a.m.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to approve Items #3 and #4, Alderwoman Lanier seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

4. Approval of Minutes for the Regular Meeting held on Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.
Agenda Plus_DRAFT_RM MINUTES_November 24, 2020 City Council Regular Meeting.pdf

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to approve Items #3 and #4, Alderwoman Lanier seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

5. Authorize the City Manager to Execute a Contract for Grounds Maintenance at City Facilities and Cemeteries with Russell Landscape, Inc. for up to $607,624 (Event No. 8038)
Exhibit 1: Purchasing Summary - Grounds Maint. City Facilities and Cemeteries.pdf
Exhibit 2: Funding Verification - Grounds Maint. City Facilities and Cemeteries.pdf

a.  Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan moved to approve Item #5, Alderman Palumbo seconded.  No vote was taken.

As previously discussed with Council, Mayor Johnson cited the City Manager has committed to hire individuals who are underemployed, residents seeking greater opportunities, and individuals through the judicial system with criminal records for opportunities where the City can decrease these type of contracts and pursue opportunities for City employment. 

b.  Alderwoman Miller Blakely made a substitute motion to hire individuals (15 to 20), for the Cemetery Department to service the cemetery grounds and facilities at a rate of $32,000.00/year, Alderwoman Gibson-Carter seconded.  The motion failed, 2-7-0.  Mayor Johnson, Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz, Alderwoman Lanier, Alderman Leggett, Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan, Alderman Palumbo and Alderman Purtee voting no.

Acting City Manager Brown recommended approval of Item #5 to keep the grounds maintained.  He advised the City staff to investigate the option of hiring full-time employees for the cemetery grounds and facilities maintenance moving forward.

Alderwoman Miller Blakely responded to Mr. Brown and suggested employing approximately fifteen individuals for the Cemetery Department for grounds maintenance, she feels it will be less expensive than the $607,624.00 Russell Landscape, Inc. contract, based out of Springfield, GA.  She stated, she could not support the contract when the DBE participation is not adequate and the vendor is not located within the City of Savannah.

Mayor Johnson stated the City has a legal obligation to issue bids for services.  He added the cost of hiring full-time individuals with full benefits, which is a percentage of their salary.  There is cost of purchasing the equipment and the cost of maintaining the equipment.  The cost and time involved in hiring the employees might not equate to the dollar amount of the vendor contract.  When the service is not being done, the Aldermen/Alderwomen will question why staff has not completed the necessary ground maintenance.

Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan spoke at length with the Maintenance & Sanitation Departments in reference to hiring individuals for work currently being sourced out to vendors.  As a person who has worked in human resources, she feels there is increased cost and the liability in hiring additional staff.  She encourages hiring local vendors for City contracts; however, some local businesses have challenges in securing the proper insurance requirements.  When the City receives vendor replies to bids, the City must select the best candidate for the service.  Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan suggested approval of Item #5 to get the work completed and moving forward work with the Acting City Manager in establishing and supporting the programs discussed.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz asked Acting City Manager Brown if the contract is a one year contract or a one year contract with two or three renewals.  Mr. Brown answered, this is a one year contract for multiple areas with the City's option of an annual renewal.

Acting City Manager Brown recommended approval by Council with an amendment or proviso which the City commits to move toward, as soon as possible, a system of including offenders, neighborhood individuals, and the unemployed, provided they are safe.  He recommended including a review and moving towards a structure where the City does perform the work.  The review would include a cost analysis.  Mayor Johnson suggested approval with no renewal options.

Alderwoman Miller Blakely asked how long will it take to get the Savannah Impact implemented. Mr. Brown answered, the urgent parts should be implemented in the next three to six months.  In Mr. Brown's prior tenure, the program took two to three years for complete implementation.  Mayor Johnson suggested the FTE's be included in the FY2022 Budget process making it a policy decision by Council to bring the maintenance service within the City's departments while the Savannah Impact program is being established.

Mayor Johnson asked Alderwoman Miller Blakely if she would like to rescind her motion in lieu of the amendments discussed.  Alderwoman Miller Blakely declined to rescind her motion stating the vendor resides in Springfield, GA.                

c.  Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan moved to approve Item #5 as amended, a one year contract with no renewals and for Council to establish a policy to bring the services into the City of Savannah including: 1.) set-up offender, neighborhood services to employee individuals right away; 2.) create a cost evaluation including quality of service within the next three months; and 3.) establish City provision at less cost with good quality, Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz seconded.  The motion passed, 7-2-0.  Alderwoman Gibson-Carter and Alderwoman Miller Blakely voted no.

6. Approval of an Agreement for Maintenance Support Services with Johnson Controls, Inc. in the Amount of $45,375
Exhibit 1: Agreement - Maintenance Support.pdf

Alderman Purtee moved to approve Items #6 and #7, Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

7. Approval of a Contract for Fan Coil Unit Replacements with Brooks Building Solutions in the Amount of $100,000
Exhibit 1: Proposal - Fan Coil Replacements.pdf

Alderman Purtee moved to approve Items #6 and #7, Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

Alderwoman Gibson-Carter asked Mayor Johnson for an update on board appointments.  She has received numerous inquiries from residents and the Clerk of Council has circulated information concerning board vacancies.  Mayor Johnson answered, the Clerk of Council will be notified and a Council session will be established for board appointments.  Alderwoman Gibson-Carter asked for the timeline.  Mayor Johnson indicated the session could take place before the end of the year or at the beginning of next year (2021).  Mayor Johnson only knows of one pressing appointment, but appointees serve until reappointed or replaced.  Clerk of Council related he has received inquiries from residents concerning appointments and/or reappointments.  He advised appointees will continue to serve until Council reappoints or replaces.    

8. First Public Hearing to Receive Comments on the 2021 Service Program and Budget Public Hearing

Mayor Johnson declared the public hearing open.

Acting City Manager Brown detailed the process for hearing.  He asked that speakers give their name, address, and if they live in the City of Savannah.  The Budget is in a process with the final (second) hearing on Friday, December 18, 2020.  At that time, staff will present the first and second readings of the proposed 2021 Revenue Ordinance and the adoption of the 2021 Service Program and Budget, Five-Year Capital Plan and Policy Document.  Council will vote to adopt the Budget at the December 18, 2020 Meeting. 

Mr. Brown gave a brief outline of the focus areas of the Budget which consisted of three main components: 1.) poverty (especially childhood poverty); 2.) economic issues of income disparities; and 3.) violent crimes (reinitiating of Savannah Impact).  Other focus areas are:  affordable housing and blight. 

Acting City Manager Brown suggest changing the name of the Budget Department to Research and Budget.  He introduced Chief Research and Budget Officer Melissa Carter for a brief Budget presentation of the operating and capital Budget.

Following the presentation:

Mayor Johnson asked the Clerk of Council for public comments.  The following individuals provided public comment.  Clerk of Council asked speakers to provide their name, address and if they live within the City of Savannah.  Mayor Johnson asked the Clerk of Council to allow two minutes for each speaker.


  • John Duke – concerned about disparaging difference in the funding of the Police budget and the Housing, Community and Human Services budget.
  • BJilal Furqan (semi-homeless) – concerned about small people, the Salvation Army shelter and vacant property next to him.

Mayor Johnson responded to Mr. Duke's comments concerning housing.  Chatham Apartment residents are being housed without charge at different locations by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) until permanent housing can be located.  Most of the police department expenditures is in equipment.  Acting City Manager Brown stated this Budget moves toward poverty reduction, income equity and housing.  In the meantime the City has police officers with equipment needs such as dispatch equipment, vehicles, and weapons.  Mr. Brown suggested Mr. Duke meet with Research and Budget Director and the Chief of Police to get a historical perspective of the police department that not only serves the residents but the many visitors to Savannah.

Mayor Johnson informed Mr. Duke, the Budget does note the City of Savannah donating a half million dollars to the Savannah Affordable Housing Fund.

Alderwoman Gibson-Carter addressed Mr. Duke and expressed the same concerns with balancing the police budget.  She is strongly advocating for social programs within communities to alleviate crime.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to close the public hearing, Alderwoman Lanier and Alderman Palumbo seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

9. Amend the Zoning Map for 3001 Little Neck Road (PINs 21026 02001, 21027 01002 thru 01009) from PDR-­SL-CO (Planned Development Reclamation-Sanitary Landfill-Annexed) and PDR-SM-CO (Planned Development Reclamation-Surface Mine-Annexed) to I-H (Heavy Industrial). Petition of Harold Yellin (Agent) on Behalf of Waste Management of Georgia (Owner) (File No. 20-004418-ZA)
Exhibit 1: MPC Recommendation Packet (File No. 20-004418-ZA).pdf
Exhibit 2: Zoning Map (File No. 20-004418-ZA).pdf
Exhibit 3: General Development Plan for 3001 Little Neck Road (File No. 20-004418-ZA).pdf
Exhibit 4: Draft Ordinance for 3001 Little Neck Road (File No. 20-004418-ZA).pdf
Exhibit 5: Correspondence from West Chatham County Citizen Watch

Mayor Johnson opened the zoning hearing for Item #9.

Marcus Lotson of MPC gave a brief background of the landfill and described the zoning change to IH (heavy industrial).  MPC recommended approval.

Director of Planning & Urban Design Bridget Lidy gave a PowerPoint presentation on rezoning of 3001 Little Neck Road.

Following the presentation, Attorney Harold Yellin, on behalf of Waste Management, introduced Russ Hightower, Manager of Government Affairs, Gary Ahlberg, Area Engineer and Donnard Johnson, District Manager.  Attorney Yellin gave a brief description of the action requested by Waste Management, to annex the landfill from Chatham County into the City of Savannah and amend the zoning to IH (heavy industrial).  He stated the State Environmental Protection Permit requirements on height (125') for landfills and the leachate requirements.

Mayor Johnson invited residents for comments.  Acting City Manager Brown asked each speaker to give their name, address and if they lived within the corporate limits of Savannah. 


  • Alex Lee Coleman - opposed
  • Kerrie Bieber - opposed
  • Anita Boutwell - opposed
  • Chatham County Commissioner Dean Kicklighter - opposed
  • Amanda Wilson - opposed
  • Russell Hightower (Waste Management) - supported
  • Donnard Johnson (Waste Management) - supported
  • Russell Hightower (Waste Management) - 2nd time to speak
  • Harold Yellin (Waste Management) - supported

Alderwoman Gibson-Carter asked Ms. Wilson how residents could register complaints on the portal she mention.  Ms. Wilson spoke to EPD, Mr. Kenneth Phillips in the Air Protection Division, who will be an advocate for the community (404-363-7135 or kenneth.phillips@)  When calling, residents must use the verbiage "I am calling to complain about, etc. and identify the specific complaint and the landfill name."  Alderwoman Gibson-Carter thanked Ms. Wilson for her comments and encouraged her to stay diligent as an advocate for the community.

Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan addressed the Acting City Manager, Aldermen/Alderwomen and Mayor Johnson and reported the EPD website did not show any complaints from Commissioner Kicklighter for the past 20 years, nor anyone from the Council.  She feels the MPC recommendations are correct given their recommendations are to convert the landfill from a non-sanitary site to a sanitary site and in order to make it a sanitary landfill, the City needs to make Superior accountable.  She asked Mr. Lotson, when MPC approved the landfill, were there any special stipulations such as clay lining.  Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan is not concerned with the height, but Superior needs to have a covering and she recommends the clay lining as part of the stipulations.

Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan addressed Commissioner Kicklighter and recommended the County and City work together.  She has reached out to her Commissioner with no response.  She asked Acting City Manager and Attorney Yellin how Superior will be held accountable in addressing the issue of smell for the  area residents.  She would like to see relevant documentation to assure the residents and Council's concerns will be addressed as recommended by MPC.

Since Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan mentioned his name, Commissioner Kicklighter responded, he was in attendance to support his constituents.  He has not filed a formal complaint opposing the landfill; however, he has received numerous complaints from area residents concerning the smell.

Mr. Donnard Johnson, District Manager for Superior Waste Management Landfill, asked Council to support the completion of the annexation.  He stated Superior meets and exceeds all requirements for the rezoning process, operational rules & regulations for operating a facility.  Superior Waste Management Landfill has received a perfect score of 100 from the last three inspections from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.  He has not received any complaints on site and asked Council to support Item #9.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz has worked closely with MPC and City staff on this issue.  The landfill is in the 5th District and many of the residents live in the unincorporated area of Chatham County.  She thanked Commissioner Kicklighter for coming to the meeting today and representing his constituents.  She suggested Council listen to Superior Waste Management representatives to have them directly address any issues from Council and/or residents.

Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan reminded Council, this is a zoning issue.  The EPD should be held accountable, which she feels they dropped the ball.  The smell is the issue.  For the record, she suggested the City staff call/meet with EPD to ensure Superior follows all rules and regulations regarding the operations of the landfill.

Acting City Manager Brown was handed an official communication to Assistant City Manager Heath Lloyd from Steven Wurts, Environmental Compliance Specialist, Georgia DNR-EPD, stating they have no official complaints in the file or in their data base in the past year.  Mr. Brown stated the City has the capacity, knowledge and staff to provide a more effective compliance review and enforcement.

Alderwoman Miller Blakely asked Mayor Johnson, since she is still in Chambers, if Ms. Amanda Wilson could make another comment if possible.  Mayor Johnson indicated comments are completed.

Mr. Russell Hightower responded to residents and Council's concerns.  Superior Waste Management operates in the safest and most environmentally friendly manner with high ethical standards.  He reinforced Superior Waste Management Landfill's perfect score of 100 from the last three inspections from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, which is very difficult to achieve.  Superior employs nineteen residents for the landfill, seven living within the City limits and they support many other full-time positions within the community (subcontractors and engineers).

Attorney Yellin stated the issue is control of the landfill and acknowledged the City has more experience in operation of a landfill than most municipalities.  Superior is aware they will be subject to the City's scrutiny, but they are comfortable with that issue because they believe in their operations.  This process began over a year ago when Waste Management annexed into the City of Savannah and the City stated at that time, Waste Management must rezone into the City's Ordinance.  They are here today to move from the Chatham County Ordinance to the City of Savannah Ordinance and ask for Council's approval.                              

Written Public Comment:

  • Amanda Wilson – opposed
  • Kerrie Bieber – opposed (with six different writings)
  • Anita Boutwell - opposed

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to close the zoning hearing, seconded by Alderman Palumbo and Alderman Leggett. The motion passed unanimously.

Mayor Johnson suggested this was a customer service issue for Superior rather than a zoning issue.  The issue is the smell rather than zoning.  He asked Mr. Lotson what would be the implications if the City did nothing.  If the City maintained it under the City's annex and maintained the County's zoning classification or created a zoning classification that matched Chatham County's zoning classification.  Mr. Lotson answered, if you do nothing, it would create issues for the City from an enforcement standpoint because you would have a property within the City with Chatham County's zoning ordinance.  The City should operate under it's own zoning ordinance.  The City could look into creating a new IH zoning district for only landfills, this would be the most timely.  The City could enforce the stipulation on the landfill based on both the development plan and the stipulations that exist within the IH zoning classification, should this be adopted.

Acting City Manager Brown stated this is a rezoning, the reason for the IH is because that's the zone created and it has the most restrictive site review and land use requirements.  If the City declines to move forward with approval, the City will have a landfill adjacent to the City with no control.  This does not expand the landfill vertically or horizontally.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz stated in meetings with Ms. Melanie Wilson, Executive Director of MPC and Marcus Lotson, regarding this rezoning issue, Ms. Wilson made a recommendation at a meeting of November 9, 2020, to add in the petition wording to limit the use of the property for only the landfill.  Attorney Yellin agreed to the language.

Alderwoman Miller Blakely asked Mr. Lotson when did the City annex the landfill.  Mr. Lotson answered, just over a year ago.  She asked what would it take to annex the landfill back to the County rather than moving forward.  Based on the information heard, the leachate is not the issue.  If the County had a system working for the landfill why was it annexed into the City.  Mr. Lotson answered, Waste Management desired to use the City of Savannah infrastructure (the sewer system) to move the leachate versus using trucks to move the leachate across the City.  She asked Mr. Lotson to clarify the truck mileage for transporting the leachate.  Mr. Lotson indicated it was approximately 15-17 miles through City streets.  

Alderwoman Gibson-Carter stated this is a lack of communication, education and awareness with the residents this issue would impact.  She advised residents to look at the example of the West Chatham Community Watch.  The residents mobilized and demanded action from Council on their behalf.  She had concerns of political behaviors related to campaign contributions.  From documents submitted to her from the West Chatham Community Watch, this waste management company has changed hands recently and an individual serving on the Board is connected to this project.  There are so many pieces related to fostering integrity where ethics is concerned.  Alderwoman Gibson-Carter recognized, City staff, specifically Ms. Lidy, Director of Planning and Urban Design, and stated Council relies on the communication of good information and education as it relates to each petition presented.  In tandem to the good information and education, Council also asked you to have the heart and spirit to look out for the residents of the community.  Alderwoman Gibson-Carter listed several properties brought before Council which Ms. Lidy's office advocated for the petitioner and Council represented the residents.  She asked Ms. Lidy if it is her department's position to always be on the side of the petitioner.

Acting City Manager Brown cited the City's previous experience in the water and landfill business.  He stated, it is not fair to the City of Savannah to continue providing services to the outlying communities without pay.  The City is best suited to operate the landfill.  Residents like where they live but are not willing to pay the fees for service.  The City should be paid for any and all services rendered to other communities.

Alderwoman Gibson-Carter thanked Mr. Brown for the historic perspective he brings to the Council but at this juncture, it is a good idea not to give the people what they want but to give them what they need, and that is peace of mind and harmony in their neighborhoods.

Mayor Johnson mentioned there are fees associated with this issue.  To the City, this would mean $1.5 to $2 million in revenue.  If this item is not approved, the City would need to replace that revenue in the Budget.

Alderman Palumbo mentioned looking to the future.  There are many cities across the nation that are waste-free cities.  If the City of Savannah wants to pursue being a waste-free cities, there are steps that need to be taken.  In the near future the City could look at other sustainable programs which should be investigated.

Alderwoman Miller Blakely responded to Mayor Johnson's information on the City losing revenue if Item #9 does not pass.  She recommended pursuing SCAD for the loss revenue.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz is 100% in favor of representing and supporting the constituents of the 5th District and the citizens of Savannah.  Since we are in the COVID-19 environment, the City's Budget is challenged and where additional dollars can be realized, the City needs to pursue those avenues.  She is the Alderwoman for the District the landfill resides but not the representative of the citizens with comments at today's meeting.  Commissioner Kicklighter represented the Chatham County residents with comments.  There will be additional residents moving in the landfill area, Savannah side, in the near future.  Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz recommends the Mayor, City Manager and City staff include City Council in any future decisions concerning the landfill.  She will not be supporting the rezoning.

Mayor Johnson summarized the discussions by stating the two major issues:  1.) the landfill does not get any bigger or taller; and 2.) it is a change over from Chatham County to the City of Savannah. The City of Savannah is in a better position to enforce and protect the citizens who live around the landfill.  He feels the City should be paid for any and all services provided to other jurisdictions including the removal and transporting of the leachate, which is safer transported through the City's sewer system.  Mayor Johnson suggested Attorney Yellin, Mr. Hightower and Mr. Johnson build stronger relationships within the community.                      

10. Approval of a Special Use Permit to Allow the Shelter, Emergency and Shelter, Transitional Uses at 2305 Augusta Avenue (PINs 20025 10001 and 20025 11004). Petition of Phillip McCorkle (Agent) on behalf of the Housing Authority of Savannah (Owner) within Aldermanic District 1 (File No. 20-000512-ZA)
Exhibit 1: MPC Recommendation Packet (File No. 20-000512-ZA)

Mayor Johnson opened the zoning hearing for Item #10.

MPC representative Marcus Lotson gave a brief outline of the request from the petitioner including a description of the transitional center.  He discussed the criteria for the special uses and stated MPC found the petitioner meets those criteria.  MPC recommended approval.  

Mayor Johnson asked speakers to give their name, address and if they lived within the City limits.  He asked the Clerk of Council to time each speaker at two minutes each.


  • Mrs. Annie Axson - opposed
  • B. L. Sharpe (attended & called-in) – opposed
  • Pastor Larry Gordon – opposed
  • Sharai Reed – opposed
  • Elder Ned Williams – opposed
  • Reverend Marsha Buford – supported
  • Phillip McCorkle (Agent) – supported
  • Earline Davis (Housing Authority) - supported
  • Paul Egan (Salvation Army) – supported

Written comment(s):

  • Reverend Marsha Buford (West Savannah Comm. Org) – supported
  • Natavia Sanders – opposed
  • Pastor Larry Gordon (with 73 petitions/letters)– opposed
  • Tonia Miller (Hudson Hill Community Org) – opposed
  • Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier – opposed
  • Marilyn Jackson – opposed

a.  Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to close the zoning hearing, seconded by Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan.  The motion passed unanimously.

Alderwoman Lanier commented the speakers did not identify residency and they probably do not reside in West Savannah.  Mayor Johnson asked the speakers to give their addresses which they complied.  Alderwoman Lanier thanked the speakers and identified Ms. Davis as the only resident of the West Savannah neighborhood.  She detailed the neighborhood area and identified three neighborhoods:  West Savannah, Woodville, and Hudson Hill.  Two of those neighborhood president's support this project and the third, Ms. Tonya Miller, President of Hudson Hill neighborhood who sent a letter of opposition.  The property was identified as being in the Woodville neighborhood; however, the property is in West Savannah with the boundary of the railroad tracks.

Alderwoman Lanier has concerns with the project, the City is advocating sustainability, resiliency, and priorities of poverty and equity.   If this project is approved, all of the aforementioned is just talk.  Through the years, local organizations inquired concerning the property to no avail.  The Union Camp and The ILA  should have an opportunity to be included with discussions involving projects for the property.  Alderwoman Lanier has received correspondence from  HUD, Mr. Ben Carson, detailing the ownership history of the property.  She recently attended a meeting along with the two Alderwomen at Large, Ms. Oglesbee, and Mr. McCorkle concerning raising $500,000.00 to purchase the property HUD has held since 2011 for their purchase.  Why would the City of Savannah approve a special use permit of a homeless shelter in the poorest community but invest $10 million on a trail right around the corner for resiliency, live, work, play communities.

Alderwoman Lanier described the three neighborhoods evolving from the Royal Valley Slave Plantation meet/touch at the twelve acre plot, plus the weeping time property.  This is the heart of those communities.  The communities are now talking of getting some asset-based economic development and trying to build wealth in low wealth communities.  She discussed systemic racism and the affects on communities over the decades.  She asked what is the benefit of having the shelter in this community.  She suggested the City sit with the experts on homelessness and the homeless population to determine where the homeless shelter should be placed rather than a single-family, low-wealth community.  The community would like to have benefits to the community such as affordable housing or senior housing.  HUD has The HH Program with affordable housing, a job generator, a retail and commercial  component, and a tech training center.  This would make it a community asset.  The residents of the community have been excluded from area planning.  Alderwoman Lanier suggested neighborhood planners and advocates sit with decision makers on the projects for the entire community.  She is requesting a postponement.

b.  Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to reopen the hearing to hear Mr. Fergeson’s comments, seconded by Alderman Palumbo. The motion passed unanimously.


  • Richmond Fergeson (by speakerphone) - opposed

c.  Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to close the zoning hearing, seconded by Alderwoman Lanier. The motion passed unanimously.

Alderman Palumbo discussed major issues associated with the approval of Item #10 and suggested more time for discussions with residents.  He suggested have a First Reading today and the Second Reading at the next City Council Meeting.

Alderwoman Miller Blakely asked Mr. Egan if the Salvation Army owned the property at Montgomery Street and Bee Road and if there is consideration for expanding those properties instead of putting the facility in a low wealth community.  Mr. Egan answered neither property would work for the facility.  Alderwoman Miller Blakely suggested the Salvation Army invest resources at the location on Montgomery Street.  She is voting against Item #10 since a majority of residents are against the facility.

Alderwoman Gibson-Carter discussed how the Shelter would change the neighborhood environment.  The City needs to balance the needs of the organization (Salvation Army) versus supporting the desires of the residents on or in the West Side neighborhoods.  She discussed the type of residents that will reside within the Shelter and the affects it would have on a preexisting low wealth community.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz discussed her many years of serving the homeless population within the 5th District and the impact it has on the community.  Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz and the City Manager's office, along with the residents within the 5th District have managed to maintain a good balance in keeping the community safe and litter contained among the homeless population areas.  It is work, but it can be done.  She suggested postponing any decisions for sixty to ninety days, giving Alderwoman Lanier enough time to accomplish her goals.

Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan discussed her years of service with the homeless population.  She feels the single women (with children) is the most vulnerable segment of the population.  They need a place to go.  The Homeless Shelter will need to go in a District.  She supports Item #10.  Transitional housing gives the unfortunate an opportunity to enlist in training programs to rebound into the general population as a productive citizen.  She asked the Salvation Army representative how long it would take to get the facility up and running if approved.  Mr. Egan and Mr. McCorkle replied it will take two years.

Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan called for the vote.

Alderwoman Miller Blakely shared a visit to the Daniel Lumber property.  The property is beautiful with access to services and she encouraged Mr. Egan to visit the property to determine if it would be a good fit for the Homeless Shelter.

Mayor Johnson thanked the Salvation Army for being good neighbors in supporting the City residents.  He gave a summary of the total project including who owns the property (HUD), it's location (District), property zoning, and resident demographics.  The City cannot plan projects for land it does not own.  He cited a verse from the Bible concerning the Birth of Jesus and no space at any Inn for Mary and Joseph.  The Council, at some point, will need to make the decision to address the homeless population and place a facility in a District.

Alderwoman Lanier stressed the importance of the impact the facility will have on the entire community.  The census tract shows this is a low wealth community.

Mayor Johnson asked Mr. Lotson the recommendation from MPC.  Mr. Lotson answered,  MPC recommended approval of a special use permit for emergency and transitional shelter.  He asked Ms. Davis what would happen if the project was not approved.  Ms. Davis stated HUD is not approving 100% low-income housing.  HUD is developing mixed income developments such as Feldwood and The View at Oglethorpe.  These HUD projects take years to develop.

Alderwoman Lanier discussed the West Savannah neighborhood is willing to have development but development that benefits the community in a positive way.  Let the experts sit down and come up with a plan with resident input.

Mayor Johnson asked Acting City Manager Brown how the City could facilitate conversations for the project.  Mr. Brown stated several factors would need to be considered to bring the groups together but it could be arranged.  

Alderwoman Gibson-Carter addressed Mr. Egan and stated this is more about the placement of a homeless Shelter in a vulnerable community and not about having a Shelter in a community.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz suggested adding a date certain for the project to return on the Agenda.

Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan asked Mr. Lotson what the requirements are for the special use permit and if the project met the requirements.  Mr. Lotson detailed the requirements and noted the Salvation Army met all requirements.  If the special use permit is adopted, the City has the power to address issues through the permit process.

Alderwoman Lanier asked Mr. Lotson if there were any zoning requirements for a liquor store in close proximity to the homeless shelter.  Mr. Lotson informed Alderwoman Lanier there are no zoning requirements for  a liquor store, a church or any other institutional uses for this project.

Mr. Egan shared, the Salvation Army Advisory Board has worked on this project for years and has completed all the due diligence necessary and they are now waiting for the City's approval of the special use permit.  Alderwoman Lanier addressed Mr. Egan and stated for decades residents have let others make decisions for them regarding their neighborhoods and now they want to have a seat at the table when those decisions impact their community.  Mr. McCorkle stated nothing will change in the next sixty days or six months to change minds so he would like to have a vote today.  Mayor Johnson informed Mr. Egan and Mr. McCorkle this is the first time this project has come before Council and some consideration should be afforded to Council Members.  Mayor Johnson suggested postponement to the last meeting in January 2021 with the stipulation of no more public comment.

Alderwoman Gibson-Carter addressed Mr. McCorkle and Mr. Egan and sympathized with the Salvation Army wanting a decision today.  She discussed the City's decrease in funding to the Salvation Army programming and asked Acting City Manager Brown to restore the Salvation Army's disbursement to it's original amount.              

d.  Alderwoman Lanier moved to Postpone/Continue Item #10 to the January 28, 2021 Meeting,  with no public comment to be heard, Alderwoman Miller Blakely seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

11. Amend Sections 8.7.4 Accessory Dwelling Units and 11.5 Nonconforming Lots of the Zoning Code, Petition of Bridget Lidy on behalf of the Mayor and Aldermen (File No. 20-003831-ZA)
Exhibit 1: MPC Recommendation
Exhibit 2: Draft Ordinance Revisions

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to deny Item #11 as recommended by Acting City Manager Brown, Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

12. Amend the Zoning Map for 3001 Little Neck Road (PINs 21026 02001, 21027 01002 thru 01009) from PDR-­SL-CO (Planned Development Reclamation-Sanitary Landfill-Annexed) and PDR-SM-CO (Planned Development Reclamation-Surface Mine-Annexed) to I-H (Heavy Industrial). Petition of Harold Yellin (Agent) on Behalf of Waste Management of Georgia (Owner) (File No. 20-004418-ZA)
Exhibit 1: MPC Recommendation Packet (File No. 20-004418-ZA).pdf
Exhibit 2: Zoning Map (File No. 20-004418-ZA).pdf
Exhibit 3: General Development Plan for 3001 Little Neck Road (File No. 20-004418-ZA).pdf
Exhibit 4: Draft Ordinance for 3001 Little Neck Road (File No. 20-004418-ZA).pdf
Exhibit 5: Correspondence from West Chatham County Citizen Watch

a.  Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to deny Item #12, Alderwoman Miller Blakely seconded.  The motion failed, 4-5-0.  Mayor Johnson, Alderman Leggett, Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan, Alderman Palumbo and Alderman Purtee voted no.

b.  Alderman Palumbo moved to approve Item #12, Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan seconded.  The motion passed, 5-4-0.  Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz, Alderwoman Gibson-Carter, Alderwoman Miller Blakely and Alderwoman Lanier voted no.

13. Approval of a Resolution Reinstating the Role as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 Grant Recipient, Fiscal Agent, Administrative Entity and CEO for the Coastal Workforce Development Board Area 19/Region 12
Exhibit 1: Resolution - Workforce Innovation and Opportunity.pdf

Mayor Johnson gave a description and background information of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the City's involvement.  He was appointed Chairman of the CLEO Board.  The City will reinstate their role.  Acting City Manager Brown endorses and recommends approval.

Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan asked if there will be an age requirement.  Mayor Johnson stated there is no age requirement.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Shabazz moved to approve Item #13, Alderwoman Miller Blakely and Alderwoman Lanier seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.


Alderwoman Miller Blakely asked if businesses paying the full amount for alcohol license will get a discount due to COVID-19.  Mayor Johnson indicated the City is working on a graduated plan to assist businesses to pay fees, to be released next week.  She asked when will the City have the water program insurance (Service Line Warranty Program) in place to assist residents.  Mayor Johnson responded, meetings have taken place and hopefully there will be resolutions during the first quarter of 2021.  Letters will be sent to every water customer in Savannah and there will be a kick-off rally.

Alderwoman Miller Blakely is in on-going conversations with Hope Moore at the Ports Authority to clean up the area on Louisville Road.    



Mayor Johnson adjourned the meeting at 7:31 p.m.


The audio recording of the Council Meeting can be found by copying and inserting the below link in your url:


Mark Massey, Clerk of Council

Date Minutes Approved: 12/22/2020

Initials: mm

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