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Porterdale may cut length of meetings
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Since the end of 2007, Porterdale City Council meetings have lasted until after midnight.

At Monday night's meeting, a few items on the agenda sought to reorganize the meetings and limit their length.

Instead of after all regular agenda items, public participation was moved to the beginning of the meeting after the approval of the previous meeting's minutes.

"We're trying to get our public comments up further, so citizens don't have to wait so long," said Porterdale Mayor Bobby Hamby.

Council member Kay Piper also moved to have two public meetings a month instead of one, with a work session in the week between the meetings.

"The amount the council has to deal with now, it's been suggested we have two city council meetings a month."

Hamby suggested having two regular work sessions a month to sufficiently discuss agenda items before they have to be voted on.

"Last year we had 13 special called meetings and that's still more than adding another work session a month," Hamby said.

Council member Robert Foxworth said meetings were already disorganized and adding another a month would lead to total confusion.

When brought to a vote, all council members but Piper voted no on the motion.

Council member Arline Chapman then made a motion to not allow council voting after 10 p.m.

"The meetings should be citizen friendly and if they want to hear an entire meeting they should be able to do so," Chapman said.

The usually quiet City Attorney Tim Chambers spoke up saying making decisions late at night after a full day of work was not a good practice.

Council members Robert Foxworth and Mike Harper voiced their opinion about necessary exceptions to the 10 p.m. deadline such as when developers are waiting on the outcome of a vote.

Chapman withdrew her motion with promises from the council to be more conscious of time during their meetings, but said she would reintroduce it if the meetings continued to run late and if voting occurred with no members of the public present to witness.

"I just don't think it makes any sense to carry our meetings into the middle of the night," Chapman said.

Also at Monday night's meeting, Foxworth made a motion to move forward on entering into an agreement with Newton County to improve the intersection of Crowell Road and Ga. Highway 81.

"I make a motion that the city of Porterdale enters into an agreement with Newton County to participate in a 50/50 split on cost to acquire all right of ways including, but not limited to, surveying, appraisal, land acquisition cost and legal fees for the sole purpose of adding signal lights, to include widening of the road and adding turn lanes at the intersection located on Highway 81, Crowell Road and Bypass Road," Foxworth said.

He said funding from Porterdale would come from transportation funds provided by 2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue.

Council members Chapman and Piper said they would like to further negotiate with the County Board of Commissioners because of the high amount of county traffic that goes through the intersection.

"Porterdale wants to run with the big dogs, but they don't want to get off of the porch," Foxworth said.

Foxworth's motion passed in a 3-to-2 council vote. He hopes to be placed on the board of commissioners' March 18 agenda.

Hamby said Department of Transportation funding is not expected to be available for the project until the summer of 2009.