North Augusta City Council discussed the siting of a new fire station in the city on Monday evening, comparing the city-owned Flythe property, located on Georgia Avenue, to a piece of property on West Martintown Road.
The second property is located at 311 West Martintown Road but is referred to as the Clay Street property as it touches Clay Street as well. The property is across Martintown from Fairview Presbyterian Church.
During their previous meeting, City Council tabled the third and final reading of an ordinance that would rezone the Flythe property to Public Use zoning. The location has received pushback from residents as it is located in a historic district, is on a curve and could impact the neighborhood feel of the area.
City Council didn’t take any action Monday night – just discussed the pros and cons of the two sites.
The pros mentioned by City Administrator Todd Glover include that the property isn’t in a historic district, has no structures to remove, no sightline issues, less clearing costs and a less expensive building interior. Cons Glover mentioned include additional costs from purchasing the property unless the Flythe property is sold. The Clay Street property is owned by John C. Smith Jr. Family, LLP.
Council members each discussed their thoughts on the properties.
Member Kevin Toole, who was not at the meeting and phoned-in, said his preference is still to locate the station at Buena Vista Avenue, where it’s currently located, but said between the Clay Street and Flythe properties, he is more inclined to Clay Street, calling it the more “tenable solution”
Council member Eric Presnell said the Clay Street property may be the path of least resistance, adding there’s no blind curve and that the property is not historic.
Members Bob Brooks and Pat Carpenter each said they still believe the Flythe property is the way to go.
“That’s what we searched, that's what we’ve looked at and done and talked about and I still feel in my heart that’s where this fire station needs to go,” Carpenter said.
She had a suggestion – which she said may sound “corny” – that included a type of fire-truck race, timing response times from the locations to different areas of the city.
Brooks said his concern is money and that, if Clay Street is decided on, the Flythe property would need to be put up for sale.
Council member Fletcher Dickert said he believes, of the two properties, Flythe is the better option, mentioning a handful of reasons.
He mentioned that the Clay Street property still has sightline issues and that moving to the Clay Street property will add more people opposed to the plan as there are more people living in close proximity to it.
Dickert mentioned that people don’t want to live near a fire station and that the Flythe property impacts the least amount of people in that way.
Council member David McGhee said he believes both properties have the same amount of pros and cons and that he wants to make sure the most functional building is in the most functional place. McGhee said the Clay Street property would be “just fine with me,” adding the Flythe property has also been OK with him from the beginning.
Mayor Bob Pettit said he believes the Clay Street property is the better of the two choices if there is no difference, comparing it to looking back and forth at two photos on a digital camera, trying to decide which to keep.
“If I can’t decide which one to keep, what difference does it make?” he said.
“In this case, if the challenges are equal, from each of the properties you’re going to face some, then it’s my sense that the Clay Street property makes sense because it’s further away from the historic properties that still exist.”
Council also heard from two North Augusta residents.
Perry Holcomb asked the current zoning of the Clay Street property, which Planning and Development Director Libby Hodges said was zoned R-14, a residential zoning.
He also urged Council not to rush into a decision too quickly.
Resident Misty Gallagher suggested to Council that an ISO rating study be done.
North Augusta Public Safety Chief John Thomas said the current ISO rating is a 2 and that with either of the properties the rating would not likely change.
No action was taken Monday night.