Election season brings election questions, and this year The Citizen posed identical questions via email to the two Senoia council candidates for City Council Post 1, incumbent Chuck Eichorst and challenger Tom Malone (Malone declined to submit a photo).
1. What is your vision for both the council and the city?
Chuck Eichorst — “My vision for the city council is to continue to improve communications and awareness of the city’s dealings to all those impacted-the citizens, the businesses, city staff as well as with the governmental entities of the counties and municipalities which surround Senoia. As an example, we recognized a problem with utilizing our website, put a plan in place six months ago to replace it and are on schedule to do so starting Nov. 1.
A key issue regarding the city is to continue working to ensure that our growth is appropriate, advantageous and safe for our residents. This needs to be accomplished while we retain our historic charm and particularly in the historic downtown center. It is also a priority to create a quality of life which will attract all generations of families to want to reside within the city as well as attract both commercial and light industrial/professional businesses to the city.
Tom Malone — “I am a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. I understand what it means to lead, to give orders, and to take orders. The Senoia City Council seems to think they are in the business of giving orders to the citizens. This is not correct. They are elected by us, the citizens, and they should be taking orders from us. I would like to see a real change in the way the Senoia City Council does business. It should put more weight on what the citizens want, and less emphasis on what the Council members and land developers want. When citizens get involved and pull together to make their voices heard, the City Council should listen to them and make an effort to follow their lead.
The Council should also follow their own rules, such as the City of Senoia Comprehensive plan that they completely disregarded in their recent approval of the 356-home development, Keg Creek Landing.
We need more transparency in the workings of our city government. Meeting minutes and information on policy changes, as well as current events, should be kept up to date and available for all to see. Agendas for the City Council meetings should be made public and available in advance of the meetings.
As for the city of Senoia, I would like to see us keep the small-town feel while we manage the pressures of growth and big-town problems, such as the need for another water and sewer treatment plant.
2. What is your vision for improving life in Senoia?
Eichorst — ”The creation of a light industrial / professional office park on the outskirts of the city is something that needs to be brought to the forefront. This would provide an added tax base to the city that would greatly assist in alleviating the tax burden on individual homeowners as increased and/or improved city services are needed.
“I have been involved with the city parks and recreation since 2011 when I was appointed to a Citizen’s Steering committee to work on a long term plan for facility improvements/upgrades throughout the city. This was adopted by council in 2012. I have continued to see the need for improvements to in-town park facilities as specified in that plan, which was updated in 2014 as a result of a new committee which I requested be created. The recent Seavy Street Park improvement (Phase I) was a direct result of this process. With the successful passing of the upcoming SPLOST vote in Coweta County on November 7th, we can continue with the next phases of the plans for Seavy Street and Merimac Lake parks.
“Besides the parks, I feel that the need to continue to expand the multi-purpose trail system throughout the city is a key initiative. The benefit of the trail system is to provide connectivity while alleviating automobile congestion & parking issues in the downtown as well as access to various parks and neighborhoods throughout the city. All future developers need to partner with the city in providing this resource to residents and must be willing to work with us.”
Malone — ”I would like to help set in place some events and gatherings that will make the citizens of Senoia feel even more welcome in the downtown area. We do a lot of good things to appeal to tourists and people from outside of the city, but I think not enough to welcome local residents. What about a ‘Get to Know your Neighbor Day’ with games and activities, a ‘Senior Appreciation Day’ or ‘Adopt-a-Grandparent Day’ with special discounts and gatherings for both young and old Senoians, or a ‘Long-time Residents Day’ where people could be honored and share their stories and photos of vintage Senoia. These events could involve local groups and help us all get to know our neighbors and preserve our small town atmosphere. If more people felt welcome and involved in the city, our local economy could be sustained by locals and be less dependent on tourists. The day may come when they don’t flock to our city like they do.”
3. What is your stand on the city’s future growth?
Eichorst — “I want to see us ensure that we are able to attract and provide affordable, appropriate housing that allows multiple generations to co-exist within the city limits. Affordability should provide reasonable economical housing options for current & new residents. Growth in the commercial/ businesses sector should be such that it will attract a wider base of residents into town to shop & eat. Continued growth regarding more up-to-date park facilities plus recreational opportunities should place emphasis on families and residents of all age groups.
At the same time as I mentioned in the previous question, we need to attract some light industry / professional office space into town to help alleviate the tax burden on individual homeowners. Currently, we are basically a bedroom community which has very unfavorable split of tax revenues from housing as opposed to industry (roughly a 95 percent vs. 5 percent split).”
Malone — “I want to see logical, controlled growth that doesn’t have a huge negative effect on the quality of life in Senoia. Other historic cities have managed to do this, and so can we. We just have to plan and be strategic in what we do. The rights of the people who already live here must be taken into consideration, not just the rights of people moving in. Current residents have as much right to enjoy their life here as the new residents do.”
4. What is the biggest issue facing the city in the next four years?
Eichorst — “I see three key issues that require immediate attention. The first is the need to provide increased sewer capacity by building a regional sewer plant that would service Senoia going forward as well as surrounding area customers. The significance of this to Senoia is that it would support the creation of a light industrial/professional office park as well as commercial development along the RT85/RT16 corridor. This is a time sensitive issue as there is a time restriction placed on the certification the city received from the state.
“The next challenge is to provide additional downtown parking as well as improve current parking to support increased demand resulting from business growth, major city events, and the increase of visitors to Senoia as a result of its becoming a major tourist destination. While there are several options to look at, finding the correct one(s) which would fit into our Historic downtown feel is important.
“The final issue in this category is roadway improvements able to safely handle the growing traffic congestion. It is important to realize that this traffic is a result of not just city growth, but county growth surrounding the city which results in pass-through traffic for Senoia. There are 15 plus residential county developments within the 30276 zip code that contribute to this traffic situation as these residents seek to travel north through and around our city.”
Malone — “In addition to water and waste management, which I already mentioned, I think the biggest problem will be managing the additional traffic that comes with growth. We need to find a safe way to deal with the increased levels of traffic and also find some parking solutions that fit the character and feel of Senoia.”