Good Hope City Council votes to rezone property, discusses 2020 Census

Left to right are Good Hope City Councilmen Maxie Jones and Terry Shabel and Mayor Jerry Bartlett. (Heather Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

GOOD HOPE, Ala. – For its last meeting of 2019, the Good Hope City Council started with a public hearing regarding a request to rezone a property on County Road 616 from Residential (R-2) to General Business (GB). No objections were raised to the request, so the hearing adjourned quickly. The council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance to rezone the property from R-2 to GB. The rezoning was requested by the property owner for the purpose of being able to sell more plants and produce, as the land is already used as a pumpkin farm. The rezoning was needed so that the owner can set up a greenhouse or nursery from which to sell.

The council welcomed former Cullman County Engineer Phillip Widner, a current candidate for Cullman County Commission chairman.

Widner introduced himself briefly, reminded everyone that the primary election will take place March 3, and said, “The state of our roads is one of the primary concerns we as citizens need to have for our county.”

Widner said the county’s roads were going to be one of his top priorities for the commission.

Various council reports indicated the City is keeping its eye on potholes on area roads, is preparing to connect power to the building behind the sewer plant, and that there will be a canned food drive coming up in March.

Mayor Jerry Bartlett also announced that, in order to better serve the community, city hall will no longer be closed for lunch, beginning Jan. 6. The main reason for the change is that a lot of working residents are unable to visit city hall to handle issues outside of their regular lunch breaks, which normally coincide with the time city hall would close for an hour. Now, City employees will take staggered lunch breaks so that there will always be someone at the building to assist residents when they come in.

The council also reviewed two members of the planning commission whose terms had expired (Sonya Stafford and Chairman Joseph Key) and voted to renew both for an additional six years. 

The final item on the agenda was a discussion about a possible event to register residents for the 2020 Census. Since the City is receiving a census grant to boost registration, Bartlett proposed using the money to purchase some meats and holding a community barbecue, where City officials and volunteers could help spread the word about the census and make sure people are registered. Bartlett said it was crucial to get the word out as much as possible, as this census determines everything from how much funding the City receives (small-scale) to the number of congressional seats Alabama will have (large-scale). He also stated that Alabama typically has a 70-80% participation rate in the census, so he hopes to have at least a 95% participation rate for the City of Good Hope. This will require a lot of volunteer work, community outreach, and correcting any misconceptions residents may have about the way the information is used – specifically, that the information is only available to the Census Bureau and is only for a population count, and it is not used in any way to track immigration status or warrants.

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Heather Mann