In a standing room only city council meeting for the City of Reidsville Tuesday night, the council voted to pass a resolution for the purchase of the Cheney & Cheney Law Office for the new City Hall.
While over 100 people gathered to express their disapproval of the purchase, their voices were not heard and the council voted 4-1 in favor. Councilwoman Susan Fountain Thomas was the only dissenting vote.
After the Invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Eddie Rewis explained to the public that he was going to “break protocol” and do something different because not all of the people present to speak were on the agenda. He said one person would speak on behalf of the entire group of 100 and that person would be selected by nomination. According to the city charter, the mayor may not arbitrarily change the protocol without the vote of the council, but that will be discussed in Part 2 of this All On series. After a minute-long nomination process and voice vote, Reidsville citizen Sydney Clifton was selected to speak.
Clifton was allotted five minutes to speak on the issue. He said he spoke with over 100 people and only one of them was in favor of the purchase. He said the council was unable to answer the questions surrounding the purchase about appraisals, inspections, and renovations related to the property at the last public meeting. Clifton also pointed out that the city did not properly publish the meeting notices for the council meetings on the issue, despite what city attorney Van Cheney previously said at the September 29th meeting.
After his comments, he asked the people in the room to raise their hand if they were against the purchase of the Cheney Law Office. Every person present raised their hand except for one, who expressed she was on the fence and needed to be convinced.
City Attorney Van Cheney then introduced the lawyer representing the City of Reidsville in the land purchase. Mr. Pinnell of Savannah was there to explain the purchase of the property. He said he has worked in Tattnall before and the City of Reidsville will pay for the purchase through the Georgia Municipal Association, though Cheney will still finance the property. He said he would entertain questions and Rewis said council members could ask questions, but the citizens would not be able to ask questions of Attorney Pinnel.
Councilwoman Susan Thomas, after expressing the need to entertain the opinions of the people, made a motion to table the issue and not proceed, but it was not seconded.
Mayor Rewis asked the people to respect the forthcoming decision of the council and to hold comments, hold voices down, and move forward with the meeting after the vote. He asked for the council to make a motion to adopt the resolution.
After 6 minutes of conversation, the council voted without further discussion after Councilman John Wingate made a motion to pass the resolution to purchase the property for $425,000. All members of the council voted YES other than Susan Fountain Thomas.
The full video forthcoming. We apologize for the delay.