Mayor Steve Tumlin said the council has changed the policy each month, and he wants this stalled period to result in a comprehensive revision of the procedures the city will take with each speed tabling item from this point forward.
The decision stops residents on six streets, as well as the Carriage Oaks subdivision, from finishing ballots that were originally due between mid-July and mid-August.
It also postponed the necessary approval by the City Council for the installation of speed tables on Lees Trace.
The balloting results in favor of speed humps in the Lee’s Crossing subdivision, across from Kennesaw Memorial Cemetery, were revealed by city staff at the council meeting June 24.
Councilman Andy Morris asked to postpone the installation until the entire policy has been reviewed.
Morris said although he is concerned about safety in the neighborhood, he wants the approval by the council to be accurate and not questioned if the policy is revised.
Morris said if the new to policy is done right, “it would keep all kids in the city safe.”
The council approved Morris’s recommendation 5-1, with Councilman Johnny Sinclair opposed.
Sinclair said the process to get speed tables into Lee’s Crossing has already taken too long.
The vote does not mean the effort failed, and Lee’s Crossing is still active and under consideration for traffic calming.
Although Councilman Grif Chalfant represents the neighborhood, residents of Lee’s Crossing who attended Wednesday’s meeting said it was Sinclair who stood up for them.
Bob Maynard, who has lived at Lee’s Trace since 1985, said the neighborhood started the process a year ago.
The City Council amended the policy to allow each member of the home owners association of Lee’s Crossing to vote on whether to install speed tables, but lowered the rate for approval from 70 percent to 60 percent.
Sixty percent of the votes were in favor, because the HOA board was given an extra four votes for vacant lots in the subdivision.
Tumlin said he is glad the approval of Lee’s Crossing was held and there is a chance a new round of balloting could be sent out depending on how much the policy shifts.
“(The HOA) change added an element that made it more complicated than we ever dreamed,” Tumlin said.
Tumlin said he would rather have one criterion that defines which properties are eligible to vote and not tie it into an association.
The mayor said there are neighborhoods in Marietta “with a sense of community” that don’t have a “paper” legally binding them together.
For streets not in a subdivision managed by an HOA, the area balloted is defined as property owners living on a road or adjacent roads that would be required to travel over the installed speed humps.
Maynard said there are numerous accidents in Lee’s Crossing from drivers traveling at extremely high speeds and ignoring the 30 mph signs.
He said drivers bound over a hill and miss a slight curve near his home, which results in cars plowing through yards and destroying mailboxes.
Maynard, who is an FAA safety inspector who investigates aviation accidents, said speed humps are a public safety issue and should not need citizen approval.
“I hate to see something preventable that no one is willing to do anything about,” Maynard said.
Tumlin said the original policy looked good on paper, but once the ordinance started being enacted the problems became more apparent with the amount of citizen complaints.
“We have had challenges from every direction,” Tumlin said.
The mayor said the biggest concern is making sure the finalized process is clear so the outcome of the balloting is fair.
“There are going to be winners and losers; that is what makes this difficult,” he said.
However, Allen Hirons, an attorney with the Marietta firm Krause & Hirons and a former member of the Cobb Elections Board, debates whether the voting process is necessary or even legal.
Hirons wrote a letter to the council saying the votes of homeowners are not covered by the Voting Rights Act and that the U.S. Constitution prohibits tying voting to ownership of land.
Instead the balloting process is really a poll of area residents and is “not binding in any way shape or form,” Hirons wrote.
“It would be best to leave this concept of obtaining citizen input behind,” he said.
For each traffic calming site, after the ballots are verified and counted they are sealed so the public cannot know how specific property owners voted.
Hirons told the council that the ballots are subject to the Open Records Act, and if the city were to resist disclosing these records it would violate the law.