The council voted 4-0 to deny an application from Bojangle’s owners Mitch Abney and Wayne Robinson for a variance from city sign regulations to allow a 60-foot flag pole from which they planned to fly an American flag. Hiram’s legal limit is 35 feet.
Abney told the council the owners applied for the variance at their restaurant on Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway “because we wanted to show our patriotism for our country.”
Robinson said he spoke with a Paulding County planning official because some permitting for the city is done through the county. The county official told him they could build if 10 feet from the property line but did not mention the height requirement.
After they were told this they spent $7,500 on the pole and flag, he said.
“Not a word was mentioned I had to go to [the city of] Hiram [for approval],” Robinson said.
The only way a pole taller than 35 feet would be allowed is if there was a need or hardship shown, according to City Operations Manager Jody Palmer.
He said the Bojangle’s property did not meet the exceptions and staff recommendation was to deny the request.
City Attorney Kelly Hundley also suggested denying the application. He said if they voted to approve the request it would set a precedent for overturning the ordinance.
“I would advise mayor and council not to go down that path,” Hundley said.
Post 1 Council Member Prather “Pep” Rollins and Post 3 Council Member Teresa Philyaw both said they did not like limiting the display of an American flag. However, both later voted to deny the request.
“It was a necessity,” Philyaw said.
She agreed with Hundley they should not approve this request because it would set a precedent.
In other action taken at the meeting, the council voted to set fees for LiveScan fingerprinting and background check services.
The LiveScan system gives the city the ability to run fingerprints and background checks through either the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, FBI or both.
The fingerprinting can be done by trained staff at city hall, said Police Chief Todd VandeZande.
“We didn’t have to add any staff or take away any functions,” he said.
The service is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said City Manager Robbie Rokovitz.
“We recognize that there is a demand for these services and those in need should not have to travel far to obtain their personal records at a reasonable cost,” he said.