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Reopening the School Street Playhouse and more from this week’s Cumming City Council meeting
FCN Cumming Playhouse 1 010219
The facility known as the Cumming Playhouse has been operated since 2004 in the historic 1923 Cumming Public School. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

New shows at the School Street Playhouse, a change in city rules to allow for pigs at Otwell Middle School and some federal funds to help with the COVID-19 response were among the items discussed at a Cumming City Council meeting this week. 

All items were approved by a 5-0 vote unless otherwise noted.

The show must go on

The School Street Playhouse already has plans for upcoming concerts and plays starting in September, but before that, officials with the playhouse and city leaders came to a new lease agreement after the city council decided earlier this year to waive the previous agreement due to COVID-19. 

“As you may recall, earlier this year we agreed to waive the lease agreements temporarily for the playhouse partners due to the restrictions that were put into place by the governor in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said City Administrator Phil Higgins. “Our tenant has now approached the city about beginning to do shows again with limited seating to allow for social distancing.” 

Under the agreement, playhouse officials will pay 12.5% of their gross revenue to the city until either March 31, 2021 or until the state’s social distancing guidelines are relaxed enough to allow full crowds. 

Cumming CARES 

The city will be receiving some funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, a $2.2-trillion economic stimulus package approved by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump earlier this year. 

“These funds can be used to offset purchases made for products to sanitize, technology upgrades to promote offsite working and payroll for public safety employees, just to mention those three,” Higgins said. “There’s other categories you can also apply these costs to.” 

Higgins said the city would receive a total of about $342,000 in funding over three phases. For the first phase, the city will receive about $103,000.

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Coming to the City Center

The City Council approved matching funds for a grant the city has applied for from the Georgia Council of the Arts and Cultural Facilities for up to $75,000. Higgins said the funds would go toward a planned amphitheater at the city center.  

“It is our intention, if awarded, to use these funds to offset the cost of the bandshell at the City Center amphitheater,” he said.  

Earlier in the meeting, the city also accepted a land donation of 10 acres from Brookside Heights Apartments, located across Canton Highway from the City Center for walking trails. 

Hogs for the Bulldogs

City Attorney Kevin Tallant introduced a pair of changes to the city’s zoning ordinance. 

The first change, which would allow certain animals to be held on areas with an institutional zoning with a conditional-use permit, came out of plans at Otwell Middle School to have a variety of animals —however, pigs were not among those allowed.  

“They’re not having many,” Mayor Troy Brumbalow said. “I think they’re having one of each, so it’s not like they’re trying to raise a bunch of hogs or they’re trying to raise a bunch of chickens. They’re only looking at having a few animals.” 

Tallant said the second change would deal with annexation requests for land in unincorporated Forsyth County, which has been a source of friction between the city and county governments.  

Under the proposal, landowners seeking annexation would have to meet with city officials before making the request “just to get a little more idea of what the plans are for the land, help us do a little bit more planning on the front-end about annexations before they come in,” Tallant said. 

No action was taken for the items during the meeting, and Tallant said they would likely come back for approval at the council’s Tuesday, Sept. 15 meeting.