The Greensboro City Council will hold its first business meeting of 2020 on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber.

There will be no speakers from the floor on non-agenda items, in keeping with the current policy. The public is allowed to speak on agenda items, except Consent Agenda items, which are described as “routine housekeeping” type items that are all theoretically all passed with no discussion and one voice vote.

It rarely happens that way because there is a different set of rules for Councilmember Sharon Hightower and she is allowed to ask questions about and discuss items on the Consent Agenda. And in keeping with the number one rule for City Council meetings, which is that no rules are set in stone, sometimes people are allowed to speak about Consent Agenda items.

The most controversial item on this agenda appears to be accepting the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant for $250,000. Greensboro is the lead agency for the grant and would retain $138,000 for the Greensboro Police Department, High Point would receive $50,000 and Guilford County $61,000, according to the complicated federal formula that had to have been devised by a committee.

Two issues arose at the Jan. 7 City Council meeting where the JAG grant was not on the agenda but was discussed at length. One issue brought up by a speaker from the floor was that to accept the grant the city has to agree to cooperate with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Homeland Security Department, and three councilmembers – Michelle Kennedy, Sharon Hightower and Yvonne Johnson – said they would rather turn down the money than have the Greensboro police cooperate with ICE.

Hightower actually said that $138,000 wasn’t much money and they could find it somewhere else.

The other issue at the Jan. 7 meeting was that councilmembers couldn’t figure out what action they had taken at the Dec. 17 meeting when the JAG grant had been on the agenda for a public hearing. The consensus appeared to be that the City Council held a public hearing to set a public hearing. Usually after a public hearing action is taken, but the resolution passed by the City Council was lacking a verb in the “Therefore be it resolved” clause, which evidently was not noticed until the whole item became an issue.

There is a rezoning request for 2424 and 2428 West Florida St. from Residential Single Family (R-5) and Commercial Medium (C-M) to Conditional District-Commercial Medium (CD-C-M), which the Zoning Commission denied on a 6-3 vote that could result in some City Council discussion.

Zoning Commission members expressed concerns about the lack of conditions and the lack of buffering between this site and the adjacent single-family residential property.