The Commerce News
January 12, 2000
Council Must Stay Firm On Zoning
Nicholson officials were
to get their first look at the proposed zoning ordinance for
their community Tuesday night, and there are expectations that
the town will adopt a zoning ordinance later this year. It is
currently the only town in Jackson County without a zoning ordinance.
It is crucial to the future of Nicholson that the ordinance be
strong and enforceable, but there will be considerable pressure
placed on the town council to approve an anything-goes sort of
ordinance that will be zoning in name only. That must not happen.
The town council must firmly enact an ordinance that will give
it a means of controlling how the town grows and what it becomes.
Right now, Nicholson is fast becoming a mobile home community
that will attract only residents who cannot afford better housing.
Mobile homes are a crucial part of the housing mix in this and
surrounding counties, but any community that allows their unrestricted
placement will find itself getting very little development of
any other kind.
But there is money to be made in Nicholson by developers who
do not have to meet standards there that they would elsewhere.
The town council spends a lot of time dealing with substandard
roads and, in one case, complaints of raw sewage on the ground,
because developers can be held to no standards. Other people
have profited by moving old mobile homes onto any available space
to create rental property that contains few amenities, no charm
and would be considered a blight on the landscape in most other
Those forces will muster against the town council. They will
not willingly give up the ability to expand their holdings or
to develop unchecked. But if Nicholson is to have a viable future
as a community, its government must have the means to control
the growth and development within its borders. Without zoning
protection, very few people will be willing to invest in stick-built
housing or businesses when they know someone could build an auto
junkyard or a rental mobile home lot right next door. Without
zoning that works, the trend in Nicholson will continue toward
As the 21st century begins, Nicholson stands at a crossroads.
Whether it evolves into a huge low-income, low-rent neighborhood
or into a community which people of all socioeconomic groups
can call home will depend to a large degree on the quality of
the zoning ordinance now under consideration. And that depends
upon the fortitude of the members of the Nicholson Town Council.
It should be patently
clear that the United States is using Elian Gonzales, the 6-year-old
Cuban youngster fished out of the ocean last month, in a disastrous
attempt to press its long-standing feud with Cuba.
Law and common sense dictate that the child be reunited with
his father, and that his father should determine where the boy
will live. But too many people are succumbing to the pressure
of Florida's Cuban refugees, who say the child should remain
in Florida rather than return to Castro's Cuba. To thumb their
collective noses at Castro, the expatriate Cubans will use the
6-year-old, and the United States is all too obliging.
All evidence suggests that Elian has a strong and supportive
family (father and both sets of grandparents) in Cuba, but anti-Castro
sentiment has made a 6-year-old a pawn in a purely political
The boy belongs with his father, not his aunts and uncles, and
that's exactly how the matter would have been resolved had Elian
Gonzales come from any other country but Cuba. The whole controversy
The Commerce News
January 12, 2000
Progress Shown In Stories
Printed During Past Year
I have, in the past, used the first or
second newspaper in a year to project the stories I hope or would
like to see in the upcoming year, some in seriousness and some
It is a measure of progress that some of the stories I projected
were actually written last year. Among them were:
·Jackson Voters Approve Government Change. You didn't
need to be Jeanne Dixon to see that one coming, but it was still
a relief when it actually happened.
·County, DOT Break Ground On Access Road From U.S. 441
to Georgia 98. It came late, but the county finally began work
on the first leg of this road. Maybe in 2000 I'll get to write
a story saying it's finished.
·Chamber Membership Tops 425. You could see this one coming
too, and the chamber continued its growth during 1999, and it
will do the same this year.
·County, Cities Reach Agreement On "Shared Services."
It happened. It goes to show that sometimes it pays to dream.
Who would have thought that the House Bill 489 package from Jackson
County would be a model for other cities and counties?
·Y2K Problem Declared To Be A Hoax. Actually, it wasn't
ever declared a hoax, but after nothing happened Jan. 1, a lot
of people are thinking it was all just a scare tactic to sell
computers and software (and newspapers).
Unfortunately, those were the only stories that I'd expressed
an eagerness to write that I ever got to do. No such luck with
the Falcons winning the Super Bowl, Saddam Hussein renouncing
violence, county tax bills going on time and the Commerce Streetscape
project being completed. You can't win them all.
So, what is there to look forward to writing in 2000? What news
stories would constitute great good tidings for Commerce, Jackson
County and beyond? Well, here are some headlines I'd like to
see in The Commerce News or elsewhere:
·Nicholson Adopts Tough Zoning Ordinance: Nicholson will
probably adopt a zoning ordinance, but will it have teeth? Details
will come later this year.
·Strong Slate Of Candidates Qualify For Commission Seats:
This is the year we fill the first 5-member board of commissioners.
We need good candidates as the government changes.
·Commerce Gets 4 MGD Permit For Water Plant: Work is expected
to be completed by this summer on the "high-rating"
of the city water plant, after which the city expects the state
to allow it to double the amount of water it pulls from the city
reservoir. The city will need the water.
·Test Scores Excellent In All Local Schools: I'd settle,
at least for one year, with Test Scores Average In All Local
Schools. But Excellent would be, well, excellent.
·Streetscape Finished: There is very little to be done,
but this project has run longer than the Energizer Bunny.
·John Rocker Says "No Comment": If he's going
to survive in baseball, the Braves' closer is going to have to
learn to close his mouth.
Who knows what the new year will bring. There will be stories
of wonderful news, of tragedy, of success and failure. Hopefully,
some of these headlines can be published in 2000.