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 March 27, 2000


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OPINION
Jamieson solves annexation worries over Banks Crossing
Banks County officials have long wrestled with how to get rid of the possibility of Commerce annexing Banks Crossing.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
City Permits $475,323 In Feb. Construction
The city of Commerce issued permits for $475,000 worth of construction during February, according to documents submitted to the Commerce City Council March 12.

Chamber-Led Economic Development Effort Split Between Seeking New Companies And Helping Existing Companies Prosper, Expand
JEFFERSON -- Like a pretty girl always surrounded by male admirers, Jackson County constantly courts industrial suitors, firms that see Jackson County as a good place to open up a plant.

Engineer says courthouse annex site will work
An engineer studying the proposed site for a new courthouse annex doesn't believe the soil contamination and high water table will stop the county from building on the property.

50-acre industrial park planned near I-85
The Norton Agency project on planning commission agenda for Thursday
A rezoning request to go before the Jackson County Planning Commission Thursday night would bring a large industrial park to the North Jackson area east of Pendergrass near I-85.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
68-lot subdivision denied
A proposed 68-lot subdivision off Colbert Grove Church Road was shot down by county planners Tuesday, but the board of commissioners will have the final say on the matter Monday.

New lighting approved for baseball field
The Red Raider baseball field will soon be brighter.


SPORTS
Area showdown set at Sandy Creek
Banks, three area golf teams meet Thursday
Banks County will square off Thursday against three of its area rivals at Sandy Creek Golf Course in Commerce.

Banks County track team running through early meets
Banks County will continue its track and field schedule with a meet at Franklin County next Tuesday.


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ANNEXATION BILL BECOMES LAW

Gov. Roy Barnes (seated) signed House Bill 1439 into law Friday morning. Pictured above are: (L-R) Perry Hiott, research manager for the Georgia Municipal Association; Mary Ann Draut, policy director for GMA; Jim Grubiak, general counsel for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia; Jeanette Jamieson, state representative; Carol Ayers, Banks County Chamber of Commerce board of directors member; Sherry Ward, chamber executive assistant; Jerry Griffin, ACCG executive director; and Bonnie Johnson, chamber president.

Commissioners look at plans to bring sewer to Martin Bridge Road area
BY SHERRY LEWIS
The Banks County Board of Commissioners is looking for a way to "jump start" development at the I-85/Martin Bridge Road interchange by getting county sewer to the area.
"That area has become a hot spot over the last two months," explained BOC chairman James Dumas. "But it remains stagnant because there is no sewer available at all."
In a work session on Friday, county engineer Ben Turnipseed told the BOC that it would cost $489,600 to get sewer to the area. This would include building a pump station in the area and pumping the sewage back to the race track sewer plant. This avenue is far cheaper than building a land application at Martin Bridge Road, Turnipseed pointed out.
Right now, the sewer plant at Banks Crossing is near the 70,000 capacity but plans are in the works to expand the system to a 300,000 capacity system within nine months.
The county has applied for a $1 million low-interest loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) to pay for the increase at Banks Crossing.
Turnipseed said additional funding might be available from GEFA and the Appalachian Regional Commission to fund the Martin Bridge Road project.

Day care facility tops list of goals for group
BY SHERRY LEWIS
The Banks County Family Connection collaborative would like to see a licensed day care facility open in the county and members say they are willing to help.
"We definitely need a day care facility and there is assistance out there," explained director Vickie Martin.
The day care facility is in the list of goals for Banks County Family Connection. To try and reach that goal, Martin is in the process of sending a letter to area churches informing them that there are grants to religious and non-profit groups to get started.
The Georgia Child Care Council has grants available for technical assistance to start a day care facility, according to Martin. There are also a limited number of mini-grants to nonprofit groups that have completed their licensing paperwork but need funding for toys and equipment, staff training, scholarships for low income children or minor renovations required by local or state agencies.
For more information on the Nonprofit Child Care Project, call Colley Case at 1-800-204-988l.


BOC looks at water rate hike
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Some Banks County water customers could see an increase in rates in the near future.
In a work session Friday, the BOC talked about decreasing the minimum water allowed for the $12.50 monthly payment from 3,000 gallons to 2,000 gallons. Residential customers will pay $2.25 per thousand gallons after that.
While the move is in part to help fund future expansions, it is also a move to help people on fixed incomes, including the elderly, to have a cheaper water bill, according to BOC member Ernest Rogers.
The county has a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for water but all of those funds have been committed to water line expansions until it expires next year. The future plans also include building the off-stream reservoir at Windmill Farms.
The BOC said it will take action on this issue during a regularly scheduled meeting.


Mobile home developers concerned about proposal
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Two mobile home park developers discussed their concerns about proposed changes to the mobile home regulations with members of the Banks County Board of Commissioners and planning commission during a work session on Friday.
Tim Whitmire and Keith Brown, who have plans to purchase a 90-acre piece of property on Hwy. 59 near the Franklin County line, said that they question the feasibility of the park if the new regulations are put place.
Whitmire expressed concern about the increase in setbacks on the front and sides to 30 feet. Under his proposal, the manufactured homes would be set back 10 feet. Upon completion of the park, there would be 200 manufactured homes at approximately two per acre, he said.
Planning commission member Ed Lindorme told the developers that more stringent regulations have been put into place in other categories to protect agriculture as well as residential landowners.
"Legally, we have to treat everybody the same," Lindorme said. "We are trying to improve the quality of life of the people who live here."
Whitmire said the project would not be feasible if they had to adhere to the proposed changes in the setbacks.
"I don't think it would work," Whitmire said. "As a matter of fact, it doesn't work."
Lindorme told the developers that neighbors who live in close proximity to each other do not get along.
Planning commission member Harold Ivey agreed: "If they are looking in each other's bedroom windows, you are gonna have problems."
While mobile home parks are sometimes shunned because of problems, if run correctly, they can be an asset, Whitmire explained.
"A mobile home park can be a very, very good thing for the county if it is managed right," he said. "With any project, you've got to have the right management."
The developers plan to have green space all the way around the park and offer several amenities to residents.
That did not ease Lindorme's concerns because of the effect to the local school system, he said.
"The biggest problem we have is the tax burden to the school system," said Lindorme.
The developers have not yet applied for a rezoning application to have the agriculture land rezoned for the mobile home community.
The BOC also discussed potential changes to the proposed ordinance with county attorney Randal Frost. Those changes had nothing to do with a decrease in the setbacks. Frost will redraft the ordinance with the changes before it is approved by the planning commission and the BOC.
Other proposed changes include:
·all mobile home parks shall be served by county water and sewer systems.
·a mobile/manufactured home park shall have a minimum area of 10 acres with a lot width of at least 200 feet.
·each space within the park shall have a minimum of 14,000 square feet and not less than 50 feet of frontage on the interior road.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Governor signs anti-annexation bill
Move will make Banks Crossing safe from annexation by Commerce
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Banks Countians can finally breathe a sigh of relief and put worries about the possible annexation of Banks Crossing by the City of Commerce out of their minds.
Friday morning, Gov. Roy Barnes signed legislation that will protect Banks Crossing from annexation into another city or county - effective immediately.
District 22 state representative Jeanette Jamieson introduced the legislation, urged senators and representatives to support it and got it into the hands of Barnes quickly.
"I want to thank the members of the General Assembly," Jamieson said Friday at the capitol. "I also want to thank Gov. Barnes for the timely signing of the bill. There is a clause in this bill making it effective upon the signature of the governor. So, as of 9:45 Friday morning, House Bill 1439 became law."
With the signing of HB 1439, first-time cross county line annexation cannot occur without the consent of the county into which the city wishes to annex.
Jamieson has pushed for protection of Banks Crossing through some means for a long time, including suggesting the annexation by Homer or consolidation of Homer and Banks Crossing. When these measures failed to get the needed support from local government officials, she decided to introduce the legislation.
"This is landmark legislation," she said. "We have felt for a long time that people needed some prohibition against a city trying to annex across a county line in order to access higher-revenue producing areas.
"No better example exists in the state of Georgia than the Banks Crossing area. This area is a significant part of Banks County's revenue source and, without these critical monies, services would have to be decreased or property taxes would have to go up significantly."
Jamieson said that any encroachment into that revenue source could cause a loss of revenue to Banks County estimated as high as $2.5 million a year. She added that a property tax increase of this magnitude could create a situation where the homeowners of Banks County - especially the elderly - would be required to sell their homes due to the inability to pay the taxes.
Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman James Dumas offered praise for the legislation introduced by Jamieson.
"At last Banks Countians can relax concerning the potential loss of Banks Crossing to the City of Commerce," he said.
He added that this is the biggest piece of legislation that has been passed in Atlanta for the benefit of Banks County.
The Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) also worked at trying to address the various problems associated with annexation. Dumas was named to a task force to work toward statewide solutions for the problem.
"It became clear Banks County was not the only location where cities were threatening the county's tax base," he said. "In many meetings, cities and counties argued their position. I kept on the front line of the issue of cross county line annexation and pleaded the plight of many counties that saw their tax base eroded by annexation."


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Lula citizens concerned about closing bridge
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Some Lula council members and citizens expressed concern Monday night about a request to close the overhead bridge on Cobb Street.
Mayor Tim Allen read a letter from Norfolk-Southern Railroad noting the deterioration of the bridge over the tracks in town. In its current condition, the maximum tons allowed has been reduced from five to three.
"Three tons is the minimum and it still be open," explained Allen. "Otherwise, it must be closed or replaced."
The letter also said that the bridge is extremely humped and it would be impossible to meet current design standards.
"They asked us to close the road and let them know when they can demolish the bridge," Allen continued.
Winford Popphan, a member of the Lula Area Betterment Association (LABA), told the council that members did not want to see the bridge destroyed.
"It is an integral part of Lula and we don't want to see it taken down," he said. "If you have to, block the road."
Councilman Milton Turner said: "It is a historic landmark for Lula. I'd hate to see it torn down."
Former councilman Talmedge Pless told the council that the matter had already been taken care of years ago in state court. When the city was asked to close the bridge, a state court judge ruled that the railroad must fix the bridge.
City attorney Brad Patton told the council that he would research the issue and find the court ruling.
In other business, the town council:
·agreed to rent the old city hall at a cost of $5 per square foot, plus utilities and minor maintenance costs.
·voted to purchase a new commercial lawn mower at a cost of $7,121 and a trailer for $825.
·heard a request from Michael Barnes to pave Railroad Street and Lula Farm Road. Allen told Barnes that the request would be considered when the council does the budgeting process next month. The new fiscal year will begin July 1.
·approved a resolution to allow the mayor, council members and volunteers to be covered under workmen's compensation.


Alto increases commercial water rates
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Commercial water rates will increase in the City of Alto beginning in June.
In a meeting last week, the council unanimously agreed to raise the rates to $1.35 per thousand gallons with no minimum gallons. The council will re-examine the rates next March.
"We did away with the more you use the cheaper it is," explained Mayor Jack King. "It encourages waste. If a company uses enough water, we are practically giving it away."
In the past, commercial water customers have paid about the same costs as residential customers, which are $8 outside the city and $6 inside the city for the first 3,000 gallons and $1.20 per thousand after that.
The increase will have the greatest impact on Alto's largest water customer, Mount Vernon Mills. The plant uses approximately 60 million gallons of water each year, according to King.
Presently, the company has a deal with the city where it pays around 92 cents a gallon.
"They were gentlemen about the increase," King said. "In the past, we have just about been breaking even."
Larry Porter, plant manager at Mount Vernon Mills, addressed the council before the vote asking that the increase be fair.
The council also defined industry as "any business or individual that uses an average of 100,000 gallons of water or more per month in a year."
In other business, the town council:
·voted to limit the number of garbage bags per customer at eight 30-gallon bags per household. An additional $5 will be charged for up to eight more bags. This is set to become effective April 1.
·discussed the purchase of generators for the wells. King reported that he had received prices ranging from $16,000 to $18,000. The council agreed to check with government surplus before a decision was made.
·discussed amendments to the mobile home ordinance. No action was taken.
·heard from Habersham County commissioner Jerry Tanksley, who asked the council to make plans for the future. He also spoke on the possible water shortage for this summer and the future water prices.
·heard from Jim Blackburn of the Habersham County Smart Growth Coalition. He urged Alto to give its input on where they desired commercial growth to occur.