News from Jackson County...

June 26, 2000


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OPINIONS
Mike Buffington
Questions for BOC candidates

The one political race that will be decided this summer is that for chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

Mark Beardsley
Mall designed to resemble downtown area

Barbara and I took last Thursday off in honor of our 26th wedding anniversary, the highlight of which would be a meal at an Atlanta restaurant.


SPORTS
JCCHS to host Georgia Games wrestling

Jackson County Comprehensive High School will host the 2000 Georgia Games wrestling...

JCPRD spring baseball, softball champions crowned
The Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department completed its end-of-season baseball and softball...


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Arrest made in brutal murder of Colbert man
An arrest has been made in the murder of a Colbert man, who was found Monday encased in cement in Oglethorpe County...

School budget up 3 percent
Madison County school superintendent Dennis Moore says that no property tax increase is planned to support the Madison County...




News from
BANKS COUNTY
Lula to be tough on water violators
Lula city water customers caught violating outdoor watering restrictions three times will face disconnection...

Theft of city water on the rise in Alto
Alto leaders have made a move to get tough on people stealing water from the town following the loss of thousands of gallons of water.


 

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SNOW IN THE SUMMER?

Youngsters at Vacation Bible School this week at Hoschton Baptist Church enjoyed a snow fight at "Snowy Mountain Ridge." The theme for the week is outback games and this room has been converted into a snow-covered mountain ridge. Similar activities are under way across the county as area churches hold Vacation Bible School

ELECTIONS

Republican BOC, sheriff candidates discuss issues at forum
Local Republican candidates for the Board of Commissioners and Sheriff posts gathered Thursday at the Commerce Civic Center to answer questions from three panelists and audiences members during a forum sponsored by the Jackson County Republican Party.
Candidates were drilled by Hoschton civic leader Edna Sell, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce president Peppy Cummings and The Jackson Herald editor Mike Buffington on questions ranging from hiring a county manager to handling growth and greenspace issues.
BOC CHAIRMAN
One of the biggest questions to the candidates concerned the hiring of a county manager.
Fletcher said he would first study H.B. 190, the bill creating Jackson County's new form of government, then establish a pay scale before searching for someone. He also said he would like to proceed as quickly as possible and that the BOC and the chairman would have to work together as a team during the interim before the manager took over.
Once a manager is found, Fletcher said the BOC should establish objectives and goals for him, set up his job description, empower him and step out of the way. At the same time, he said, the county manager should be evaluated regularly.
Drawing on his experience from the private workforce, Grubbs said he would go to an employment agency to find someone who isn't "connected" and doesn't "know the right people." During the interim, he said the BOC chairman would have to take an extra work load to keep the county government running.
Grubbs said after a manager is hired, he should be the one to deal with every day issues. He said the manager should have close contact with the chairman, which would trickle down to the other board members.
Stephenson told panelists the process should be done expeditiously, but that the BOC should take enough time to find the right person. He proposed the BOC form a selection committee of citizens to screen candidates. He suggested current BOC chairman Jerry Waddell or David Bohanon could occupy the county manager position while a permanent manager was being hired.
Stephenson also said the county manager should be the one to handle the day-to-day operations of the county, while the BOC should be the policy-setting authority.
BOC DISTRICT 1
The first question for District 1 candidates concerned hiring a county manger, and the nature of the manager's relationship with his staff.
Travis Boles Sr. said the county manager should have good experience.
Stacey Britt told the panelist the BOC should do a complete search of all qualified people, and he said the right person probably already had a job. He said he believed the county manager should handle day-to-day operations while the BOC would make policy.
Felton Rainey said the board should search for a good candidate.
Answering Buffington's question on how to keep the board from splitting into factions, Rainey told him to "get back with me when I know."
Britt said that even though the board members would be elected from different districts, they should realize they represent all the citizens of Jackson County.
Boles told the panelists he would work individually with all the BOC members for the good of the county.
BOC DISTRICT 2
Don Blalock was the only Republican candidate for BOC District 2 at the forum.
In response to Cummings' question about impact fees, Blalock said the new BOC should look closely at growth and consider impact fees to keep Jackson County citizens from bearing the cost of new developments coming in.
When asked how he would make citizens feel more included in county government, Blalock told the panel the BOC should publish a quarterly document outlining the county's expenditures and revenue. He also said the county needed a board the citizens could talk to.
In his closing, Blalock stressed the importance of a favorable relationship between Commerce and Jackson County.
BOC DISTRICT 3
Buffington first questioned District 3 candidates on their ideas for sewage in Jackson County.
Emil Beshara said the county was forced into the sewage business, but he believed it was good for the county.
"Without infrastructure, industry is moving into the municipalities," he said.
Beshara also favored adjusting connection and usage fees.
Chip Pritchett told the panel sewage was important for all growth in the county.
Jerri Smith said she wasn't in agreement with the county takeover of the sewage. She also said she favored privatization of services whenever possible.
Mark Tolbert told the panelists he wasn't sure if the sewer business is a "good idea" for Jackson County. He said there would be a limited amount of money available for sewage projects, and the county would have to pick and choose what will bring the most benefit.
BOC DISTRICT 4
District 4 candidates first tackled a question relating to the establishment of animal control.
"We've needed animal control for years," Tony Beatty told the panel.
He also said funds for animal control could be included in the county budgeted, and revenue could come from user fees for the Human Society.
Kenneth Bridges favored taking unneeded funds from other departments to run an animal control service.
Responding to sewage growth issues, Bridges said the county need the infrastructure, even though it will cost the county.
Beatty told the panel sewage was a necessity in high-density developments.
SHERIFF
Sell questioned the sheriff candidates first, asking how each would make better use of patrol cars to lower opportunity costs.
Incumbent Stan Evans said he had given each officer driving responsibilities and some take their cars home, increasing the cars' longevity and lowering maintenance costs.
Charles Hayes said he agreed with the current system and would favor more roadblocks to lower the amount of driving by deputies.
Hayes agreed, adding that more cars and equipment were needed.
See the June 28 edition of The Jackson Herald for the complete article.


Mulberry lot sizes raise questions for BOC member
By Jana Adams
Board of commissioner member Pat Bell was flipping through the proposed site development plan for Mulberry Plantation Thursday night at the Jackson County Planning Commission meeting when she saw some details that raised red flags for her - particularly the mention of one-eighth acre lots.
But according to Jackson County director of planning and development David Clabo, the lot sizes are not in violation of planned unit development (PUD) rules.
The planning commission had tabled the site development plan for the Mulberry Plantation located at Hwy. 124 and Gum Springs Church Road per the request of Bluegreen Golf. A letter had been submitted by R. Thomas Powers of Bluegreen Golf requesting that the matter be tabled because of "a final (unexpected) environmental test" that had caused a delay.
Bell spoke at the end of the meeting, but the plan was not reviewed by the planning commission.
"I've been looking at this from Mulberry Plantation and I'm dumbfounded to see one-eighth acres (lot sizes mentioned)," Bell said. "I voted against quarter acre lots and I see here one-eighth acre lots."
Bell referred to a December 1999 called BOC meeting when zoning conditions for the Mulberry site were altered.
Clabo told Bell that the condition for a minimum lot size of one-half acre had been removed from the Mulberry plans in December, but that no other size requirements had been set.
According to minutes from that December BOC meeting, "Commissioner (Henry) Robinson made motion that we take condition no. 12 out of the zoning which says 'No lot in this project shall be less than 1/2 acre' because he feels we would probably lose if we go to court because it specifically states in the PUD zoning that thee can be 8,200 ­ four lots - four dwellings per acre. Chairman states it also state there can only be four dwellings per acre."
"I was told there couldn't be more than four dwellings per acre," Bell said.
Clabo explained that the plan includes a variety of lot sizes - one-third acre, one-fourth acre, one-eighth acre - saying "that's what a PUD ordinance allows."
"That was not the intent of the board of commissioners, I'm sure," Bell said. "You know it and I do too."

CRIME

Arcade woman critically injured in fire
A White Oak Trail, Arcade, woman was badly burned on her head, face, arms and hands during a fire at her residence last week. Wednesday afternoon, she was listed in critical condition in the Joseph M. Steal Jr. burn center at Doctor's Hospital, Augusta.
According to a report from the Arcade Police Department, an officer was on patrol when he was dispatched to 89 White Oak Trail because of three 911 hang-ups. The officer then learned there was a fire at the residence and when he arrived, he found two women standing outside of the house.
One of the women, Edith Tedder, 62, who was in a wheelchair at the time, had "bad burns" to her head and arms. She was briefly treated on the scene and then transported to Augusta.
The fire is still under investigation, authorities said.


Hoschton council to consider plan for city to own, maintain sewage pumps
Hoschton's engineer Charles Armentrout brought a new idea and new hope to Panther Creek residents in a town meeting Monday when he presented a proposal for solving the subdivision's long-standing sewage problems.
Armentrout's proposal involves creating a contract between the city and the subdivision residents that gives the city ownership and maintenance of the grinder pump system already in place. The city would update the system, getting it "up to standard," then be responsible for maintenance. The residents would be responsible for the electric bill.
The plan would not require that residents' yards be torn up for installation of a totally new system, a revelation that brought applause from the audience of 16 or so residents. And completion of Armentrout's plan could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars less than the new gravity flow system given funding approval earlier this year by the city council.
"My idea would be to go in and evaluate each individual system, replace them if necessary with a good quality pump and start fresh," Armentrout said.
Panther Creek resident David Jackson said, "This is the best idea I've heard so far."
Armentrout first broached the idea with the Hoschton City Council at its May work session and will discuss it in further detail at a 9 a.m. July 6 work session before the 7 p.m. July 10 regular council meeting.
But while residents seemed amenable to hearing more about the plan and wanting to know how the council felt about it, Armentrout cautioned them that the EPD will also have to give its approval on the matter. Plans for the new gravity flow system have already been sent to the EPD in response to an administrative order that the city clean up the subdivision's sewage system.
"The first thing is to make sure the EPD says it's OK," Armentrout said. "The city is under an administrative order and has proposed gravity flow as a way to fix it. I have talked to an EPD engineer...and the first question I asked was, are we too far down this road to go back to another option. He said possibly not. The EPD's concern is to make sure the problem is solved and make sure it is agreeable to the city and residents."


Judge orders picketers to stop
A Superior Court judge has ordered two women who had recently picketed at a West Jackson subdivision to not hold another display until the county has an ordinance in place requiring a permit and outlining demonstration regulations.
Judge Bob Adamson ruled at a special hearing in Barrow County Thursday that Cindy Anderson and Melissa Harrelson not picket until an ordinance is approved by the county. The two women were present at the brief hearing and agreed.
Also at the hearing, Sue Campbell and Tom Beck asked that the two not be allowed to picket on their property. Their attorney, Wanda David, said that the two women were on her client's property when they picketed at Clover Mill Subdivision on Hwy. 124. She added that their action interfered with the sale of property by Campbell and Beck.
The picketers are reportedly upset about the construction of their homes, located in Walnut Ridge Subdivision. County director of planning and development David Clabo said earlier that they are alleging 16 code violations are in place in the homes. He said the county building inspector has been to the homes and there are no code violations. He did add that there were some violations earlier, but that those had been fixed by the builder.
BOC chairman Jerry Waddell said at an earlier meeting that the violations they are referring to are actually cosmetic concerns, such as painting and landscaping.



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Landscape standards in the works for future developments
In the future, developers locating commercial and multi-residential properties in Jackson County may have to make a little more effort to beautify their finished products with foliage and other landscaping touches.
The Jackson County Planning Commission discussed the draft of a document that would set such landscaping standards Thursday night. County director of planning and development David Clabo explained that the board of commissioners had requested the planning commission develop such standards for incoming industry and business sites, as well as for duplexes and apartment complexes.
The zoning ordinance, if approved, would require landscaping around parking lots, buildings and service areas of new developments. The draft copy the planners are reviewing comes from Bostwick via the Rural Development Commission and currently does not address tree removal.
The RDC draft offers two options for standards: a performance landscape plan that requires a calculated number of plant units per square foot and so forth and a prescribed landscape plan that would allow more freedom in design.
Planning commission chairman Keith Hayes asked whether or not the draft calls for certified landscapers or surveyors to do the landscaping work. At this point, Clabo replied, the draft does not, but that could be something to be examined.
Planning commission member Larry Sailors asked: "If we adopt it, will it be enforced?" He pointed out that some other counties with such policies don't levy fines but, rather, allow the developer to go back and correct the problems.
"That's not so different from how we do building inspections," Clabo said. "We give them another chance....But I think it is the intent of the board of commissioners to enforce it."
Planning commission member Daniel Sailors and Hayes both said they'd like to have more time to review the document.
Hayes made a move to table the matter, saying he'd like to set up a work session with the board of commissioners to discuss the standards again to "fine tune it a little." The other members agreed.


Planning commission approves two more cell towers
Two more telecommunication towers have been approved for Jackson County by the planning commission.
The planning commission approved Thursday night a conditional use rezoning for two monopole telecommunications towers for American Tower and Triton PCS. The towers can serve up to five users.
One 180-feet pole is proposed for location on an 80x80-foot leased area owned by David Strickland off Hwy. 59. A 50x50-foot fenced area will be screened and landscaped and will have a 15-foot buffer.
Paul Scoggins, whose home is across the road from the proposed site, asked the nature of a conditional use permit and how close the tower would be to his house.
Carolyn Briggs of American Tower pointed out the location to Scoggins on a map, saying the tower would be "well over 500 or 600 feet away" and would not be lit.
Clabo responded to Scoggins' question about conditional use, saying "the reason for conditional use...it sets certain limits so it can be called back into question if there are problems."
The other proposal was for a 150-foot monopole tower to be located on a 100x100-foot leased area at the intersection of Hwy. 98 and Wood Bridge Road. The property is owned by Mack Meeks.
The tower will be located on a 60x60-foot fenced area with a 10-foot buffer.
These matters will come before the Jackson County Board of Commissioners for consideration at its July 11 meeting. A "work session" will be held at 5 p.m. that night to receive input from citizens and a voting session will follow at 7 p.m.


$681,500 in construction permitted by Commerce in May
The city of Commerce issued nine building permits during May for construction valued at $681,500, according to a report from the city's Office of Code Enforcement.
The permits included four single-family houses valued at $374,000, a commercial building valued at $120,000, two mobile homes valued at $104,000, an addition to a house valued at $50,000 and an addition to an industrial building valued at $33,500.
Through the first five months of 2000, permits have been issued for $3.02 million in construction. The value for the first 11 months of the fiscal year was $5.29 million.
Values on the report are based on estimates provided by the contractor and are not figures used for determining ad valorem taxes.
Also during May, building inspector David Lanphear issued three electrical permits, one grading permit, one sign permit and one mechanical permit and conducted an average of 5.9 inspections per day.
POLICE ACTIVITY
Officers of the Commerce Police Department responded to 742 calls for service during May, filed 129 incident reports, 25 accident reports and fielded 45 animal complaints. Officers made 141 traffic cases, 26 criminal cases, logged 19,139 miles of vehicle patrols and 40 hours of foot patrols.
The traffic cases included eight driving under the influence (DUI) arrests, nine cases of driving with a suspended license, 13 for driving with no insurance and 36 for speeding. Forty-three people were cited for failure to wear seat belts.
Of the criminal cases, there were four burglary, theft or robbery cases, three each of assault or battery, drunk and disorderly, alcohol-related offenses and obstruction of an officer.
FIRE DEPARTMENT
During May, the Commerce Fire Department responded to 13 calls, four of which were in the city limits, seven of which were in the fire district and two of which were outside the fire district. There was but one structural fire, two grass or woods fires, two gas or electrical incidents, four alarms, three wrecks and one rescue call.
UTILITY DEPARTMENTS
The Commerce electric department added 13 new residential customers and two commercial services during May. The gas department added three new residential customers, while the water and sewer department added 21 residential water customers, six residential sewer customers, one non-residential water customer and two non-residential sewer services.