News from Jackson County...

July 31, 2000


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Jackson County Election Results, Tuesday, July 18

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SPORTS
It's football time again!
Timing is the name of the game during summer football camps around the area. GHSA member football teams were allowed to begin summer practice this week without pads.

Taking advantage of a second chance
The morning of September 7, 1999, began as any other for Jackson County soccer star Jeremy Friedman. "We were going to school, and it was just like a regular morning. I was sitting back in the truck, just dozing off . . . "

Tiger Football Practice Under Way
Commerce kicked off the 2000 season with its first week of high school football practice this Monday. About 43 players have begun the week. Commerce coach Steve Savage said the first week of practice is a time to begin working in several facets of the game.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Sunday winds destroy chicken houses, cause power outages
A storm ravaged parts of Madison County Sunday afternoon, causing power outages for about 2,500 residents, with wind damage putting at least one county chicken farmer out of business.

Counseling program proposed for Madison County
Madison County's Jess Martin wants county commissioners to put $70,000 into a program he believes could change many lives in a positive way. But the board made no decision on the matter during its Monday meeting.




News from
BANKS COUNTY
Tax bills expected to go out late again; may be in the mail by December
Property owners in Banks County may be happy to hear the news: Ad valorem tax bills will not be going out on time this year.
Bills need to go out around the end of October, with taxes due in mid-December, said Banks County tax assessor Andy Scroggs. But this year, Scroggs said he will be happy if bills go out by December.

Tornado hits southwestern Banks County
A tornado touched down in southwestern Banks County Sunday afternoon with trees being uprooted and a chicken house flattened.


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TRUCK WRECK ON I-85
A tractor trailer truck and a pick-up truck wrecked Tuesday afternoon on I-85 near the Plainview Rd. overpass area. There were several injuries, but further details on the accident were not available at press time. The interstate was closed for several hours while the scene was being cleared.


UPDATE
Inmate labor shut down until Mon.
By Jana Adams
Except for workers needed to handle garbage flow at the county's transfer station, inmate labor has been shut down across Jackson County until Monday.
The move to shut down inmate labor came Wednesday when an audit by the state department of corrections revealed that some paperwork had not been completed.
"We felt like until we got up to their SOP (standard operating procedures), we should shut down," said county commissioner Jerry Waddell. "That doesn't mean we weren't following their guidelines, we just didn't have all the forms filled out."
Waddell explained that the paperwork in question involved outside detail, not prison detail, where he says the county continues to follow the state's SOP. He added that, due to health reasons, inmates will continue to operate the transfer station.
"We've got officers in classes finding out what forms need to be filled out," Waddell said, adding that members of the state audit team will return to the county next Friday to make sure the paperwork is up to par.
"We sign a contract with them every year to house prisoners, and we know we have to follow their guidelines," he said. "Part of that is filling out these forms."


City School Board To Close On New School Site Friday Morning
The Commerce Board of Education plans to close Friday on the purchase of 63 acres off the Jefferson Road where it intends to build a new elementary school.
Superintendent Larry White said Tuesday he was contacting school board members to call a board meeting for 7:30 Thursday night at the Commerce Middle School Media Center at which the board would pass a resolution authorizing the purchase.
White would not release the cost for the land.
"We got a very reasonable price," he insisted.
The land is owned by Dr. Joe L. Griffeth and is the site at which the Jackson County Board of Education has looked twice when considering schools. It was the number two site for the East Jackson Middle School and was to be the site of a new Commerce High School had the most recent school merger effort born fruit.
"I'm excited about this. This puts us forward," said White.
The board's option on the tract ran out Friday, but it got an extension until Monday. White said the board's attorney, Ronnie Hopkins of Jefferson, is putting the closing together.
The board plans to build a facility to house grades three through six, keeping the present elementary school for the instruction of grades Pre-K through two. Surging enrollment during the past three years has filled the building beyond capacity.
"The earliest date we could be in a new building is three to five years. Realistically, we're looking at three to five years," said White. "It depends on what kind of growth we have."
According to White, the tract is large enough to accommodate two schools, although a power transmission line cutting the property could be a problem. The Georgia Department of Education would rule on that matter. In addition, there is some chance that the school board might swap land with Deer Trail Country Club to gain more road frontage.
See this week's The Commerce News for the rest of the story.


BOC sued over WJ landfill denial
It looks like Jackson County officials will be going to court again over zoning decisions made by the board of commissioners.
Two lawsuits have been filed against the county over denials by the BOC to rezone property for an inert landfill and a day care center.
Kelly Henderson, acting on behalf of property owner Dean Bell, and Ray Vaughn both recently filed lawsuits against the county for denying their rezoning requests. The county denied Henderson's request on June 13 to rezone 117 acres on Hwy. 53 from PCFD to I-2 to locate a landfill. Vaughn filed suit over a Feb. 8 denial of his request to rezone 1.10 acres on Maddox Road from R-1 to B-2 for a day care center.
Henderson had planned to locate an inert landfill and construction waste recycling facility in West Jackson. More than 250 people attended a BOC hearing in opposition to the plans. The commissioners denied the request on the grounds that the proposed use is not suitable to adjacent and nearby property and because it doesn't conform to the county land use plan.
The lawsuit filed by Henderson states that the planning and development department director (David Clabo) investigated the request and his report stated that the rezoning complied with the county land use plan and that there "were no detrimental factors identified as a result of the rezoning." The suit states that the decision made by the BOC was "arbitrary, irrational and unreasonable." The suit also points out that the planning commission recommended approval of the request. Henderson states that he has spent "tremendous amounts of money and time" on the project and will suffer "irreparable harm" unless the court intervenes.
"The rezoning would not harm the defendants or the public of Jackson County, but failure to rezone will impose a substantial detriment upon the plaintiff," the suit reads.
Henderson also contents that the present rezoning of the property is "significantly detrimental" to the property owner.
VAUGHN SUIT
The BOC denied Vaughn's request stating that it would "create an overcrowding condition of existing roads, streets, utilities or schools." In his suit, he says that neither the planning department or the BOC presented any "factual evidence to substantiate its reasons for denial." He also states that the property is within a designated commercial and industrial area of the county's comprehensive land use plan and the request meets all requirements of the county planning department.


Hoschton Council wants 1-acre lot minimums in city for more 'upscale' homes
The lack of city sewage and a desire to prevent overcrowding has Hoschton officials talking about requiring one-acre minimum lots in the town's R-1 residential areas.
In a meeting last week, Hoschton council members met with Lee Carmen of the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Commission to review proposed zoning ordinance changes and land use plans.
Topping the list of issues was residential development in the town and a desire by city leaders to increase the minimum lot size from one-half acre lots with sewage, or three-fourth acre lots with septic tanks, to one-acre lots for any future R-1 housing in the town.
"They'll have to have at least an acre if they are moving here," said council member Rosemary Bagwell. "We're not in the business to make it profitable for developers. We want homes that are more upscale. If that is not feasible, they'll go elsewhere."
When asked by city clerk Cindy Edge if these changes would eventually mean that Hoschton wouldn't have low or middle income residents, Bagwell and councilman Paul Turman replied, "Not necessarily."
"This will just keep developers from coming in and buying agricultural land (at a lower price) and then reselling it and lining their pockets," Bagwell added.
Carmen agreed to prepare an updated zoning map for the city, which will reflect the current zoning status of the area. She will also make changes to the revised future land use map for the city as directed by the council members. A public hearing will be held at a later date on the zoning matters after the ordinance goes before the Jackson County Planning Commission again.
"The future land use map takes into consideration our limited sewage capacity," Turman pointed out. "We don't have the sewage capacity for medium density."
Bagwell added: "I'm worried that we don't have capacity for low density....I think the stricter we can be, the better off we'll be 10 years down the line."
Another proposed change in the city's zoning ordinance sets 12-foot side and rear yard requirements so buildings cannot be located right on a property line. See this week's Jackson Herlad for the rest of the story.


Planning Commission OKs Wilson Subdivision
What a difference a month makes. In June, the Commerce Planning Commission pushed developer Daniel Wilson to rearrange the "green space" in a proposed 15-acre subdivision, threatening to reject his plat if he didn't. But Monday night the same panel approved virtually the same plat with a shrug of resignation.
The result was the go-ahead for Wilson and his partner Frank McGowan to build the 23-lot Lakeview Glen off Lakeview Avenue.
At the June meeting, the board made it clear it would reject the plat unless the developers considered re-arranging undeveloped green space in the project. They even asked Wilson to eliminate one lot to accomplish that.
But when engineer Barry Lord presented the plat Monday night, the only change was to dedicate land at the back of some lots to green space along the creek. Lord also pointed out that under the city's subdivision ordinance, the development is not required to set aside any land for green space.
Greg Perry, who had most pressed the developers for the change, told the board that he'd shown Wilson and Lord the video upon which new green space requirements are being developed and asked if they could reduce the right of way for the street and the setback requirements to create more green space.
"The city council would not be able to pass it," Lord responded. "You might like it and pass it, but it wouldn't fall under the zoning (ordinance)."
City building inspector David Lanphear confirmed that the panel could not grant the variances Perry suggested, pointing out that the right of way requirement is based on the city's need for utility access.
"Absent the right to grant variances, I suppose we're stuck," said Perry.
"As in?" chairman Billy Vandiver inquired.
"Move to approve," Perry stated.
The motion passed unanimously.
The planning commission also voted to recommend that the city council approve a six-month moratorium on plat approval for subdivisions. The council had voted to enact a moratorium, only to find that the planning commission had to hold a public hearing and make a recommendation on the matter first.
Vandiver explained that developments already approved will use up all of the city's sewer capacity, but Lanphear and city councilman Sam Brown pointed out that tightening the subdivision regulations is the main reason for the moratorium.
"Also, our subdivision regulations are weak," Lanphear commented, adding that it could take six months to get them amended.
"That's really what it's more about than infrastructure," he said.
Brown agreed.
"It's infrastructure, but it's more than infrastructure too," he said.



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UPDATE
Water authority approves water for Plainview area
County water will arrive in the Plainview area of Jackson County in a little over six months.
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority voted in a called meeting Monday morning to approve a contract for 105,000 feet of water lines to serve parts of Hwy. 82, Plainview Road, Pond Fork Church Road, Old State Road, Deadwyler Road, Marlow Road and Unity Church Road.
Approval of the $1.6 million project fulfills the first commitment the authority made last year as it sought voter approval of a five-year special purpose local option sales tax. That was to provide water to the last local fire department lacking a source of public water. Plainview Fire Department will get service with the contract.
The bid went to Dale Construction Co., a Jackson County firm that also has the contracts for water line work related to the construction of the Jefferson and Pendergrass bypasses of Hwy. 129. Dale bid $564,275 in a labor-only bid. The authority will provide $1 million in materials.
Fourteen companies submitted bids. The highest bid was $1.22 million for labor only, while the second-lowest bid was just shy of $700,000.
Work is expected to begin in two to three weeks, and the contract provides six months for construction.
The new line will connect to existing county water lines at four locations: Plainview Road, Holly Springs Road, Stockton Farm Road and at the intersection of Pond Fork and Old State roads.
The award of the bid means Dale could find itself working simultaneously on three authority projects. Dale has signed contracts to move water lines on the two bypass projects, but has been unable to start because the Georgia Department of Transpiration has yet to mark the centerlines.
"Charlie (Armentrout, the authority's engineer) asked a lot of detailed questions about their ability to do the work, and he thinks they can do it," said Mims.
In other business, the authority voted to hire someone to get the 70 to 80 easements it will need to run a 16-inch water line from South Jackson to the Georgia Power plant at Center.
"We've got so much going on that nobody has the time to do it," noted Paul Mims, superintendent.


Blood Drive Set
At First Baptist
Church Thursday
A community blood drive will be held at the First Baptist Church of Commerce from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday, July 27, in the church's Family Fellowship Center.
Donors will receive vouchers for two free tickets to the Aug. 18 pre-season game of the Atlanta Falcons vs. San Diego Chargers.
Call Barbara Buchanan at the church office at 335-4083 to sign up or call Debbie Painter at the American Red Cross blood services office at 546-0681 for more information. Walk-ins will also be accepted.
Red Cross supplies the blood used at BJC Medical Center, the Athens hospitals and most of the hospitals in the state. Officials are hoping for a strong turnout, because there is a shortage of blood for treating cancer patients and for use in surgery.
Such shortages are common during the summer, when attendance at blood drives lags due to vacation schedules.
No one knows when they will need blood to stay alive, the Red Cross points out. In fact, nine out of 10 Americans who live to be 72 will require blood products some time during their lives, according to the Red Cross. The need for blood remains relatively constant throughout the year, yet donations drop off dramatically during the summer. Most healthy people who are 17 and older and weigh 110 pounds or more can donate blood.


Committee asked to plan social building for Jefferson
The first business of the newly-formed Jefferson civic center committee will be to make a recommendation on providing a small building for the city for social functions.
Members of the city council told the committee in a meeting Monday night to begin immediately making plans for the building, to be located where the current clubhouse is on Old Swimming Pool Road. Council members said it should be approximately 40' x 60'. Options given to the committee include a metal building; a concrete building that could later be bricked; or the renovation of the current clubhouse. Council member Bosie Griffith did point out that builders had already been to the club house and said it would not be cost-efficient to renovate it.
For the rest of the story, see this week's Herald.


Council Approves
Moratorium At
Tuesday Meeting
Less than 24 hours after the Commerce Planning Commission voted to recommend that the city institute a six-month moratorium on subdivision plat approval, the city council acted on the recommendation.
The council held a called meeting Tuesday night and voted to accept the planning commission's recommendation.
The city had advertised the meeting, having voted at its July 10 regular meeting to call it.


Healan files suit against Hoschton over zoning denial
A former Hoschton City Council member has filed a lawsuit against the town over the denial of his rezoning request for a subdivision.
David Healan filed the lawsuit over a June 12 denial by the city council to rezone 34.53 acres on Cabin Drive to R-1 to locate a 55-home subdivision. The basis of his lawsuit is that the city's 1988 zoning ordinance is unconstitutional and invalid. Healan was not on the council in 1988, according to city leaders.
Healan's suit states that the city did not follow the required advertising and notice requirements before it adopted the zoning ordinance on March 10, 1988. He also contends that the ordinance and zoning map were not sufficiently identified at the time which leads to "uncertainty as to what was adopted."
The Jackson County Planning Commission had recommended approval of Healan's request and Healan met with city leaders numerous times about the project. The request was denied because of the council's concern about what the construction vehicles would do to the existing road and the scarcity of water and city sewage capacity.