News from Jackson County...

MAY 15, 2002


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A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS

Spring Practice Going Smoothly Says Savage
With his team entering the second week of spring practice, Commerce Tiger head coach Steve Savage said things are still moving along smoothly in workouts for his squad.
“It’s gone pretty good,” said Savage, who is entering his 14th year at the helm of the Commerce football program.
The spring season will conclude this Friday.

Diamond Dragons overcome rain, silent bats to advance in state playoffs
All the equipment may be wet and his nerves may be shot, but Jefferson baseball coach Chuck Cook guided his team to the second round of the Class A state playoffs with a 2-1 series win over Bremen last week.
The Diamond Dragons were scheduled to host Athens Academy in a round-two doubleheader Wednesday afternoon. If a third game is needed, it would be played in Jefferson Thursday at 3 p.m.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Shelter construction under way
It’s official, the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter is now under construction.
The spacious 10,000 square foot facility is being built on land adjacent to the Madison County transfer station and recycling center on Colbert-Danielsville Road.

School board corrects grad requirement error
Madison County’s Board of Education held a called meeting Friday night to correct an error that might have prevented 16 students from graduating.
Board policy requires each graduating senior to complete 28 units of study. But high school officials were using a figure of 27 and the 16 students had completed 27 units.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Bus accident kills two men
Wreck backs up I-85 traffic for miles. Two Florida men were killed Tuesday afternoon in a bus accident that left a portion of I-85 near Banks Crossing looking more like the scene of a tornado than a wreck.

Tanger asks county for $25,000
BOC suggests marketing funds be equal to Jackson County commitment. Tanger Outlet Center general manager Mark Valentine asked the Banks County Board of Commissioners Friday to commit $25,000 to go toward a marketing campaign to bring more tourists to the Banks Crossing area.

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WATER FUN

The water activities were a favorite of Jefferson students at field day this week. Colleen Engleskirchen, a fifth grader in Penny Wood’s class, is shown above.

Local housing issues the focus of land use meetings
County leaders wrestled with a large number of proposed land use, zoning and housing issues last week, many of which could push up the price of housing in Jackson County if adopted.
During an all-day public hearing Thursday on updating the county’s comprehensive land use plan and a board of commissioners meeting Friday, consultants led discussions about a variety of land use and zoning proposals. While no action has yet been taken on any of the ideas, the overall focus revolved around concerns about housing in Jackson County, including issues of density, mobile homes and potential “conservation” subdivisions.
Among the highlights of the discussions were:
• a design ordinance that would primarily affect mobile homes and require steeper roof pitches, permanent foundations and a minimum width of 16 feet. Depending on which of the ideas is eventually adopted, the cost of a mobile home could be pushed up several thousand dollars, said one local mobile home industry leader.
• concerns about areas of high-density housing, especially around Commerce. Some leaders commented that the county’s land use plan should make cheaper housing more difficult to develop.
• the possible requirement of sidewalks in all new subdivisions, although no consensus was evident on that idea.
• the possible development of conservation subdivisions where a higher density of housing is allowed in return for the preservation of greenspace and historical features in the subdivision.
PLAN SCHEDULE
The discussions were led by consultants Bill Ross and Denise Abboud, who were hired by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to review the county’s land use and zoning codes. The current updating process of the comprehensive land use plan accounts for about 75 percent of the work which the plan will have to undergo again in two years as part of the 10-year plan rewriting process, Ross told the BOC during a Friday work session. In two years, the plan may include new populations statistics from the U.S. Census.
A digitized map and drafts of the plan will be available by June 20, Abboud said. Public hearings will continue to be held through September before sending the plan to the Regional Development Center (RDC) for a 60-day review, followed by the plan being sent to the state. Final approval of the plan is slated for December.
In the meantime, the Jackson County Planning Department is distributing surveys asking for citizen input on issues about green space preservation and residential development. The surveys are available at most city halls, said senior planner Dan Schultz.
The next scheduled public hearing on the comprehensive land use plan is June 20, at 5 p.m.


County to maintain new ‘Braselton Parkway’Council approves Georgia Distribution Center
Jackson County officials have agreed to maintain and operate Braselton Parkway, the three-lane road through the Georgia Distribution Center, Braselton mayor Pat Graham said.
The Georgia Distribution Center—a distribution, warehouse and retail complex totaling more than three million square feet—was also unanimously approved by the Braselton Town Council.
Following a Monday meeting with board of commission chairman Harold Flecther, BOC member Emil Beshara and county manager Al Crace, Graham said the county will maintain the road and a 100 foot right of way.
Eventually, Braselton Parkway could expand to five lanes.
“My concern was that five years from now or eight years from now, the town would be burned with a million-dollar expansion project to bring that road from three lanes to five lanes,” Graham said.
The “very brightly lit” roadway connecting Highway 53 and Jesse Cronic Road is expected to generate a $1,200 monthly utility bill, which the county has agreed to pay as well, Graham added.
Braselton town council member Tom Clark said he was concerned the county could “push back” onto the town the cost of the lights, but Graham said the only commitment from Jackson County is a letter of intent to fund the roadway’s maintenance until the Georgia Distribution Center was approved by the town council.
The Jackson County BOC will approve a resolution concerning the agreement at its next monthly meeting.
In the letter from Crace to Graham, the county said it will fund the Braselton Parkway’s maintenance, once the roadway is completed and construction tests are approved. The county further agreed to consider the addition of three intersections—Hwy. 53 at Braselton Parkway; Jesse Cronic Road at Braselton Parkway and Jesse Cronic Road at Hwy. 124—as public county roads.
But in the meantime, Steve Gaultney, the developer of the Georgia Distribution Center, said he will fund the 1.5-mile parkway’s construction.
Gaultney also told the town council during its Monday meeting, that he understood the town of Braselton would provide the Braselton Parkway’s maintenance, not Jackson County. Graham said the reverse was true.
Construction on the roadway could begin by late summer or early fall, Gaultney said. In a year, the road could be dedicated to the town of Braselton then handed to Jackson County for maintenance.
2255 Delk Road Partnerships, whom Gaultney represented at Monday’s town council meeting, is also funding studies for possible traffic lights.
The first study for a traffic light connecting Hwy. 53 and Braselton Parkway has been completed, Gaultney said; a second study for a traffic light by Hwy. 53 and Chardonnay Trace Drive at the retail portion of the project has yet to be completed. The second traffic light would align The Vineyards subdivision with the Georgia Distribution Center.
But for town council member Bruce Yates, who represents The Vineyards subdivision, the project’s developers haven’t addressed the safety concerns of 115 families traveling on Hwy. 53 and Chardonnay Trace Drive, he said.
Gaultney said he agreed that Chardonnay Trace Drive already needs a traffic light for the subdivision, but without the increased traffic the Georgia Distribution Center will create, a traffic light would not be approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
“I’d like to know whatever or not we’re getting a light,” Yates said.
“If you want a traffic light on that road, the DOT is the man that says ‘yea’ or ‘nea,’” Clark said.
Road improvements to Hwy. 53 will also be funded by the developer, Gaultney said.
Stemming out from the Georgia Distribution Center onto Hwy. 53, there will be four lanes, he said. For both the industrial and retail entrances, a 300-foot center turn lane and left-hand deceleration lane is planned. There is a 900 foot separation between the two entrances.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the Braselton Town Council:
• voted unanimously to deny without prejudice an annexation and rezoning request from Duluth 120 Corporation for 175 homes on Highway 124 in Jackson County. The request had been tabled twice since no representative for the request appeared before the town council.
• voted unanimously to deny without prejudice an annexation and rezoning request from Greg Reidling for the purpose of a conveince store and storage facility on Hwy. 53 in Jackson County. The request has been tabled for two months since no representative appeared before the town council. The request was tabled last month due to a family emergency. Reidling appeared at Monday’s meeting minutes after the request was denied. Mayor Graham told Reidling that by denying his request without prejudice, he doesn’t need to wait six months to resubmit the request.
• voted unanimously to accept the maintenance contract for the elevated water tank on Thompson Mill Road for $3,750 per year.
• voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the alcoholic beverage ordinance allowing a three percent tax for distilled spirits. The ordinance doesn’t apply to beer sales.
• voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the business license ordinance that would permit the town clerk, or her designee, to approve business license permits without town council approval.
• voted unanimously to send a proposed amendment to the sign ordinance to the town’s planning commission. The ordinance would ban roof signs and monument signs, among others and would address signs visible from Interstate 85 and sign height. The Braselton Planning Commission will hear the proposed ordinance June 17.
• voted unanimously to approve a $4 million temporary loan for a six-month period to complete the next phase of the waste water plant.
• voted unanimously to accept a street light procedure policy for new residential and industrial developments. The policy relives the town from being responsible for paying electric bills for the new developments, town attorney Gregory Jay said.
• voted unanimously to approve a business license request for Wiley Chiropractic Center on Hwy. 53 in Jackson County.
• voted unanimously to approve a home occupation business license request for Michael Blair Productions at his home in Château Élan.
• voted unanimously to approve a business license request for Haverty’s Furniture Companies, Inc. and North Georgia Distribution Center on Hwy. 124 in Jackson County.


Jefferson annexes 201 acres for homes, industrial projects
Annexation requests approved by the Jefferson City Council Monday night will bring an additional 201 acres into the town limits.
The council approved an annexation request from Larry Bramlett and Alex Bryan for 45.78 acres on the Maysville Road. Their plans reportedly call for locating 50 to 52 homes on the property. John Purcell is the developer.
The council also approved three annexation requests for property located off of Hog Mountain Road that is to be developed by Pattillo for industrial use. The first tract is 43 acres and is owned by Stone Mountain Industrial Park. The second tract is 10 acres and is owned by Gwinnett Industries. The third tract is 102 acres and is owned by county commission chairman Harold Fletcher.
The three tracts are contiguous to McClure Industrial Park and will be part of that development.
The final annexation request approved by the council was for a 1.5-acre tract on Ramblers Inn Road owned by John Buchanan. City leaders said this property is for the location of a road that will connect Ramblers Inn Road to the 90-acre tract Buchanan owns that is already in the city limits.
The approval for the annexation requests is contingent on the property being zoned. The county planning commission will consider the zoning requests at its May meeting, then the requests will go back to the city council for final approval.


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GBI to decide soon about Hoschton PD investigation
A week following Hoschton’s request to investigate police chief Dave Hill, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has yet to decide if it will take the case.
Jim Fullington, assistant special agent in charge of the Athens regional GBI office, said a decision on a potential state investigation could come at the end of the week or early next week.
“One of the initial things we look at as an agency is to determine if it’s a criminal action,” Fullington said, while adding the GBI doesn’t try to get involved in personnel or administrative matters.
The request comes after accusations made by two Hoschton police officers that Hill stated on his time sheet he worked an additional 34 hours over a three-week period in April. Hill is an hourly employee.
Several citizens at the Hoschton City Council meeting last week questioned why the matter was taken behind closed doors on May 2 to discuss the accusations. Georgia law permits city councils to meet behind closed doors to discuss “personnel matters.”
The citizens also claimed there was a potential political cover-up since three city council members serve on the council’s police committee that found Hill innocent of any wrongdoing.
Mayor Billy Holder contacted the GBI last week to ask the agency to investigate the accusations.
The GBI cannot begin an investigation without permission from another party first, such as a district attorney, judge or administrative official, Fullington explained.
Although Hoschton asked the GBI to investigate the matter, if the agency decides to take the case, the state agency will fund the investigation.
“Every (request) is individual,” Fullington said of the agency’s case-by-case evaluation of each request.
Fullington said if the GBI agrees to investigate Hill, he doesn’t know how intensive or how long the case will run.

CLARIFICATION
In last week’s edition, it was reported that Hoschton City Councilmembers Ben Davis, Brian Boehmer and Genoria Bridgeman serve on the police committee, with Bridgeman as its chairperson.
Bridgeman is the committee’s chairperson and Boehmer serves on it as well, but Davis does not. Rosemary Bagwell serves on the committee.
During the committee’s investigation of Hill, Boehmer was out of town the first week of May. Davis was present, along with Bridgeman, at a meeting with the two police officers on Thursday, May 2, after the council’s regularly-scheduled work session.
According to Davis, he was asked to attend the May 2 meeting in Boehmer’s absence but was not present at the Wednesday, May 1 meetings.