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AUGUST 20, 2003


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SPORTS

Lady Panthers drop second-straight in home opener
The 2003 season has not begun the way the JCCHS fast-pitch team had hoped it would. Tuesday the team dropped their second-straight one-run game in a week after a tough loss on the road on Aug. 12.

Uncertain futures
2003 to be the final season for JHS head coach, possibly teamFor those associated with the Jefferson softball program the 2003 season will forever be etched in their memory regardless of its final outcome.

Tigers Softball Team Hopes To Answer Questions This Weekend
The Commerce softball team ought to know a lot more about itself this weekend as it will at least have four games under its belt after this Saturday’s Oconee Tournament.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Truck full of ‘coke’ found
Bust yields 210 pounds, $9.5 million in illegal narcotics
A safety checkpoint along I-85 in Banks County last week netted one of the single largest drug busts in the county’s history.

Heritage Days Festival planned
Aug. 30-31at horse arena
Heritage Days will be held Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 30-31, at the Banks County Horse Arena and Park on Eaglenest Road.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Planners pummel park plan
BOC to consider proposed IDA rezoning of Hwy. 72 property Monday
County planners soundly rejected the Industrial Authority’s plans to rezone a portion of the Hwy. 72 business park from A2 (agricultural) to Industrial at Tuesday night’s public hearings of the planning and zoning commission

Commissioners consider Hull, Madico EMS stations
Madison County commissioners are looking at expanding emergency medical services in the near future in the form of two new ambulance stations.

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FOOTBALL SEASON BEGINS

Cuttler Finch, right, and Matt Randall practice football with their team Monday in front of Jefferson Elementary School. The two are part of the 11-and-12 year-old Falcons which play in the Jefferson Parks and Recreation Department fall league.

Vehicle chase ends in arrest of kidnapping suspect
A 25-mile car chase on I-85 ended in the arrest of a kidnapping suspect and the safe return of a juvenile female to her family.
David Timothy Rippetoe, 18, Warner Robbins, was charged with fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, reckless driving, speeding, improper lane change, driving while unlicensed and affixing a false license plate. A juvenile female who was a passenger in the car has been returned to her family after she ran away from home with Rippetoe, according to officers.
In addition to the current charges, Rippetoe faces possible charges of kidnapping in Houston County and theft in Bibb County.
The incident in Jackson County began at approximately 1:07 a.m. Thursday when officer Jay Parker of the Braselton Police Department attempted to stop a vehicle for speeding on I-85 north-bound near Highway 211. The driver fled and officer Parker gave chase.
The pursuit continued approximately 25 miles and ended just north of Hwy. 441 when the Commerce Police Department deployed "stop sticks," a device that slowly flattens the tires of a vehicle and requires that speed be reduced.
The driver was taken into custody by officers of the Braselton Police Department, Commerce Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff's Office and Banks County Sheriff's Office.


County goes ‘wet’ with BOC vote
Beer and wine ordinance approved
In a 3-2 vote, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners made history Monday night in voting to allow the sale of beer and wine in unincorporated areas of the county.
The action came after people from throughout the county attended the past four board of commissioners meetings speaking out against the action. No one has spoken in favor of the move at the recent BOC meetings, however Clay Dale did ask for the move at an earlier board meeting. Dale, who was recently named to the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, owns a convenience store in West Jackson.
Commissioner Emily Beshara made the motion Monday, with Stacey Britt seconding it. Sammy Thomason also voted in favor of the action. Tony Beatty and Harold Fletcher voted against it.
The ordinance requires that any convenience stores that sell wine and beer receive at least 70 percent of its revenue from other sources. The ordinance is effective immediately.
Approximately 40 people stood in opposition to the action at this week’s meeting. Several also spoke out against the action, including Kenneth Sizemore, Talmo.
“It’s more than Bible thumping on our part,” he said. “It’s a moral issue.. Consider the tremendous burden that it would put on this county just to patrol this... I have counseled families who have been devastated by this (alcohol).”
As to Beshara’s comments that people can buy beer and wine in other counties, Sizemore said: “Let them go across the county lines. Let’s not make it any easier.”
A Braselton woman spoke on the impact having an alcoholic father had on her life. She said that having a store that sold beer one-half mile from her home made it more convenient for him.
“We don’t need to make it easier for them to terrorize their children,” she said.
She also added that just because other counties and some towns in Jackson County allow the sale of beer and wine doesn’t make it right.
“You have to take a stand for what is right,” she said.
Tim Thomas spoke on the income the county would receive in beer and wine taxes, estimated at $150,000, and asked if it would be worth a life lost by alcohol. He said that statistics from North Carolina show that alcohol-related fatalities increased in areas that changed from being dry to allowing beer and wine sales.
Thomas also said any revenue the county received would be evened out by the extra patrol costs and arrests made because of more beer and wine availability in the county.
“When you increase access, you increase traffic fatalities,” he said.


Braselton sued over proposed apartments
A development company that has been effectively denied its request to build 16 apartment units an acre on Ga. Hwy. 124 has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Braselton.
White Brookwood, LLC filed the suit in Jackson County Superior Court on Aug. 7 and claims the town has refused to recognize a 1986 variance permit that would allow 16 apartment units per an acre to be constructed on 7.77 acres. No development has occurred on the site since the variance was approved 17 years ago.
And in that period of time, Braselton has amended its zoning ordinances a few times to reduce the number of multi-family units permitted in R-3 zoning to allow only eight units per an acre, according to town attorney Gregory Jay. The town council also created a new zoning classification on April 14, 2003 to permit apartments only in the new R-M zoning.
But on April 3, plaintiff Dewey White says, he entered into a contract with another party that later failed for the sale of the property for an apartment complex. A previous attempt to sell the property failed when sewage capacity wasn’t available, according to the suit.
Already, White has paid $112,500 to Braselton for sewage service to the site. Jay said White will still keep his requested sewage allocation, although no development has occurred on the property.
“The Town of Braselton acted in bad faith when it allocated sewer tap allocations to the Plaintiff and received money from Plaintiff despite planning to change the zoning and deny Plaintiff’s vested rights and variance,” the suit reads.
Braselton plans to defend its case with a two-fold argument, Jay said. First, the variance approved by the town council in 1986 is no longer valid; second, the town council has amended its zoning classification to permit apartment units only in the new R-M zoning district, he said of the town’s arguments.
White could still build eight townhouse units per an acre, Jay said. He could also seek to have the property rezoned.
“If anyone wants to build apartments in the Town of Braselton, the density is eight units,” Jay said Tuesday.


David to pursue authority study
Wanda David will apparently call for a finance and management analysis of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority when that group meets Thursday night. The authority will meet at 7 p.m. in the State Courtroom of the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
David, recently appointed to the authority, is on the agenda for the discussion despite the fact that a consulting firm she had wanted to use now declines to get involved in the issue.
Last week, David, with a consultant in tow, confronted her ex-boyfriend and current water superintendent Jerry Waddell at the water authority offices, demanding a “tour” to look at operations. Waddell declined to allow the tour because he didn’t have board approval.
The consulting firm has since sent a letter to David declining further involvement with the project.
David had pushed the idea for several weeks and was backed by Clay Dale, another new member to the authority. But the authority had not discussed doing an outside study of its operations.
The move by David and Dale is widely viewed as part of an on-going power struggle between the authority and the Jackson County Board of Commissioners over control of the county’s water and sewerage infrastructure.
Both David and Dale were recently named to the authority by the BOC. In February, the BOC attempted to get control of the authority, but failed when legislative leaders declined to go along with the board’s plans.
BOC members Stacey Britt and Emil Beshara have been outspoken critics of the authority and of Waddell.


Meeting set on industrial prospect
A joint meeting between several governmental bodies will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the State Courtroom in the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
The board of commissioners, industrial development authority, chamber of commerce president, Commerce Board of Education and Commerce City Council have been invited to the meeting.
The meeting is reportedly to discuss a prospect that has been looking at Jackson County for several months. At one point, the firm was looking at a site near Braselton, but at the urging of BOC chairman Harold Fletcher and commissioner Sammy Thomason, the company reportedly shifted its focus to a site near Commerce.
The Commerce site is currently in unincorporated Jackson County and also inside the county water system’s service area. Commerce officials reportedly want to annex the property into the city limits.


Commerce Planning Panel To
Consider Subdivision Change
Stick-built houses on mobile home lots, a medical office and a commercial lot will all be on the agenda when the Commerce Planning Commission meets Monday at 7:00 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.
In addition, a developer's request for rezoning for annexation, bounced back and forth between the Commerce City Council and the planning commission, will be back on the planners' agenda.
The planning commission makes recommendations to the city council on zoning and land use issues. Any recommendations handed down Monday night will be taken up at the Sept. 8 city council meeting at 6:30 at the civic center.
Daniel Wilson and Chad Black will present a preliminary plat of a redesigned Southern Oaks Mobile Home Park in the hopes of changing it to a subdivision of stick-built houses.
The project calls for 201 houses on 57.6 acres. The minimum square footage for a lot at the time the property was zoned was 7,000. The current zoning ordinance requires 11,000 square feet.
Southern Oaks was developed as a subdivision renting lots to people who owned their own mobile homes. The concept never worked, however, and there are only two mobile homes in the facility and only the first phase was developed.
OTHER ISSUES
Jim Frith of Duluth will ask the planning commission to rezone 2.86 acres on the bypass from R-3 to C-2. The former is a residential designation, the latter a commercial zone.
Dr. Clark Hill plans to ask for a rezoning of 2.5 acres where the bypass meets old U.S. 441 adjacent to Jon Massey's State Farm office from A-R (agricultural) to C-2. Hill plans to build an office building.
And Andy Barnett goes before the planning commission for the third time as he seeks to rezone and annex 30 acres on W.E. King Road for an R-3 subdivision with more than 40 lots.
His request was turned down a month ago after Barnett declined an offer of an R-2 rezoning, but when the matter came before the city council, the council voted to send the matter back to the planning commission for reasons that remain unclear. The planning commission had indicated that it would not OK an R-3 zoning and Barnett said he could not make the project work in R-2.


Maysville OKs feed mill site annexation
Two Maysville residents won’t have to worry about being stuck between two feed mills.
The Maysville City Council Monday approved the annexation and rezoning of just over 43 acres along Hwy. 98 from A-1 in the county to M-1 (industrial) in the city as part of a Mar-Jac feed mill development.
The city placed two conditions on the approval that will prevent any animal processing and limit the development to only one feed mill. Scott Harper made the motion, seconded by Andrew Strickland. It was unanimously approved.
Two homes now sit on the property, but the land will likely be sold to Mar-Jac to add to another 95-acre adjacent tract for the feed mill. The 95-acre tract already lies within the city limits and has the M-1 zoning designation necessary for the construction of a feed mill.
The development will be the second feed mill along the stretch of Hwy. 98 just inside the city limits. Wayne Farms already operates one mill there.
Nearly 140 people turned out for a public hearing on the annexation and rezoning at the Maysville Elementary School lunchroom. A handful were turned away when the room reached maximum capacity.
Many of those at the meeting voiced opposition to the construction of a feed mill rather than the annexation and rezoning matter.
But city attorney Gary Freeman warned the crowd that the only matter under consideration would be the 43 acres under consideration for annexation and rezoning. The hearing, he said, had nothing to do with the 95-acre tract where the feed mill was planned for construction.
That tract, which Mar-Jac has a contract to purchase, could have gotten a feed mill regardless of the outcome of the Monday meeting, he said.
IN SUPPORT
Julius Hulsey, an attorney representing Mar-Jac, said the company had met several times with the two homeowners on the 43-acre tract in question.
He said Clarence Smith and Ruby Elrod, the two residents on the land, expressed concerns about being sandwiched between two feed mills — the Wayne Farms mill and the proposed Mar-Jac building.
Hulsey said the homeowners and the company had worked out a deal to buy the land should it be annexed and rezoned. The deal, he said, would benefit both the homeowners and the company by keeping the residents from having to live between two feed mills and allowing Mar-Jac to better use the land.
Doug Carnes, the vice president of poultry operations for Mar-Jac, said his company plans to use the 43 acres as a place to store the 75 railroad cars for unloading in order to keep from blocking driveways south of the feed mill. The railroad spur could possibly be used by Wayne Farms as well.
A truck shop and some offices are also future possibilities, Carnes said.
Whatever land remains after the project gets fully developed will likely be sold, Carnes added.
The company wants to move its feed mill out of Gainesville because of lack of adequate space and the age of the mill there. The new mill will employ 40 people, he said.
Mayor Richard Presley spoke later in the meeting about the planned $15 million building. He said the building and equipment would generate roughly $105,000 per year in school tax revenue for Jackson County, excluding the taxes on the land.
In addition, the county will get $58,560 in tax revenue while the city stands to receive $18,000. Another $6,600, Presley said, will go to the Maysville Fire District.
He added that to generate that amount of tax revenue through residential development would require 75 homes valued at $200,000 each. Presley said a letter from school superintendent Andy Byers stated that a $15 million industry is “welcome” to the Jackson County school system.
THE OPPOSITION
Most of the concerns at Monday’s meeting revolved around problems with the feed mill already in Maysville and the fear that the Mar Jac mill would create double the problems.
Gary Berhulst said that if the council was going to annex the 43-acre tract, it should update its ordinances to handle those type developments.
He pointed to noise, traffic and odor problems from the current feed mill and said little to nothing had been done to address those concerns. Many of the other residents expressed similar displeasure with noise, odor and traffic
Harper told the crowd noise existed before the mill was built.
“They put that train track here for years and years and years,” he said. “The noise was here before the feed mill was here.”
Strickland also said that the police could not watch the traffic in the area 24 hours a day because of obligations to patrol other parts of the city as well.
“You can’t stop people from putting on the brakes and you can’t stop the train,” he said.
Berhulst suggested a work shop between residents and the council to address those concerns. Harper agreed that such a work shop would be helpful.
David Oppenheimer criticized the council for failure to enforce it’s current zoning ordinances.
“Show the wisdom and courage that the city of Lula, the city of Jefferson and Hall County had when they told Mar Jac to go elsewhere,” he said.
Oppenheimer also hinted to allegations of terrorism ties to Mar Jac.
“Why would Maysville make it easier for money to go to a group that could kill our children?” he asked.
Oppenheimer was referring to allegations and a 9/11 lawsuit claiming that some stockholders with the company have ties to groups that funnel money to terrorists. Mar Jac has since sued CBS for a story on “60 Minutes” relating to the issue.
Buddy Parker, one of Mar Jac’s lawyers, disputed the claims.
“There’s no evidence to support the slanderous, libelous statements,” he said.
He added that a 2002 federal government probe revealed no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Mar Jac or its principal stockholders and that they were all “good men.”

 

 


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Final Offer?
Commerce City, School Officials To Make Commitments To Industrial Prospect
The Commerce City Council and Commerce Board of Education will hold a joint meeting (Wednesday) evening in an attempt to lure a large industrial prospect to a site above Interstate 85 on the Maysville Road.
Those two groups, plus the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority and board of commissioners, will hold a joint called meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Jackson County Administrative Build-ing to discuss just what kind of deal they're willing to cut to lure an industry that proposes to bring 350 jobs and an investment of $100 million or more if it selects Jackson County.
"This is their semi-finals," explained County Manager Al Crace. "They've gotten down to their dead serious two, three or four sites."
Apparently Braselton did not make the final cut.
The other locations supposedly still in the hunt for what is termed a "distribution center," include Gordon County and Anderson, SC.
According to Crace, the prospect hopes to get "firm commitments" from each of the entities involved regarding their offers. Those commitments could relate to roads, tax abatements, infrastructure and financing. Dubbed "Project Lincoln," negotiations among the local governments and the consultant for the prospect have been ongoing.
"This is precisely what was done during the Toyota-MACI deal," Crace stated.


555-acre PUD request brings tie vote from Quad Cities
Jefferson to have final say on large project
They first talked about denying it, then about approving it, and when it came time for a vote Tuesday night, the Quad Cities Planning Commission couldn’t reach an agreement on a rezoning that would allow a 555-acre PUD in Jefferson.
The commission voted 3-3 on a motion to approve with conditions the Jeffco Investment Properties request to rezone 555.29 acres at the intersection of the Hwy. 129 bypass and Old Swimming Pool Road and along Hwy. 11 from A-2 (county) to R-3 (city) for the PUD for single family residential, multi-family residential as apartments and commercial use. The stipulations for recommendations are that Jeffco limit commercial development on the east side of the bypass on Old Swimming Pool Road to 20 percent of the two 16-acre tracts in question; make allowances for the condition of Old Swimming Pool Road and its capacity to handle more traffic; and address the lots that are situated on utilities.
The matter was tabled last month after QCPC staff had suggestions for applicant Dudley Ottley, who has owned the property since the 1960s, to make changes to the plan. Ottley and Tom Gay presented the changes at Tuesday night’s meeting, including changing proposed townhouses to a commercial site; changing part of the commercial zoning to neighborhood commercial; connecting cul-de-sacs; deeding an eight-acre tract to the city for use for a fire station, library or police precinct; and a 65-foot buffer added to the greenspace to meet conservation subdivision requirements. Jeffco has added another 6.47 acres from T.M. Bryan.
At last month’s meeting, the PUD was listed as having more than 400 homes, as well as 90-plus apartments/townhouses and commercial developments. With the changes listed, no figures were given Tuesday night for the number of homes and other developments.
Nancy Pollock, Mark Tolbert and Larry Benton voted to recommend the rezoning proposal with conditions, while Brant McMullan, John Swaim and John Motley voted against the motion. Chip McEver recused himself from the discussion and vote.
The matter will be on the September 8 agenda of the Jefferson City Council, which will make the final decision on the request. The council meets at 6 p.m. at the club house.
THE CONCERNS
Whether noted as conditions for approval or reasons for denial, the concerns of the commission members — and of Old Swimming Pool Road residents who spoke in opposition to the proposal — centered on the proposed PUD’s adding commercial development into an already established residential area and the toll that would take on the road. They were also concerned about lots that were shown on top of existing utilities.
Residents had spoken against the plan at last month’s meeting, had provided a list of names of those opposed and a letter stating reasons why they felt the plan should be denied. Jay Cory and Tim Land spoke again Tuesday night, reiterating their concerns about the effect such a development would have on the existing residences and the road.
“Our main objection is to development of commercial on this side of the bypass,” Cory said.
Land added: “I strongly urge that commercial be kept with commercial and residential with residential.”
He also pointed out that the city already has limited sewerage capacity.
“I would like to see a plan where prior needs are addressed before development,” he added.
Attorney Ronnie Hopkins told the residents and commission that the city does have a sewerage allotment committee that has to approve developments for sewerage use before a project can proceed.
“If this were going to happen in the next 12 months, I’d say no way,” Hopkins said. “But we’re looking at a period of five or 10 years.”
The QCPC, too, voiced concerns about the traffic and the mixing of commercial and residential on Old Swimming Pool Road.
“I don’t think this route should be developed for commercial; it’s not a main road,” Benton said. “That’s just my opinion. It seems the biggest concern is commercial on the residential side of the bypass.”
Motley, noted, too that the schools would be affected, and agreed that “I can’t see business that close to all the activity we have (at the stadium, club house and park).”
Swaim asked: “Why have we got to do the whole enchilada at one time? We’re voting, hypothetically, on 100 different things at one time.”
“That’s the reason for the PUD design,” Benton responded.
Tolbert noted that he could see improvements over last month’s presented design.
IMPACT REPORT
The size of the development met the threshold for an impact study with the Rural Development Commission, Gina Mitsdarffer, planning director, told the QCPC Tuesday.
Tolbert noted that the DOT has requested a traffic count for the road.
“The DOT requests it, it’s not a have-to,” Mitsdarffer said, adding that the request was due to the size of the development. “We’ve gotten the overall report from the RDC, and it finds the development is in the best interest of the state, but it does not say if it is in the best interest of Jefferson.
Pollock commented, “You may have one piece you have a hang up on, and that holds up the whole development...I think we need to vote to approve it or not, and let the final answer rest with the council.”