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OCTOBER 8, 2003


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SITE, FOUNDATION WORK UNDER WAY... Site and foundation work continues at the Darnell Road site for a new Jackson County courthouse. County officials say the work is three weeks ahead of schedule.

Photo by Adam Fouche

Injunction request denied
Supreme Court allows BOC to proceed with financing while lawsuit is appealed

BY ANGELA GARY
The Supreme Court of Georgia has denied a request for an injunction against the Jackson County Board of Commissioners pending the appeal of a citizens' lawsuit.
The BOC can now proceed with its controversial financing plan for a new $25 million courthouse while the case is being appealed.
The BOC won a lower court ruling in the lawsuit filed by members of Concerned Citizens of Jackson County to stop the planned financing through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG). The group plans to appeal this ruling and had asked for the injunction for financing so that work wouldn't proceed at the Darnell Road site until the case has been heard.
At issue is a question over lease-purchase financing for the $25 million project. The citizens' group argues that the deal is really long-term debt and as such must go before voters in a bond referendum. The BOC argues that the deal is not debt, but a 30-year lease of the as-of-yet unbuilt facility.
County manager Al Crace said Monday that the BOC will move on the lease-purchase financing agreement with the ACCG and the process should be completed in 30 to 90 days.
"We were three-fourths of the way through the financing process when the court issue came up," he said. "We'll start cleaning all that up and go on with the traditional financing...We have to go back to the market, the insurers and the underwriters and get everyone comfortable."
Crace said the site work continues at the site and the foundation and drain work are under way.
At a BOC meeting Monday night, chairman Harold Fletcher said the site work is three weeks ahead of schedule. He also praised the City of Jefferson for their "cooperation" with the project.
"I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the city of Jefferson for the cooperation in regards to our beginning work on the courthouse," he said. "We found them to be very cooperative in every instance that we have approached them and very helpful to us in resolving technical issues, legal issues...There were some suggestions that this would not happen but we're very pleased with the response we've had from the City of Jefferson."


Ten Commandments now on display at Administrative Building

BY ANGELA GARY
In a 4-1 vote, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed Monday night to display the Ten Commandments in the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
A large framed copy of the Ten Commandments has been placed outside the State Courtroom, along with several other historical documents.
Commissioner Stacey Britt made the motion which was seconded by Tony Beatty. Sammy Thomason and Harold Fletcher also voted in favor of the motion. Emil Beshara voted against it.
"While I believe these are a set of rules that one would do well to live by, I don't think it would be prudent (to do this)," Beshara said.
Britt first touched on the issue and mentioned the controversy in nearby Barrow County because of the Ten Commandments display in the courthouse there.
"We had a request from our next door neighbor county to support them in their on-going battle with the Ten Commandments," Britt said. "I'd like to make a motion that we support that and we hang the Ten Commandments."
Fletcher suggested that other historical documents also be hung in the Administrative Building.
"If we are desirous of doing something that is going to be positive and not defiant that has the opportunity for success, I think we should look to those situations that have proved to be successful. I find, in doing research, that in Nevada, the commission there, hung not only the Ten Commandments, but the Code of Hammurabi, the Mayflower Compact, the Magna Carta, the Constitution and other documents that contributed to the form of government and rule of law that we have now...I think it's important that we do something that is going to be successful and is not going to be hanging it up today and taking it down tomorrow."
The BOC agreed to display the historical documents Fletcher mentioned, in addition to the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.
The display of the Ten Commandments made national news over the summer when a federal judge ordered that a Ten Commandments monument be removed from the Alabama Judicial Building. An Alabama chief justice had initially refused to do so but it was eventually removed.
The Barrow County BOC has praised Jackson County leaders for their decision to hang the Ten Commandments.
"We in Barrow County appreciate that our Jackson County neighbors are standing in support of the Ten Commandments' right to be placed in public buildings, and we are grateful for their support," Barrow County BOC chairman Eddie Elder said.


Proposed YZ Sailors Road rezonings to see vote Mon.

By Jana A. Mitcham
Nearly all the seats were taken Tuesday night at the Jefferson as YZ Sailors Road residents waited to hear proposals for two subdivisions along their road and to offer opposition to the plans.
The road is not quite a mile long and currently has 10 houses on it. According to residents, much of the road is taken in family farms of 15 to 20 acres, traffic is light, and they want to keep it agricultural and with a rural feel.
But, according to Evelyn Crane, the property "is presently not being used correctly, in my opinion."
Representing Lower River Properties, Crane, Maysville, presented a rezoning request to council Tuesday night for two parcels of land along the road. The first request was to rezone 20 acres from A-2 (county) to R-2 (city) for a conservation subdivision with some 40 houses and eight acres of greenspace. The second request was to rezone 8.45 acres from A-2 (county) to R-1 (city) for eight houses. Crane also requested the parcels be annexed into the city, with the 8.45-acre tract's annexation contingent upon the approve of the 20-acre tract.
In September, the Quad Cities Planning Commission recommended denial of Crane's requests, citing traffic concerns and 40 houses on 12 acres as reasons.
Residents who spoke against the requests at the QCPC meeting were on-hand at the Jefferson clubhouse Tuesday night to voice their opposition the city council.
The Jefferson City Council will vote on the matter when it meets at 6 p.m. Monday at the club house.

CHANGES IN THE PROPOSAL
Tuesday night Crane explained that the plans for the conservation subdivision have been altered since the QCPC meeting to move 1.5 acres of the greenspace to the front of the subdivision.
"I feel like this request conforms," Crane said. "It would be a nice subdivision with sidewalks. And with the greenspace in the front, it would be hidden from the street."
When asked by council member Bosie Griffith how many houses were proposed per acre, QCPC planning director Gina Mitsdarffer responded: "The maximum density would be two."
Crane added that the lots would be 11,000 square feet, with houses a minimum of 1,600 square feet for one story and 1,800 square feet for two stories.
"That's less than a quarter-acre," Griffith said.
Crane said "they would be nice homes, with two-car garages."
She admitted that the road is a quiet one, with very little traffic, and acknowledged that the subdivisions would increase the number of cars, "but they won't be coming and going all at the same time."
Crane said she seeks annexation into the city for its schools and for water and sewerage services in the conservation subdivision and for water for the smaller development.
For the 8.45-acre subdivision, Crane proposed shared driveways for the eight lots, for four driveways instead of eight.
"Jackson County is growing," she said. "I feel like in the growth, we need quality built homes."

STILL OPPOSED
The residents who opposed Crane's proposal at the QCPC meeting in September, reiterated those concerns for the Jefferson City Council Tuesday night.
Albert Jennings told the council members that he had lived on the road for 40 years, and that the proposed developments would bring four times the number of houses that are currently there.
He pointed out that there are two poultry farms, four horse farms and two hay fields in operation and that the residents are worried about drainage, noise and traffic problems from the subdivisions.
Jessica Allen, too, commented on the "negative influence" the additional traffic would have.
Sarah B. Gee also spoke again, re-emphasizing that while her 40-acre farm is up for sale, it has conditions to remain in farming.
"We need to keep some farmland in Jackson County so we don't forget where we came from," she said.
Gee said she felt the subdivisions were "way out of line" with the city's land use plan.
A resident of nearby Mauldin Road, Rex Wallace suggested "it doesn't seem like (she) knows exactly what (she) wants to do, (she) just wants the property."


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