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FEBRUARY 18, 2004


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Farnk Gillespie
The destruction of American values and culture
“Come here Watson, the game is afoot,” Sherlock Holmes.
The game is the destruction of American values and culture. Are we to continue to be a nation made up of people who are willing to take responsibility for our own and our children’s conduct?

Zach Mitcham
Don’t forget the tradeoff
I squeezed the huge nose of the stuffed puppy dog and thought about Wal-Mart as I stood in the enormous store recently.
I simply wanted a human cashier, not one of the automated ones. But there were four long lines, three automated checkout machines and just one real cashier.


SPORTS
MCHS rifle team rolls on with three more victories
Raider shooters blast Jackson County, Lucy Laney and Hephizbah
The Madison County rifle team continues to roll through the regular season, collecting three more wins over the past week and a half.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Cocaine hauler found guilty
Sentenced to 25 years and $1 million fine
Hector Ponce will be spending the next 25 years of his life in a state prison for hauling 120 pounds of cocaine, worth over $5 million, in a tractor trailer load of Texas watermelons.

Lula code enforcement plans hindered
Hall County won’t serve Banks County residents
Lula city attorney Brad Patton said at Monday’s council meeting that Hall County rejected a proposed agreement to provide code enforcement for the entire city.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Water authority ends 2003 more than $200,000 in the black
JCWSA makes all ‘03 reservoir payments, but water sales slow now
Maybe what you see depends on what you want to see.

Two voter precincts to be moved
Voters heading out to the polls in the Randolph and Newtown districts for the March 2 presidential preference election will have a new precinct to go to.

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John Williams of Williams and Associates addresses the planning commission and standing-room-only crowd on behalf of John Byram at Tuesday night's planning and zoning commission. Planners approved Byram's request to rezone the county's only golf course in order to develop it into a major subdivision.


Planners support golf course rezoning
BOC to have final say on subdivision proposal Mon.
It was a standing-room-only crowd Tuesday night as Colbert area residents showed up in force at the planning and zoning commission meeting to try to stop neighboring Sunrise Golf Course from becoming a subdivision called Sunrise Meadows.
But that’s exactly what may happen next Monday night if the board of commissioners uphold the planning commission’s vote to recommend approval of the rezoning.
Planning commission members Nick Paski and Debbie Morris cast the two “no” votes.
The planning commission voted 5-2 Tuesday night to approve Williams and Associates’ request, representing owner/realtor John Byram, to rezone the 134-acre golf course, formerly known as Whispering Pines, from A-2 (agricultural, five-acre minimum) to R-1 (single family residential).
If approved by the BOC, Byram plans to develop the golf course he purchased in April 2002 into a 77-lot subdivision with tracts ranging from one to six acres.
Piedmont Well, which serves the city of Colbert, has said they will furnish water to the development, provided Byram drills a well that can produce 127 gallons per minute to boost the water supply.
John Williams, of Williams and Associates, said his company has been working with Byram for approximately 18 months to develop a plan for the subdivision. The preliminary plans call for 1,800-minimum square feet site built homes.
Attorney Victor Johnson, of Graham Law Firm, also spoke on behalf of Byram, presenting the commission with a “constitutional challenge” to the zoning ordinance listing 14 reasons the rezoning should be approved. Johnson pointed out that the area is listed as “medium density” on the county’s future land use maps and that much of the surrounding property is already zoned R-1.
“We are here today about a rezone, not subdivision regulations; besides, if the water’s not there he can’t develop it,” Johnson said.
And he reminded the commission of a lawsuit concerning the BOC’s refusal to rezone a tract connected to this one that fronts Hwy. 72. The lawsuit was recently resolved in favor of developers Harold Gaulding and Stephen Fennell.
“I’m a taxpayer and it irritates me that citizens of this county have to go to court to get their property rezoned,” Johnson said. “.....The county has an obligation to rezone this property.”
Byram also spoke to the commission, telling them that his purchase of the golf course had been a “serious, serious, financial blunder” made during a time when he was going through a difficult period due to the death of his wife in an accident.
“I was trying to give myself and my family a focus...it was an emotional, not rational decision,” he said.
An often emotional Byram told the commission that he did not buy the golf course at a $1.6 million price tag with the intention of developing it into a subdivision, but that he has been forced to consider it because the course is losing money.
And Byram blames the shortfall to the development of a number of nearby golf courses that are draining business. He also said he has put $300,000 into upgrading the course.
“I hate to see it turned into a subdivision,” Byram said. “I bought it because I had a dream and it failed.”
Then in a surprise move, Byram began to pitch the golf course to the county, suggesting the county consider buying the course for the $1.6 million he paid for it and utilize it as a municipal course.
“The county could get a course at a bargain basement price...if the county wants it, let the county people buy the course, I’ll walk away from it and lose $300,000 (in upgrades),” Byram said.
Byram mentioned a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) vote as one way to pay for such a move.
At least a dozen or so people came to the podium to voice their disapproval of the proposed rezoning, with many saying they had moved to the area primarily to be part of a golf community while paying a premium price for their property.
Other concerns were traffic. Many pointed out the number of accidents that occur already along the narrow winding Colbert-Danielsville Road.
Barry Franks, who lives about a mile from Sunrise, said traffic was his biggest concern.
“If you walk across that (Colbert-Danielsville) road, you better run,” Franks said, causing laughter in the room.
Another big issue, of course, is water. Many worried that the addition of 77 homes would put a further strain on Piedmont Water Company’s water supplies, despite the required new well.
Others, such as Ray Tester, who lives near the fairway in Kingston Greens Subdivision, felt that Byram has not given himself enough time to begin to see a profit from the course.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.


Hybl resigns
Madison County head football coach and athletic director Tom Hybl has resigned.
The coach turned in his resignation last Tuesday and announced his decision to players Thursday. He said he cannot yet announce where he will go, but said he does have a position in the works.
“It’s been a good run,” said Hybl, who led Madison County to a 32-27-1 record in six years.
The coach led Madison County to a 28-11-1 record in four years of non-region football after two 2-8 seasons. The non-region slate was aimed at bolstering participation numbers and the coach said the plan worked.
“We tried to do the best we could with the program and I feel like I’m leaving it in good shape,” said Hybl. “We’ve increased the participation and I feel these kids can be successful.”
Hybl said the decision to take the Madison County job and remain in the position centered on his sons, Nate and Ryan, being at the University of Georgia. The coach said he decided this past summer that the 2003 season would be his final one at MCHS.
“We came here because of Nate and him signing at Georgia,” said Hybl. “And we stayed here because of Ryan (who will soon graduate).”
The coach said he has no definite last day, just that he plans to stay on in the position until a replacement is found.
“They’ll probably need to make their move here sometime in the next month,” he said.
School officials couldn’t be reached Wednesday morning for comment on Hybl’s resignation or the plans to replace him.


School board to sell surplus property
Madison County’s Board of Education agreed to sell three tracts of surplus land at its meeting Tuesday night.
The small tracts are unusable, according to school officials, and are better off being on the tax digest.
One tract is in front of the old Danielsville Elementary school, now the county government complex. Another tract is part of the Hull-Sanford campus, and the third is adjacent to Ila Elementary. The board has the option of negotiating a direct sale of the properties or putting the tracts up for auction.
The two acres at Hull-Sanford are being considered as a site for a new EMS station by the county government.
In other business Tuesday, the BOE learned that SPLOST projects are all on schedule, according to Assistant Superintendent Mitch McGee, who reported that Danielsville Elementary School is 98 percent complete
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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To read more about the local events in Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school news, see this week's Madison County Journal.


Hwy. 98 subdivision approved by zoning board, again
A Hwy. 98 subdivision got a unanimous approval — for the second time — from the planning a zoning commission at Tuesday night’s zoning public hearings.
Albert Sanders requested to rezone 40.2 acres from B-2 and A-2 to R-1 in order to combine them with adjoining land for a major subdivision.
The planning commission approved Sanders’ request last July, but the board of commissioners denied the rezoning.
Sanders now has the go-ahead for water from the city of Danielsville and has reduced entrances from Hwy. 98 from four to two.
The BOC will once again have the final say on the matter during its regular business meeting next Monday night.
In another subdivision request, the commission recommended approval of several related requests by developer James Hunter, representing the Allen Hansford estate, for a major 20-lot subdivision, with the road frontage parcels being zoned commercial.
Most of the approximately 30 acres is currently zoned A-2 (agricultural) and Hunter wants it rezoned R-1 for the 20 residential lots which range in size from 2.5 to three-quarter acres and the road frontage zoned B-1 (business). The tract is located on Hwy. 72 West between Hull and Colbert, near Sorrow Patterson Road.
The question of water to the development remained uncertain, especially since the Colbert mayor and council recently voted to not allow any new subdivisions to connect to their water system unless they have wells with sufficient yields and quality to satisfy the needs of the subdivision. (See Mayor John Waggoner’s letter to the editor).
In other hearings:
•The planning commission approved two requests by Timmy and Sheryl Roberts. In the first hearing, the Roberts requested to rezone a 1.28-acre tract on Helican Springs Road from R-3 (multi-family residential) to R-1 for a single family dwelling that will be served by an individual well and septic tank. The R-3 zone requires that water come from a community well. In the second request, the Roberts asked for an area variance since the property does not meet the 1.5-acre minimum for R-1.
•The zoning board approved a request by Tammy Welser to rezone a 4.09-acre parcel on Griffeth Road from A-1 to R-R in order to subdivide it into two parcels for an additional home for her mother-in-law.
•The planning commission approved a request by James Lane, represented by Tommy James, for an area variance on a .74 acre tract that does not meet the minimum two-acre lot size the zoning ordinance requires.