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 FRONT PAGE - SEPTEMBER 15, 1999 - COMMERCE, GA

Fire Damage Light

Plainview fireman Scott Sanders puts water under the eaves of the Robert Turpin residence on Unity Church Road Monday afternoon. Firemen from Maysville and Plainview responded to the blaze, which was caused when a small child set fire to a mattress on the front porch of the house. No one was injured, and Turpin said damage to the house was minor.

POLITICS

So Far, No Competition For Incumbents
Qualifying For Mayor, 3 Council Seats And 3 School Board Seats Ends Friday
With qualifying for the Nov. 2 Commerce city elections closing Friday at 4:30, it appears that the incumbents may be the only candidates.
To be filled in November are the positions of mayor, and the at-large post 1, Ward 3 and Ward 4 seats on the city council, plus the District three, four and five seats on the Commerce Board of Education.
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. qualified for his fourth term in office, as did at-large post 1 councilman Richard Massey and Ward 3 Councilman Sam Brown. Ward 4 councilman Bob Sosebee qualified for his third four-year term and fifth term overall.
All of the incumbents on the board of education also qualified. They are Steve Perry, chairman, from District 4, and Bill Davis, District 3 and Lanny Pope, District 5.


Commerce Council Endorses Sales Tax
The Commerce City Council officially went on the record Monday night as endorsing passage of the Nov. 2 referendum on a special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) for Jackson County.
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. initiated the discussion, reporting on the breakdown of funds to be distributed if the county-wide vote is favorable. If it passes, officials estimate the five-year, one percent sales tax would generate upward of $35 million to be used for water and sewer work, roads, bridges and sidewalks, recreation and a fire training facility.
Except for the $1.5 million allocated to a county fire training facility, Commerce stands to gain 14 percent of whatever is collected. Seventy percent of that must be used for water and sewerage projects, 23 percent for roads, bridges and sidewalks, and 5.5 percent for recreation (including buying park land).
"This is real good. We need to get out and promote it to all of our citizens," the mayor stated. "You asked how we would finance the water plant expansion. This is how."
Hardy said City Manager Clarence Bryant will bring to the October meeting figures on "what it will cost us" if the tax does not pass.
Councilman Donald Wilson suggested that the city create "posters" encouraging people to support the tax, but the mayor pointed out that city funds cannot be spent to promote it. He added, however, that the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce has formed a committee that is raising money for just that purpose.
"Somebody's going to have to pick up the tax bills if we don't pass it," Wilson warned.
Bryant pointed out that the sales tax in Jackson County is now six percent, compared to seven percent in Athens-Clarke and Banks counties, where a SPLOST is in effect.


Planning Panel Sets Called Meeting To Revisit Items From Previous Meeting
The Commerce Planning Commission will revisit a pair of rezoning requests that have generated controversy when it holds a called meeting Monday night at 7:00 at the Commerce Civic Center.
The meeting was necessary because both issues were left unresolved from the regular August meeting.
At that time, a request from Bobby J. and R. Frank Caudell to rezone 51 acres on Georgia 98 at Wilbanks Way stalemated when motions to approve and deny it died for lack of seconds. Under the city's ordinance, the planning commission must make a recommendation of some kind to the city council, so that issue will be considered Monday night.
Neighbors of the tract had appeared before the planning commission to ask that the request be denied.
The other issue concerns the request of Broughton Cochran to rezone a tract on the Mount Olive Road from AR (agriculture) to PUD (planned unit development). At the Aug. 23 meeting, the planning commission voted to recommend approval of the request to the Commerce City Council. However, the city ordinance requires that the developer have a site plan completed, and Cochran did not, so the issue will go back before the planning panel Monday night.
Neighbors of the development have expressed concern over housing density and traffic flow, which led Cochran to make substantial changes in the proposed "Kensington Park" development, which includes 137 homes and 29 condominium units.



The Commerce News - Commerce, Georgia
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