The Jackson Herald - September 29, 1999
odors lead to stinky zoning decision
If there's an issue hotter than zoning
in Jackson County, I don't want to see it. Every month it seems
some controversy revolves around zoning, especially with those
opposed to rezoning requests coming before the county government.
I suppose that's a natural course of events in a county that
is growing. The clash of old and new is never easy, especially
when everyone thinks they're right. All too often, there appears
to be no ground for compromise.
But there are some troubling aspects of that. Every rezoning
doesn't have a simple right or wrong answer. And sometimes, as
happened last week, rezonings bring to the fore issues that many
would rather leave buried.
A specific example of that was a rezoning request made last Thursday
for a 19-home development on Doster Road in West Jackson. The
rezoning was denied because neighboring poultry farm owners said
the residential development would create conflict due to the
odor from their chicken houses. In short, they didn't want new
neighbors complaining about the smell.
Perhaps it's just me, but that seems like odd reasoning for turning
down a rezoning request. According to the county analysis of
the proposal, the rezoning request conforms to the county land
use plan and is in an area with similar residential projects.
There is no indication that the proposed residential project
has not followed all the rules for the rezoning.
But the request was turned down anyway, not on the merits of
the proposed project, but rather because a nearby landowner has
poultry houses that emit a stench and he doesn't want new neighbors
to complain about it.
The logic of that escapes me. If I do something on my property
that is offensive to other property owners, shouldn't they be
the ones complaining?
This is a classic example of how growth can create conflict in
a county that has been mostly rural. Existing landowners, especially
those with agricultural operations, believe that because they
were on site first, their rights supersede those of new property
owners. It was that thinking that led to the creation of the
PCFD zoning in the county for agricultural operations as a way
to protect existing farm operations from lawsuits brought by
But as many poultry farmers will tell you, it's only a matter
of time until growth pressures force changes. If an industry
were to emit the kind of stench found in some large poultry operations,
there'd be all manner of heck raised by neighbors. We wouldn't
stand for an industrial plant to ruin our backyard barbecue with
a foul smell - we'd be in court demanding that the stench somehow
be confined to the industry's own property.
But traditionally, we've not held farm operations up to that
same standard. Rather, we've created exemptions and exceptions
for agricultural operations so that they wouldn't have to meet
such environmental standards. Counties have done that for a number
of reasons, but mostly because agriculture has been a traditional
part of the community fabric for decades. In Jackson County,
for example, poultry operations amount to over $167 million per
year in income and account for 94 percent of all local agricultural
But the days of making exceptions for farm operations appear
to be numbered. As more people move into rural counties like
Jackson, they will want to sit on their backyard decks without
being chased inside from the smell coming from nearby poultry
houses, or from fields laden with chicken manure.
But the legal challenges won't just come from individual homeowners.
They will also come from developers who see their projects denied
not because of what they plan to do, but rather because of what
an existing landowner is already doing.
Ultimately, the county is in an indefensible position. No government
can deny a property owner the full use and value of his land
unless there's a compelling reason to do so. The fact that a
farm emits a foul odor is not a compelling reason to deny a neighboring
landowner the right to develop his property.
If anything, it is a compelling reason to ask why homeowners
are expected to tolerate foul odors, no matter
what the source.
Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Jackson Herald
September 29, 1999
Thanks for band support
I would like to thank all those in attendance at Panther Stadium
last Friday night for our game with Newton County High School.
The crowd was a wonderful audience for both bands' performances
As I thought back over the last 17 years of my affiliation with
Jackson County schools, I remembered several away games where
the audience had been rude, disrespectful, or even oblivious
to the fact that there was a band performing on the field. There
were several times in the early years of the program that our
25-member band was laughed at during halftime.
However, our home crowd of JCCHS football fans, band parents,
cheerleaders, students, faculty, and community members is to
be commended for its conduct during halftime performances. Both
our band and the visiting bands are always treated with respect,
courtesy and attention. Thank you for realizing that band members
work hard each week to present their performances at football
games and are proud to contribute their part of the Friday night
experience along with the football players and cheerleaders.
The members of the JCCHS Marching Band and all the visiting bands
deeply appreciate your courtesy.
Comprehensive High School
The Jackson Herald
September 29, 1999
Growth in Jackson County
has happened in large part because of roads. Without I-85, for
example, there would be little incentive for businesses to move
But while Jackson County had the interstate long before it saw
growth, there are areas of metro Atlanta that have seen residential
growth without adequate roads. One of the key connections lacking
is an east-west connection beyond I-285 to connect traffic between
I-85 and I-75. That area of northern Gwinnett County, Forsyth
County and Cherokee County has seen tremendous residential growth,
but roads have not kept up with the demand.
Now comes the new Georgia Regional Transportation Authority,
the agency created by Gov. Roy Barnes, saying that such an east-west
northern arc is less important than HOV lanes.
But as anyone who sits in Atlanta's traffic knows, HOV lanes
are not the solution to the metro area's air pollution and traffic
woes. Although designed to encourage car-pooling, HOV lanes cannot
do that in a city that lacks adequate internal transportation
Even if HOV lanes are done, that still would not solve the need
for an east-west connection from Northeast Georgia to Northwest
While these metro Atlanta decisions don't directly involve Jackson
County, they could have a tremendous impact on our future. How
Jackson County grows will, in part, depend on the outcome of
the political struggles of GRTA and other metro agencies.
Let's hope those groups will begin to use some common sense in
their decision-making rather than the same old ideas popular
HOV lanes sound good, but they won't work. The northern arc is
needed is and would help the traffic problems around metro Atlanta.