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 FRONT PAGE - OCTOBER 20, 1999 - COMMERCE, GA

Commerce Takes Third At State

Commerce senior Amanda Stevens and the Tigers left nothing behind as they took third place at the state softball tournament last weekend in Columbus. The Tigers had the best record of any tam for the North regions. See Story

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Commerce Poised To Regulate Telecommunications Towers
The Commerce Planning Commission is expected to approve a city ordinance regulating the construction of telecommunications towers and antennas when it meets Monday night.
If it does, the ordinance would likely be voted into law by the Commerce City Council at the council's Nov. 8 meeting.
The planning commission meets Monday night at 7:00 at the Commerce Civic Center.
What the planning commission is expected to pass is a model ordinance given to it by the Commerce City Council to be passed as a stop-gap measure until the planning panel can customize the ordinance to fit the city's needs. The planning commission declined to take that action at its August meeting, instead recommending that the city council approve a moratorium on tower and antenna construction while the planning commission worked on an ordinance.
But the council did not take that recommendation. City officials say they cannot pass a moratorium on a matter not at all addressed by the zoning ordinance. The council voted to send the matter back to the planning commission with a request that the planners approve an ordinance for the council to consider in October.
When the current zoning ordinance was created in 1995, there was little local activity in the telecommunications business. That has changed. Telecommunications companies require antenna grids for every area they seek to cover, so those licensed to sell their services locally seek to establish a grid of towers and antennas in the area. Since several companies are offering service, the demand for tower and antenna sites is growing rapidly.
In other business Monday night, the planning commission will act on requests for conditional use permits for five mobile classrooms. Two are for Commerce Elementary School and one each for Commerce Middle School, Commerce High School and Providence Academy. All five have been permitted previously and are in place, but conditional use permits must be renewed annually.
APPEALS BOARD MEETING
At 6:45, just prior to the planning commission meeting, the Commerce Zoning Appeals Board will meet to hear a request from Commerce Presbyterian Church for a variance from the zoning ordinance. The church wants to erect an illuminated sign on its property off the Jefferson Road.
That hearing will also be held at the Commerce Civic Center.



Clean-Up Keeps City Crews Busy
Judging from the amount of trash stacked along the edges of city streets, the public has taken to heart the city's call for a clean-up week.
"It looks to me like the piles that are out there this year are bigger than normal," acknowledged City Manager Clarence Bryant. "There is a lot of furniture and a lot of white goods (appliances)."
The city had asked residents to put all of their junk out on the curb over the weekend for pickup this week, but the reality is that people put materials out last weekend or earlier, and will put out more all this week.
"I wish we had some system where we pick up one area Monday and another Tuesday, but it doesn't work that way," Bryant said. "We'll go down the same street five times."
Because the city has an annual free pickup week, it appears that many residents just hoard their old tires, appliances, furniture and other debris until the clean-up week is declared in the fall.
The city has as many as six vehicles out picking up the materials, but as fast as they can remove a pile, someone puts another one out. What is supposed to be a one-week effort will ultimately take the city two to three weeks to complete.
So far, Bryant said, he has heard few complaints. However, he notes that there are one or two people trying to take unfair advantage of the city program.
"We've got one trailer park that we'll notify (the owner) to get the stuff up. He's got two big piles. We had the same problem with him last year and he ended up getting a truck and hauling the stuff off," Bryant said.
There are also cases of people bringing in trash from outside the city and people who put out paint cans, tires with rims still attached or other items the city will not pick up.
The city takes metal items to a junk yard, where they are sold for scrap metal and the rest goes to the Jackson County Transfer Station. The city will have to pay $1 apiece to have the automobile tires disposed of. The clean-up week generally brings in between 1,200 and 1,500 tires.


$2 Million High Bid On Dam Won't Affect County
ATHENS -- The low bid for construction of the dam for the Bear Creek Reservoir came in $2 million over budget. The higher-than-expected bid will add nearly $900,000 to Athens-Clarke's cost for the regional reservoir, but should not require any more funds from Jackson County.
From the Jackson County standpoint, its 25 percent interest in the $2 million extra reservoir cost is more than offset by its 44 percent share of the water treatment plant, where the bid was $3.4 million less than anticipated when it was opened in August.
Athens-Clarke is not a partner in the water treatment plant, which is being built by Jackson County (43 percent), Barrow County (38 percent) and Oconee County (19 percent). Jackson County is 25 percent owner of the reservoir, which includes the dam.
Specialized Services Inc. bid $8,828,130 for the right to build a 900-foot earthen dam utilizing an estimated 470,000 cubic yards of earth.
The authority originally budgeted $6,799,600 for the dam, but apparently the cost went up when the plans had to be re-drawn to move the emergency spillway from one side of the structure to the other, according to George Byrd, project manager, of Moreland Altobelli.
The bid price is based on "unit costs" for both earth and concrete, and Byrd said those costs came in "at about what we expected."
"The quantities we estimated on both may be on the high side," Byrd said, indicating a possibility that the project could come in under the bid price.
Doc Eldridge, Athens-Clarke mayor, seemed philosophical about the Athens-Clarke extra cost, noting that the budgets were made three years ago based on estimates.
While the higher bid has not put the total project over budget yet, it does remove much of the cushion in the $63 million overall project.
"I have never seen a construction job move forward without change orders," Eldridge noted.
Jackson County Commissioner Pat Bell was not happy over the bid. She questioned whether the authority had approved a not-to-exceed cost for the dam.
"I think so," she said. "A certain amount of money will be spent and that will be it."
"There were sufficient savings in the water plant bid to cover this," observed Bobby Snipes of Athens-Clarke. "Athens-Clarke is ready to pay up. There is no reason to believe the project will come in over the bonded amount."
"It seems like every time we come in here, our engineers come up with more money, more expenses, more everything," Bell stated.
"I'm not concerned about whether the money is spent for water treatment, the dam site or engineers," said Elton Collins. "I don't want to go back and tell the commissioners we need another $500,000."
Although the group accepted the low bid, it will try to negotiate some of the unit cost prices.
Should the project go over budget, each participating county would be assessed, according to the percentage of ownership in the project.


The Commerce News - Commerce, Georgia
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