ON THE WAY
help is on the way to get the real estate records at the Jackson
County courthouse up to date. The board of commissioners agreed
Tuesday to provide funds for two temporary positions to handle
the back log of real estate work. The BOC will provide these
funds for eight months. Attorney Wanda David, who approached
the BOC, along with Ronnie Hopkins, about the matter is shown
to the right.
for help in clerk's office
BOC told backlog of filings creates liability problem
BY ANGELA GARY
Two Jefferson real estate attorneys appeared before the Jackson
County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning to plead for some
help in the clerk of court's office.
The BOC approved a request from Wanda David and Ronnie Hopkins
to allocate funds for two temporary positions to help get rid
of the backlog on real estate transactions in the clerk's office.
Attorney Allen Lacey also sent the BOC a letter on the matter.
David had asked for temporary help for six months, but clerk
Reba Parks asked for help for a maximum of eight months.
"It has progressively been adding up," David said of
the back-log. "It has been getting a little bit worse. We
are not here saying anybody is doing anything (wrong). We just
have a problem...You're opening the door for liability problems
by not having these records in a fashion which we can live with.
Not only do we (attorneys) have liabilities, you're (the county)
looking at potential lawsuits."
The problems mentioned by David include the computer indexing
of real estate transactions, which are six weeks behind; the
printout of deed transactions, which only goes through Sept.
1; and the lag in getting deed receipts back to the attorneys.
She also added that the cross indexing is one and a half years
Hopkins pointed out that information attorneys give to clients
who are interested in purchasing property is not up-to-date.
"People don't want to buy under those conditions,"
he said. "Banks don't want to lend under those conditions...The
volume of work has just gotten tremendous...You've got an entire
clerk's office who is working on these deeds and you've got all
this other stuff that is going on too."
David suggested that the temporary help be used to do the "catch-up"
work and not handle day-to-day duties.
"I don't think it is possible for her office to ever catch
up," she said. "It's impossible. That is just a given...I'm
asking you to give her two temps and regulate them to clean up
the past so it frees up her current help to keep us up day-to-day."
Parks asked for an additional employee in her office at the recent
BOC budget hearings but no action was taken. She pointed out
at this week's meeting that real estate transactions have almost
doubled in the past five years. In 1994, 7,543 real estate transactions
were reported, while 14,425 have gone through the office so far
"The help is basically the same-only one more person,"
Hopkins said. "That is a huge amount of difference."
BOC chairman Jerry Waddell said that traffic citations have decreased
over the past five years and the employees who handled those
duties could work in real estate. Parks said that these employees
work with State Court and juvenile court.
"They are all busy," she said. "They just don't
have time to do it."
Waddell also asked if the existing staff members handle some
of the duties that Parks has to do in order to get caught up.
"We as commissioners want to help, but I don't see how we
are going to solve the problem if you still have to look at every
one of them," he said. "We still are not going to get
Waddell and Parks both agreed that at the end of the eight-month
period, an outside consultant will do a time study on how many
employees are needed for the department and to abide by their
BOC puts 6-month
moratorium on new subdivisions
BY ANGELA GARY
New residential subdivision developments in Jackson County will
come to a standstill for six months following a moratorium passed
by the board of commissioners Tuesday night.
Commissioner Henry Robinson called for the six-month moratorium
and BOC chairman Jerry Waddell voted in favor, while commissioner
Pat Bell voted against it.
Bell said she couldn't vote for the moratorium because of all
of the people in the county whose livelihood comes from development.
She added that revisions need to be made to the county zoning
ordinances, but that they could be done without a moratorium.
She added that she hoped the measure didn't land the county in
court for the six-month period.
In calling for the moratorium, Robinson said the commission needs
to consider how "densely populated" it wants the county
"We need to take another look at the sizes of lots allowed
in various zoning designations," he said. "As part
of preserving the rural character of Jackson County, we need
to take another look at how densely populated we want Jackson
County to become in the future."
Robinson also mentioned the county's efforts toward a county-run
waste water treatment system.
"A waste water treatment system is essential to managing
growth, attracting industry and preserving the rural character
of Jackson County," he said. "Until we get the county-run
waste water treatment system up and running, the interests of
the public at large will be served by this temporary moratorium."
The moratorium is effective as of Tuesday night. Applications
that have already been submitted for the January planning commission
meeting will still be considered, but no new applications will
Robinson asked that county director of building and development
David Clabo look into the fee charged for permits during the
moratorium. He also asked that consideration be given to requiring
that open space be placed in subdivisions.
Last month, the BOC put a six-month moratorium on planned unit
MES student allowed
back after BOE vote
BY ADAM FOUCHE
Despite dissension from chairman Barry Cronic, the Jackson County
Board of Education voted 4-1 Monday to allow a former Maysville
Elementary School fifth grader, whose residency status had been
questioned, to re-enroll at the school.
"Our records clearly show that Mrs. Smith [the student's
mother] did falsify her address both in a written form and verbally
to school officials," said superintendent Andy Byers. "She
has never lived at the address she has listed on her statement."
According to a memo from MES principal Pat Miller to the BOE,
an anonymous caller informed Miller on Nov. 1 that Ginger Smith
was not living at the Jackson County address she had given at
her daughter's school, but that she was living at an address
in Banks County.
According to Jackson County school policy, "students who
are not lawful residents of the Jackson County School District
shall not be permitted to enroll in any Jackson County school."
The policy also says that "circumvention of [the residency
policy] by false statement of residency shall cause the student
to be dismissed from the Jackson County School District immediately."
On Nov. 3, the student was removed from MES.
Smith maintained her claims of residence at Deer Run Road.
"I've been honest and upfront," she said. "I have
stayed at Deer Run."
Monday night, Smith presented pictures of her family in the house
on Donahoo Road, apparently proving her residency. Board member
Ed Tolbert also confirmed the family had spent at least one night
in the house over the weekend.
BOE attorney Leonard Lewellen informed the board that if they
ruled to allow the student re-admittance, then school policy
states the student can stay enrolled at the school for the remainder
of the school year even if her parents move out of the system.
"You must decide if its a subterfuge," he said.
Board member Tim Brooks made a motion to allow the student to
return to MES.
Jefferson agrees to 300,000 gallons per day
from Bear Creek
Move on water, sewage terms could mean more city-county
BY ANGELA GARY
In a move that could signal increased cooperation between two
local governments, Jefferson leaders agreed Monday night to purchase
300,000 gallons of water per day from the Bear Creek regional
reservoir. In return for that, county leaders have indicated
they would support a permit application made by Jefferson to
draw water from a proposed reservoir at Parks Creek. The county
has also said it wants to have access to a percentage of any
future Parks Creek water. The permit application is pending with
the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Jefferson also agreed Monday night to "swap" sewage
capacity with the county, giving the county water and sewer authority
access to sewage treatment at I-85 in return for access to sewage
treatment from the county's newly acquired facility in Jefferson.
The county recently got into the sewage treatment business by
condemning the old Texfi plant on Hwy. 11 from a private sewage
Council member Steve Kinney called for the action after pointing
out that the city only has until Dec. 20 to make a decision on
how much water it will purchase from the reservoir. Kinney reported
that the county had agreed to sell the city the water at a rate
of $2.10 per 1,000 gallons for all water used and $1.10 per 1,000
gallons of water not used. The reservoir is expected to be completed
by July 2001.
On a related matter, the council agreed that it would charge
the county the same rate for any water it purchases from Parks
Reservoir. City leaders said that if the project is permitted,
it would take two to five years to build.
Kinney also recommended that the city give the county 100,000
gallons of sewage capacity at I-85 in exchange for 100,000 gallons
of capacity at the Texfi plant.
The council gave city attorney Ronnie Hopkins the authority to
work on a contract outlining these proposals to present to the
files suit against BOC
BY ANGELA GARY
Another lawsuit has been filed against the Jackson County Board
of Commissioners over a zoning decision.
Millberry Homes Inc. filed the lawsuit last week over an October
decision by the BOC to deny the rezoning of 19.027 acres on Doster
Road. Developer Charlie Butts had asked the BOC to rezone the
property from A-2 to R-1 to construct 19 site-built homes. The
planning commission had recommended denial of the request.
The matter quickly became controversial due to the nearby location
of poultry houses. Several area farmers attended the planning
commission and BOC meetings to speak out against the development
because of the fear that the new homeowners would complain about
the poultry odor.
The legal action is the third zoning-related lawsuit that has
been filed against the BOC this month. Earlier, Doug Elam of
Buckhead Development filed a lawsuit against the county for not
approving his request to get smaller lots in Mulberry Plantation,
a planned unit development in West Jackson. Also in West Jackson,
Millard Bowen of Simonton Road Partners has filed a lawsuit against
the county over the denial of a request to rezone 123.66 acres
on Wehunt Road from A-R to R-1 for a 119-lot subdivision.