The Jackson Herald
December 15, 1999
Keep PUD zoning
Jackson County has put a moratorium on Planned Unit Development
rezonings following a recent application from a South Jackson
developer. Although PUD rezonings have been rare, with only two
in recent years, some county leaders fear a flood of such requests
in the future. There's even been some discussion of abolishing
the PUD classification.
But we think doing away with this type of zoning would be a mistake.
At issue is the fact that PUD zonings allow for mixed-use development.
The large Mulberry Plantation project planned for Hwy. 124 in
West Jackson is a PUD zoning that allows for a mix of residential,
recreational and commercial development. Without PUD zoning,
such self-contained projects would have to get individual zonings
for every use tract-by-tract. That simply wouldn't make sense.
Although county leaders are concerned about too much residential
growth, PUD projects are perhaps the best kind of growth to have.
Most PUD projects center around recreational or agricultural
themes and maintain a measure of undeveloped land. While housing
in these projects may be on small lots, the overall density of
PUD projects is generally less than that of traditional subdivisions.
While we believe a review of the county's PUD zoning codes is
perhaps a good move, we'd also like to see all the zoning codes
in the county reviewed and updated. In addition, we'd like to
see county leaders consider some new initiatives in growth planning,
such as allowing property tax breaks for significant historical
sites and perhaps even implementing a program of purchasing development
rights in non-historic areas that need to be preserved for scenic
The issue of PUD zonings is only a small part of planning for
growth. Let's don't get sidetracked on this tree when the entire
forest needs a look.
Playground project was needed
The new playground equipment at the Jefferson City Park is a
credit to the town and to the teenager who made it happen. As
part of his work toward becoming an Eagle Scout, Bubba Fowler
had the old playground removed and new equipment installed. Since
then, the park has been used extensively by area children who
finally have a place to play that is safe and convenient.
Kudos to young Fowler for his work!
The Jackson Herald
December 15, 1999
This letter is in response to a recent letter concerning manufactured
housing in Jackson County. I continue to read over the past few
months a constant assault on good hard-working folks here in
Jackson County who choose to live in manufactured homes. The
most recent of these letters appeared December 1, under the title,
"Concerned that mobile home parks will hinder progress."
After reading this letter, I feel compelled to point out to its
author a few salient points.
We moved to this county approximately three years ago and bought
a manufactured home in Maysville. Prior to this, we lived in
Gwinnett and attempted to buy a home there. The real estate agent
in Gwinnett got us qualified for a $100,000 - $115,000 home.
We ended up purchasing what we could afford. Folks live in manufactured
homes because they are affordable. These homes are also energy
efficient and meet local, regional and national building codes.
Frankly, I take offense to the statement "...the economic
revolving door of selling, repossessing, and then the reselling
of land/mobile homes." When I look through the legals in
this paper, I see both stick-built homes and manufactured homes
in this category. What troubles me is that folks like us living
in manufactured homes are being stereotyped by people like the
author of the letter.
I guess we each have a porch about to fall in and kill two dogs,
two or three cars up on blocks and one foot in the divorce court.
Not everyone has the capacity to buy a stick-built home and after
seeing the quality of some being built, I'll take a manufactured
home any day. Plus, most folks have to start somewhere. At least
with a manufactured home, you get the tax benefits over living
in an apartment.
Oh my goodness, there is another sore subject. We don't want
those apartment people around either!
Let me also point out that economic growth and development is
connected to having a workforce that is available and affordable.
I strongly disagree with the writer's statements about what developers
should do. Our elected officials and the developers seeking to
build in the county should have the wisdom to pass zoning laws
to allow for manufactured homes, both stand-alone and in parks.
Then the developers should embrace these concepts and implement
them. The placement of landscaping, privacy fencing and location
of parks should be the standard. The limitation of homes by age
should also be a consideration. I can take you to Florida and
show you manufactured housing parks that would be a benefit and
welcome addition to any community.
There are manufactured homes on the market that cost upward of
$60,000. Add to that the price of land and preparation, septic
tank and water tap and very soon you are looking at $80,000 to
For every junky manufactured home, we can go find a stick-built
home in the same condition. What stirs my ire most about the
recent letter is the underlying theme. To me, that theme is "we
don't want trailer people in our community." We just seem
to keep drifting further and further from our foundations and
heritage in this country. Frankly, I don't want to live in a
protective covenant subdivision. I don't want to be told what
kind of flowers to plant, how many cars I can have, if I can
even work on my car in my driveway, how my garage faces the street
and I surely don't want to be subject to the architecture committee
When I ride around Jackson County, I see a great many homes with
manufactured homes on the same land. My guess is that parents
or grandparents have given land to children for them to get a
start in this life. So I take exception to the statement, "...
that the majority of incoming people and long-time residents
want built-from-the-ground-up protective covenant home subdivisions...."
There no doubt are a great many people moving into Jackson County
who are of the writer's ilk. But after living in this county
for three years, I think the author of the letter is in the minority.
There is a large group of us manufactured homeowners who may
just band together to stand up for our rights as landowners,
voters and citizens. Let's all work together to make Jackson
County a friendly and open place for all people to live.
December 15, 1999
Local ways to
By the end of the month, Gov. Roy Barnes' Education Reform
Commission will make its recommendations to improve Georgia's
public schools. It remains to be seen if the proposals will be
small, evolutionary steps or major revolutionary moves.
Whatever the proposals, it's unlikely that we'll soon see any
major changes in the state's public schools. There are so many
special interests involved in education that the Georgia General
Assembly will have a difficult time sorting out even the best
So it would be a mistake for local school administrators to await
some kind of salvation from above. If major changes are to be
made, they will have to start locally with innovative ideas carried
out by bold leaders who don't mind taking flak.
Of course, that's easy to say, but difficult to implement. For
one thing, much of the structure of local education is tied to
state or federal funding. Most school systems, for example, maximize
class size to make better use of state funds. Lowering the pupil-teacher
ratio costs local dollars, both in money for additional classrooms
and additional teachers. Although most parents say they want
smaller classes for their children, the reality of paying for
that with local tax dollars is much more difficult.
Despite those drawbacks, I'm convinced there are things local
schools can do to pull up their performance without help from
the state and with minimal local funding:
1. Make it clear to parents that schools cannot do the job alone.
A child's first teacher is his or her parents and ultimately,
education is a parent's responsibility, not the school's. Make
parents part of the public school's efforts, especially with
children who need additional help.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. The greatest failing
of public schools is their lack of attention to communicating
with parents and the community. Schools are always piloting new
programs and initiatives, but it is only by happenstance that
most parents know about such programs. While most teachers do
a good job of talking with parents about individual children,
administrators should make the effort to communicate the overall
picture to parents. That is seldom done consistently.
3. Set high expectations and work toward those goals. There are
many outside factors that cause students to perform poorly in
class, but public schools shouldn't lower their expectations
just because of demographics. If schools raise the bar, most
students will work toward that standard. Too many school leaders
attempt to explain poor performance by citing the percentage
of free lunches given to poor students or other demographic data.
But that attitude leads to an atmosphere of lower expectations
which in turn leads to poor performance. Family income is no
measure of a child's potential, and it is that potential schools
should work toward fulfilling.
4. Set an atmosphere and tone for education in ways large and
small. This is done through clear and consistent disciplinary
policies that remove troublemakers from the classroom. It can
also be done with tougher school dress codes and even the adoption
of school uniforms. Schools are not social day care centers but
rather institutions of learning. Too often, both students and
parents forget that because school leaders don't communicate
it clearly and consistently.
5. Have a vision and share it with parents and the community.
All too often, school leaders become reactive to problems or
issues rather than looking at the larger picture. But someone
in each school system should be setting goals for the future,
whether that's in standardized test scores, or in facilities,
or in some other aspect of school governance. Too many schools
lack this vision and the leadership to carry it forward.
6. Finally, school leaders should welcome the trend of greater
"accountability." While this is a trendy buzzword that
makes some in education cringe, measuring school performance
is no different from a school measuring individual student performance.
Of course, any kind of measurement is imperfect - no standardized
test can measure all of the intangibles of a particular school
just as no test can measure all the talents or skills of a particular
student. But just because a test isn't perfect doesn't mean it
is without value. For one thing, being more "accountable"
helps school leaders make the kinds of changes they know should
be made. Identifying strengths and weaknesses in a school opens
the door for school leaders to act in a positive way with public
is editor of The Jackson Herald.