Hearings on recall efforts against two elected officials in Hoschton are being held this week.
Senior Judge David R. Sweat will hear challenges by Hoschton mayor Theresa Kenerly and mayor pro-tem Jim Cleveland on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 9:30 and 11 a.m., respectively. Sweat will decide on the "sufficiency" of recall petitions against the two elected officials.
Those hearings are being held after press time for this week's paper. News from the hearings will be shared on BraseltonNewsTODAY.com and in the Oct. 9 issue of this newspaper.
Kenerly and Cleveland came under fire after Kenerly was accused of pulling an application of a candidate for city administrator because he is black. In a news article, Cleveland defended Kenerly and voiced his opposition to interracial relationships.
Citizens have since packed the Hoschton City Council meetings, calling for their resignations. Multiple ethics complaints have been filed and a recall effort was started earlier this year.
Organizers gathered over 100 signatures against both Kenerly and Cleveland and turned in a recall petition application in early September. The Jackson County Board of Elections verified those signatures a few days later, opening the next round of signature gathering. But that next step was quickly put on hold when Kenerly and Cleveland filed their challenges in the Superior Court of Jackson County.
A Braselton man was recently arrested during an investigation into statewide burglaries of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Areas.
Parker Lewis Dean, 20, of Braselton, was arrested in Barrow County on Sept. 23 for theft by receiving stolen property. James Arthur Graham, 22, of Lawrenceville, was arrested Sept. 25 in Gwinnett County for theft by receiving stolen property in connection with the statewide burglaries.
Both Graham and Dean allegedly went on a burglary spree together targeting the WMA’s from May through September.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation Cleveland Office was originally requested to conduct the investigation into burglaries in Stephens, Dawson and Lumpkin county WMA’s in June. As the investigation evolved, it was determined that additional burglaries occurred, both before the GBI investigation and during the investigation, in Hart, Putnam, Burke, Greene, McDuffie, Bartow, Marion and Dooly Counties. Additionally, the suspects are believed to be responsible for a burglary at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. The similarities between the burglaries led investigators to believe the same people were responsible for the burglaries identified in the investigation, according to a news release.
Approximately $50,000 worth of equipment was stolen during the burglaries and the majority of the items have been recovered as a result of search warrants done in Gwinnett and Barrow Counties.
The GBI Cleveland Office worked jointly with the DNR Law Enforcement Division to conduct this statewide investigation. The GBI Athens, Thompson and Americus Offices as well as local law enforcement partners were also integral to the investigation.
Graham was arrested and booked at the Gwinnett County Jail and Dean was arrested and booked at the Barrow County Jail. Upon completion of the investigation, the case file will be provided to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office for prosecution.
Additional charges for both Graham and Dean are expected.
A city-initiated rezoning of 21 properties in Hoschton raised a number of questions from area residents at a recent public meeting.
The Hoschton Planning and Zoning Commission voted Sept. 26 to recommend approving rezoning the properties — located on West Jefferson St. and Bell Ave. — from R-2 to R-3. The Hoschton City Council will take final action on the matter at its October meeting.
Planning and zoning director Justin Kilgore said the properties have been zoned R-2 for several years and that the proposed rezonings are simply clerical changes aimed at getting the properties into compliance.
Kilgore said the changes will reduce the setbacks on the properties, allowing homeowners more usable space on their land. Setbacks would be reduced to 25 feet on the front property line (down from 35-feet); 10 feet on the sides (down from 15-ft.); and 10 feet on the rear (down from 20-ft.).
But the rezoning raised questions from a number of area residents, from drainage concerns, to the impact on utilities, to the allowed uses on the property. (Only single-family developments are permitted. No townhomes, duplexes or apartments are allowed.)
OTHER APPROVED CHANGES
The planning and zoning commission also voted to recommend approving:
•an update to residential and commercial size requirements to make them more conformed with standard lot widths.
•an update to townhouse requirements, requiring a 2,400 sq. ft. minimum.
•a scrivener's error that resulted in incorrect information in the town's zoning documents.
Suzanne Owens has officially withdrawn her candidacy for the Hoschton City Council race.
Owens withdrew her candidacy last week.
That leaves three contestants to vie for two Hoschton City Council seats on the Nov. 5 ballot: incumbent Mindi Kiewert, Shantwon Astin and Adam Ledbetter.