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BOC places 90-day moratorium on new subdivision developments

The Banks County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday night to place a 90-day moratorium on subdivision developments.

The item was not on the agenda but was added at the beginning of the May 11 meeting at the request of commissioner Bo Garrison. It was added to the agenda and quickly approved in a 5-0 vote.

BOC chairman Charles Turk pointed out that this would not impact subdivisions already under way. It is only for new developments.

Garrison made the request for the moratorium to be in place while the county’s zoning ordinances are being updated.


Also at the meeting, the BOC denied a request from Ding Xiang for a conditional use request to operate a retail massage therapy office at 309 Steven B. Tanger Blvd.

Turk questioned Xiang about why she has a New York driver’s license when she has had a massage practice in Georgia since 2017 and lives in Georgia. Turk said that if you live in Georgia 30 days, you need to obtain a Georgia driver’s license.

A man speaking on behalf of Xiang said her English skills had made acquiring a driver’s license an issue.

Turk asked, “If you can have a Georgia massage license, why can’t you pass a Georgia driver’s license test? There is something up.”

He also asked Xiang what she is “trying to hide.”

Turk made the motion to deny the request for the conditional use request “because we don’t know what in the world is going on.” The vote to deny was unanimous.


In other business at the meeting, the BOC:

•tabled a School Speed Zone Device Service Agreement with the board of education sheriff’s office and Optotraffic LLC until June 8 in order to get more information.

•approved the annual contract with Legacy Link for the meals on wheels program and nutrition program at the Banks County Senior Citizen’s Center.

•approved a proclamation declaring “Rotary Loves Banks County Day” on June 16.

•heard from Turk that the Banks County Health Department has given out 12,065 COVID-19 vaccines, with 3,520 being to Banks County residents.

•heard from Turk that the budget will be finalized in two weeks and the commissioners hope to decrease the millage rate to offset the increases seen on the tax bills that went out recently.

Hwy. 441 bridge over Grove River near Banks Crossing to be replaced

Traffic in the Banks Crossing area and southern Banks County will be affected for the next year as one of the bridges over the Grove River on Hwy. 441 is being replaced.

Officials said this week that work will begin on replacing the southbound bridge over the Grove River, a bridge that is just north of the busy Banks Crossing area.

A crossover lane will be built first to channel southbound traffic onto a lone on the northbound bridge. That will mean that both south and north routes on Hwy. 441 will be restricted to one lane in the area.

Once the traffic re-routing has been done, the southbound bridge will be torn down and a new bridge built.

The project is slated to be completed in April 2022.

The project is one of several that could affect traffic in the area  in the coming months.

Just north of the Hwy. 441 and I-85 interchange, the GDOT is working on I-85 and traffic is often restricted to just one lane, creating a backup at Banks Crossing.

Plans are also underway for some road realignments around the Tanger Outlet Mall, replacing the nearby I-85 bridge over Ridgeway Church Rd., and there are plans to replace other bridges in the area.

Temporary police chief named in Baldwin

A temporary police chief will begin work with the City of Baldwin beginning Monday May 10. Deputy Chief Jerry Saulters of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department will serve in that capacity following a recommendation of the town's consulting firm, Excellence Exceeded.

"Chief Saulters has over 20 years of law enforcement experience and is well respected in the profession," Baldwin Mayor Joe Elam states. "During his time with us, Chief Saulters will be working with our staff to further professionalize our police department."

Plans are to use the current staff to adjust the shift schedule to provide police coverage from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day with the night shifts being covered by the respective sheriff's offices.

Mayor Joe Elam stated, "On behalf of the City of Baldwin, I'd like to thank Sheriff Terrell and Sheriff Speed for their willingness to assist our city during this difficult time. Both sheriffs have outstanding departments and we are grateful for their unwavering support to ensure law and order in our city."

The mayor added that he and the council are confident that the measures being taking "will satisfy both the short and long term public safety needs of our city."

"In the coming weeks, we will be working diligently with our consultants, with the assistance of Chief Saulters, Sheriff Terrell and Sheriff Speed, to install a permanent chief and a police department we can all be proud of," Mayor Elam stated.

Billy Joe Craven and Mike Craven celebrated the 50th anniversary of their family’s pottery business on Saturday, May 8.

Craven family celebrates 50 years in pottery business

It’s been 50 years since January of 1971 when Craven Pottery Inc. first began and Billy Joe Craven, owner, is already making plans to continue the family business for another 50 years.

On Saturday May, 8, the family celebrated with a pottery festival bringing together past associates of the business to display their personal pottery wares.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” said Craven. “You get to know a lot of people over 50 years.”

Some of Craven’s friends traveled from Florida, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina to display their works of art.

“They all came to wish me a good 50th anniversary on my pottery festival,” said Craven. “I’m going to invite everyone right now to just come on out for our second 50th anniversary."

Craven became interested in the pottery crafting process when he began working at Hewell Pottery above Gillsville while studying mechanical technology at North Georgia Tech. He was soon drafted into the United States Army in 1966 where he was assigned as an E5 in the 101st Airborne division to serve in Vietnam on task force 26-4.

Upon his return home, Craven continued his work at Hewell Pottery. Harold Hewell and Craven eventually became business partners before splitting in 1970 when Craven started his own business in Gillsville and later expanded the company into “The Pottery” in Commerce which he closed in 2007.

“Studying mechanical technology helped me to build the equipment which is currently in operation at my company,” he said.

Craven said that when he began his startup company a person told him he wouldn’t last six months, and that statement motivated him on his path to success.

“Different things inspire different people but one thing that inspires me is the fear of failure,” stated Craven. “I give credit first to God, second to my family who have helped me by working at the company and who have been my support all of these years and third I have to attribute my success to my associates."

Festival plans are underway in Gillsville

This year’s pottery festival may look a little different in the town of Gillsville. Plans for the annual fall festival was discussed at the city council meeting last week.

Festival planners approached Mayor Roy Turpin to ask if they could continue to use the downtown area. Council members agreed, and talked about additions to the event.

A suggestion was made to open it to others crafters, such as bee keepers. Council members also agreed that this could potentially increase the number of people who attend the festival, which is generally held in October.


Turpin said he had been contacted by the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission (GMRC) and the new city map is complete. This map will include the new census data.

Also at the meeting, the city council:

•set a public hearing for an annexation update. This will occur on June 8, just before the rescheduled council meeting.

•discussed a tree removal on Old Gillsville Hwy.

•discussed having a more detailed zoning ordinance manual.

•agreed to get a bid from Dave Wiley to create the welcome signs in the city.

Lula planners consider agriculture zoning options

The Lula Planning Commission discussed creating agriculture districts at its meeting last week.

The 365 Overlay District is what travelers see when they enter Lula, and the district was created to entice development. When looking at the city map, there is at least one surrounding piece of property that is still zoned agricultural. During the meeting the planning commission discussed creating three types of agricultural zoning.

"The overlay is a tool to bring development," city manager Dennis Bergin stated. "We don't want to deviate for unintentional consequences."

If the agriculatural zoning is not compartmentalized, the city could have a "pig farm" on the side of 365. Several members discussed that scenario, and they asked Bergin to gather more information on dividing argicultural zoning. The categories will state uses that would be allowed in each category.

Members were complimentary of Jaemor Farms which may be zoned Agricultural Tourism. Planning commission member Ricky Lewallen said that the orchard was the second most visited place in Hall County; first place going to Lake Lanier.

The planning commission will further discuss agricultural zoning at future meetings and make recommendations to the Lula City Council.

County leaders plan joint meeting

The Development Authority of Banks County will hold a joint work session with the Banks County Commissioners and the Banks County Planning Commission on Tuesday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the Banks County Courthouse Annex, 150 Hudson Ridge, Ste. 1, Homer.

Rope Roberts with Georgia Power will provide an overview of Banks County and the development possibilities and how Georgia Power can aid in the process.