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Recreation board to be re-instated

The Banks County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday night to re-instate a recreation board.

The commissioners are taking applications for citizens who are interested in serving on the seven-member board. Citizens will be appointed serve on one, two and three-year terms.

The board members will be appointed at the July 13 BOC meeting.


On another zoning matter, the BOC approved a request from Chris Phagan to rezone the 7.79-acre lot at Hwy. 441 and Banks Road from ARR (agriculture rural, residential) to C2 (commercial) to be used as a medical office building. MedLink CEO Dave Ward presented this request and spoke on the plans to relocate and expand its medical center in Banks County.

Ward said that the plans are to relocate the MedLink office that is currently located beside of Anderson Auto in Homer to the new site. He said the medical office now serves 2,500 people per year, but it would be able to serve 10,000 per year at the new location. Ward said the new site would also offer additional services, including a pediatric doctor and diabetes and nutrition staff.

Ward said the new location would be a $3 million investment and would eventually employ 25 to 30 people. He said long-term plans include locating a second building on the property that would offer dental services.

During citizen comments, Scott Banks questioned whether the retention pond on the site would stop the run-off from coming onto his property. He wants the run-off to continue to come onto his property, which has a pond on it. He also questioned how the increase in property would impact the road and whether it would need to be widened. Amy Banks questioned where the entrance will go.

Ward said plans are to widen the road so that it will be safe. He also said he will work with environmental officials to accommodate the run-off in any way possible.


In other business, the BOC:

•denied a request from Caroline Wilson Christie for a conditional use permit for 100 acres at 810 Spring Road for a multi-use facility, including an event venue in a building on the site.  Allen Wilson presented the request is also for allowing catering, classes to held on the property and for him to do telemedicine and psychologist evaluations. He said that issues raised at the planning commission about the request “were based on emotional theatrics and not based on legal facts.” He added, “My wife was shocked and somewhat frightened by all the anger and rage expressed at us at the June 2 meeting.” He also said some of those who spoke “whipped the crowd into a frenzy.” Four nearby or adjacent property owners spoke in opposition to the request.

•approved a request from Chelsea Patterson to rezone a 6-acre lot on Hwy. 441 from ARR to C2 to locate a car dealership and car storage business. Plans are to relocate Chelsea’s Classic Cars from Yonah-Homer Road to this site.

•denied a request from Carla Brown and Kaleigh Henderson for a variance to place two dwellings on a 34-acre lot at Lord Road.

•approved a school speed zone device agreement with the board of education, sheriff’s office and Optotraffic LLC.

•renewed the Tates Creek Fire protection services agreement at a cost of $3,000.

•approved the board room maintenance agreement with Nysync Inc. at a cost of $1,175.

•named Steve Nichols and Keith Freeman to serve as the Region 2 EMS board representatives.

•reappointed Jerry Payne to serve on the Banks County Department of Family and Children Services board for a five-year term.

•reappointed Zulie Walker to the library board for a three-year term.

•reappointed Vicki Boling and Danny Maxwell to a one-year term on the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission.

•reappointed Richard Cochran to serve on the Banks County Zoning Appeals Board for a four-year term. There is also one vacant position on the board that no one applied to fill. It will remain vacant until someone applies to fill the seat.

•appointed Anita Bonds to the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities Board.

Rotary Club to host blood drive

The Banks County Rotary Club has partnered with Lifesouth to host a mobile blood drive on Wednesday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Chimney Oaks Golf Club, located at 148 Chimney Oaks Drive, Homer. The event is being held on “Rotary Loves Banks County Day.

Donors must be 16 or older, weigh at least 110 pounds, and show photo I.D. 16-year-olds require written parental permission.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit https://tinyurl.com/BanksCoRotaryBloodDrive. Appointments are encouraged as the mobile unit has a limited capacity at any one time.

"Remember to eat a healthy meal, drink plenty of water and get a good night's rest before donating blood," organizers state. 

All donors receive a recognition item, a free cholesterol screening and a free lunch courtesy of Chick-fil-A.

Selit featured in video on Georgia High-Tech I-85 Corridor

A leader of a German-owned company that located in Banks County was one of the panelists who spoke at a video conference featuring the Georgia High-Tech I-85 Corridor.

Robert Doug Brouillard spoke on the “success story” of locating Selit on 31 acres at the Banks Crossing exit off of I-85. The company is one of the world’s leaders in laminate underlays and wood flooring underlays. The Banks Crossing site is a production plant and sales location.

“We have a good positive relationship with the county and state,” Brouillard said.

The company invested $45 million in Banks County and brought in 100 jobs, with plans to add another 112 jobs by 2025.

The video conference was held on June 2 with other local representatives including Banks County Board of Commissioner chairman Charles Turk; Development Authority chairman Scott Ledford; county economic developer Richard Brooks; and Rep. Chris Erwin.

Rope Roberts with Georgia Power was also on the panel and spoke on the growth of warehouse distribution centers in the area due to SK Battery plant locating in Jackson County.

“They want the product here,” he said. “The development is taking place in the north part of Jackson County and into Banks County. The reason the growth has been limited has been the infrastructure.”

Harris Lowery of REI Industrial Fabricators in Athens also spoke.

“I do a lot of site selections for companies and communities,” he said. “I have watched companies from all over the world come to Georgia and the Southeast corridor. Banks County can be pro-active in how they deal with companies.”

Innovative technology firms from Ontario, Canada, also spoke on the success of the auto sector there. Raed Kadri said the auto sector has been a $221 billion investment between 2010 and 2018.

“We bridge Ontario’s automotive, technology and manufacturing clusters to support growth of the ecosystem," he said.

The event also featured companies from Ontario and Georgia making short pitches to all of the speakers and attendees.

The Georgia High-Tech I-85 Corridor extends from the intersection of Highway I-985 and I-85 to the South Carolina border through Gwinnett, Barrow, Jackson, Banks, Franklin and Hart counties and the cities of Braselton and Commerce.

Hearing held on code violation at Maximum Powersports

The Banks County Board of Commissioners held a hearing on a code violation on a conditional use permit for the operation of a business on Columbus Drive on June 3 and set another hearing for 4 p.m. on June 15 to take final action on the issue.

In the meantime, the BOC voted that no outside activity, including dirt bike races, can take place at Maximum Powersports.

BOC chairman Charles Turk said a conditional use permit was issued in 2018 for repairs to be made inside a shop on the property. Turk showed a youtube video where he said youth were lined up to race on the site. The conditional use permit that was given to Zachary Lurie did not allow for races to be allowed on the property.

“That is the noise people are complaining about,” Turk said.

Commissioner Bo Garrisons said, “I’ve watched that video three different times. Everything I’ve read from the zoning, it (the activity on the property) does not meet the criteria. I wasn’t here when it was voted on. I’ve looking at is as an outsider and looking at our paperwork. I would say it is in violation.”

Commissioner Danny Maxwell said, “The conditional use was for working on vehicles. He said noise would be no louder than a weed-eater or lawnmower and it would be in a confined room. From what I see here, it is not in a confined room. It is racing. To have a lot of young people out there racing, that was not in the conditional use we approved that night. That is my comment on it.”

A nearby property owner, Jody Parks, spoke about the noise from the property.

“We were out in garden and I felt like they were right in my face,” she said. “Since this started, I just go in my house. I can hear them in my house. I thought they were permitted to do this and I find out they are not.”

Final action was tabled at the request of the property owner’s attorney, Dave McDonald, who was asked for time to get more information on the allegation of the code violation.

Turk pointed out that he and code enforcement officer Paul Ruark had gone out to the property to tell the business owner to stop the racing.

“He knew exactly what he was violating,” Turk said. “There was no question. He knew very well what his violation was. He was asked to cease and desist and he didn’t.”

McDonald replied, “There is no record of that. We don’t have that in writing… If it’s not a part of the record, it is not the appropriate time to have that discussion here. Right now, these are allegations that are being levied against my client for the first time.”

Rotary Salutes Awards Program planned June 16

The second annual Rotary Salutes Awards Program will honor and recognize those who put their lives on the line every day, Banks County’s public safety professionals, including firefighters, police, deputies and emergency personnel, as well as other servants in the community whose ‘Service Above Self’ is exemplary.

The program will be held at noon on Wednesday, June 16, at the Chimney Oaks Golf Clubhouse, located at 148 Chimney Oaks Drive, Homer.

The program features the presentation of the Brother Jim McLendon Memorial Scholarship, Community Leadership Award, Distinguished Service Award, Educational Impact Award, Public Safety Unit of the Year Award, the Merit Award, the Public Safety Professional of the Year Award, the Lifesaving Award and the Award for Valor.

June 16 has been declared by the Banks County Board of Commissioners as “Rotary Loves Banks County Day!” The Rotary Salutes Awards presentations will be the featured event, coinciding with other club initiatives taking place that day.

One of the underlying objectives of the day’s events will be to promote civic awareness and responsibility and encourage residents of Banks County to step forward and show pride, support each other and do more to build a better community.

The awards program can also be watched via Facebook Live on the Banks County Rotary Club Facebook page: fb.me/BanksRotary.

Fireworks planned in Homer July 4

The sky will light up over Homer this July with the Fourth of July Fireworks celebration.

The Homer City Council discussed the free event for the community at its meeting Tuesday night. The show will begin at 9:30 p.m. at Banks County High School. 

Mayor Doug Cheek told the council that the Downtown Development Authority will host the one-day 49th festival in Homer on Saturday, September 4. The event will start with a parade at 10 a.m. and continue with food vendors and several singing groups. Cheek said the authority is gearing up for a big celebration next year as the festival marks its 50th year.