Hahira City Council Meeting —Barbara Stratton 4 August 2011

Received today, and I saw the owl chortling with glee at the prospect of reports on another local council. -jsq
The LAKE blog has been doing an excellent job of publishing what is happening in various Valdosta and Lowndes County public meetings. I have been attending the Hahira City Council meetings for several months now and decided I would start posting a monthly blog summary of council meetings so Hahira residents will be aware of what is happening in their city. This is not intended to be an official documentation and citizens should depend on the official meeting minutes and/or discuss issues with city officials.

It was announced that a hearing had been advertised to discuss changing the millage rate for the city and it was decided the mileage rate would remain the same with no increase.

The review of bills/budget overages were approved by the council.

Addendum to the summary – Per history records, on Feb. 15, 2011 the Valdosta Daily Times printed an article about a special meeting of concerned citizens and Hahira city officials which discussed several agenda items relating to the city’s trash services. During the meeting citizens were not allowed to speak. Mayer Wayne Bullard recused himself after stating he was employed by All Green Services which could be a

conflict of interest. Councilman Bruce Cain filled the mayor pro-tem position when Mayor Bullard was in the audience. During this meeting the city attorney, Robert Plumb, reported that the contract for curbside pickup with Griffin Waste Services, LLC would complete three years on December 31, 2011. He also stated that if the services were going to change or terminate Griffin Waste Services, LLC would have to be given notice of the intent 90 days prior to Dec. 31, 2011. The issue had been discussed and postponed in the July meeting.

At the August meeting Councilwoman Rose Adams added to the agenda a request that the service be put out for bid because she felt the city would save a considerable amount of money with another company. Councilman Ralph Clendenin asked the mayor if he was still employed by the garbage company so he could recuse himself again. Mayor Bullard stated he does not work for the garbage company and that it did not matter on this issue so he did not recuse himself. During the discussion it was stated that both Councilman Clendenin and Councilwoman Adams thought the city would benefit financially by putting out a request for proposals to begin the bidding process. Councilman Clendenin reminded the council that a decision would have to be reached at this meeting in order to meet the 90 day deadline for notifying Griffin Waste Services, LLC. A vote was taken with Councilman Clendenin and Councilwoman Adams voting to request proposals so bidding could be accomplished to see if money could be saved. Councilmen Allen Cain and Terry Benjamin voted nay creating a tie which Mayor Bullard broke by going with the nays. Since Griffin Waste Services would have to be notified by Sept 30, and it will take time to receive bids before the notification deadline the solid waste and disposal within the city will have to remain with the current contract.

The other main discussion concerned the Gateway Pines Retirement Community being constructed off Union Road. Matt Martin, Lowndes Co zoning commissioner [Actually, Matt Martin is Valdosta’s Planning and Zoning Administrator -jsq ] was present to speak on behalf of the developer, Investors Management Company of Valdosta. The project manager for the developer, Joe Chambers also spoke. During the discussion it was admitted that the plans submitted to and approved by the Hahira City Council had been changed in several areas. Mr. Chambers was asked why the changes were not brought back to the council for approval and Councilman Clendenin stated that he felt like the council had wasted their time considering and approving plans that were not followed. Among the changes were trees that were supposed to remain had already been cut down, less space was left between the buildings and the neighboring properties, and there was confusion about what type of fence would now be put up. Mr. Chambers stated when the council approved plans were submitted to the state some EPA changes were required. He also stated that part of the reason for the changes was because the design had been changed from 72 units in two story buildings to 56 units in single story buildings. No definable answer was given for why the changed plans were never discussed with the council before construction began. Mr. Chambers stated he did not realize council should have been consulted about changes to their approved plans and apologized.

As a lay person in the audience I had to assume that the change from two story to single story units meant that the building footprint changed from 36 buildings (if all were two story) to 56 single story buildings which would be a much larger footprint on the property. My assumption did not seem feasible even with changes, so I decided the original plan Mr. Chambers was referring to contained some mixture of two story and single story buildings which would equal less than 20 additional buildings. I thought I remembered someone on the council telling me that the buildings would all be single story after the plans were approved, so I was totally confused. Citizens are not allowed to speak or ask questions unless they sign up before the meeting stating what they want to discuss. If questions come up during the course of the meeting citizens are not allowed to participate. Since the current construction is for Phase I and Phase II has already been approved, surely there will be more approval communication between the council and the developer before Phase II construction begins.

I don’t remember seeing Mr. Chambers present at any meetings dealing with the approval of the plans & it seemed to me he should not have been the one that had to defend the changed plans. I feel that he followed the plans he was given to conduct the site construction and that the persons who were responsible for the approval process & internally aware of the changes should have been there to be questioned instead of Mr. Chambers.

As a citizen I have a concern that there seems to be a wide spread history of developer’s interests being catered to over the rights & interests of the citizens within Lowndes County. I also have a personal concern with the fact the housing project is a “Certified EarthCraft Community” which when researched has direct ties with UN Agenda 21 initiatives. Since it is a government subsidized project there are multiple avenues for consolidating government and private business concerns through grant monies, which is an open door to socialism initiatives.

As always, posts on this blog are the opinions of the authors, unless specifically labeled as by LAKE, which seldom happens, since that requires a meeting of the LAKE politburo. Anyway, in this post, I have added some pictures of the people named, some links to related material, and I’ve made one correction of fact. It certainly is hard to keep track of all the people around here who pop up at one meeting or another. With Barbara’s help, the owl can see more of them!