Conservation records @ LCC 2012-03-13

Update 21 May 2012: Fixed meeting date. See also Planning Commission discussion of this item.

An issue of conservation records came up at the 28 February 2012 13 March 2012 Lowndes County Commission meeting, regarding a rezoning at Lake Alapaha, in far northeast Lowndes County, near the Alapaha River.

County Planner Jason Davenport described the problem, which came up in a request to rezone a piece of property that was partly zoned RA (Residential Agriculture) and partly Conservation:

We did get help from the clerk’s office to try to clear up when this property was zoned and why it was zoned conservation. I just don’t have anything [unintelligible]. We have minutes that say one thing and a zoning map that says another.

He said they had had limited time to investigate, and had not been able to resolve this issue.

That issue is still on the table. I would just remind you that in the grand scheme it is a minor issue.

Commissioner Richard Raines made the motion:

For my part I’m for rezoning the entire property RA and eliminating the conservation.

And that’s what they did. Which raises issues of what we should do.

Here’s a playlist:

Conservation records
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 28 February 2012 13 March 2012.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).

The issue here is at least fourfold:

  1. Why was part of the property zoned conservation?
  2. How can the records be reconciled to determine that?
  3. What is going on with the wetlands in the county?
  4. What is the county doing regarding wetlands?

I would bet the answer to (1) is pretty simple: it’s in a floodplain. But we can’t know without an answer to (2), which is the bigger issue, not minor at all, since lack of information in the county’s own records keeps coming up. Here’s another example from that same Commission meeting.

Regarding (3) and (4), the county seems happy to provide a road easement through wetlands or to remove conservation zoning, as in the subject case.

Is this a more general pattern? Could it have something to do with the huge flood of April 2009 that closed roads all over the county and that caused a bridge on Skipper Bridge Road to have to be rebuilt? We know that impervious cover increased 68% from 1991 to 2005 in Lowndes County.

Maybe we should be preserving wetlands instead of paving them over.