Chamber opposes zoning code change for developer near Moody

Apparently it’s the Chamber and Moody and the Planning Commission Red arrows on MAZ and the TRC all against Ashley Paulk on the Moody rezoning-and-zoning-code case, with the VDT sidling towards Paulk. The VDT claimed Lowndes County Chairman stated something that’s not true according to the agenda and LAKE’s videos of the recent Planning Commission meeting. And the VDT buried opposition by the Chamber of Commerce’s relevant committee at the end of its article.

Jason Schaefer wrote for the VDT today, County disagrees with proposed zoning amendment, Paulk: Military intervention could prevent development near base, and the caption of the picture on the right says:

The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission proposed a text amendment to the Unified Land Development Code in November that would reduce lot density restrictions from 2.5 acres to one acre, allowing landowners within the Moody Activity Zoning (MAZ) district “more flexibility” to parcel off their land holdings, Paulk said.

The Planning Commission’s own agenda says TEX-2012-02 was proposed by “Lowndes County Board of Commissioners”. And the Planning Commission voted to recommend against approving that text amendment to the ULDC. According to Planning Commissioner John Page, that vote was following the recommendation of the Technical Review Committee (TRC), which consists of staff of Lowndes County and the City of Valdosta. Page is also an incoming Lowndes County Commissioner, to take office next month. So either Paulk said something he as the Chairman of the Lowndes County Commission should know not to be true, or the VDT wrote erroneously.

The VDT also seemed to indicate that Paulk was speaking for local landowners whom he said had been there longer than Moody’s 1940s, and for the citizens of Lowndes County, and their headline indicates he was speaking for the County. Well, I’m a local landowner on land that’s been in my family long before Moody, and much longer before Paulk moved into the neighborhood, and I oppose this amendment and rezoning, as do a number of other citizens of Lowndes County. If Paulk is speaking for the Lowndes County Commission, let’s see the minutes of the open meeting at which they took a vote on that!

Here’s the end of the VDT’s article:

Paulk argued with members of the Chamber on the issue for about 10 minutes before Ron Borders, who chaired the meeting, interrupted with a call for a motion. When no one made a motion, he motioned himself to recommend no support of the text amendment to the GAC Executive Committee, which was seconded and approved.

Good for Ron Borders! Maybe he knows about that bump in Lowndes County population growth in the 1950s due to the expansion of Moody Air Force Base. Maybe he knows Moody Air Force Base is the biggest employer around here. Maybe he knows this precedent would draw development up Bemiss Road around Moody Air Force Base into forest and farmland and away from Valdosta. It’s odd for any part of the Chamber to be opposing sprawl, but I agree with them on this one.

It was Lowndes County that Moody Activity Zoning (MAZ) around Moody Air Force Base, and the county used to brag about MAZ and how forward-thinking Lowndes County was to establish it. Only six years ago, County Planner Jason Davenport was praising MAZ in the VDT. Kenna Walsh write for the VDT 8 May 2006, County commission set to vote on development code, new zoning map,

Other changes put a protected zoning classification around Moody Air Force Base — called the Moody Activity Zoning (MAZ) — and an overlay district around Valdosta Regional Airport.

Moody’s protection has been an overlay district in the Comprehensive Plan for close to 15 years, said Jason Davenport, county planner. The new designation strengthens the overlay by making it a separate zoning classification. There are three levels based on the location to Moody. The first, MAZ I, is base property and its residential and conservation support facilities. Land uses within this are limited to agricultural and non-residential uses. The second level, MAZ II, allows a mixture of residential, agricultural, commercial, professional, and industrial uses at densities suitable for property surrounding Moody. The outermost boundary, MAZ III, permits normal densities of residential, agricultural, commercial, professional and industrial uses.

The first two levels and most of the third level is under a noise protection overlay, which ensures structures are built to reduce the noise of Moody’s aircraft. There is also a height restriction in place to make sure Moody’s operations run unobstructed.

What’s changed? At least one thing: the current chairman, Ashley Paulk. His last Commission meeting is this coming Tuesday, 11 December 2012, at which TEX-2012-02 is scheduled to be decided by the Lowndes County Commission at its Regular Session, with a Work Session on Monday 10 December 2012. Will you be there?