Glimmers of open discussion about Moody AFB zoning by the County Commission @ LCC 2012-12-10

Lowndes County Commissioners had a small amount of open discussion about the proposed changes to the zoning code related to Moody Air Force Base at their Work Session this morning. However, most of the discussion was not about the changes currently proposed, which the County Planner once again explicitly linked to a rezoning case on the same agenda. At least they discussed tabling the zoning code changes until there could be more discussion. They did not, however, say they would make drafts available to the public or invite the public to discuss those drafts.

County Planner Jason Davenport introduced agenda item 7.d. TXT-2012-02 MAZ II Residential Density:

This text amendment is part of the response to some of the questions that were raised with the additional rezoning. At the end of the day what this text amendment is going to do is to take that very outer blue color, the lightest color, which is the MAZ-3, and recommend change the zoning to 1 acre. Currently it’s 2 and a half acres.

He mentioned they missed the 30 day requirement to inform Moody AFB by about a week, but Moody responded anyway. Hm, that’s not what he said to the Planning Commission; there he said they had allowed 31 days.

Commissioner Richard Raines said he’d prefer to table this amendment until next year, because:

I think there are other issues that we’ve discussed related to MAZ. If you have a mobile home and it becomes unlivable, under the restrictions you can’t replace it….

Chairman Ashley Paulk responded that he didn’t have a problem with that, and:

Actually, the Chamber, you know, although they did have a meeting the other day, none of them had read the documents. Yet they did a resolution to tell us how to do it. So give them time to read the documents, maybe.

And they need to go out and talk to these people in these areas, too.

Commissioner Joyce Evans added:

And then too I think it will give us time to invite them to the table to sit down for discussion and to look at it.

Paulk continued:

Yeah, I’m not an enemy of Moody; I had a hundred people in my house last weekend from Moody.

But there are some people that are severely penalized by some of the things in some of these documents and it’s not something that affects air traffic. It’s things that I feel like if somebody’s on the farm for a hundred years and they give their son five acres of land to live in a mobile home for ten years, he can’t upgrade it because he lives near the air base. In case we’re going to display that part, then there’s several other things like that. Density you know, I can understand issues on some of that, depending on how close you are to the base. The base built their own housing 600 yards down the runway. As I said before, Moody does not do as they tell us to do. It’s do as they say but not as they do, and that needs to be corrected.

Commissioner Evans said,

We agree.

“We”? Did I hear that right? When did the Commissioners agree on that in an open meeting?

Dear Chairman Ashley Paulk: Have you forgotten you said in the 28 June 2011 budget hearing that no unfinished drafts will be published while you are chairman? That might have something to do with why nobody has read the draft changes to the ULDC. Also, people from Moody meeting with you at your house is not a substitute for open discussion in an open meeting of an elected Commission. Nor is playing tit-for-tat with Moody a substitute for planning: if Moody is doing something they shouldn’t, let’s see about stopping them, not doing the same bad thing ourselves. Also, where was your concern for long-time landowners when the Commission was considering spot rezoning for a subdivision on Cat Creek Road earlier this year? If we’re going to open discussion on zoning issues, how about include discussion of preservation of agriculture and forestry and watersheds, as the Comprehensive Plan says we should be doing? We don’t really want more floods like in 2009, do we?

Dear Lowndes County Commission: if you want people to read the documents before you vote on them, how about make the documents available for the public to read? Glynn County links their agenda items in with their agenda on their web pages so everybody can see them before their Commission meetings. Augusta-Richmond County does the same. Lowndes County could do that, too.

Dear Commissioner Joyce Evans, and the rest of the Commission: I applaud the idea of inviting the Chamber to the table for discussions. How about inviting the rest of us, too?

Meanwhile, thanks for at least starting some open discussion in an open meeting of our elected Lowndes County Commission.

Here’s the video:

Glimmers of open discussion about Moody AFB zoning by the County Commission
Work Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE), Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 10 December 2012.