Text Amendment —Gretchen Quarterman

Received today, referring to TXT-2012-02, which is on the agenda for Monday morning’s Work Session and Tuesday evening’s Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission. -jsq

Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2012 13:42:37 -0500
From: Gretchen Quarterman
To: Richard Raines
Subject: Re: Text Amendment

On Thu, Dec 06, 2012 at 12:25:31PM +0000, Richard Raines wrote:

Thanks for your thoughtful and indepth answer.

Based on a conversation with the Chairman yesterday, it is my understanding that this issue will be tabled until sometime next year (Chairman-elect Slaughter will decide when to put it back on the agenda) because we are working with MAFB on a compromise as they are well aware of our mandate to balance property rights with protecting against base encroachment.

Interesting, I thought that the commissioners made the decisions about hearing or tabling an issue, not the chairman. While the chairman can set the agenda, it is my understanding that the voting members of the commission are the ones that actually get to make the decisions.

Since I’ve been on the County Commission we have made it a priority to constantly evaluate the ULDC and all zoning districts. MAZ 1-3 is no exception and must be evaluated to make sure that it is balanced and consistent.

I appreciate that.

We have discovered a few inconsistencies with the MAZ which are not practical and making adjustments will in no way put Moody Air Force Base in peril. I was recently informed that Lowndes County is the only community in the country with a MAZ, which means we have gone to greater lengths than any other community to protect against encroachment. Making minor adjustments is necessary with all ordinances and, even if the proposed changes are made, we still have the only MAZ in the country. Making minor adjustments in an effort to promote consistency and eliminate duplication is not equal to an all out assault on Moody.

I have many concerns about the continued presence of Moody AFB in our community. Moody is a $400M+ economic engine and its loss or reduction

would have dramatic consequences on our local community. Chairman Paulk encouraged a $150M gamble on the SPLOST vote and lost. I would not want our community to take a $400M annual bet and lose MAFB.

I certainly understand the “property rights” arguments regarding zoning and planning, however an “every property owner for himself” mindset will not take us to a good end. As a community we need to protect not only the base but also VSU and South Georgia Medical. We are, as you say, a national leader in zoning protection for the base. Isn’t it nice to be a leading community, rather than a following one?

It is my understanding that perhaps one of the concerns that the commissioners have is that the base has housing closer already than the proposed Joyner development. This certainly is true but the more houses that are built, the less places there are for airplanes to crash (and they do crash). I am not against dense housing. In fact, I am an advocate for housing built close to existing services.

Finally, it’s not actually clear to me that our community needs more housing at this time. I understand that developers are in business to make money and that government is not in the business of telling someone when or where they can build, however given that the Valdosta area is one of four in the state where housing prices continue to decline,


it seems to me that we don’t actually need more housing just now.

I am also concerned that the developer in question (Joyner Realty) is the same one to whom the county donated $130,000 of labor to improve Davidson Road a few years ago. Is our local government in the business of helping developers? If so, under what conditions and why?

The County has spent enormous amounts of tax revenues in the last few years to give Moody Air Force Base an advantage over other bases in terms of infrastructure and access. Our partnership with the United States Air Force is strong and, even though we may disagree over these proposed text amendments, it is no different than any other disagreement between parties with mutual admiration and respect.

I always appreciate discussion, debate, and transparency and your willingness to participate.

I also have something that I’d like to express on the phone so when you have a moment, would you phone me please?

Thank you for taking the time to voice your concerns.

Thank you for your service to our community,


See also Valdosta housing prices still dropping —Forbes. -jsq