Moody and the Chamber won, rural residents got wasted, and taxpayers still didn't get to see a single thing the Lowndes County Commission voted on last night in 45 minutes (very long for them) in front of the biggest audience I've ever seen there.
They appointed John "Mac" McCall to ZBOA. They revised the alcohol ordinance with some unspecified "changes to the fee schedule", and added another alcohol restriction to the Lake Park rezoning before approving it.
They approved the solid waste ordinance and granted a waste collection monopoly to a company from New York City despite all known public input being against it. Two more people spoke against it in Citizens Wishing to Be Heard.
Gretchen Quarterman recommended adding all the appointed Boards and Authorities to the county's calendar.
Commissioners accepted applicant's withdrawal of the rezoning request near Moody AFB and tabled indefinitely the related zoning code amendment. They approved rezoning for the Naylor Dollar General.
Commission approved four Decorative Lighting Special Tax Districts (forgetting it was supposed to be a public hearing), and a refund for one that wasn't.
Danny Weeks got approved a new netclock and new phones for the 911 center, and he and his staff got an award. The library railroad continues, the bonds renegotation was approved with about $2 million savings and some legal questions, the Annex has asbestos but they'll deal with it, and after Friday's demolition ceremony there will be a going-away reception for Chairman Paulk, and Bill Slaughter will be the new Chairman.
You missed all that and more at yesterday's Commission meeting.
Here's a video playlist of the Regular Session, followed by the agenda with the videos linked into it.
Update 2014-04-09: Fixed embedded video link.
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 11 December 2012.
For reference here are the videos of yesterday morning's Work Session. And here is the agenda with links to the videos and some notes.
- Call to Order
- Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
- Minutes for Approval
- Regular Session — November 12, 2012
- Regular Session — November 13, 2012
Appointment – Valdosta/Lowndes County Zoning Board of Appeals
To replace David Kirk on ZBOA, they nominated John "Mac" McCall, who appeared to answer questions, per Commissioner Evans' request of yesterday. Commissioners had none, but Chairman Ashley Paulk once again gave a testimonial, and Commission unanimously appointed him.
- Revision to the Lowndes County Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance
Finance Director Stephanie Black gave a condensed summary of what was said the previous morning, including "a recommended change to the fee schedule" and Commissioners approved the ordinance with the recommended changes. Did they remove the extra license fee just to serve alcohol on Sunday? Who can say? They certainly didn't, and, as usual, we the taxpayers and the businesses who would pay the fees didn't get to see what they voted on before they voted on it.
- Solid Waste Ordinance
Three urban Commissioners voted to approve an ordinance affecting rural residents of unincorporated parts of the county, despite all known public input being opposed.
- REZ-2012-17 Lowndes Development, LLC, Davidson Rd MAZ II and MAZ III to R-10, County Water & Sewer, ~23.49 acres
Commission accepted applicant's withdrawal of the rezoning request, perhaps somehow related to massive public opposition.
- REZ-2012-18 Lakes Blvd., 1006 Lakes Blvd., C-C to C-H, County Water & Sewer, ~0.87 acres
Applicant's employee spoke for, then Commissioner Powell added no package sales to yesterday's restrictions of no lounge bar or night club, and Commissioners unanimously approved the rezoning.
- REZ-2012-19 Naylor Dollar General, US Hwy 84 East, E-A to C-G, Well & Septic, ~2 acres
Dr. Matthew Richard spoke as a resident of rural Naylor against the Dollar General. Josh (?) spoke for the developer, saying they had done a marketing study and Dollar General would make a many-year guarantee of occupance of the site. The residents of Naylor and we the rest of the voters didn't get to see either of those documents. Commissioners unanimously approved the rezoning. At least Dr. Richard made the developer bother to show up and address the marketing study question, which hadn't happened at the Planning Commission; see previous post.
- TXT-2012-02 MAZ II Residential Density
The Chairman correctly corrected the VDT's sloppy reporting of the previous morning's Work Session. Commissioner Richard Raines moved to table:…until a later date when we can more thoroughly review the MAZ and present all of the proposed changes at one time.
Perhaps the Commission will deign to present the proposed changes to the public, perhaps in a public hearing for public input, perhaps before voting on them.
Commissioner Joyce Evans seconded, adding an amendment saying:
we would like the County Manager to look at this so we can expedite this some time in the next year.
Commissioners unanimously approved tabling indefinitely. Perhaps the county staff and Commissioners will do more due diligence in that long interval they are wisely granting themselves.
- Decorative Special Tax Lighting District — Walker Run (Twin Lakes Rd) 22 lots
Planner Davenport once again described all four of these at once. He said he's sent the Commissioners some information about trying to break even, which of course we the taxpayers didn't get to see. Commissioners unanimously approved. Chairman forgot it was supposed to be a public hearing, and did not ask for anyone to speak for and against. See below.
- Decorative Special Tax Lighting District — Laurelbrooke Phase Two (Old Pine Rd) 16 lots
- Decorative Special Tax Lighting District — Glen Laurel Phase II (Old Pine Rd) 30 lots
- Decorative Special Tax Lighting District — Quarterman Estates West Phase 1 (Whitewater Rd) 82 lots
- Special Tax Lighting District Correction — River North Phase I (Shiloh Rd) 26 lots
Planner Davenport once again said so a resolution was needed so the Tax Commissioner could provide refunds to correct an error. Commission unanimously approved.
- Exclusive Franchise Agreement for Residential Solid Waste Collection Services with Advanced Disposal Services of Central Alabama, Inc.
In addition to changing Veolia to ADS on the contract, they changed the effective date to February. Commissioner Raines asked how long the collection sites would stay open. Manager Pritchard said the last day would be February 3rd Commissioners approved unanimously.
- Budget Calendar FY 2013
Budget Director Stephanie Black once again reminded the Commission they have to have a budget approved by June 30th 2013. Commissioners approved unanimously.
- Georgia Department of Transportation Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant
County Engineer Mike Fletcher once again said no T-SPLOST means a 30% match is needed for LMIG, this time refering to "physical" year 2013. Commission unanimously approved.
- Adopt Resolution accepting infrastructure for Ivy Gate Subdivision
Commission unanimously approved accepting infrastructure for Ivy Gate Subdivision off of Cat Creek Road. County Engineer Mike Fletcher clarified from yesterday that this included roads, water, and sewer.
- Funding Approval for the purchase of a new Netclock
See yesterday for details from 911 Center Director Danny Weeks. Commissioner Raines thanked him for bringing the county up to the 21st century. Commissioners unanimously approved. Hey, maybe they'll now bring the county up to 21st century on transparency and due diligence!
- Funding Approval for a new 911 Phone System and continued maintenance
See yesterday for details from 911 Center Director Danny Weeks. Commissioners unanimously approved.
- New Main Library — Construction Manager At Risk Selection
Project Manager Chad McCleod once again said they were using more rigorous scoring and there was still no funding. Still couldn't understand the name of the construction company chosen. Maybe Commission will get around to revealing that name to the taxpayers before they ask us to vote on SPLOST again.
- Refunding Revenue Bonds
New interest rate about 1.85% for about $2,200,000 savings. Commissioners unanimously approved. Congratulations on the savings! But most of yesterday's questions, including the ones about the legality of the process, remain, not to mention why didn't they use GEFA in the first place?
Bid- Demolition of the Courthouse Annex
Purchasing Manager Lisa Burton reiterated what she said yesterday. Her cohort said he wanted to clear up that they did find a small amount of asbestos, which could be dealt with by adding $6,000 to any of the three contractor bids. Commission did that and unanimously approved the low bid from Complete Demolition Services.
- County Manager
- CALEA Report
County Manager Joe Pritchard announced an award to Danny Weeks and his 911 command, adding in Pritchard's inimitable style that they had "endured questions" (horrors!). Commissioner Evans added a few words. Danny Weeks complimented his staff. The audience applauded.
During this presentation, IT Directory Aaron Kostyu demonstrated the Commission’s own cameras can throw live video of speakers onto the screen behind the Commission. Kind makes you wonder why the Commission doesn’t video and YouTube its own meetings, don’t it?
- Citizens Wishing to be Heard Please State Name And Address
As Chairman Paulk was about to move into Citizens Wishing to Be Heard, a voice was heard:Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman? Sir? Uh? With your approval, if it's OK, sir, would it be all right if we had the … public hearings for the Special Tax Lighting Districts?
It was County Planner Jason Davenport. The Chairman did apologize, and then asked if anyone wished to speak for or against. Much to his surprise, someone did: me. I gave the ritual reminder that 7.h. Quarterman Estates has nothing to do with the Quarterman family; I guessed the developers just wanted a respectable name for their subdivision. Commissioners then approved unanimously again.
- Several people had already left (Clarence Parker and Tim Harris among them) and so didn't speak in Citizens Wishing to Be Heard.
- John Gates said he had "a real concern about closing the recycling centers for the large brush clippings". He asked the Commission to "re-look" at that contract and make sure there's a place for recycling.
- Gretchen Quarterman thanked Chairman Paulk for his service, and asked to have all meetings of county boards and authorities listed on the county calendar which is available on the county web site.
- John S. Quarterman said he'd probably be back about the waste decisions when trash started piling up beside roads and people started burning plastics and other toxic materials in their yards. He noted that while the Commission just approved multiple Decorative Tax Lighting Districts yet not one of the Commissioners had been willing to even entertain a special tax district for waste collection. He complimented the Commission on the Moody AFB decisions for their deliberation and willingness to listen to a wide swathe of public opinion. He provided some further information about Houston County's buy-ups of houses in their encroachment zones near Warner Robins AFB and about Houston County's landslide SPLOST approval, perhaps partly because it included $7 million for those house buy-ups, plus airport improvements, and the held public hearings on it before the election. He recommended the Lowndes County Commission consider more due diligence, more input from the peole, and more public hearings.
- Ken Klanicki came hat in hand to offer some criticism, mostly of Chairman Paulk.
- Commissioner Richard Raines offered a farewell tribute to Chairman Ashley Paulk and the crowd applauded.
- Chairman Ashley Paulk said a few words of farewell and welcomed incoming Chairman Bill Slaughter. County Manager Joe Pritchard said this Friday around 4PM, after the Courthouse Annex demolition ceremony, there would be a reception for Chairman Paulk.
I had the unpleasant experience of being present at this meeting when Chairman Paulk again highlighted his qualities as a human being and (outgoing) leader of the LCC. After Ken Klanicki left the podium to share his thoughts on the Chairman’s retirement, Mr. Paulk could not resist to ridicule him by saying: “Put me on your guest list the next time you’re at Greenleaf”.
This comment was then followed by the audible laughter of those in the audience who I assume are part of Mr. Paulk’s fan club. Such behavior is completely unacceptable and brings shame on our community when the Chairman as well as his supporters take such cheap shots at fellow citizens. Regardless of the political opinion, physical or emotional state of any citizen “wishing to be heard”, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.