Half the meeting (11 1/2 minutes) Tuesday was Commissioners grilling Sheriff Chief Deputy Joe Crow about the cost of High Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (Heat): how less funding is provided the more successful the program is, and federal funding may go away, leaving the county to foot the bill. Chairman asked for monthly statistical updates. Commissioner Demarcus Marshall moved to approve continuation of the grant, plus a statement in favor of the grant including a disclaimer that the county would “work to preserve” as much of the grant as possible if state funding goes away.
They approved finally fixing the railroad bridge over Old Quitman Highway. and similar but less complicated (no railroad) for the Jumping Gulley Road bridge. Nobody mentioned that the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline proposes to cross Jumping Gulley Road half a mile west of that bridge, and then to open cut through Jumping Gulley Creek just south of the state line.
Snake Nation Road is getting an emergency $168,928 box culvert repair, which isn’t fast enough for former Commissioner Richard Lee, who has to commute about half as far on his detour as I do every time I go to the county palace: and nobody mentioned all the money the county previously spent to fix a sinkhole on the same road, nor whether the underlying karst limestone swiss cheeze could have had something to do with this emergency box culvert replacement.
Below are links to each of the LAKE videos of the Tuesday September 13th 2016 Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission, with a few notes, followed by a video playlist.
- 1. Call to Order 2. Invocation 3. Pledge
- 4. Minutes for Approval
5.a. REZ-2016-16 Livingston Properties, Bemiss Knights Academy Rd
Video. County Planner Jason Davenport said there was a question at the Planning Commission the previous night from an adjacent developer about any potential negative effect of Livingston’s sewage plans on his neighboring development. Davenport said the critic was present, but he did not speak against in the public hearing, nor did anyone else.
The developer of the subject property, Nathan Livingston of Lakeland, GA, said he was opposed to the Planning Commission’s recommendation to bring Merriman all the way through to Knights Academy, claiming it was not financially feasible. Instead he proposed converting the dead end of Merriman Court into a turn-around cul-de-sac for fire trucks. Commissioner Scottie Orenstein got Livingston to spell out that taking Merriman all the way through would reduce the number of lots, which would be the financial issue. Davenport also clarified that the developer was within his rights of what he was required to do by county ordinances.
Orenstein moved to approve with no conditions. Commissioner Demarcus Marshall seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
5.b. REZ-2016-17 Grove Pointe Ph 6, Dasher Grove Rd
Video. Nobody spoke against or for in the public hearing. Commissioner Scottie Orenstein had a questioon about lot size. County Planner Jason Davenport said they were big enough. Orenstein asked if the applicant could verify that. Chairman Bill Slaughter started to say they couldn’t ask that because they’d already done the public hearing, but decided applicant could respond to a direct question.
Applicant said they lost the R-15 zoning for phase 1 they wanted, so they’re doing “a catch-all” for the R-10 zoning, averaging about 19,000 square feet from 15,000 square feet or a third of an acre up to 2 acres. It’s 50 lots instead of the 141 lots they wanted with R-15 in phase 1. They did a tree survey and “a little variation” to save “some of” the big oaks.
Commissioners wanted to approve the site plan, but they couldn’t because it’s not a PD (Planned Development). Developer claimed the engineering was paid for so it’s not changing. Commissioners unanimously approved the rezoning as requested.
5.c. Abandonment of Strong Road
Video. County Engineer Mike Fletcher said Strong Road was actually gated 15 or 20 years ago. He had to remind the Chairman that this was actually the public hearing. Chairman asked for speakers from the audience, but nobody wanted to speak against or for. Commissioners unanimously voted to abandon Strong Road by approving the resolution as presented.
6.a. 2015 CDBG, Children’s Advocacy Center – Property Transaction
Video. Commissioner Joyce Evans recused herself (without using that word). The other Commissioners unanimously approved the transaction.
6.b. 2015 CDBG, Children’s Advocacy Center,Agreements/Documents
Video. Again Commissioner Joyce Evans recused herself (and this time the Chairman used the word), and the other Commissioners unanimously approved the documents to be signed by the Chairman.
6.c. Resolution to Adopt Hazard Mitigation Plan Update
Video. Of the local cities, only Dasher and Remerton had not already adopted this plan already (Valdosta, Hahira, and Lake Park have). Commissioner Demarcus Marshall asked for legal advice whether he should recuse himself because he was involved with the City of Valdosta’s work on this plan. The alleged County Attorney said he could recuse himself if he wanted to. The other Commissioners voted unanimously for the plan.
6.d. Abandonment of Unopened Right of Way Pikes Pond Road
Video. County Engineer Mike Fletcher asked for an initial determination to abandon:
“As a part of the original subdivision there was supposed to be a cul-de-sac. This cul-de-sac was never paved, and the owner at 4868 would like to improve her driveway. And that’s why we’re here.”
Commissioners unanimously approved that initial determination.
6.e. Quit Claim Deed for Abandoned ROW on Old Miller Concrete Property
Video. County Engineer Mike Fletcher asked for authorization for the Chairman to sign quit claim deeds from a road abandonment that occured in 2008 so the developer can clean up and rehab the property. Commissioners approved unanimously.
- 6.f. Section 5311 Rural Transportation Program Capital Contract
6.g. Surveying and Engineering Service for Old Quitman Road Bridge
Video. County Engineer Mike Fletcher estimated the cost would be “somewhere around a million or a million two to replace” the bridge, which is less than the three million it would take at its current angle without changing it to be at right angles as they currently plan. Commissioner Demarcus Marshall noted on the T-SPLOST list they had a higher estimate. Fletcher said that was the original in-house estimate. Also the county was getting the needed rights of way donated at no cost to the county. They have a meeting in Atlanta Friday with CSX. Timing is “entirely up to how the railroad works”. However, CSX doesn’t see any problem with being ready for the work next year. Commissioners unanimously approved the request.
6.h. Surveying and Engineering Services for Jumping Gully Road Bridge
Video. County Engineer Mike Fletcher said this was also for next year “which has numerous times gone underwater due to backwater flooding” so they’re designing and engineering a new grade level for the structure.
Nobody mentioned the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline proposes to cross Jumping Gulley Road half a mile west of that bridge, and then just south of the state line to cross Jumping Gulley Creek itself with an open cut.
6.j. High Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (Heat)
Video. See writeup at the top of this blog post.
- 7.a. Bid for Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment
7.b. Snake Nation Road Culvert Emergency Repairs
Video. Listed on Agenda as item 6i. but Chairman Bill Slaughter called it out as 7b. County Engineer Mike Fletcher said this was a result of the recent hurricane which caused the box culvert to shift and crack. He recommends Dunman Construction for $168,928 to replace the full box culvert. Commissioner Soctty Orenstein wanted to know the difference between a box culvert and a arch culvert. Answer: an arch culvert is pre-fabbed and brought in on a truck for reassembly, while a box culvert is poured in place. They did take bids, and among the bids received for free-span bridge, arch culvert, and box culvert, this one was the low bid. Commissioners approved that recomendation.
Nobody mentioned this is the same Snake Nation Road of the 2011 emergency no-bid change order for $300,000 to reroute the road around a sinkhole they first tried to fill in, in a sinkhole-prone region that more recently saw a sinkhole near Shiloh Road. Could the fragile karst limestone swiss cheeze underground have had anything to do with this emergency box culvert repair?
- 8. Reports – County Manager – no additional report
9. CWTBH – Richard Lee
Video. Former County Commissioner Richard Lee showed up to complain about a line of 20 cars on Shiloh Road:
“…as I was coming in on the detour, which at my particular location adds an additional 10 miles round-trip to our trip. So we’re doubling our round trip. It’s normally 10. So we’re now drving 20 miles. And we’re not the only people. There’s a little colony of folks out there in Snake Nation and others who are seriously inconvenienced.”
Lee did compliment the county on several points, including “a trailer park that’s long overdue to be done away with” which sounds like the old days when he was on the Commission: sweep aside them poor folks.
For comparison, it’s 14 miles as the crow flies from my house to the county palace, almost sixteen miles by the shortest route, and 23 miles if I go by I-75, for a round trip of 30 or 46 miles, around twice his detour distance. So my sympathy level for Mr. Lee’s brief commute is not very high, considering I made that trip many a time to hear him speak and Gretchen and I have kept at it as a public service many years after he retired from the Commission.
- 10. Meeting Adjournment
Here’s a LAKE video playlist:
Videos: HEAT on Sheriff finances @ LCC 2016-09-13
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, September 13, 2016.
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