Videos: Sewage, Coal Ash, Historic Preservation, a dead cat, and turkeys @ VCC 2016-03-09

The Valdosta City Council heard from citizens about coal ash, wastewater, and toxic waste in the landfill. Mayor John Gayle offered to answer later in his office Eric Howard’s question about wastewater in his yard. The Mayor expressed his opinion that he and the council couldn’t do anything about the landfill, and read for yourself what he said about the Florida county resolutions about Valdosta wastewater. George Boston Rhynes told a droll tale about a dead cat and turkeys.

The Historic Preservation appeal was long and contentious, with the Mayor twice breaking a tie because only four City Council members were there: the appeal was approved. A citizen spoke about that afterwards, as did Council Tim Carroll.

Council Robert Yost recommended all the Hospital Authority Board should resign.

They unanimously approved both of the rezoning items; ditto the right of way maintenance bids.

And Firefighter Michael Penland is employee of the month.

Below are links to the LAKE video of each item, with a few notes (some drawn from Valdosta’s own SUMMARY OF ACTIONS), followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the agenda.

  • 1. Call to Order, Invocation Pledge 
      1. Call to Order, Invocation Pledge

    Video. SUMMARY OF ACTIONS:
    a) Call to Order – Mayor John Gayle called the meeting to order. Councilman Alvin Payton, Jr. and City Manager Larry Hanson were absent.
    b) Invocation — The invocation was given by Pastor David Northcutt, Greater Mt. Carmel Church.

  • 2. Awards – Employee of the Month 
      2. Awards - Employee of the Month

    Video. SUMMARY OF ACTIONS:
    a) Consideration of the March, 2017 Employee of the Month Award (Firefighter Michael Penland, Fire Department). – Fire Chief Freddie Broome presented the Employee of the Month Award.

  • 3. Minutes Approval 
      3. Minutes Approval

    Video. SUMMARY OF ACTIONS:
    a) Valdosta City Council – Regular Meeting – Feb 23, 2017 5:30 PM — Approved (6-0 Vote).

  • 4a ) Planned Development VA-2017-05 Crown Real Estate 
      4a ) Planned Development VA-2017-05 Crown Real Estate

    Video. See also the LAKE video of the first part of the Planning Commission consideration of this item.

    Valdosta’s SUMMARY OF ACTIONS:
    a) Consideration of an Ordinance for a Planned Development approval for a mixed use development in a Community-Commercial (C-C) Zoning District as requested by Crown Real Estate Development, LLC (File No. VA-2017-05). The property is located at 2107 Baytree Road. The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission reviewed this request at their February Regular Meeting and recommended approval with 9 conditions (7-0 Vote). — Approved (6-0 Vote) with 9 conditions.

  • 4b) Rezoning VA-2017-06 – 401 North St. Augustine Road 
      4b) Rezoning VA-2017-06 - 401 North St. Augustine Road

    Video. SUMMARY OF ACTIONS:
    b) Consideration of an Ordinance to rezone 0.89 acres from Highway-Commercial (C-H) to Community-Commercial (C-C) as requested by Moh’d Admad Moh’d Darwish (File No. VA-2017-06). The property is located at 401 North St. Augustine Road. The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission reviewed this request at their February Regular Meeting and recommended approval (7-0 Vote). — Approved (6-0 Vote).

  • 5. Local Funding / Historic Preservation 902 N. Ashley 
      5. Local Funding / Historic Preservation  902 N. Ashley

    Video. SUMMARY OF ACTIONS:
    a) Consideration of a request to appeal the decision on a Certificate of Appropriateness by the Valdosta Historic Preservation Commission for demolition of a building located at 902 North Ashley Street. — Approved (4-3 Vote with Councilman Yost, Councilman Carroll, and Councilman Norton voting in opposition and Mayor Gayle breaking the tie).

  • 6a) Bids – ROW Maintenance Services 
      6a) Bids - ROW Maintenance Services

    Video. SUMMARY OF ACTIONS:
    a) Consideration of bids for limited, contractual right-of-way maintenance services for the City of Valdosta. — Approved (6-0 Vote).

  • 7. CTBH – Gretchen Quarterman on Coal Ash 
      7. CTBH - Gretchen Quarterman on Coal Ash

    Video. She asked them to get State Rep. Dexter Sharper (D-177) on the coal ash study committee appointed by the legislature after the coal ash bills did not pass. She noted that even though state law does not require notice of toxic chemicals such as coal ash being put in a landfill, local ordinances could, and she asked them to pass one.

  • 7. CTBH – Sally Querin on Historic Preservation 
      7. CTBH - Sally Querin on Historic Preservation

    Video. She said she was a new member of the Historic Preservation Commission and commented on the appeal against that Commission that was granted earlier in this meeting. She pointed out that the request to demolish the building did not include the attached two-car garage, so she wondered what was going to happen when they demolish the building and leave the garage sticking out there.

  • 7. CTBH – Eric Howard on Stormwater and Wastewater 
      7. CTBH - Eric Howard on Stormwater and Wastewater

    Video. He said he got a house near the river to fish and swim, only to discover wastewater was flooding. Mayor John Gayle offered to answer his questions if he would come to the Mayor’s office.

  • 7. CTBH – George Boston Rhynes – a dead cat and turkeys 
      7. CTBH - George Boston Rhynes - a dead cat and turkeys

    Video. He said he saw a dead cat on the highway with a circle of turkeys around it like a religious ceremony. He interpreted this as a divine message for us all to get along. He said he came to thank them all for serving on the city council, and he mentioned the stress of office.

  • 7. CTBH – JD Rice on what toxic waste is in landfill 
      7. CTBH - JD Rice on what toxic waste is in landfill

    Video. He asked them to find out if hazardous waste was being dumped into the landfill. He also applauded them on the truck bypass proposals.

  • 7. CTBH – John Quarterman on Florida Resolutions about wastewater overflows 
      7. CTBH - John Quarterman on Florida Resolutions about wastewater overflows

    Video. I handed out the Suwannee County resolution, and pointed out I had nothing to do with getting that one passed, nor the ones from the other six downstream counties: I was just collecting them and talking to the Council about them. I pointed out the part on page 2 about:

    WHEREAS, yet again, on January 22, 2017, the City of Valdosta had another failure resulting in the release of million gallons of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater into the Withlacoochee River which again resulted in the Florida Department of Health issuing public health advisories warning the public of wastewater contamination in the Withlacoochee River and portions of the Historic Suwannee River, which resulted in warnings being posted at all public access areas along the rivers stating that the rivers were not safe for recreational use and every precaution should be taken to avoid any contact with the river; and

    I pointed out that people stop using the rivers when they see such warnings, and that’s a serious problem for those counties.

    I suggested that if Florida wants to do something, it could institute and pay for regular water quality monitoring up and down the rivers in Florida, not just when there was a spill. I also suggested Valdosta could organize independent third-party water quality monitoring, not even overseen by Valdosta. I was enumerating how many Florida counties had passed resolutions when the Mayor brought down his gavel at three minutes.

    The Mayor’s response verbatim:

    All right your three minutes are up. I will answer one question. I know this might surprise you, but we are monitoring that situation continuously right now. And all it does is prove that we are right. The water that comes from the north end of the county is dirtier than water that leaves the wastewater treatment plant are. Now, when that water gets to the county, to the state line down there, it’s picked up, as you can imagine, fertilizer, animal feces, and all that. And by the time it gets to the state line it’s dirtier than it is, much dirtier, than when it leaves our plant.

    So we’re doing everything we can, John, to make sure that we have all our information correct. We’re monitoring that situation. [inaudble sentence due to someone coughing.] We’ll be glad to furnish you with the facts.

    I responded that I understood that, but they were told last summer that the problem had been fixed, and then it wasn’t.

    We haven’t had any spills. We had the one problem with the new plant, and it was not our fault. We spent $58 million on that plant, and the people that designed it and built it were at fault and they corrected it, so there’s not going to be another problem.

    I told him “I applaud your efforts. I’m just pointing out there’s a credibility problem downstream. I made suggestions…

    They like to blame somebody else, that’s for sure.

    I just laughed and said thank you. The mayor concluded:

    You’re welcome.

    I did speak to the Mayor afterwards and noted he should welcome Florida doing water quality monitoring, because if he was right it would demonstrate that. He seemed to agree with that point.

  • 7. CTBH – William Worstell on toxic waste from Albany 
      7. CTBH - William Worstell on toxic waste from Albany

    Video. He expressed concern about hazardous waste such as coal ash in the landfill and asked the city to look into it. Here’s the Mayor’s response:

    It’s not our landfill, I hate to tell you. We do not own that landfill. It’s owned by a private company, and we dump just like everybody else, so that’s not, we don’t control it.

  • 8. City Managers Report – Mark Barber fills in for Larry Hanson 
      8. City Managers Report - Mark Barber fills in for Larry Hanson

    Video. They’re having their annual retreat March 17th and 18th (today and tomorrow) in Lenox, Georgia (not, that’s not in Valdosta or Lowndes County). Council Robert Yost said he wanted to commend the Hospital Authority Board for making major changes in their administration. However, he said they should look in the mirror and “They should resign: all of them.”

  • 9. Council Comments 
      9. Council Comments

    Video. Council Tim Carroll said he thought it was unfortunate politics got in the way of the Historic Preservation decision.

Here’s a LAKE video playlist:


Videos: Sewage, Coal Ash, Historic Preservation, a dead cat, and turkeys
Regular Session, Valdosta City Council (VCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 9 March 2016.

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2 thoughts on “Videos: Sewage, Coal Ash, Historic Preservation, a dead cat, and turkeys @ VCC 2016-03-09

  1. Pingback: Videos: Sewage at Valdosta City Council 2017-03-09 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®)

  2. Pingback: Videos: Coal ash at Valdosta City Council and Lowndes County Commission 2017-03-09-14 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®)

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