In their one December 2018 Regular Session, they couldn’t bring themselves to reject a rezoning, but they did require still larger lot sizes, for the Val Del Road rezoning.
That was the most elaborate series of motions I’ve seen on anything in the dozen years I’ve been following the Lowndes County Commission. It even exceeds the time somebody tried to rezone next to my west field and they denied that one by not voting.
Nothing else took more than a few minutes. The County Manager asked for an emergency to get a road open.
Here are links to each LAKE video of each agenda item, with a few notes, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the LAKE videos of the previous morning’s Work Session. and the agenda with LAKE notes. Plus REZ-2018-17 on the agenda last month and the county’s own videos of the 9 Oct 2018 Regular Session. The county did not post its own video of its Work Session. LAKE did get a copy by open records request, and will post it.
- 1. Call to Order 2. Invocation 3. Pledge
- 4. MInutes for Approval
5a. REZ-2018-17 5999 Val Del Road E-A to R-1,98.95 acres
Video. Planning Technician Molly Stevenson had no updates and Commissioners had no questions for her. James Kelty from across the road from the zoning crammed more into five minutes than I’ve heard, including for example that much of the subject property is wetlands, more is taken up by roads, every time it’s seen the number of houses and their value is different: “he has no set plan whatsoever… he just wants to sell the land for a profit….” Also people bought land in that area because it was Estate Agriculture; they have horses, riding arenas, etc. He cited the Planning Commission saying this rezoning would be a mistake. He noted Tom Call said the landowner should be able to make a profit on the land, but there’s no guarantee anybody will make a profit on buying land, especially at the expense of the surrounding community. He was talking about stormwater runoff when his time ran out.
Chairman Bill Slaughter said he would allow only two more speakers, and only if they had something new to say.
He gave Chuck Dunham only one minute. Dunham said if they approved the zoning tonight, they’d be approving something that was denied by the Planning Commission, it’s outside the Comprehensive Plan, and it’s far out of the county’s water and sewer. He said if they approve that, they’ll have a hard time legally defending denying any rezoning.
Jim and Sharon Respess, 6002 Val Del Road noted all the professionals said deny it, all of the Planning Commission except a developer said deny it, and everybody who spoke, except the owner’s representative, said deny it. So he wanted to know why this rezoning was even being voted on. He recommended that if this rezoning passed, the county should terminate the services of the professionals, since they obviously were not needed nor listened to. And get rid of the Zoning Committee [Planning Commission], since it’s irrelevant. They asked them to turn it down.
Michael Mehr, 5909 Val Del Road, said there are already flooding problems, and the developer was doing nothing for children. He said the county was liable for runoff. He said they should check if it would harm anyone, because the county could be sued. And he didn’t want to be hurt, nor did he want children hurt.
In support, nobody but strutting Tom Call, representing the landowner, spoke. He repeatedly referred to the County Commissioners as “you guys”. He claimed the house prices hadn’t changed, and the lot sizes had changed due to requests from “you guys”. He said the average one and a half acres per lot was plenty of room for children, and there were less than ten acres of wetlands on the property, all accounted for in the plan.
Commissioner Clay Griner asked what the actual size of the lots was. Answer: they vary. With more questioning, he said the 1.66 acres was land per house averaged across the whole development, which does include the roads and the wetlands. He seemed to say the wetlands would be divided among the lots.
Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker referred to a letter from Tom Call of September 4, 2018 that said this development would “contribute to the solution of the growing shortage of affordable housing in rural Lowndes County.” Wisenbaker asked, “Is $250,000 to $275,000 affordable housing?” Call said certainly for many people, since in the MLS about 60% of sales is between $200 and $300,000. With more questioning, Call clarified, “I don’t mean low income housing.”
Commissioner Scottie Wisenbaker asked “Mr. Call” if his proposal was 60 lots total. Answer: yes.
Commissioner Demarcus Marshall wanted to know how many acres were wetlands. Answer: between 9 and 10. Exact amount to be determined before development.
Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker asked, “Can we summarize the facts on this case?” The Chairman seemed confused, but said Wisenbaker could do that. The Chairman asked if there were any other speakers in favor. There were none.
Wisenbaker said he is sensitive to this development, because he lives in an area “real similar to this,” Hickory Grove Road, narrow, a lot of traffic, old family farms, with some smaller lots. He said the traffic is a real issue to him. He summarized the future development map shows it’s in an agricultural and forestry character area. It’s outside county water and sewer. R-1 zoning is not supported by the Comprehensive Plan in such a character area. Last time there were 5 neighbors opposing the request. Tonight there are 9 or 10 neighbors opposing the request. Technical Committee and Planning Commission both recommended denial. He said he thinks they should pay attention to staff and the Planning Commission.
Marshall said at 60 lots with 98 acres – 10 acres wetlands is 88 acres that could be developed, and that doesn’t divide out to 1.66 acres a lot. He wondered if the plat was correct. The Chaiman said he had to assume since it was done by a surveyor it was correct. There was further discussion about sizes, resulting in some lots would be about one acre. The Chairman said one acres is the minimum required for well and septic.
Commissioner Wisenbaker made a motion to deny, “given the facts, which are undisputed.” There was no second.
Commissioner Wisenbaker moved to approve with 60 lots maximum. Commissioner Griner seconded. Only they voted for. The motion failed.
Commissioner Marshall moved to approved with lot size “2.5, as recommended by staff.” Commissioner Wisenbaker seconded. They all voted for, visibly, for once, by raising their hands.
County Manager Joe Pritchard asked for the attorney to commit. Walter G. Elliott said that lot size was effectively rezoning it to R-A. Somebody (the Chairman?) said yes. Elliott said the zoning map should reflect R-A. They agreed.
- 5b.REZ-2018-19 Old US 41 N. R-1 to C-G, 1.098 acres
- 6 a. Amendment to existing 5311 Third Party Operating Agreement
- 6 b. Third Party Operator Contract for 5311 Transportation Program
- 6c. GA DoT Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant (LMIG)
- 6 d. Abandonment of unopened Right of Way off of Reed Road
- 6e. Accept infrastructure for Creekside West Subdivision Phase 3C
- 6f. Adoption of the 2019-2020 Budget Calendar
- 6g. Beer License Bigfoot Travel Center #926- 7212 Lake Blvd
- 6h. Beer, Wine & Liquor License Southern Comforts -3954 Old Hwy. 41,
- 6 i. 2019 Holiday Schedule
- 6 j. Section 125 Plan Document Renewal for 2019
- 6 k. Workers’ Compensation Insurance Renewal
- 6 l. Stop Loss Insurance Coverage
- 6 m. Approval of the 2019 Commission Meeting Calendar
- 6 n. Resolution Authorizing Valdosta Housing Authority to Issue Bonds
- 6 o. Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Application
- 6 p. Request to Purchase Demo Rescue Equipment
- 6q. DUI Accountability Court
- 6r. GSA Lease Amendment for USDA Service Center
- 7 a. Sale of Surplus Lakes Blvd. Property
8. Reports – County Manager – Public Works
Video. The emergency is re-opening Martin Lane for access to Swilley Farms. It would cost either:
- $35,500 to put a 8.5 diameter steel pipe under the road to eliminate the pond.
- $40,500 to establish a 4 foot water level, with an additional piece welded onto the pipe to extend into the pond.
The County Engineer said the difference in cost is basically for the welding, which is “a very expensive process.” Per question from Mark Wisenbaker, the Engineer confirmed this was an emergency, so there was no bid process. The Chairman noted it was “our road” and the dam is the road. He recommended the larger sum.
Commissioner Marshall made a motion for the $40,500 option. Commissioner Wisenbaker seconded. All voted aye.
8. Reports – County Manger – end of year thank you
Video. County Manager Joe Pritchard said Carter Way is a private road, but there had been many requests for assistance getting in or out. He thanked staff for helping out during “that weather event”. Also for getting voting machines to the polls that day.
Maybe it’s time for Carter Way to become a county road instead of the county spending still more money on a private road.
- Chairman Comments
- 9. CWTBH (none) 10. Adjournment
Here’s a LAKE video playlist:
Videos: slightly larger: The Settlement North on Val Del Road
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, December 11, 2018.
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