Lowndes County apparently forgot to turn on the audio feed to the media corral in the back of the room during their August 10, 2021, Regular Session. Gretchen noticed during the 811 Day Proclamation and switched to the camera’s microphone, which was better than no audio. They did turn the audio feed back on during the approval of the Minutes.
The Lowndes County Commission has not videoed their own meetings for about a year now, despite authorizing $110,147.78 for Commission Chambers Audio and Visual Upgrade back in April with a report in July of expected total delivery in August. Meanwhile, the City of Valdosta livestreamed all their meetings during the pandemic with an iPhone.
The longest item by far at twelve minutes was 7.b. REZ-2021-12 US 84/I-75 Industrial Park – PD amendment for solar. After Attorney Jack Langdale spoke for, Gretchen Quarterman also spoke for.
Second was 10. Reports – County Manager, which includes some discussion about rural broadband funding.
Plus five Citizens Wishing to Be Heard, two about impassible private dirt roads, two others about drainage problems, and Brad Folsom: citizens request for more transparency.
It didn’t take a crystal ball to predict (as I did) that Wild Adventures Jon Vigue would be appointed to the Valdosta Lowndes Tourism Authority, since the last two appointees were also Wild Adventures GM.
Commissioners approved the 8.b. Alapaha Plantation Water Treatment Pilot Study, but there are murmurings that they are not going to do any subdivision water systems more like that.
Below 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 preceding Monday morning Work Session,
the preceding Planning Commission meeting.
The board packet, received after a LAKE open records request,
is on the LAKE website:
1. Call to Order 2. Invocation 3. Pledge (no audio)
Video. Audio wasn’t working from distribution panel. You can imagine what they are saying.
4. Lowndes County 811 Day Proclamation
Video. Audio to the panel in back of room was not working. Cable removed as commissioners moved to read proclamation and have photos taken. Ambient audio is better than none.
5. Minutes for Approval
Video. Audio to the distribution box at the back or the room was enabled and reconnected.
6.a. Appointment – Valdosta Lowndes Tourism Authority
Video. Not a surprise that Jon Vigue (GM at Wild Adventures) was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Molly Deese (former GM at Wild Adventures). Chairman Bill Slaughter nominnated him, and nobody else was nominated. To his credit, Jon Vigue came to both the Work Session and the Regular Session. Few applicants for any board bother to do that these days.
7.a. REZ-2021-09 Building Valdosta (0070 018), R-A to R-21, withdrawn
Video. Withdrawn by applicant. According to one Commissioner, there are still issues regarding the two streams that run through the property. Chances are the applicant will be back later with a revised plan.
7.b. REZ-2021-12 US 84/I-75 Industrial Park – PD amendment for solar
Video. The Planning Commission recommended approval 9:0 for this item, on the basis of solar panels as an essential public service. Nobody spoke against.
Attorney Jack Langdale spoke for, noting the applicant had considered various other uses before settling on a solar array, which makes no noise, creates no emissions, and mostly can’t even be seen behind the property’s vegetative buffer. He discussed the difference between intensive service or public service. Examples of public services include electric transmission lines or a sewer system lift station. An intensive service would require IS zoning, which would include landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, and power plants: things that require environmental permits to protect groundwater, streams, river, and air quality. He also noted there are already solar panels in a wide range of other zoning classifications, which would seem to indicate they are an essential public service. One of the topics on the current revision of the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) is solar panels, but for now, the Commission can continue to interpret solar panels they way they have been in other zonings.
Commissioner Clay Griner asked where they planned to put solar panels. Answer: in multiple zoning parcels. No other questions.
Gretchen Quarterman also spoke for, saying she usually stood up to ask the Commission to deny something, but this time she asked them to vote for.
Clay Griner made the motion to allow solar panels in M-1 and M-2 zoning, provided the existing buffers are maintained. Demarcus Marshall seconded. Unanimous approval.
8.a. Vertiv Service Contract for Liebert UPS at 911 Center & 4 Tower Sites
Video. Danny Weeks presented. Unanimous approval.
8.b. Alapaha Plantation Water Treatment Pilot Study
Video. Alapaha Plantation water system – a poster child for why Lowndes should NEVER again approve a private water well.
They approved this one, after Utilities Director Steve Stalvey confirmed that the same firm would be responsible for continued operations.
9.a. Purchase of Body Cameras and Dash Cameras for Various Departments
Video. Unanimous approval.
10. Reports – County Manager
Video. County Manager Paige Dukes said SGMC opened a drive-through testing center for COVID-19. Madison County Florida is touring the Lowndes County Emergency Operations Center, which was opened after Lowndes County looked at a number of Florida facilities. Our soil is saturated. In the trillion dollar federal relief act there is $550 billion for rural broadband. Water and sewer grant process with the state of Georgia.
She and the Chairman had a call with the state about broadband service. The Chairman said AT&T is backing out of some territory and Windstream is looking to pursue those territories, including in Lowndes County. He said it would help if Lowndes County would take the lead and provide some funding, especially for the north end of the county, especially near Moody AFB. Scottie Orenstein and Demarcus Marshall both said they would support that. The County Manager said that according to a statewide heat map there were also underserved areas in the south end of the county.
11. CWTBH – Cathy Dozier – Mud Swamp Road is washed out
Video. They’re having a lot of problems with their road, including children having to walk a quarter mile through standing water to get to school. Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker said he had already talked to her, and the County Engineer and County Manager had been to see the road, where they found some culverts completely stopped up. Ms. Dozier said someone had talked to the owner of the culverts The Chairman reminded them that it is a private road. Commissioner Wisenbaker said maybe they could do something, and meanwhile local landowners were looking to donate some right of way. Ms. Dozier said she was collecting signatures.
11. CWTBH – Ash Croft – Mud Tussle Road and Mud Swamp Road are unpassable
Video. Mud Tussle Road is also a private road. He said it has been hard for him to understand the process of getting the road taken over by the county. He spoke to Mr. Wisenbaker three years ago. He thinks they’re getting a petition signed. He understands first come, first served, and it could take a couple years. Meanwhile, they’re underwater. The Chairman asked him to stay afterwards for more discussion.
11. CWTBH – Brad Folsom – citizens request for more transparency
Video. He’s the attorney for the withdrawn subdivision rezoning 7.a. REZ-2021-09 Building Valdosta (0070 018), R-A to R-21. He asks for more transparency in revisions of the Comprehensive Plan and ULDC. He said he has 300 signatures on a petition opposing changes to the Character Area, and another 300 on some other petition. I don’t remember him or them at any of the previous Comprehensive Plan Update Workshops.
11. CWTBH – Deborah and Matthew Williams – drainage easment
Video. They say a county-owned drainage ditch is blocked, and they’ve gotten no satisfaction from the County Engineer or anybody else at the county. A neighbor gave them permission to go through his property, but nothing else from the county. Their barn and equipment stands in water and weather because of this. They note a subdivision is planned that would send still more water down that ditch. They’re located just south of Bethany Drive, so apparently they mean 7.a. REZ-2021-09 Building Valdosta (0070 018), R-A to R-21, withdrawn. They want that ditch tied into Bay Branch, and the water off their property. The Chairman asked for them to wait until after the meeting for more discussion.
11. CWTBH – Eddie Tooley – Gaines Lane ditches
Video. “I’m here still about the process going on at Gaines Lane.” Supposed to be paved, but it’s a mess; can’t get in when it rains. She signed a form giving the county permission to go on her property. She complains a neighbor told the county where to stop, even though he doesn’t know where her property is. Ms. Tooley thinks the county should know where the property lines are.
12. Meeting Adjournment
Here’s a LAKE video playlist:
Videos: Tourism Authority appointment, 3 rezonings, wetlands, solar, UPS, Lake Alapaha water treatment, body cameras @ LCC Regular 2021-08-10
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
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