Why should Lowndes County spend half a million dollars to subsidize a developer? 2022-01-24

Update 2022-01-25: Discussion of court grants and Loch Laurel Road project, little of property subsidy @ LCC 2022-01-24.

The $568,971.00 for 5.k. Property Purchase – Building Valdosta, LLC is a markup of $323,971 over the price that property sold for last year, supposedly to protect Moody AFB, even though how is not said and it’s 2.4 miles away. The developer is the same as for the 5999 Val Del Road rezoning last October. And there appear to be more previous subsidies from the County Commission to the same developer.

This current giveaway on GA 122 is on the agenda for this morning’s Work Session and Tuesday evening’s voting Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission.

Who does it profit? And how does it protect Moody AFB?

[Building Valdosta parcel, Comprehensive Plan with MAZ]
Building Valdosta parcel, Comprehensive Plan with MAZ

After I pointed out to the Lowndes County PIO and Clerk that the county was apparently in violation of the Georgia Open Records Act (GORA) by not returning the board packet within three days, they sent it at 7PM on Saturday. The packet is on the LAKE website. However, the packet includes no information about this item beyond the agenda sheet, which says:

HISTORY, FACTS AND ISSUES: At the direction of the Commission, staff has worked with the County Attorney to prepare a purchase agreement that will provide for Lowndes County to purchase 41.543 acres of property on Highway 122 inclusive of development costs incurred by the current owners and as reflected in the agreement, for the purpose of protecting Moody Air Force Base from encroachment.

It doesn’t say where that 41.543 acres is. But the Lowndes County Tax Assessors online web pages and map find it as 7404 E HWY 122, 2.4 miles north of Moody AFB.

[Building Valdosta LLC, 7404 E HWY 122, 41.54 acres]
Building Valdosta LLC, 7404 E HWY 122, 41.54 acres, in Lowndes County Tax Assessors Map.

As you can see, the assessed value is $170,806. That’s close to the $173,000 Rodney Cain paid for it May 18, 2018.

He sold it for $245,000 on January 14, 2021, to Building Valdosta LLC.

And now the county proposes to buy it for $568,971.00.

FYI, Rodney Cain is the Lowndes County Tax Commissioner (not Assessor). He already got 41% profit off that parcel.

Now the county proposes to pay another 132% markup.

To whom? According to the Georgia Secretary of State, Building Valdosta LLC was originally formed in 2015, but administratively dissovled September 7, 2018.

Then it was reinstated January 17, 2019, with a curious notarized addendum saying:

I, Clint Joyner, certify that I was a member of Building Valdosta, LLC at the time it was administratively dissolved. I have knowledge of and do hereby assent to the application for resintatement.

Clint Joyner

Sworn to and subscribed before me
this 25th of January 2019.

[Notary signature and seal.]

That statement does not say whether or not he’s still involved in the reinstated LLC. The Registered Agent is Jack Langdale with his office address as Principal Office, as is the case with many LLCs.

The 2020 annual filing lists Eric M. Tillman as the authorized person.

The 2021 and 2022 annual filings list Clint Joyner as the authorized person.

So, which of these people stand to gain $323,971 markup from the county’s purchase of this property?

And what do they plan to use the property for? Whatever it is, how does it help protect Moody AFB?

That parcel is in the Moody Activity Zone (MAZ), which restricts uses such as subdivisions.


The above is the map for the 2021 Comprehensive Plan Update.

But the MAZ is the same in the 2016 Update map:

[Lowndes County Character Area Map 2016]
Lowndes County Character Area Map 2016

The Lowndes County Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) says, among other things in 4.02.04:

  1. Development standards within the MAZ Zoning districts
    1. Within the MAZ, in addition to those uses prohibited in Chapter 2, the following uses are prohibited:
      1. Multi-Family Residential Development; and
      2. Single-Family Residential with a Density of more than one (1) unit per two and one-half (2.5) acres.

Lowndes County has three zoning districts within MAZ: MAZ I, MAZ II, and MAZ III. The current codification of these districts was somewhat controversial when proposed back in June 2015. Moody AFB had some things to say about them, as relayed to the County Commission in October 2015, including:

The initial presentation of these family and agricultural worker types of allowances were ultimately withdrawn due to concerns over the long-term potential increases in density and the negative impacts that they may have on Moody AFB. In lieu of those family and agricultural worker density increases County leadership has discussed investigating some form of financial relief for MAZ property owners.

Is that what the county is doing now? Offering “financial relief” for MAZ property owners? But the current owners did not own the subject property in 2015.

General Mapping of MAZ in MAZ ULDC Text Amendment TXT-2015-01 8 June 2015.

The subject property is in MAZ II. According to ULDC Table 4.01.03(B), buildings have to have a minimum width of 21 feet and be built of “Wood, masonry, concrete, stucco, masonite, vinyl lap, or other materials of like appearance. The siding shall not be made of metal or any similar shiny or reflective material.” Skirting Material must be “Brick, concrete, wood, rock, or other materials specifically manufactured for the purpose of skirting. Vinyl skirting is not allowed.”

We don’t know whether any subdivision in the proposed property would meet those requirements, because the board packet doesn’t say even that there is a proposed subdivision.

See also:

  1. All applications for rezoning and development approval, including site plans, building permits, subdivision plats, sign permits, temporary use permits, and other permits and plans shall be subject to review by the Moody Air Force Base Installation Commander or designated representative. Such review shall be limited to issues of compatibility with Moody Air Force Base and issues affecting the safety of persons and property related to aircraft take-offs, landings, and flight operations.

So did the Commander object to this development?

In any case, any developer should have known all this about the MAZ when they bought the property in January 2021, or May 2018.

Character Area

Even without the MAZ, the subject property is in the Agriculture and Forestry Character Area of the Comprehensive Plan.

Comprehensive Plan Future Development Map
Comprehensive Plan Future Development Map in MAZ ULDC Text Amendment TXT-2015-01 8 June 2015.

Are the “development costs” the county wants to subsidize costs for building a subdivision? If so, what was it doing there in the first place?

The same developer benefited by the Lowndes County Commission split vote to approve 5.b. REZ-2021-16 G W Farms, 5999 Val Del Road October 12, 2021, also in the Agricultural and Forestry Character Area, far outside of any appropriate Character Area, despite a 7:2 Planning Commission recommendation of denial, county staff recommending denial, and a thousand-signature petition against that rezoning.

More before that

A previous proposed amendment to the MAZ was also controversial back in 2012; see Jason Shaefer, Valdosta Daily Times, December 19, 2012, County, Moody fight over base activity zone ordinance. The main purpose for these changes seemed to be to allow a subdivision with parcels smaller than 2.5 acres about three miles from the base. Then-Chairman Ashley Paulk noted, “I want to make it very clear that I don’t have any interest in that subdivision on Davidson Road.”

Chairman Paulk spoke for that text amendment to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, but they voted to oppose it. As did the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission, and it was opposed by the county’s own Technical Review Committee, as well as by Moody AFB.

When a MAZ ULDC text amendment came back in July 2015, new Chairman Bill Slaughter said they had “absolutely nothing to do with” the 23 acres on Davidson Road that were proposed to be rezoned R-21 back in 2010, after the county paved Davidson Road.

But back in November 2012 at the Planning Commission, then-County Planner Jason Davenport did tie the 2012 proposed ULDC changes to the proposed rezoning REZ-2012-17:

We’ve recently had that rezoning request 2012-17 which was for the R-10 zoning district that y’all saw and recommended on last month. At the County Commission level they recommended to table that request. As a response one of the things we learned that the Commission had concerns with the density requirement in this area. As a result this text amendment is a potential way to address that. Basically saying that if you have a more restrictive zoning closer to the base, this zoning can be less restrictive than one acre.

LAKE video of County Planner Jason Davenport, Greater Lowndes Planning Commission, 2012-11-26, 4. TEX-2012-02.

REZ-2012-17, Parcel 0181 001
Parcel 0181 001 in Lowndes County Tax Assessors Map.

At the November 12, 2012, County Commission Work Session, Chairman Ashley Paulk asked the developer of REZ-2012-17, Lowndes Development, LLC, Davidson Road, to come forward and speak. He identified himself as Clint Joyner, 4732 Misty Valley Circle. He appears to be the Clint Joyner of ERA Joyner Realty. He claimed personnel at Moody AFB wanted this development for affordable housing. No opponents of the development were asked to speak.

LAKE video of Lowndes County Commission Regular Session, 2012-11-12, 7.b. REZ-2012-17 Lowndes Development, LLC, Davidson Rd MAZ II and MAZ III to R-10, County Water & Sewer, ~23.49 acres.

On November 7, 2012, Gretchen Quarterman wrote to then-Commissioner Richard Raines asking,

I am also concerned that the developer in question (Joyner Realty) is the same one to whom the county donated $130,000 of labor to improve Davidson Road a few years ago. Is our local government in the business of helping developers? If so, under what conditions and why?

According to the Lowndes County Commission minutes for June 26, 2007 (which are no longer on the county’s website):

County Engineer, Mike Fletcher, presented an item that was brought to the Commission during the previous work session regarding the paving of Davidson Road. Further, Mr. Clint Joyner was in the process of building a previously approved development that was being affected by an unforeseen Department of Transportation requirement regarding a costly intersection improvement. Mr. Fletcher further stated that Mr. Joyner was required to pave a portion of Davidson Road; however, due to the intersection cost he was offering to purchase the materials for the funding of the entire road, if the county would provide the road construction labor at a cost of approximately $130,000.00. Commissioner Lee made a motion to approve the request, Vice Chairman Carter and Commissioner Roberts offered a second. Motion carried.

I asked back in 2012,

What is it about this Clint Joyner or Joyner Realty or Davidson Road that the County Commission should favor him or them so? It can’t be the individual Commissioners: not a one of them is the same now from 2007. What is the same then and now?

Maybe other people would like an answer to that question.

More odd doings about Davidson Road

In January 2012, the County Commission voted to subsidize a $128,497.05 cost overrun on Davidson Road. That was for a Moody AFB entrance gate, so probably unrelated to subdivisions, but still questionable use of tax funds.

In January 2019, the county paid $850,000 of state funds to buy some real estate on Davidson Road.

Maybe the county could exercise a bit more discretion and foresight in dispensing tax funds.


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