Category Archives: GADCA

SB 104 that changed comprehensive plan rules: good or bad?

The Georgia legislature overwhelmingly passed a rather brief bill that changes the requirements for Comprehensive Plans by local governments. ACCG and GMA both supported it. It seems to be related to recent Department of Community Affairs (DCA) rulemaking that was mostly positive. Does that make it a good law? Opinions seem to differ. Here’s what I’ve found.

The Bill: SB 104

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SGRC: New DCA Minimum Local Comprehensive Planning Standards

Local governments are now required to update their Comprehensive Plans every five years (used to be every ten years). Here’s video of the new rules and a playlist of the entire meeting at which this was discussed in Valdosta on 7 February 2013.

facebook event:

In response to concerns about the complexity of the 2005 Local Government Planning Standards, Georgia DCA adopted new Rules for the Minimum Standards and Procedures for Local Comprehensive Planning (Chapter 110-12-1). The rules were adopted on November 1, 2012 and became effective on January 1, 2013. The five workshops are held as a continued education event around the region to familiarize all local governments elected and appointed officials, government staff, the development community, citizens and any other interested party with the new rules, so that all may remain in compliance with those rules.

This session was held Thursday, February 7th at the Valdosta City Hall Annex Multipurpose room.

Additional sessions are scheduled for:

  • February 21, 2013 —Tifton
  • March 7, 2013—Douglas
  • March 21, 2013—Irwin County
  • April 4, 2013—Waycross

Sessions are geared toward community planners but they are open to the public.

Here’s a video playlist:

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What does Lowndes Comprehensive Plan say about river corridor protection?

Future Development Map Lowndes County 2030 Comprehensive Plan Is the Lowndes County Commission a “Qualified Local Government”? Georgia state law says perennial river corridors shall be protected, all of the major rivers in Lowndes County (Alapaha, Withlacoochee, Little) qualify as perennial, and GA EPD rules say to be a “Qualified Local Government” a comprehensive plan including River Corridor Protection Plans with protection for a natural vegetative buffer area bordering each protected river is required.

GA DCA keeps a list of all the comprehensive plans in the state. Here’s Lowndes County’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The main document is the Community Agenda and here is the map. Hm, the map shows a light blue color for “Park/Recreation/Conservation” for parts of the Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers in Lowndes County, but not all. What about the rest of those rivers in the county?

What does the Community Agenda say? It doesn’t mention any River Corridor Protection Plans. However, it does say this:

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Videos @ LCC 2012-12-11

Moody and the Chamber won, rural residents got wasted, and taxpayers still didn't get to see a single thing the Lowndes County Commission voted on last night in 45 minutes (very long for them) in front of the biggest audience I've ever seen there.

They appointed John "Mac" McCall to ZBOA. They revised the alcohol ordinance with some unspecified "changes to the fee schedule", and added another alcohol restriction to the Lake Park rezoning before approving it.

They approved the solid waste ordinance and granted a waste collection monopoly to a company from New York City despite all known public input being against it. Two more people spoke against it in Citizens Wishing to Be Heard.

Gretchen Quarterman recommended adding all the appointed Boards and Authorities to the county's calendar.

Commissioners accepted applicant's withdrawal of the rezoning request near Moody AFB and tabled indefinitely the related zoning code amendment. They approved rezoning for the Naylor Dollar General.

Commission approved four Decorative Lighting Special Tax Districts (forgetting it was supposed to be a public hearing), and a refund for one that wasn't.

Danny Weeks got approved a new netclock and new phones for the 911 center, and he and his staff got an award. The library railroad continues, the bonds renegotation was approved with about $2 million savings and some legal questions, the Annex has asbestos but they'll deal with it, and after Friday's demolition ceremony there will be a going-away reception for Chairman Paulk, and Bill Slaughter will be the new Chairman.

You missed all that and more at yesterday's Commission meeting.

Here's a video playlist of the Regular Session, followed by the agenda with the videos linked into it.

Update 2014-04-09: Fixed embedded video link.

Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 11 December 2012.

For reference here are the videos of yesterday morning's Work Session. And here is the agenda with links to the videos and some notes.

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Videos @ LCC 2012-12-10

A surprising amount of discussion at yesterday morning’s Lowndes County Commission Work Session, on ZBOA appointment, alcohol Sunday sales, rezoning next to Moody, and more. They said nothing about the solid waste ordinance, however; maybe they’ll table that loser again. They vote tonight:

327 N. Ashley Street — 2nd Floor

Here’s a video playlist of the Work Session, followed by the agenda with the videos linked into it.

Work Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 10 December 2012.

Here’s the agenda, this time with links to the videos and some notes.

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More developer favors at the County Commission Work Session this morning? @ LCC 2012-12-10

At the 8:30 AM Work Session this morning, will the Chairman

Clint Joyner and J.D. Yeager of Joyner Realty
Clint Joyner (speaking) and J.D. Yeager (seated on right)
of Joyner Realty at LCC Work Session 2012-11-12

invite Clint Joyner of Joyner Realty to speak like he did last month, without inviting anybody else? Will Chairman Ashley Paulk invite J.D. Yeager of Joyner Realty (and formerly Sheriff Paulk’s lieutenant at the Sheriff’s office) to speak? That plus solid waste (if privatization is bad for Moody, why is it good for a county public health and safety service like solid waste collection?), Dollar General (where’s the marketing plan to indicate whether tiny Naylor needs the area’s nineteenth Dollar General?), Library, (Houston County’s SPLOST passed in a landslide after they held public hearings; maybe Lowndes County should try that), and Alcohol (county staff say they’re coalescing previous changes into the body of the ordinance), all at the Lowndes County Commission Work Session this morning; here’s the agenda.

When he spoke 12 November 2012, Clint Joyner started by referring to a nearby subdivision “In 2007”. 2007 was the year Mr. Joyner got (according to the Commission’s minutes of 26 June 2007) $130,000 in road construction labor from the Commission because of “an unforeseen Department of Transportation requirement regarding a costly intersection improvement.” Why couldn’t the County Engineer or Mr. Joyner forsee such a requirement?

This time many people do forsee that rezoning to develop in the Moody Activity Zones would be a bad idea. Houston County is using state and local tax money to buy up houses in similar zones around Warner Robins Air Force Base. Doubtless Houston County would love it if Lowndes County encroached enough on Moody AFB that Moody’s missions moved to Robins AFB.


Solid Waste, Developer Favors, Dollar General, Library, and Alcohol: Agenda @ LCC 2012-12-10

Updates 9 Dec 2012: Marked with *.

Will the Lowndes County Commission Tuesday evening finish railroading through their non-solution to solid waste disposal, without shouldering its legal responsibility to protect the environment and the public health, safety, and well-being from solid waste, and what’s this about a vendor change? Will the Chairman once again invite a developer to speak in Monday morning’s Work Session without letting anyone else speak? Will the Commission change the zoning code and rezone inside and against the Moody Exclusion Zone for that same developer they already provided $130,000 in road construction labor to back in 2007? Does Naylor need the area’s nineteenth Dollar General, and who’s behind it, anyway? How come the Five Points library is still on the agenda even though SPLOST VII failed? And what are they doing to the Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance this time? Come Monday morning at 8:30 AM and Tuesday evening at 5:30 PM and see! Better yet, also call or write your Commissioner before then.


6.b. Solid Waste Ordinance

Will the Commissioners finish railroading through their already-failing non-solution to solid waste disposal in the last session of this Chairman? The plan for which they held zero public hearings while any of the Commissioners who voted on it this October were on the Commission, yet someone down there feels free to anonymously ridicule concerns about that plan failing? Two citizens spoke up anyway, even though Citizens Wishing to Be Heard was after the scheduled vote last time, and another on this blog, all willing to state their names, unlike the anonymous pro-trash-railroad ridiculer. What was that unspecified new information that caused them to table it last time, anyway?

8.b. Exclusive Franchise Agreement for Residential Solid Waste Collection Services with Advanced Disposal Services of Central Alabama, Inc.

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Who are the members of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Land Bank Authority?

Inquiring minds want to know who is on the board of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Land Bank Authority (VLCLBA)?

According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs 2010 Directory of Registered Local Government Authorities:

Creation Date 6/24/1999
Method of Creation General Statute
Official Citation O.C.G.A. 48-4-61
Dependency Independent
Single or Multi Jurisdictional Multi-Jurisdictional
Members Lowndes County
City of Valdosta
Contact Mara S. Register, Assistant to the City Manager
Post Office Box 1125
216 E. Central Avenue
Valdosta, Georgia 31603
Board Members Burke Sherwood, Frank Morman, James Wright, Joyce Evans,

Now we know.

How hard would it be for the City of Valdosta or the County of Lowndes to keep such information on their own web pages? They could include pictures better than the ones I found lying about on the web. Maybe even add agendas and minutes while they’re at it?


County Public Hearing on Comprehensive Plan

Tuesday the Lowndes County Commission finally held the missing public hearing about the Comprehensive Plan, and it was pretty painless: only one citizen spoke, and she spoke for. If they’d held it two months ago like all the local cities did, they wouldn’t now be risking not getting state or federal grants because they may not be certified. They still didn’t distribute the draft STWP and ROA before the hearing as the state requires them to do, so they could still be in trouble with the state. However, at least they reset their timeline and held the hearing. That’s a step towards transparency as defined by the state guidelines the county already agreed in writing to follow.

Commissioners had as much to say as they did at the Work Session Monday morning: nothing.

The one citizen, Gretchen Quarterman, said:

I’m a super fan of planning, and I’m a fan of the Comprehensive Plan. I think that if we don’t know where we are going, and we don’t have a plan on how we’re gonna get there, we’re not gonna get there. And the five year plan that tells us exactly what we’re going to in the next five years to get to our 2030 plan is a groovy idea. So that part I’m in favor of. I’ve been over this document pretty thoroughly with Jason, and I still have some questions outstanding which I’m sure that they’ll get resolved. He’s been super helpful.

The one thing I talked to Mr. Raines about and I would encourage the other Commissioners to consider is that in section 4.5.1, at least that’s what I have it on my document. Investigate

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How to read Comprehensive Plan documents

I’m always getting a civics lesson, learning more and more about how our local and state governments work. Most recently, I had the opportunity to have explained two documents related to the Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan: the Short Term Work Projects (STWP) and the Report of Accomplishments (ROA). In the spirit of information exchange, I share what I learned with you.

The state of Georgia requires a Comprehensive Plan and collects and approves them through the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The current plans for all of Georgia are available at the DCA Planning Site.

The current STWP documents that are being reviewed locally are the projects that the local governments and agencies expect to actively work on in the next five years. The ROA documents report on what was done in the past five years: what was completed, or will no longer be pursued. Many municipalities and counties file separate reports. Locally, because there is significant cooperation among the cities and Lowndes County there is one document with all the projects included and a place that indicates which agency is participating in the project. However, their input documents are filed separately, and LAKE has collected them on the LAKE web pages. Also, each local municipality holds its own public hearings.

Reading the STWP and ROA can be a bit tricky but once I understood the format, the process became much easier. The overall topics are prescribed by the state and are in general categories like “Population”, “Economic Development”, “Housing” and “Land Use”. There are sub-categories in each of the ten major categories, like “Secure High-Wage Jobs” and “Address Workforce Adequacy” in the “Economic Development” major category. Then, under each of these items are one or more specific projects that will be done in the next five years to help achieve each goal.

One reason the draft STWP is complex is that it redlines projects that were performed in the previous five years and are now being removed or modified for a variety of reasons. Many projects were completed, some moved from one stage (investigate) to another (implement or market), and still others simply lacked the staff or funding resources to continue being pursued.

The ROA document is in a similar format but the focus of it is to report the status of the STWP for the previous five years. An Explanation Column gives details on the status of each previous project. For example, it says that the “Feed the Elderly Senior Citizen Nutrition Program” has been discontinued because “Budgetary constraints have limited Lowndes County’s role in this supporting action.”.

The STWP and ROA documents are meant to be read as a pair, giving the reader an understanding of where we have been, where we are going and how we are going to get there as a community.