Tag Archives: Hotchkiss Crossing

Make sure people in my age group know who they’re voting for —Brett Huntley @ LCC 2013-02-26

Brett Huntley responded to the Commission's mysterious ruling against the public at the 26 Febuary 2013 Lowndes County Commission meeting, to close the only public access to the Alapaha River in Lowndes County. Neither County Manager Joe Pritchard nor County Engineer Mike Fletcher were paying any attention.

I would like to publicly say that I am shocked with the decision. I feel the decision was in favor of a sole person, and not in the interests of the community and the citizens. We tried to speak and explain our side of the story. And the county road has not ceased to be used. It's been being used in our county for over 100 years. I feel your guys just made a decision that will have an impact on our culture and heritage in the community that is not good. It's a bad decision, I feel.

I kind of feel hurt. I feel it's a personal thing for our community. That whole road abandonment idea stems from one sole person

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Video: two appointments, a public hearing, and two grants @ LCC 2013-02-25

Newsflash! “no new information” and “questions were resolved” about the proposed abandonment of Old State Road at Hotchkiss Landing on the Alapaha River, according to the Commission. They vote tonight at 5:30 PM.

Dr. Bill Grow talked for fifteen minutes about South Health District, and managed not to ask the county for money, although the Health Dept. clearly could use some. Ashley Tye reported on local weather conditions and the county’s Code Red emergency warning system, in which lack of Internet access by some county residents came up.

It’s J. Glenn Gregory again for the South Regional Joint Development Authority and Commissioner Joyce Evans for the Southern Georgia Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council. They are applying for a grant for the county’s MIDS bus system and reapplying for a CDBG grant for Second Harvest.

Here’s the agenda, with links to the videos and some notes, followed by a video playlist.

WORK SESSION, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2013, 8:30 a.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor
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Proposed abandonment of a portion of County Road 16/Old State Rd. —Brett Huntley @ LCC 2013-02-25

Received today; he sent it to all the Commissioners. -jsq

To the commission on the proposed idea of road abandonment on County Rd. #16:

On the morning of 2/25/13 after the county commission’s morning work session, my wife and I spoke with Joyce Evans and Bill Slaughter on some of our concerns and new found technical information about road abandonment, Georgia state waterways, and what the county and state are expected to protect.

During our conversation we were told that for unexplained legal reasons the county would have to give the road back to the land owner. At this time my thoughts and questions come back to: Why if for legal reasons do we have to give the land back or away, and why are we even having to have a public hearing on this matter, if the public has no say?

Also during this conversation Bill mentioned

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Agenda: two appointments, a public hearing, and two grants @ LCC 2013-02-25

The county’s website, down earlier today, is back up, so we can see there is a Work Session this morning, with voting at the Regular Session tomorrow evening at 5:30 PM. The proposed abandonment of Old State Road at Hotchkiss Landing on the Alapaha River, tabled two weeks ago, is on the agenda, although the Georgia Supreme Court makes me wonder why. One of the two appointments is to the South Regional Joint Development Authority which Andrea Schruijer mentioned at the most recent VLCIA board meeting. Another is to the Southern Georgia Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council. I’m guessing one person to each agency; the agenda doesn’t say how many nor who the candidates are. Here’s the agenda. -jsq

WORK SESSION, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2013, 8:30 a.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor
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County can’t “lawfully vacate a public street or highway for the benefit of a private individual” —Georgia Supreme Court

While I don’t know if the proposed closing of the end of Old State Road leading to Hotchkiss Landing at the Alapaha River is even on the agenda for this morning’s Work Session (Clarification: Monday 25 Feb 2013; they vote 5:30 PM Tuesday 26 Feb 2013), because the county’s website is down and I can’t retrieve an agenda, in case it is, it may be of interest to know that the Georgia Supreme Court appears to have explicitly forbidden what the county is proposing to do.

Georgia Supreme Court, GRIFFITH v. C & E BUILDERS, 231 Ga. 255 (1973), 200 S.E.2d 874:


1. “When a grantor sells lots of land, and in his deeds describes them as bounded by streets, not expressly mentioned in the deeds, but shown upon a plat therein referred to as laid out in a subdivision of the grantor’s land, he is estopped to deny the grantees’ right to use the streets delineated in such plat. Ford v. Harris [95 Ga. 97, 22 SE 144]; Schreck v. Blun, 131 Ga. 489 (62 SE 705); Wimpey v. Smart, 137 Ga. 325 (73 SE 586); Gibson v. Gross, 143 Ga. 104 (84 SE 373). By parity of reasoning those claiming under such conveyances are estopped from denying the existence of the streets so delineated upon the plat of the subdivision and given as boundaries of lots acquired by these and others from the grantor or those claiming under him. All persons claiming under such grantor are forever estopped to deny their existence. 19 CJ 928, § 127 (b).” Tietjen v. Meldrim, 169 Ga. 678, 697 (151 SE 349); Davis v. City of Valdosta,223 Ga. 523 (156 S.E.2d 345).

I am not a lawyer, but I wonder what a lawyer would say 1. above implies about the county doing nothing about a blocked public road?

But the Georgia Supreme Court didn’t stop there:

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Georgia Recreational Use Statute

Suppose you owned land next to a river. You might have concerns about liability for people getting out of canoes or kayaks onto your land. But you’re in luck! Georgia state law says you’re not liable for most things that could happen.

The Georgia Recreational Use Statute is in O.C.G.A. §51-3-20 through §51-3-26. Here are a few excerpts.

§51-3-20. Purpose of article

The purpose of this article is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting the owners’ liability toward persons entering thereon for recreational purposes.

Does that include boating?

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Tabled for two weeks: proposed Old State Road to Alapaha River @ LCC 2013-02-12

The good news: they didn’t close the road to Hotchkiss Crossing at the Alapaha River. Lowndes County Water Resource Protection Districts Ordinance (WRPDO) Overlay Map They tabled it until their next meeting, which is in two weeks, 26 February 2013. Video will follow tomorrow, in which you will see the room was packed, mostly with people opposed to the road closing, some from as far away as Tifton. All concerned now have two weeks to absorb all the new information and work out a solution.

Below is what I sent to the Lowndes County Commission at Commissioner Joyce Evans’ request before the meeting tonight, followed by a bit more information.

Subject: River Corridor Protection Plan
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2013 16:49:50 -0500

Dear Commissioners and County Planner,

When I was talking to Joyce Evans just now, I mentioned the 100 foot natural vegetative buffer state law requires local governments to establish next to perennial rivers. Here is a summary of the state law, the definition it contains, the GA EPD rules, and some notes on the relevant parts of the Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan.

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Letters against closing Old State Road to the Alapaha River @ LCC 2013-02-12

Here is a list of the letters I have copies of that oppose closing Old State Road to the Alapaha River; probably more have been sent. The vote is tonight 5:30 PM 12 February 2013 at 327 North Ashley Street 2nd Floor, Valdosta, GA. According to state law and the public hearing notice,

Any citizen of Lowndes County or any person wherever residing may be heard by the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners during the aforesaid public hearing.

That means anyone from anywhere may speak.

Here’s the list.

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Proposed abandonment of the only public access to the Alapaha River in Lowndes County —April Huntley

Received Monday; she sent it to all the Commissioners; I added a few links. -jsq

To the Lowndes County Commission:

My name is April Huntley, and I have lived in Naylor for over 13 years. I have used the boat ramp at the end of Old State Rd. that April Huntley gives access to the Alapaha River for most of those years. Until yesterday, when I spoke to Phillip Connell, I didn’t know I was trespassing when I swam in the river. I thought this was public access. I thought this belonged to Lowndes County.

I thought about this some more and questions rose up in my mind. Why hadn’t the game wardens and sheriff deputies that came to check the area at times notified me and others we were trespassing? Why would Lowndes County not claim their ONLY boat ramp to the Alapaha River for the benefit of their residents?

Commisioners Raines and Powell Ok, so I had these questions, but then I started thinking about the Commission work session I attended yesterday morning, and when I talked to Commissioner Powell and Raines afterward. They told me

that despite what the tax assessor has on their website and in their records, their attorney viewed the deeds showing Phillip Connell bought the property from Dr. Acree 2 or 3 years ago. His lawyer (I’m assuming Mr. Connell’s) filed something wrong and that’s why it isn’t showing up with the tax assessor. The story when Chairman Bill Slaughter I spoke to Bill Slaughter, Commission Chairman, Friday afternoon was that we need to prove ownership because he and Commissioner Evans had walked the property with Phillip Connell. Mr. Connell says he owns both sides of the road.

So from Friday afternoon to Monday morning deeds have been found to prove ownership of the land? And these deeds contradict tax records? So is it 2 or 3 years? Doesn’t a deed have an exact date on it? Who has been paying the taxes for the last 2 or 3 years? Wouldn’t somebody notice if they were paying taxes on land they didn’t own for 2 or 3 years?

In light of these new discoveries, the people immediately request information on what exactly the lawyer filed wrong which caused Phillip Connell’s supposed property along Old State Rd. not to show up in the tax assessor’s records, the exact date Mr. Connell purchased the property from Dr. Acree which gives him ownership of the land on both sides of Old State Rd. and the deeds. Most importantly the people request to know when and why Lowndes County lost the boat ramp to private property.

Oh, one more question, did the state of Georgia build the boat ramp with prison labor?

Commissioners, I respectfully request this information and that you deny the proposed abandonment of .17 miles of County Road 16, Old State Rd., leading to the Alapaha River.


April Huntley

Please deny abandonment of Old State Rd. leading to the Alapaha River —Brett Huntley

Received Monday; he sent it to all the Commissioners. -jsq

To the Lowndes County Commission:

My name is Brett Huntley. I have lived in Naylor Georgia for 13 years. I am also a business owner in Lowndes County. Brett Huntley

In the past 13 years I have used the location at the end of Old State Rd. as an entry point to the Alapaha River for all kinds of outdoor recreation. An example of these things are fishing, camping, boating, hiking, canoeing and family get togethers.

This location is the only public access point to the Alapaha River in Lowndes County. It would deeply sadden me to lose this place that I have grown to love over the years.

I would also like to not only suggest keeping this location open to the public, but ask the county to consider spending money on it. It would benefit the county to fix this location so it can be easier maintained and the public can access it.

I would also like to point out that this time the idea of shutting down the entry point to the river has been a lot more under the radar. I would like to know why a counter has not been placed across the road to show proof of how many people use this location. Also why was the sign notifying the public of this matter not put up until the last minute?

Thank you!

Brett Huntley