Tag Archives: Sprawl

Dollar General or not? @ LCC 2012-12-10

Is Naylor maybe going to get a Dollar General or something else, if the unnamed applicant or applicants get their rezoning with or without conditions? None of that is clear from yesterday morning’s Lowndes County Commission Work Session for agenda item 7.c. REZ-2012-19 Naylor Dollar General, US Hwy 84 East, E-A to C-G, Well & Septic, ~2 acres.

County Planner Jason Davenport said:

The applicants have mentioned trying to do a Dollar General at this site. We believe that’s what they’re going to do, but however whatever uses are allowed in C-G would of course be allowed if it is approved without any conditions.

He said they had the recommendations from the TRC and the Planning Commission, but he didn’t say what they were. The Planning Commission recommended for, apparently with the understanding that it was for a Dollar General. Davenport said there had been no further input since the Planning Commission meeting.

The Commission could have staff submit written reports that go in the agenda and minutes, like the Library Board does, and then put those online as PDF or HTML linked to an HTML agenda, like Glynn County and Richmond County do, and we wouldn’t have to guess the names of applicants or the details of rezoning requests.

Here’s the video:

Dollar General or not?
Work Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 10 December 2012.

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Lowndes County’s 2007 and 2012 favors for the same developer

According to the Lowndes County Commission’s minutes, the developer for whom the Commission now proposes to change the zoning code back in 2007 got $130,000 in road construction labor from the Commission.

In the 26 June 2007 Lowndes County Commission Regular Session Minutes:

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.

Somebody help me here, is not that the same Clint Joyner back in 2007 getting a $130,000 subsidy from the County Commission who last month got invited to talk to the Commission in a Work Session with nobody else invited to speak? The same one for whom the same Commission is now proposing to change the zoning code? For another development on the same Davidson Road? A development the Chamber and Moody and the Planning Commission are all opposing, while the VDT channels Ashley Paulk in promoting it?

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 we should find out before the Commission grants any more favors.

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Chamber opposes zoning code change for developer near Moody

Apparently it’s the Chamber and Moody and the Planning Commission Red arrows on MAZ and the TRC all against Ashley Paulk on the Moody rezoning-and-zoning-code case, with the VDT sidling towards Paulk. The VDT claimed Lowndes County Chairman stated something that’s not true according to the agenda and LAKE’s videos of the recent Planning Commission meeting. And the VDT buried opposition by the Chamber of Commerce’s relevant committee at the end of its article.

Jason Schaefer wrote for the VDT today, County disagrees with proposed zoning amendment, Paulk: Military intervention could prevent development near base, and the caption of the picture on the right says:

The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission proposed a text amendment to the Unified Land Development Code in November that would reduce lot density restrictions from 2.5 acres to one acre, allowing landowners within the Moody Activity Zoning (MAZ) district “more flexibility” to parcel off their land holdings, Paulk said.

The Planning Commission’s own agenda says TEX-2012-02 was proposed by “Lowndes County Board of Commissioners”. And the Planning Commission voted to recommend against approving that text amendment to the ULDC. According to Planning Commissioner John Page, that vote was following the recommendation of the Technical Review Committee (TRC), which consists of staff of Lowndes County and the City of Valdosta. Page is also an incoming Lowndes County Commissioner, to take office next month. So either Paulk said something he as the Chairman of the Lowndes County Commission should know not to be true, or the VDT wrote erroneously.

The VDT also seemed to indicate that Paulk was speaking for Continue reading

Developer didn’t get his way: change the zoning code! @ GLPC 2012-11-26

A developer didn’t get his way at the Lowndes County Commission last month, so now the county is proposing to change the zoning code for him! To change zoning right next to Moody Air Force Base, the largest employer in this area. A change opposed by Moody because of flight safety and safety of property, and “the longterm viability of Moody Air Force Base.” A change that would set a precedent for further sprawl, as Moody indicated indirectly when the related rezoning first came before the Planning Commission. Apparently a developer can get whatever he wants around here, no matter how much it threatens the livelihoods or well-being of the rest of the citizens. Does that seem right to you? To their credit, the Planning Commission at its 26 November 2012 meeting unanimously voted against this TEX-2012-02 just as they did the rezoning case REZ-2012-17 last month. Both will be decided by the Lowndes County Commission at its 11 December 2012 meeting.

4. TEX-2012-02

Lowndes County Board of Commissioners
A proposed text amendment to the Unified Land Development Code as it pertains to Single Family residential Density and Minimum Lot Area within the MAZ (Moody Activity Zone)

County Planner Jason Davenport introduced this item.

TEX-2012-02 ULDC changes Ultimately at the end of the day this text amendment is a request to change the minimum lot sizes allowed and the minimum residential densities allowed in a MAZ-3 zoning district. We have those changes highlighted on the screen but they have also been highlighted in the packet…. At the end of the day that is what has happened.

Well, yes, at the end of that day. At the end of many future days this zoning code amendment if approved will be used as a precedent for more sprawl right next to Moody Air Force Base, which is by far the biggest employer in this area. The packet he referred to is not available to the public. The changes he mentioned are not on his Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) web page. A view of them as seen from the back of the room is shown on the right here. Can you read them?

Moody insert in ULDC Map The ULDC map linked on that page includes the Moody Area insert map shown here on the right.

Davenport added that he had received one open records request and a response from Moody. Plus state law requires 30 days for Moody to respond and it had been 31 days. Then he walked through some history using pages in Commissioners’ packets that we the taxpayers, voters, and residents of Lowndes County can’t see.

Davenport specifically tied this text amendment to a tabled zoning case:

Continue reading

Planning Commission recommends nineteenth Dollar General @ GLPC 2012-11-26

The Planning Commission 26 November 2012 ignored a Naylor citizen’s questions about a market survey, traffic, trees, peace and quiet, rural living, and sprawl and unanimously recommended a rezoning request for the eighteenth Dollar General in the area. They did this for a developer who doesn’t live in Lowndes County, and who didn’t even have her name revealed by the Planning Commission, even though anyone who spoke against had to show up in person and state name and address. All this for a location that wasn’t specified in the agenda. Does this seem right to you?

Dr. Bobbie Robinson 3. REZ-2012-19 Robinson Milltown Properties, LLC

US Highway 84 East, Naylor, Georgia
Request to rezone 2 acres from E-A (Estate Agriculture) to C-G (General Commercial)

It’s for a Dollar General. County Planner Jason Davenport said nobody had called in. The agenda doesn’t say which parcel is the subject, and the County Planner didn’t specify. Robinson Miltown Properties map Judging by the map displayed on the screen, it’s the southeast corner of parcel number 0250 003, 101.91 acres owned by Robinson Milltown Properties LLC of 2605 Hall Ave., Tifton, GA 31794. Dr. Bobbie Robinson of ABAC According to the Georgia Secretary of State, that LLC’s agent is Bobbie Ann Robinson of 2605 Hall Avenue, Tifton, GA 31794. I’m told she is the Dr. Bobbie Robinson Professor of English and Dean, School of Liberal Arts at ABAC in Tifton. It’s curious how anybody speaking in opposition had to show up in person and state their name and address, but she the developer didn’t have to do any of those things.

Clayton Milligan of Lovell Engineering Clayton Milligan of Lovell Engineering spoke for, merely saying he offered to answer questions. Commissioners asked him no questions.

Matthew Richard of 5569 Upper Grand Bay Road spoke against.

Continue reading

Better cities and counties make better watersheds

Want jobs, low taxes, and less flooding? Help maintain our watersheds with good local planning.

What’s a watershed? Kaid Benfield wrote for Atlantic Cities today, The Cost of Sprawl on Clean Water:

Watersheds are topographic areas where all the rain that falls eventually ends up in a namesake steam, river, lake, or estuary.

These are our local watersheds. Purple is the Little River Watershed, blue is the Withlacoochee Watershed, and Valdosta is where the Little River flows south into the Withlacoochee. Green is the Alapaha watershed, and Tifton is where all three meet. Every drop of rain or used well water or wastewater overflow or pesticide runoff or soapy shower water or clearcut mud that runs downhill into one of these rivers is in their (and our) watersheds.

Becoming greener doesn’t just mean a municipality’s adding a pleasant new park here and there, or planting more trees, although both components may be useful parts of a larger effort. How a town is designed and developed is related to how well it functions, how well it functions is related to how sustainable it really is, and how sustainable it is, is directly related to how it affects its local waters and those who use those same waters downstream.

Compact, mixed-use, well-designed in-town growth can take some of the pressure off of its opposite on the outskirts — or beyond the outskirts — of towns and cities. We know that sprawling growth is generally pretty bad for maintaining environmental quality in a region (air pollution from cars that become necessary in such circumstances, displacement of open land, water pollution from new roads and shopping centers that are begot by such growth patterns).

We also know, as UGA Prof. Dorfman told us several years ago,

Local governments must ensure balanced growth, as
sprawling residential growth is a certain ticket to fiscal ruin*
* Or at least big tax increases.

Kaid Benfield explains how town planning is related to watersheds:

Continue reading

County quantifies some infrastructure payback times @ LCC 2012 03 31

Water and sewer take decades for return on investment, and roads and bridges probably aren’t any better. That’s worth remembering whenever solar, busses, or trains come up.

David Rodock wrote for the VDT Sunday, Commission wraps up annual retreat: Utility payments, road projects and waste disposal discussed

The cost of one mile of construction for water takes 23 years for a return on the initial investment; sewer takes 21.3 years.

The VDT didn’t specify the similar return times for road paving or bridge construction, but it’s a safe bet they’re at least as long. The farther water or sewer lines or roads or bridges are from population centers, the more they cost both directly in installation and indirectly in trips for fire and sheriff vehicles, and especially school busses. The county commissioned a report on that several years ago, as Gretchen reminded them last year. In the particular rezoning case on Cat Creek they were discussing then (Nottinghil), they made a decision to table which seems to have caused the developer never to come back with that particular sprawl plan. I congratulated the Commissioners at that time, and I congratulate them again on not promoting sprawl.

Sprawl costs the county, payback takes years, and longer the farther out it goes. What if we did something different? More on that later.

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Lowndes County: commuter rail hub

Look at all those other railroads converging on Valdosta in that GFRR project proposal map. Valdosta is a historical rail hub for passenger traffic to Atlanta, Savannah, Jacksonville, Orlando, Thomasville, Tallahasssee, and beyond. All the tracks are still in place and still in use for freight. With some rolling stock and a few deals with the railroads, Valdosta and Lowndes County could become again a passenger rail hub with a mass transit system for local commuting to jobs and for long distance travel.

Add a bus system and local commuting becomes very practical. People could take the train to town and catch a bus to work. Many people could walk or take a bicycle to their work from the train station. This could work the other way around, too. People could live in Valdosta and work in Ray City or Lakeland or Hahira or Lake Park or Clyattville and not have to drive to get there. That would save a lot of wasted time and wasted fuel.

This kind of mass transit would attract the knowledge-based workers we supposedly want around here. Including jobs our high school and college graduates could take, so they wouldn’t have to move elsewhere.

And upgrading the railroads, building stations, building and refurbishing houses and apartments near the stations, etc., would employ a lot of construction workers; probably as many as road projects and sprawling subdivision projects, but without the sprawl.

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Retrofitting suburbia —Ellen Dunham-Jones

There are many jobs in this. The Five Points redevelopment is an example of what she’s talking about. It’s a lot better than building more sprawl: safer, less expensive, more jobs, less energy cost, more energy independence, better health, and more community.

Georgia Tech Professor Ellen Dunham-Jones spole January 2010 at TEDxAtlanta, Retrofitting suburbia

In the last 50 years, we’ve been building the suburbs with a lot of unintended consequences. And I’m going to talk about some of those consequences and just present a whole bunch of really interesting projects that I think give us tremendous reasons to be really optimistic that the big design and development project of the next 50 years is going to be retrofitting suburbia. So whether it’s redeveloping dying malls or re-inhabiting dead big-box stores or reconstructing wetlands out of parking lots, I think the fact is, the growing number of empty and under-performing, especially, retail sites throughout suburbia gives us actually a tremendous opportunity to take our least-sustainable landscapes right now and convert them into more sustainable places. And in the process, what that allows us to do is to redirect a lot more of our growth back into existing communities that could use a boost, and have the infrastructure in place, instead of continuing to tear down trees and to tear up the green space out at the edges.
Here’s the video: Continue reading

Do we need more of the same unsafe roads?

Many T-SPLOST projects submitted by Lowndes County would make traffic safety worse.

More from Professor Ellen Dunham-Jones of Georgia Tech:

Even Buford Highway, she says, could be transformed with medians, trees and buildings set closer to the road. Changes that are known to slow traffic. But outside of the ivory tower, change does not come easily. Or quickly.

Last year Georgia spent more than two billion dollars on transportation, but only a tiny fraction, less than 1 percent, went specifically to pedestrian safety.

And what Lowndes County has sent in for T-SPLOST funding includes: Do we need more of the same unsafe roads?

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