Rezoning and Repaving Take Focus in November for BOC

News, Police & Government

ELLIJAY, GA – Rezonings and LMIG took a large portion of the Board of Commissioners November Meetings as opposition and details came in abundance for both.

A request to rezone for Lalit Devgan, Tax Map 3150 Parcel 007a, wanted to add a conditional use to the R-1 Residential Zoning. The conditional use would allow for a bed and breakfast home. Though Devgan and the Realtor spoke on behalf of the Bed and Breakfast, numerous others spoke against it. Bill Craig spoke at the meeting about a petition with over 20 names set against the rezone.

Craig also noted the county definition of a bed and breakfast home states the owner must live in the building while maintaining short overnight stays for no more than four guests. Craig and others noted that Devgan openly admitted he would not continually occupy the house as his family lives in Atlanta.

While the idea of “owner occupied” could be overcome by giving a share of the business to a manager. Still more citizens spoke about the business and their opposition to it. Aiden Stuart spoke on the concept of wanting to maintain his area outside of the city to be non-commercial. Saying he moved to Gilmer for the mountain home, he opposed the rezoning as it would be changing the concept of his neighborhood.

As the Commissioners debated the rezoning request, Chairman Charlie Paris stated he would vote to protect what the citizens believe to keep the rural parts of the county in a rural setting. Opposing the rezoning, Paris stated that citizens who move to the county and “do their homework,” to see that the entire surrounding area is marked R1 for a residential zone, want to avoid something commercial coming in later, “I think we have an obligation to protect that for them.”

Post Commissioner Dallas Miller noted he believed the ordinance should be changed to avoid the commercialization of residential zones, but as the ordinance currently stands, he could not vote against it as it is allowed by the ordinance. The application being “pretty cut and dry,” he would have to allow it as a Commissioner. While he noted he really did not want to vote either way, he was not allowed to abstain, therefore voting in favor of the rezoning.

Post Commissioner Travis Crouch also noted the land use ordinance, stating a bed and breakfast home was in the ordinance as an allowed conditional use. He stated he felt conflicted over the issue, but weighing in the ordinance and the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board as a unanimous decision to approve, Crouch voted in favor of the rezoning.

With the vote, Chairman Paris actually first moved to deny the request, but had no second. Therefore, his motion died. Crouch then motioned to approve with a second from Miller. The final vote came 2-1 with Paris being the dissenting vote.

Another major issue discussed over the month’s meetings came through next year’s LMIG. The County received estimates for the LMIG funds, along with the currently awarded bids for materials next year. Public Works Director Jim Smith originally gave a list of roads he recommended to pave next year. However, seeing the bids in the work session, Smith recalculated and returned to the Regular Session to estimate the county will be able to re-pave 7.63 miles of road in the unincorporated areas. Especially citing stone increasing by a dollar per ton, Asphault increasing on the 12.5 milmeter super pave by $3.76 per ton, and Emulsion expected to increase even after rebidding, Smith recommended the following roads for LMIG next year: Tower Road, Johnson Mill Road, Blackberry Mountain Road, Pisgah Road, and Cherokee Drive in addition to the second half of the Mountaintown Road as Phase 2 from this years paving.

The 2018 LMIG will also return to County Personnel laying and paving the roads as opposed to bidding the projects this year to free up resources and people to continue working on the Cherry Log Fire Station.

The Board also approved an offer for Duplicating Processes for a new copier contract as seen below. The Commissioners noted that several private entities in the county use this company as well as certain offices in the county who already use them.

Additionally in the meeting, the Commissioners appointed Max Holstein to the Whitepath Golf Course Advisory Board. Though the Commissioners originally had another candidate, Chairman Paris noted he would like to not fill the Board with locals around the Golf Course, but instead maintain a variety of people from across the county.

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Gilmer Budget Sessions for 2018

News, Police & Government

ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners held the budget review sessions in preparation for the 2018 Budget.

The videos below document the departments with which the Commissioners spoke. Citizens can attend the Budget Finalization Meeting on Monday, Nov. 6, at 10 a.m. or stay with Fetch Your News for updates after the meeting.

 

Voter Registrar

 

Health Department

 

Probate Court, Elections

 

Magistrate Court

 

District Attorney

 

Library

 

Code & Regulatory Compliance

 

Whitepath Golf Course

 

Tax Assessor, Board of Assessors

 

Public Defender

 

Road Department, Solid Waste, Maintenance Shop, Airport

 

Planning & Zoning

 

Clerk of Superior Court, Board of Equalization

 

Park & Recreation

 

Hotel/Motel

 

Sheriff, Detention Cener, E-911

 

Fire & EMS, EMA

 

Courthouse & Facilities

 

Animal Control

 

Tax Commissioner

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BOC Changes Fuel Bid Ordinance and More at October Meeting

News

ELLIJAY, GA – October became very unusual for the Board of Commissioners. A shorter order of business saw few things on the agenda for the Board as they move into the final quarter of the year.

However, fewer items presented no less importance as the commissioners discussed a serious change to their ordinance that is exempting fuel purchaes from the bid process for the year. Commission Chairman Charlie Paris told FYN that environmental issues preventing the use of previous underground tanks to stock fuel for the year has actually caused the Commissioners an inability to open and receive bids for gas.

Currently, the Commissioners approved the ordinance change as it was the second reading and no citizens spoke at the public hearing. However, Paris also indicated in the meeting a desire to return to bidding fuel once the county is able to construct new above ground storage tanks. Though he stated a desire to move towards construction with the 2019 budget, he did not see a possibility of it fitting into the 2018 budget.

With approval of the change, the county is now compliant with its ordinances again having not bid for fuel.

Budget discussion continued as the Commissioners turned their attention to the continuing story of the Tabor and Watkins houses. Recent inspections have revealed termites in both buildings. However, the damage has not reached an extreme yet according to reports. As the Board nears the later part of October, they will begin detailed discussions of the 2018 budget. At this time, the Board has officially tabled any action on treatment for the termites as they are attempting to fit it into the 2018 budget instead of the current 2017.

This could mean that treatment may begin as early as January for the infestation, but citizens will not know the definitive time tables until October 26 after the budget work sessions.

As for the Watkins house, the County has begun moving Planning and Zoning Offices into their new building. While discussion has gone on for two months now as to three different requests for space at the Watkins house, Paris stated in the County’s Work Session that one option could include simply leasing the property to the Gilmer Chamber and allowing them to sub-lease space to the other two as they see fit.

Those other two requests include a request to hold and display some of the museum pieces from the Tabor House and a request to display art and other things from Gilmer ARTS.

Additionally, the October Meetings saw the Board approve Mark Troxell to the Airport Advisory Board, and approval for an Alcoholic Beverage License to Park’s Place Convinient Store & More LLC.

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Commissioners Discuss Millage After Recalculation

News

ELLIJAY, GA – After recalculations for Gilmer County’s Millage Rate, the Board of Commissioners came to another special meeting in July to re-discuss the Rollback Rate.

Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stated the newer rate of 6.850 was a “much more palatable” rollback. The newer rate could mean about a $5,513 loss to the County Budget.

Discussions continued with the Board of Commissioners debating whether a rollback rate was to be accepted. While all of the Commissioners agreed the Rollback Rate was far better than the original 6.617 representing close to $300,000 lost in the budget, they began speaking about the use of a Rollback Rate compared to the County’s continued efforts to increase the tax digest.

Post Commissioner Dallas Miller stated he didn’t want citizens to think a rollback meant lower taxes or that staying with the current rate meant higher taxes. However, continuing to use the Rollback Rate every year meant that any efforts to grow the county or the digest would effectively throw away all of the work of the county. He went on to say that just following the Rollback Rate “has the same effect as if we never even re-evaluated or re-assessed our property. Why did we spend a lot of time and money reassessing property and then throw that work away basically?”

Post Commissioner Travis Crouch mentioned that the difference between the Rollback Rate and maintaining the current Millage Rate was not a large amount of money, but also that Miller had not mentioned the increasing costs facing the county in the coming years like health insurance costs, personnel, and others that the county cannot necessarily control.

Chairman Paris agreed that the rollback was an issue with the county’s efforts to increase the digest, but he felt the amount of money in difference between the rollback and the current rate was not worth having to run advertisement, by law, as a tax increase.

With a motion from Travis Crouch to maintain the current Millage Rate for a third year in a row and a second from Dallas Miller, the Commissioners officially voted 2-1 to maintain the current Millage Rate of 6.983. Chairman Paris was the dissenting vote of the three.

The official action from the meeting will begin advertising for the millage rate so that citizens will have an opportunity to speak to the Commissioners before the final vote.

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Citizen’s Speak to Sanctuary County

News

During the Commissioner’s Meeting for July, several citizens stepped forward to speak about an item on the agenda that one citizen requested be put on.

John Williamson spoke first saying his motivation for the topic was his belief in the country and rule of law. With the recent national attention to Sanctuary Cities and Counties, Williamson says he began wondering if Gilmer has become a “de facto Sanctuary County.” Though no resolution has passed to make Gilmer County such, Williamson began questioning if we are not sufficiently enforcing immigration laws.

Citing the 2014 resolution from the County Commissioners instructing law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, Williamson asked those in attendance if they believed there were no illegal immigrants in the county? With no comments, he pointed that question to the county is not whether we want to enforce laws, but that it is necessary to enforce them in following the constitution.

Williamson also noted effects he’s seen on the County including the Board of Education’s addition of two new ESL teachers due to increases in children requiring the service.

Jason Williamson speaks with Gilmer Commissioner during the Sanctuary County topic of the July BOC Meeting.

Jason Williamson speaks with Gilmer Commissioner during the Sanctuary County topic of the July BOC Meeting.

Others spoke at the meeting as well including one citizen who brought up a death on 515, saying the case is still unsolved. He did state his support for anyone from any country moving to our county through the proper paperwork and processes. Offering newspaper cutouts to the Commissioners with Sheriff Reports and notes regarding numerous crime reports involving illegal immigrants, he went on to say that our law enforcement and government services are being added stress through these situations. It is the taxpayers who foot the bill for illegals through these services and crimes involving them.

Still more citizens echoed the sentiments, stating a moral obligation to deal with these situations.

Post Commissioner Dallas Miller commented on the subject reading parts of the resolution he was a part of in 2014. Miller stated the Commissioners have dealt with the issue through that resolution along with the county’s denial to the Federal Government to house illegal immigrants in the county. Chairman Charlie Paris answered citizens questioning the Sheriff’s role saying they should be speaking with him about the level of enforcement and other questions.

Jason Williamson asked the Commissioners if the Commissioner’s Meeting could be used as a venue to speak with Sheriff Stacy Nicholson about the topic. While Paris suggested they make the request of Sheriff Nicholson himself, he did say the Commissioners Meeting would be available as a venue stating, “We would certainly make him feel welcome.”

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Chairman Paris Offers “State of the County”

News

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stops by to speak about a number of issues with Good Morning From the Office.

Chairman Paris goes over the recent audit for our county and its implications including a new line item in the budget for Contingency Funds, this year’s Tax Anticipation Note (TAN), and the separation of our Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) into a separate account from the General Fund and its effect on the TAN.

Paris also discusses the County’s Roads and how we have improved the Road Department’s quality and speed with new equipment and additional employees. Specifically, he updates you on the progress of Ridgeway Church Road: one property owner is delaying the road paving, but overcoming that obstacle could see paving by end of summer.

Gilmer County could see a heavy consent order, a $174,000 fine originally, completed in the next months now that the Audit is completed along with all the points on the order.

After a poor bid for clearing the lot for Cherry Log Fire Station, the Commissioners are planning to bid laying asphalt for this year’s LMIG to free up road department to clear the land. Attempting to keep the project moving towards December completion date, this paving bids are part of Chairman Paris’ attempts to not let the Fire Station become “Chairman Paris’ Clear Creek Ball Fields.”

A final note from Paris’ visit mentioned his proposal for next year to begin setting aside $300,000 for a new pool over next 4 years. At the end of four years, enough money should be saved to build a new pool and then begin moving forward to build onto it with other options such as a covering.

 

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Road Projects and Grants Get Underway

News

Gilmer County is currently undertaking a large re-striping project both on their own and with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) in addition to this summers LMIG.

Originally, Gilmer applied every year for its Local Maintenance and Imporvements Grant (LMIG) for paving. The $629,234.66 grant, along with the counnty’s $270,025 match, will pave Burnt Mountain Road (6.5 miles), Mountaintown Road (4.65 miles), and Sunlight Road (3.1 miles). This grant will also cover fresh new striping and new signs on all three roads.

In addition to that original project, Gilmer also applied for an “Off-System Safety Program Grant” of $250,000 to add nine more roads as a separate project for striping and small additions such as guard rails and signage according to Commission Chairman Charlie Paris. Those roads include Boardtown Road, Big Creek Road,  Double Head Gap Road,  Turniptown Road, Knight Road, Tails Creek Church Road, and Progress Road with Clear Creek Road and Yukon Road to also be done after the Atlanta Gas Light construction on those two roads is completed.

This project will be fully managed by GDOT through it’s own contracts. However, citizens may not see the work being done on these roads as the striping work is being conducted at night. According to Paris, the night work for this striping is set to help avoid any traffic congestion for citizens as they go about their regular days for work and around town.

Finally, a third application for up to $100,000 has been made by Gilmer that was not included in either project. The project was put forth to Gilmer’s Road Department by Chairman Paris.

According to Public Works Director Jim Smith, this “Supplemental LMIG” currently includes Homer Wright Road and Whitepath Road and is being undertaken by the County itself. Now, while Smith assured citizens in a recent meeting that these two roads will see completion by April 26th, he also told FYN that further projects could be added to the grant later. This project, like the original LMIG, requires a 30% match from the County that Paris stated would be covered in the Road Department’s budget.

With one project almost complete and more underway, citizens should be noticing improvements to our roads lines in the coming months.

 

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Lower Cartecay Road Bridge Closed

News

FYN has been informed of a Georgia DOT (Department of Transportation) inspection on the bridge on Lower Cartecay Road that has deemed it “Unsafe.”

Due to this, FYN has confirmed with Commission Chairman Paris that the bridge is closed at this time to public use. Authorities will be attempting to further inspect the bridge to see if it is possible for repairs, or if a full replacement is necessary.

As for the closing of the bridge, Chairman Paris expects it will be weeks before it could be open due to the current condition.

Paris assured FYN he would continue updates as decisions are made about the future of the bridge.

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