Gilmer’s resolution makes county Second Amendment Sanctuary

News
Second Amendment Sanctuary

ELLIJAY, Ga – Gilmer County’s approval of the Second Amendment Sanctuary came last Thursday with all three commissioners voting yes for the resolution and sparking further debate over the issue’s future.

That resolution states, “The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners will not authorize or appropriate funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the purpose of enforcing or assisting in the enforcement of any element of any unconstitutional acts, laws, orders, mandates, rules or regulations that infringe on the right by the people to keep and bear arms.”

Following the work session’s crowd of people and numerous people stating their support of the resolution, the debate arose on whether to adopt a resolution or an ordinance.

Jason Williamson spoke at both the Work Session and Regular Meeting of the Gilmer BOC speaking on the petitions gathered and the need to make this statement as a county. He said in the regular meeting that over 700 people had signed the petition asking for the Second Amendment Sanctuary status.

Taking a “proactive” approach, Williamson said he and others want to step out ahead of any problems which they see are inevitable in today’s political climate.

Jason Williamson speaks about the Second Amendment Sanctuary at the Commissioners' Thursday meeting, February 13, 2020.

Jason Williamson speaks about the Second Amendment Sanctuary at the Commissioners’ Thursday meeting, February 13, 2020.

However, Williamson was not the only person speaking on behalf of the resolution as Joene DePlancke was also present in both meetings to support it. DePlancke asked that everyone at the Regular Meeting who supported the resolution to stand and nearly every person present, filling over half of the County’s Jury Assembly room in the courthouse, stood.

DePlancke went on to say, “The reason that we feel so strongly right now is that, over the years, we keep losing more and more of our freedoms by not doing anything.”

More people spoke as well in the meetings saying they supported the resolution with one individual saying he felt it wasn’t just the Second Amendment, but rather all of citizens’ rights in the Amendments are under attack.

The commissioners assured citizens in the work session that this wouldn’t mean the county would stop doing background checks or gun permits, but rather would oppose any state or federal law that would infringe on the Second Amendment. The Resolution states, “All federal acts, laws, orders, rules, regulations that violate the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States or Article I, Section I, Paragraph VIII of the Constitution of the State of Georgia, violate the true meaning and intent of those constitutions are hereby declared to be invalid and are specifically rejected in Gilmer County, Georgia and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in Gilmer County, Georgia.”

FYN previously reported that the board approved a resolution and did have some talk in their work session about looking further into the possibility of an ordinance. Williamson, as one of the leaders of the movement, stated before the meeting that he wanted an ordinance over a resolution because it would be harder to change and require more opportunities for citizens to fight any changes.

FYN reached out to Williamson after the resolution passed for his response. Williamson stated, “A resolution will suffice, but we will actively pursue the ordinance once we can navigate the state laws and create an ordinance that will reflect current law and assist in maintaining our rights.”

The debate continues to flow on social media as people on both sides of the debate offer opinions.

Gene Levine stated, “Even if it’s symbolic, do it. I think Virginia will be a test bed for the effectiveness of sanctuary counties, I hear something like 90 county sheriff’s are proposing this. I realize that the feds can enforce these laws in any of these counties, but they don’t have the resources to enforce these laws on thousands of gun owners and they don’t even know who has these guns.”

On the opposite side, Andy McClure stated, “It only states that no county official or employee can enforce any federal or state law that infringes upon the rights of Gilmer citizens. It does not mean that the state cannot send the GBI, or the feds could send the FBI or ATF to enforce such laws.”

As citizens continue the debate, it seems this issue is still not completed as the Commissioner’s left room to discuss a possible ordinance and some like Williamson have already said they want to pursue more in terms of the ordinance.

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Changes coming to Animal Control

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A couple from the area of Woodland Acres spoke in August’s Commissioners’ meetings about an ongoing problem with dogs running loose in the area.

In the ensuing discussions, on August 8, 2019, Commission Chairman Charlie Paris promised citizens that changes would be coming to the Animal Control Ordinances of Gilmer County in efforts to address this and similar issues in the county.

The most vocal, Sto Goodwin and Debra Christian, live as neighbors in Woodland Acres and began discussing the issue on Wednesday, they tell FYN that several people in the area have had issues with dogs running free in the area. Christian named the breed Cane Corso as one that has specifically harassed her. She went on to say that the issue has not been handled properly as they have reported the issues, Animal Control has picked up the dogs on the loose, but the owner in question just get the dogs back. This owner, who was not named, has allegedly gone to court, promised to move, and made other promises that have not been kept.

Christian alleges that the owner refuses to enclose the dogs and actively trains them in “Predator Control.” She was supported in these allegations by both Goodwin and even Chairman Paris who said, “He has been very clear with us in the past that he expects his dogs to be able to run free, and that we’re welcome to fine him. He’ll pay the fine, but they will run free.”

Paris stated that the problem has existed for several years. Due to the increasing allegations and some citizens even saying they have video of the dogs killing cats and other animals as well as chasing after people in the area, responses are now increasing. While Paris said that they cannot just go and take the dogs by law, he did say that the county is already changing one thing right now. Animal Control’s policy for returning animals found off of owner’s property is going to step up plan.

Paris said, “Previously, if an animal was brought in that was found off the owner’s property, it was $150 fee to reclaim it. If it came in again, it was another $150. What we’ve done is we’ve lowered the first offense to $100, and if that person, who comes in, is willing to have us spay or neuter the particular animal, then we will lower it to $75. That’s the first time, and this is per owner, not per animal. The second time an animal from that owner comes in, it’s $300. And if they want to spay or neuter, we’ll back it up one level to $100. The third time it comes in, it’s going to be $600, then $900. And then it’ll be $1000.”

Paris went on to note that citations will also go along with that.

These new changes are just part of the major changes that could be coming to the ordinance. Paris promised those present that he would be looking into the ordinance to have something to present next month. Goodwin asked how many animals might die by the time this situation reaches those higher levels of fees.

Goodwin said that this issue has gone on for six years with nobody seeming to respond or even care as this one owner hides behind a law claiming exemption for dog attacks on other animals under certain circumstances. One of those exemptions involve Predator Control, being the training claimed for these animals. However, he also tells FYN that he has neighbors who have photos and even a video of one of the dogs with a mutilated cat in its mouth.

Additionally, with potential citations, court litigation, and other outcomes from additional issues arising, County Attorney David Clark warned those citizens that continued investigations would require continued support from citizens. He said they cannot back off from standing up for the issue as the county and court systems cannot pursue them through Animal Control without citizen support.

Goodwin stated that he did not want to harm the dogs as he blames the owner for their training and activities, but he warned that if they continued being aggressive and threatening others, someone was going to get hurt.

Paris also said he was worried about citizens attempting to protect themselves and potentially harming or killing the animals.

Moving into the the minimal 3-month process, changes are currently expected to be advertised in September, if approved the first reading will be in October, if approved there the second reading and final adoption will be in November.

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County certification in ethics recognized

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County has officially been certified and recognized as an “Organization of Ethics, or “County of Ethics,” by the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA).

The recognition officially came during the recent GMA Convention on June 24, 2019. According to a news release from the Association, “The City of Ethics program began in 1999 and was developed by a panel of business and government leaders to encourage cities to adopt and adhere to a set of key ethical principles and adopt a local ethics ordinance. The ordinance must contain definitions, prohibited conduct and due process for officials accused of violations in areas such as financial disclosures, conflicts of interests and outside employment. The ordinance must also contain penalties for city officials who violate the ordinance.”

The county has been working towards this title for several months now through the appointment of a Board of Ethics to judge and discern complaints brought forth and adding ordinances in the County’s Code to address the issue. Although mostly formalities, designating the board and becoming a county of ethics is something Gilmer County Chairman Charlie Paris wanted mostly for the symbolism as he stated in a recent meeting that he hoped the Board of Ethics is appointed and never meets.

As a entity that would only meet if problems arise and a complaint or dispute is brought forth, the lack of issues would put these positions as a mere title and nothing more. Yet, the meaning behind that would represent an ethically strong government.

The GMA’s full release is as follows:

SAVANNAH – Gilmer County Board of Commissioners was recognized as the most recently certified Organization of Ethics at the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Annual Convention June 24. The City of Crawfordville also received the City of Ethics certification, while 36 additional cities received recertifications

The cities of Acworth, Barnesville, Brunswick, Buford, Centerville, Clarkston, Dawsonville, Donalsonville, Dublin, Dunwoody, Grantville, Helen, Hinesville, Hiram, Lakeland, Luthersville, Madison, Maysville, Meansville, Midway, Moultrie, Mount Airy, Mount Vernon, Newnan, Nicholson, Powder Springs, Reynolds, Sandersville, Savannah, Sugar Hill, Suwanee, Swainsboro, Sylvester, Tifton, Trion and Vienna.

The City of Ethics program began in 1999 and was developed by a panel of business and government leaders to encourage cities to adopt and adhere to a set of key ethical principles and adopt a local ethics ordinance. The ordinance must contain definitions, prohibited conduct and due process for officials accused of violations in areas such as financial disclosures, conflicts of interests and outside employment. The ordinance must also contain penalties for city officials who violate the ordinance.

GMA requires members with the designation to recertify for the program, ensuring that ordinances maintain the standards of the program and officials are regularly reminded of their ethical obligations as individuals and as a governing body. Each city/organization is required to apply for recertification every four years.

A panel of attorneys reviewed the ordinances to determine if they comply with the criteria set by GMA. The new members received a plaque and are now authorized by GMA to use a “Certified City and Organization of Ethics” logo on stationery, road signs, vehicles and for other uses.

Based in Atlanta, GMA is a voluntary, non-profit organization that provides legislative advocacy, educational, employee benefit and consulting services to its 538 member cities.

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Office of Planning&Zoning Approves Six Land Use Ordinance Amendments

News, Planning&Zoning

ELLIJAY, Ga. – During the Gilmer County Planning & Zoning meeting held on Thursday, July 18, 2019, the board discussed the following land use ordinance amendments.

Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Variance Request)

1. Consideration of Land Use Change (Variance Request)

Applicant Name: Richard Sanfilippo
Owner Name: Richard D., Samantha A., & Terry F. Sanfilippo
Owner Address: 219 Man O’ War Circle, Cantonment, FL 32533
Property Location: 657 Nexus Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Map and Parcel Number: 3039A-095
Size of Property: 1.13 acres
Current Land Use Classification: R-2 (Residential High Density)
Proposed Use of Property: Build a Residence on Parcel
Variance Requested: 11′ Variance to the 35′ Front Setback

Passed, none oppose. One neighbor called with concerns with it being too close to the road. A present citizen voiced concerns over potential septic tank and trout stream contamination.

Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Rezoning / Conditional Use Request(s))

1. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Conditional Use Request(s))

Applicant Name: Hsiao Cai & Amanda Liu
Owner Name: America Dhamma Society, Inc.
Owner Address: 2385 Gates Chapel Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Property Location: 1975 Old Flat Branch Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Map and Parcel Number: 3078-007
Size of Property: 6.54 acres
Current Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural)
Proposed Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural) w/Conditional Use
Proposed Use of Property: Retreat for Meditation and Teaching

Tabled until a lawyer is involved, as the board isn’t sure whether or not to classify this as a campground or something else entirely. One citizen concerned about potential traffic increase.

2. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Conditional Use Request(s))

Applicant Name: Hsiao Cai & Amanda Liu
Owner Name: The Terrance Hwang Revocable Trust
Owner Address: 2385 Gates Chapel Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Property Location: 1971 Old Flat Branch Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Map and Parcel Number: 3078-005
Size of Property: 171.54 acres
Current Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural)
Proposed Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural) w/Conditional Use
Proposed Use of Property: Retreat for Meditation and Teaching

Tabled until a lawyer is involved, as the board isn’t sure whether or not to classify this as a campground or something else entirely.

3. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Rezoning Request(s))

Applicant Name: Mitchell Hensley
Owner Name: Vira Hensley
Owner Address: 319 Pleasant Gap Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Property Location: 319 Pleasant Gap Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Map and Parcel Number: 3035-030
Size of Property: 0.33 acre portion
Current Land Use Classification: R-1 (Residential Low Density)
Proposed Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural)
Proposed Use of Property: Combine 0.21 and 0.12 acre Corners with Parcel 3035-029 to Cure Encroachments.

Passed, none oppose. No complaints or questions from neighbors.

4. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Rezoning Request(s))

Applicant Name: Anthony Arbucci
Owner Name: Anthony Arbucci
Owner Address: 186 Berry Hill Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Property Location: 0 Lower Tails Creek Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Map and Parcel Number: 3022I-001
Size of Property: 1.72 acres
Current Land Use Classification: R-2 (Residential High Density)
Proposed Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural)

Passed, none oppose.

5. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Rezoning Request(s))

Applicant Name: Anthony Arbucci
Owner Name: Anthony Arbucci
Owner Address: 186 Berry Hill Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Property Location: 0 Lower Tails Creek Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Map and Parcel Number: 3022I-002
Size of Property: 2.16 acres.
Current Land Use Classification: R-2 (Residential High Density)
Proposed Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural)
Proposed Use of Property: Combine with Parcel 3021-056

Passed, none oppose.

6. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Conditional Use Request(s))

Applicant Name: Mike Duke
Owner Name: West Ellijay Storage, LLC.
Owner Address: 88 Brooks Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Property Location: 0 Harold Pritchett Road. Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Map and Parcel Number: 3065-123D
Size of Property: 2.0 acres
Current Land Use Classification: C-1 (Commercial)
Proposed Land Use Classification: C-1 (Commercial) w/Conditional Use.
Proposed Use of Property: Mini-Warehouse Storage Units

Pass, none oppose. No complaints or questions from neighbors.

7. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Rezoning Request(s))

Applicant Name: Samantha Walker
Owner Name: DF Walker Properties, LLC.
Owner Address: P.O. Box 2001, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Property Location: 2218 Hwy. 52 East, Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Map and Parcel Number: 3081-171C
Size of Property: 2.18 acres
Current Land Use Classification: C-1 (Commercial)

Proposed Land Use Classification: I-1 (Industrial)

Proposed Use of Property: Water Bottling Facility

Approved with condition it is to be used for bottling water only. The water will be brought in by truck, bottled, and then exported by truck. None oppose. No questions or concerns from neighbors.

 

Final / Preliminary Plat Approval: Walker Reserve – Final – The Hammock – Preliminary – Water Song Phase 1 – Preliminary.

Passed, none oppose.
Variances are approved entirely by the board. However, The map amendments for the zoning changes must still be approved by the Board of Commissioners. Be sure to stay tuned for future updates!

The next Planning & Zoning meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday, August 15, 2019 at 5 pm for those who wish to attend. This meeting is currently expected to be held in the Commissioner’s meeting room of the Gilmer County Courthouse, to the left of the Voter’s Registration Office.

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City Council Nearly Drafts New Alcohol-Related Ordinance for Central Business District

City Council, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council Nearly Drafted an Ordinance to Expand the Area Within the Central Business District Exempted from Distance Requirements for On-Premise Alcohol Licenses during their meeting on Monday, July 15, 2019.

State law prohibits the sale of distilled spirits in or within 100 yards of any church building or within 200 yards of any school building, education building, school grounds, or college campus; Any wine or malt beverages within 100 yards of any school building, school ground, or college campus.

O.C.G.A. 3-3-21-B-3 gives local governing authorities ability to reduce this distance. This is what has been asked of the City Council.

The agenda question regarding this item was as follows: “Shall an Ordinance be Prepared For The Purpose of Expanding the Area Within the Central Business District Exempted From Distance Requirements From Church Structures, School Structures and School Grounds For On Premise Consumption Licenses For Beer, Wine and Distilled Spirits.”

The current Pastor of First Baptist Church was the first to address the council on the matter, stating “We’re greatly affected by the ordinances that we have. We would encourage you to keep the ordinance that we have in place. We have morning and evening activities at our church, we have a full children’s daycare program that runs year-round, and we just feel like there needs to be a buffer with our church and with the sale of alcohol. There are plenty of commercial properties in our city where business people can sell alcohol and we feel like if they choose to do that they need to find a location that is out of that buffer zone that the state law permits. We appreciate your consideration in lieu of 500 people being here tonight, I mentioned it very briefly yesterday, I have about 300 signatures that I could share with you, I could come up with probably 800 with the people that have shared with me if you all need to know our feeling about that issue.”

Mike Lancaster – “I don’t see how you can have establishments that are in the existing boundaries that can sell alcohol and distiled spirits and deny the Coffee Shop the same opportunity. It’s almost like government picking winners and losers.”

JoAnn of the Ellijay Coffee House, one of the business’ seeking the right to serve alcohol in their store, was the second to address the council stating “So thank you for clarifying that, that is is up to you guys to make that change, and certainly appreciate the churches opinion on that matter. I actually got out with a bit of a walking stick yesterday so I could get my head around the current law. 28 Main, which is where it goes to, there door, to there door, is 31 yards, just so you know. So, this buffer, I think the distance is arbitrary. […]We happen to be on the other side of the church. When I was here five years ago, three months, we played with this, maybe even four months. And then, you all said it just needed to be tabled, it just wasn’t a good time. Five years, you’ve given alot of licenses out. We can only conclude on our end it feels a bit discriminatory to us. I feel that it’s a bit capricious of the council to just be… I’m not even sure what’s going on, I don’t even know why we can’t get one, when everyone else seems to be able to get one. I don’t think there’s a sound basis for it, I think it feels very prejudicial to us. That’s all I can say. I hope you reconsider it. I think that, when we bought our building, for everyone to think we would know that, I’m not sure how you think we would know we couldn’t get one when I could have a drink two blocks up the street from our building, so, that to me is just a ridiculous statement that comes up that you should’ve known better well we didn’t, okay? And at the end of the day I don’t really understand why other people have better opportunities than we do and I just think the entire central business district, including the theater, needs to have the right that everyone on River Street at the square does. And I hope you’ll take this really seriously, I think we’ve waited long enough and I think we’ve proven, Rick and I as a business, that we have contributed to this town in every way we can. We love this town, we have incredible guests and I’m sorry the church feels that way, but that’s a church issue, and I’m not asking the church to believe in anything, I just feel like you need to look beyond that.”

Council Member Katie Lancey made a motion to vote on this measure, stating that “I was here when the City of Ellijay was completely dry. I was here when we had the first pouring alcohol ordinance, and we lost by nine votes. I was here for the second when it passed. And I was here, last Saturday night, walking around, enjoying downtown Ellijay. As a member of the City Council, I feel that we are charged and it is our responsibility to facilitate the success of our business’ downtown. This is not about the Coffee House, this is about all of Main Street. So I would like to make a motion, that we direct our City Attorney, to prepare and ordinance for the purpose of expanding the area within the Central Business District exempted from the distance requirements from churches, schools, for the on-premise consumption”, which was met with applause from the crowd.

With no other board members seconding, however, the motion has been laid to rest for the time being.

Any future developments regarding ordinances such as these will be reported on as they become known, so be sure to stay tuned!

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Office of Planning&Zoning Examines Eight Land Use Ordinance Amendments

News, Planning&Zoning

ELLIJAY, Ga. – During the Gilmer County Planning & Zoning meeting held on Thursday, June 20, 2019, the board discussed the following land use ordinance amendments.

Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Variance Request)

1. Consideration of Land Use Change (Variance Request)

Applicant name: Candis H. Naquin & Bruce E. Post
Owner Name: Candis H. Naquin & Bruce E. Post
Owner Address: 447 Antler Ridge Rd., Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Property Location: 447 Antler Ridge Rd., Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Map and Parcel Number: 3093P-009
Size of Property: 2.22 acres
Current Land Use Classification: R-1 (Residential Low Density)
Proposed Use of Property: Place an approx 16×25 Garage on Parcel
Variance Requested: 35 ‘Variance to the 40’ Rear Setback

Passed, none oppose. No neighbors sent word of favor or opposition. There is already a level area for a garage on the property.

 

2. Consideration of Land Use Change (Variance Request)

Applicant Name: Ricky Balanno
Owner Name: Pinnacle Home Builders
Owner Address: 4381 Yorkshire Court, Loganville, Ga. 30052
Map and Parcel Number: 3037E-018
Size of Property: 0.58 acres
Current Land Use of Property: R-2 (Residential High Density)
Proposed Use of Property: Build a 32×39 Residence on Parcel
Variance Requested: -30 ‘Variance to the 35’ Front Setback

Passed, none oppose. Was requested earlier this year. No neighbors sent word of favor or opposition.

 

Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Rezoning / Conditional Use Request(s))

 

1. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Conditional Use Request (s))

Applicant Name: Sheila Miller
Owner Name: Kenneth Richards
Owner Address: 42 Starcraft Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Property Location: 42 Starcraft Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30540
Map and Parcel Number: 3054-011
Size of Property: 0.93 acres
Current Land Use Classification: R-1 (Residential Low Density)
Proposed Land Use Classification: R-1 (Residnetial Low Density) w/Conditional Use
Proposed Use of Property: Use RV for Guest Home

Intended for hardship purposes. Passed, none oppose, but once hardship goes, then temporary/conditional use expires. Applicant present but did not speak.

 

2. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Rezoning Request(s))
Applicant Name: Chandra Teague
Owner Name: Chandra Teague
Owner Address: 280 Clear Creek Valley Dr. Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Property Location: 0 Mulkey Road, Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Map and Parcel Number: 3098-015B
Size of Property: 10.25 acres
Current Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural)
Proposed Land Use Classification: R-2 (Residential High Density)
Proposed Use of Property: Create subdivision for single family dwellings.

Already has approval from the Water Authority. Seven to eight houses to be added. Owner must install new water main.

 

3. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Rezoning Request(s))
Applicant Name: David Hensley
Owner Name: Russell & Tanya Ginger
Owner Address: 320 Turkey Creek Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Property Location: 280 Turkey Creek Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Map and Parcel Number: 3130B-019
Size of property: 6.49 acres
Current land use classification: R-1 (Residential Low Density)
Proposed Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural)
Proposed Use of Property: Create Agritourism / Lodging Business – Short-Term
Room Accommodations: Event Hosting, and Heritage Homesteading Workshops

Passed, none oppose. No neighbors sent word of favor or opposition.

 

4. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Conditional Use Request (s))
Applicant Name: David Hensley
Owner Name: Russell & Tanya Ginger
Owner Address: 320 Turkey Creek Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Property Location: 280 Turkey Creek Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Map and Parcel Number: 3130B-019
Size of property: 6.49 acres
Current land use classification: A-1 (Agricultural)
Proposed Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural) w/Conditional Use
Proposed Use of Property: Create Agritourism / Lodging Business – Short-Term
Room Accommodations and Heritage Homesteading Workshops

Passed, none oppose. No neighbors sent word of favor or opposition. Proposed for bike trails, weekend craft activities and farm animal education and interaction.

 

5. Consideration of Application to Amend Gilmer County Land Use Ordinance (Conditional Use Request (s))

Applicant Name: David Hensley
Owner Name: Russell & Tanya Ginger
Owner Address: 320 Turkey Creek Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Property Location: 280 Turkey Creek Drive, Ellijay, Ga. 30536
Map and Parcel Number: 3130B-019
Size of property: 6.49 acres
Current land use classification: A-1 (Agricultural)
Proposed Land Use Classification: A-1 (Agricultural) w/Conditional Use
Proposed Use of Property: Weddings & Events Venue

No neighbors sent word of favor or opposition. Limited on events size and units are planned for housing families. Tabled until other areas of the property are re-zoned.

 

Final / Preliminary Plat Approval: Walker Reserve – Final – Hidden Lake Phase 8 – Minor subdivision Final

Passed, none oppose. No neighbors sent word of favor or opposition.

 

 

Variances are approved entirely by the board. However, The map amendments for the zoning changes must still be approved by the Board of Commissioners. Be sure to stay tuned for future updates!

The next Planning & Zoning meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday, July 18, 2019 for those who wish to attend. This meeting is currently expected to be held in the Jury Assembly room of the Gilmer County Courthouse.

If anyone recognizes what they consider personal information in any of my articles and wishes for it to be removed, please notify fynethanh@gmail.com immediately.

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Maintenance and Land Use nearing decisions in BOC

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Final decisions may be coming soon as the county considers densities and more with recent changes in Land Use Ordinances.

Having been on the agenda for several months, this item was revisited during a first reading and gone through several public hearings and adjustments from the Building Association and local builders. This month finally saw the ordinance pass a first reader. The county will revisit it next month for a second reading and final adoption to put an end to the lengthy process.

However, few complaints are being heard on the time taken for this ordinance, instead, confirmations and thanks are forefront as the county did not vote to pass the reader months ago when asked by citizens and builders for more time to study and give input on changes for the ordinance.

Cleaning and maintenance for the Gilmer Courthouse is also still being debated as the Commissioners and Maintenance Director D.J. Spagnola look into options for cleaning the stained bricks on the courthouse. While pressure washing is too rough, causing damage to the stone, painting does not seem good enough to cover over the stains either. The stains come from a moss, not a mold, according to Spagnola.

Looking at proposals for cleaning, Spagnola is looking for lasting options instead of the temporary fixes the county has been using. He spoke of meeting with an architect to look at ways to seal the capstone in order to protect it from the water, moss, and stains that continue to damage the exterior.

The board officially approved Shane Bowman as a member to the Department of Family & Children’s Services Board.

The board also approved Tony Whitaker as a member to the Ellijay-Gilmer County Water & Sewerage Authority.

 

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Post Commissioner Raises pass First Reader

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Reaching all the way back to October of 2018, the proposal of wage increases for Post Commissioners finally reached the stage of First Reader this month.

This topic has been hotly debated, and even now, the public hearing saw more debate over the issue that has spanned five months and the changing of the Post 2 Commissioner. After a community push, successfully, to keep the issue in county instead of sending the topic to Atlanta for a vote, the discussion now moves to the actual topic of accepting or denying the proposed Post Commissioner salary raise from 10% to 18% of the Chairman’s Salary.

With only a couple people standing in the Public Hearing to speak, discussion centered on justifying the raise. Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson was asked about this, and replied with some statistics about her hours saying she has put in 134 hours since taking office at the new year. She calculated the pay versus hours and reported that she has received close to $7.74 /hr ($1,036.82 total pay over 134 hours).

Additionally, Dallas Miller was asked about his hours comparatively, if he has more or less than Ferguson, being a new commissioner and attending training. Miller admitted that the hours don’t go down as he said more people know who you are and will stop you to talk, email you, or call you.

Miller stated again, as he has in previous meetings, that he did feel it would have been better at a different time, and he ultimately voted no on the First Reader citing the same issues he noted in the public meeting about timing.

It wasn’t until another citizen, Brian Pritchard, spoke about his issues with the change. Among his own questions for justification, he eventually asked the Board to push the vote back to year end for citizens and commissioners to look at the raise.

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris noted that pushing this back that far could create a perception of conflict with the Post 1 Commissioner position so close to qualifying and re-election in 2020. Paris said he did not believe that it was necessary, and the board could avoid the conflict altogether by not pushing the issue off to year-end.

Taking the issue now would be far separated from any decisions on running again according to Paris.

The first reader was officially approved with Karleen Ferguson giving the motion, Charlie Paris giving the second, and the final vote passing on 2-1.

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City Council to condemn two properties

News

Ellijay, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council held a first of two readings of the condemnation of two properties this month, at 47 Boardtown Rd and 292 Cox Creek Rd.

Councilman David Westmoreland noted that some of the issues have “been in disrepair for years.” With the first reading done, the process is underway and action will be taken in February.

The condemnation, according to the ordinances read, will require the property owners to demolish and remove the structures on the properties with sixty days if passed. If not adhered to, the city will remove the structures at the property owners expense.

The two ordinances for reading are below for both properties.

292 Cox Creek Rd

292 Cox Creek Rd

47 Boardtown Rd

47 Boardtown Rd

 

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Land Ordinance changes delayed

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Despite being ready to go forward with the first reader of changes to the Land Ordinance in Gilmer County, Commissioners listened to a speaker in the Public Hearing who requested they push the ordinance back a month.

Devell Frady stood in Public Comments to ask for the extension as he said he hadn’t heard about it until two days before the public comments.

Agreeing to stall the decision, the board will be re-advertising the ordinance in the next month and holding a new public comments session as well. Having completely restarted the process, Frady said it will give the Builders Association and surveyors more time to read through the changes.

Frady thanked the Commissioners for listening to him and others as they asked for a change to R3 zonings. He also thanked them for listening again as they agreed to allow another 30 days for the public.

The changes will instate new R-4 zoning that all current R-3 could be moved into, and allowing a new R-3 Zoning.

The changes also deal with adding in capabilities for Duplexes and similar structures.

Make sure to see the changes and updates in the Land Use Ordinance before next month’s return to the issue.

The county has already advertised a new Public Hearing for February 14, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.

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County issues moratorium on tiny homes

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Specifically stated for tiny homes on wheels, the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners have issued a moratorium on tiny homes on wheels, tree houses for habitation, or containers for habitation in Gilmer County.

With the commissioners referencing certifications and codes for buildings, it was said that tiny homes built on site were considered the same as any house as they would be built to code and inspected properly. However, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris said in their meeting that tiny homes on wheels can be built elsewhere and brought into the county similar to an RV, motor home, or mobile home.

The difference, however, is that those all have processes and associations to inspect and certify them as safe. The commissioners said the pre-fabricated tiny homes they have dealt with have no regulations for inspections or anything of that sort.

Due to the lack of certification, the commissioners are issuing this moratorium officially stating they want to take time to look at the issue and see how to properly handle the situation.

While this issue has been mentioned in their work session for the past three months, the commissioners had recently said they would allow tiny homes on wheels as long as they had been certified and inspected but no specific change or resolution was made. Now, Gilmer County Post Commissioner Travis Crouch indicated the impact and importance of dealing with the item stating, “It’s an up and coming movement with young people trying to get started in life. It’s economical. I understand the appeal. I do recognize the need to define it and adjust the ordinance.”

Part of the discussion for the moratorium came with Crouch specifying he was only okay with the moratorium if the long-term goal was to accommodate the tiny homes on wheels in the future.

Paris echoed the sentiment saying he wanted to accommodate them similar to mobile homes.

Part of their process is to define how the county views these tiny homes on wheels, be that as mobile homes, RVs, or something similar as well as specifying requirements for the buildings for safety and habitation.

The moratorium is set to last 180 days with the option to extend if necessary. Stay with FetchYourNews and continue attending the monthly commissioner meetings as they continue the process for an ordinance change to deal with the issue.

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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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Redirected Resources and Eminent Domain Shadow Paving Projects

News

ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners is moving heavily onto the topic of roads and paving in August with bid approvals and an Eminent Domain on a right of way.

Due to issues involving the Cherry Log Fire Station, Gilmer County is adjusting projects in August. During their meeting, the Commissioners put final approval on its new amendment to Purchases of the Board of Commissioners in the County Code. This amendment is allowing the Commissioners to increase the spending limit with a single vendor in a year without bidding from $20,000 to $50,000 if the capital project is already in the County Budget. Additionally, the Commissioners added a new requirement that any purchases over $25,000 would require two separate signatures from the County Commissioners.

The next step of the Fire Stations effect on the county came with a stall after the county bid out the project to clear the land. With the one bid received being close to $100,000 over the expected cost, the Board of Commissioners declined the bid and are now set to have the Road Department clear the land instead.

With the Amendment to Purchases, additional materials and asphalt will be bought by the County as they accepted Bartow Paving as the low bidder for paving projects. While Public Works Director Jim Smith said the Road Department will still prep everything for the projects, they will have Bartow Paving actually pave certain roads while our County Department clears the land for the Fire Station. One addendum was added to the award taking 1.9 miles of road off of the projects, on Mountain Town Road. The original bid of $318,000 was cut down by $45,099.69 in order to place the paving within the county budgeted expenditures.

Post Commissioner Dallas Miller originally stated he wanted the County to find an extra source of money so they would not cut out any of the paving project. However, at the regular session, Director Smith said there was additional cost for materials that would cost the county more in addition to the extra $45,000 for the bid. As such, the board approved the bid with the addendum.

Another paving project for the year is Ridgeway Church Road. Ridgeway has seen issues in the County’s attempt to pave an extra portion up to the end of County Maintenance in the form of one resident failing to sign off on the right of way. However, Smith stated they have been in contact with the property owner before and even showed him on site the county’s need for the right of way. Smith states the only issue with signing is that the owner lives out of town and has not responded to the County’s attempts to contact him again.

Along those lines, August saw the board approve Eminent Domain on the Right of Way, approximately 0.77 acres, to move forward with paving the road. The county has collected Right of Ways for every other property on the road.

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Ellijay Management Changes Through City Council and Special DDA Meetings

News

ELLIJAY, GA – The Ellijay City Council is moving forward to swap out pumper’s for its Fire services.

After numerous problems with its current 2002 Lavern Class A Pumper, the City Council have voted to accept bids on the fire truck. Through their work session, discussion came that a minimum price be set for $85,000. The Council did approve the minimum price on the bids, but can also refuse bids at a later date. The revenue from the sale will offset the cost of the city purchasing a 1996 Smeal Class A Pumper for $60,000.

A First Reader also came at the Council’s July meeting for an “Ordinance For The Demolition and Removal Of A Dwelling Unfit For Human Habitation Located At 19 Hancock Drive.” Designated as parcel 1065. Although this is a First Reader, the demolition could move forward in 30 days if no change occurs in the situation.

Citizens also took time to speak at the meeting with one questioning the Come Play in Ellijay Golf Tournament and the DDA (Downtown Development Authority). Her question was to locate funds raised from last year’s event to support current and future events. The same day as the Council Meeting, the DDA held a special called meeting in which they discussed the Golf Tournament.

During the DDA’s meeting, the Authority officially turned over the Golf Tournament Event to the newly formed Ellijay Merchant’s Association. The Golf Tournament is the latest event to be turned over as the DDA has already relinquished the July 4th event, Light Up Ellijay, St. Petrick’s Day, and the Halloween Festivities.

While turning the events over, the DDA will be giving up the promotions and events committee’s in favor of the Merchant’s Association who have become their own 501c3 organization.

The second action from the DDA’s special called meeting returned the Management of the Welcome Center/Restroom downtown to the City.

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Gilmer BOC Sees Ordinance Change and TAN Update

News

ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Commissioners saw possible progress for the Cherry Log Fire Station in the form of an Ordinance Change along with an update on this years Tax Anticipation Note (TAN).

The County accepted the First Reader and Public Commentary Meeting for a change to ordinances regarding Purchases of the Board of Commissioners. Attempting to deal with one of the issues delaying the Cherry Log Fire Station, this new change is set  The new change will allow the Commissioners to increase the spending limit with a single vendor in a year without bidding from $20,000 to $50,000 if the capital project is already in the County Budget. Additionally, the Commissioners added a new requirement that any purchases over $25,000 would require two separate signatures from the County Commissioners.

Although no citizens spoke at the Public Hearing, the Commissioners will have the Second Reading for the change at August’s Meetings if citizens still wish to speak on the subject.

The Commissioners also brought up the bid TAN for 2017. Although not yet utilized this year, Chairman Paris stated they expect to begin drawing upon it in Mid August.

Many will recall that the TAN has been needed later and later every year over the last few years. However, last year the TAN was also used in August. Paris addressed the meeting about this saying that while citizens may have originally expected to push the TAN back further this year, one major change to the budget changed that expectation. Beginning in 2017, the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners separated close to $800,000 from the General Fund Budget received through LMIG Grants.

Though that Grant is usually left in the General Fund as a “buffer” according to Chairman Paris, the separation of these funds means there is less of a buffer for the year’s expenses. Paris stated during the movie that after losing the major amount of funds from the general fund and still going to mid-August before needing to utilize the TAN is a good sign for the county and its economy.

The general sense could mean that Gilmer still see the TAN used later next year, especially with Commissioner’s expectations for maintaining close to a four to four-and-a-half month contingency fund for the county. Citizens could even see Gilmer forgoing usage of the TAN in the coming years if the county continues financially as it currently is.

Additionally, July’s meeting saw the Commissioners appoint Bill Logan to the Board of Tax Assessors due to an recent resignation. Their appointment of Logan is to fulfill the remainder of that term. They also appointed Mary Ann Cook to the Keep Gilmer Beautiful Board.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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Commissioners Discuss Purchase Limit and Bids

News

As the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners continue moving to construct the Cherry Log Fire Station, new issues and obstacles arise.

Bidding out their project to clear the land that the Fire Station will sit on, Commissioner Charlie Paris reports they received only one bid. That $295,468.25 bid from BM&K Construction and Engineering, out of Braselton, was deemed unacceptable by the Commissioners. Paris stated that he is expecting to return to the idea of utilizing county workers to clear the land and expects a far reduced price because of it.

However, currently, capital projects like this cannot use a single vendor to purchase over $20,000 within the year without bidding according to county ordinances.

The Commissioners have called a special meeting on June 21 to address this issue with a possible change to the ordinance to specifically allow capital projects, like the Fire Station, that have been fully approved by the Board of Commissioners and already within the budget to increase that cap for vendors without bidding.

Chairman Paris stated that the Fire Station is budgeted around $350,000 and even if this change passes, that would not change. Instead, they would be using the budgeted money in the same manner as they budgeted, but with set vendors for materials needed as the county completes the clearing project.

When asked why the Commissioners were considering the change, Paris stated that the completion date, set for June 1, would likely be pushed back if they had to bid out each material needed and he did not expect a vast difference in costs. Since the project has already seen delays from last year, Paris did not want this project to take any more time than necessary as he said he had promised the people of Cherry Log that he would have a fire station for them.

He also stated he didn’t want to have the fire station become like the Clear Creek Ball fields and take years to complete.

The Board has already approved advertisement of this ordinance change and is meeting on the 21st to discuss and detail parameters such as what amount of money would be acceptable for this one exception to the ordinance to be set at.

If the change is set during the meeting on the 21st, then citizens could expect the first reader to appear in July’s Commissioner’s Meeting depending on when the advertisement is set to meet the 14 day requirement.

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