Tensions Rise in May BOC

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Lengthy meetings were held by the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners last week with both their Work Session and Regular Meeting. Votes split and the Commissioners sat as several issues came under fire during this month’s meetings.

A very full meeting room waited with anticipation for any speakers on the issue of a Zoning Request to implement a Motocross Track in the Big Creek area. Originally, several people spoke against the track in the work session including Ginger Marine, a resident who spoke on the impact of the dirt and noise in the area from a previous track that was built in her area of the county, and Robert Collins, a Big Creek resident who spoke about the environmental and community impact as a track would not be “compatible with the area.”

However, tension mounted as Chairman Charlie Paris called for comments in the regular meeting. With no one to step forth in favor of the track, Chairman Paris noted he had not received this much communication over a singular issue in his service as chairman, and he had not received one message in favor of the track. The Planning & Zoning Commission reported they had denied the request in their meeting, and the Commissioners followed the same as they unanimously denied the request.

Later in the meeting, the Commissioners went a step further to enact a moratorium on motocross tracks in the county. This was put in place as the county is moving into completely overhauling its land use permits in the coming months. Citizens asked how to stay involved with the changes and to put their own thoughts into the changes, to which Chairman Paris offered is email to continue the information exchange with those citizens and any who wanted to join in.

Another issue rose in tension as the County Commissioners began a process to regulate river usage in the unincorporated parts of the County, which is the county outside of city limits. Much of the resistance to this regualation came from Woody Janssen and Phillip Griffith, both of the Cartecay River Experience, who spoke on how to enforce the regulation. They also stated that with enforcement, they believe the laws are already in place with trespassing and public drunkenness. Going even further into issues of trash on the river, Janssen said much of the trash issues in the river they already deal with themselves as they collected several thousands of pounds of trash in last years clean-up.

Post Commissioner Dallas Miller stated the Commissioners “have an issue here… a Conundrum” as he listened to the resistance to the regulation. With issues arising, the allusion was made about a few bad apples ruining the situation.

Soon after, a motion and vote came to adopt the first reader, which will send this issue back to next month’s meeting for final consideration as well as a public hearing to further delve into the public’s concerns.

Not all votes came in unanimously, however. Post Commissioner Dallas Miller offered with the Dissenting Vote for a zoning request for a wedding venue, citing previous zoning issues where he also dissented due to his belief that the conditional use permits requested are not permitted under the ordinance. Another dissension from Miller came on the County’s “Alchoholic Beverages” section of the code. An expected vote by many due to a well documented opposition by Miller to the changes. However, Miller still states that though he votes no on certain issues in the county, he will continue to support the choices made by the Board as a whole. The vote went 2-1 in favor of the First Reader.

Another largely debated issue also came to a close last week as the County voted for a final adoption of their Amendments for Collection of Tax on Harvested Timber. No discussion came in the regular meeting after all the work and changes previously put into this change.

The Board is also moving forward after approving the First Reader for changes in how the Commissioners dispose of property. You will recall recent reports on this change to focus on removing the requirement to advertise every individual piece of equipment to include the serial numbers of the equipment to be sold. One citizen spoke in this months meeting to ask if this included county owned land, to which Chairman Paris assured him it was for equipment and items owned by the county and could not include land.

One final note to the meeting came  with the Commissioner’s re-appointment of Billy Rowe to the Ellijay-Gilmer Water Sewer Authority. The Board also considered Jerry Davis who offered his services, but stated he was already on a county board. Rowe is currently serving on the Water and Sewer Board and it is his term coming to an end. With the approval he is now to be reappointed to the position by the Commissioners.

For more information check out the two videos below to watch the May Work Session and Regular Meeting for the Board of Commissioners.

Work Session May 11:

Regular Meeting May 12:

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