The Oconee County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously last night to accept Chairman Melvin Davis’ recommendation that former commissioner Chuck Horton be removed from two government boards, though Horton could have continued to serve on each as a citizen.
The commissioners decided to replace Horton with one of their own, rather than advertise for citizens to fill the positions.
That citizen would serve as an alternate, rather than as a voting member. The current rules allow for a citizen to serve as a voting member, but not as an alternate.
Horton challenged Davis unsuccessfully for the chairmanship of the Board in last July’s Republican primary. He has said he had expressed an interest in staying on the HLC Board as well as on the Georgia Bioscience Joint Development Authority, which he has been chairing since last fall.
|Land Planner Beall at Meeting|
Pebble Creek Size Modification Denied
In other action last night, the BOC turned down a request by the new owners of now-dormant Pebble Creek Subdivision on SR 15 south of Watkinsville to be allowed to build 1,800-square-foot homes rather than the minimum 2,700-square-foot homes required when the property initially was rezoned in 2004.
The Board did vote to allow CAAT Holdings LLC,1351 Jennings Mill Road, to build homes on elevated slabs in the subdivision in addition to homes with basements or crawl space. The 2004 rezone had precluded construction on slabs.
The BOC also voted to approve the rezone from Business and Office-Institutional-Professional use to simply Office-Institutional-Professional of a 14.5-acre tract on north side of Virgil Langford Road between the Oconee Connector and SR 316.
Oconee Medical Properties LLC has a purchase contract on the property, according to the application, and wants to construct nine buildings totally 102,060 square feet on the land.
Davis Proposed Slate On Jan. 29
Davis had proposed a slate of candidates for the HLC Management Board, the Bioscience Authority, the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority and the Northeast Georgia Solid Waste Management Authority at the BOC agenda-setting meeting on Jan. 29.
At the request that evening of Commissioner Jim Luke, the Board had not placed the item on the consent agenda for last night’s meeting so that the Board could discuss the appointments before taking action.
Davis proposed again last night that newly elected BOC member Mark Saxon replace Horton on the Hard Labor Creek Management Board, though his recommendation was that Saxon first serve as an alternate for six months before becoming a voting member.
In the meantime, Chris Thomas, Utility Department director and a current alternate, would serve as the voting delegate.
Davis proposed that Public Works Director Emil Beshara and Strategic and Long-Range Planning Director Wayne Provost fill two vacant alternate spots.
Davis said that Commissioner Margaret Hale should replace Horton on the Bioscience Authority and that Economic Development Director Rusty Haygood and Oconee County Chamber of Commerce President Tom Odom be the county’s other two members.
Davis proposed that Saxon also serve as his alternate on the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority and that Beshara be designated as the alternate to Thomas on that board.
Davis proposed that Commissioner John Daniell continue to serve as a member of the Northeast Georgia Solid Waste Management Authority. Amy Morrison from the Public Works Department, whom Davis did not mention at the agenda-setting meeting, also would continue to serve on that Authority.
Only Luke And Daniell Spoke
Luke and Daniell were the only commissioners who said anything after Davis read his list of appointments again last night, and both commented only on the HLC Management Board appointments.
Luke said he had “dropped the ball” by not getting the attorneys for the two counties to agree on language that would allow citizens to be appointed as non-voting alternates. Luke is chairman of the HLC Board.
Luke said he felt it is important to have citizen input on the Board, but he didn’t say why he didn’t want to appoint a citizen as a voting member.
At present, a citizen can serve as one of the three voting Board members representing Oconee County, but only county employees can serve as alternates. Walton County appoints the other four members to the Management Board using its own set of rules.
Daniell only asked Davis to confirm that a citizen could be considered for the Management Board once the language on qualifications is revised.
No Citizen Comment Sought
Davis did not ask for citizen input on the appointments.
During the citizen comment section at the beginning of the meeting, I had suggested that the commissioners take no action or make only temporary appointments until they had advertised for citizen applicants.
The language of the agreement for the Bioscience Authority also is explicit in allowing for citizen appointments.
Horton attended last night’s meeting but had left before the vote on the reappointments.
Zoning Request Opposed
Land Planner Ken Beall was joined by attorney Jim Warnes in representing CAAT Holdings at the rezone modification hearing for the Pebble Creek Subdivision.
Beall said that the housing market required that the subdivision owners have the flexibility to build smaller houses with different types of foundations.
CAAT Holdings partner Chad Keller and colleague Alan Harrison followed Beall, indicating it was their intent to build homes averaging 2,200 square feet in size.
Warnes said the homes initially built in the subdivision will be in the $200,000 to $220,000 range, and he expects values to go up as the subdivision is built out.
The 143-acre tract is platted for 98 lots with another lot for an amenity area.
Eight persons spoke against the rezone, most of them arguing that the smaller homes would decrease the value of their nearby properties.
BOC Voted Twice
The BOC last night first voted down the request for modification of the original rezone and then voted separately to modify the original rezone to allow for construction of the homes on slabs, provided the slabs are raised from the ground to give the appearance the house is sitting on a foundation.
Beall also represented the owners of the property on Virgil Langford Road, Charles Virgil and Hilda S. Langford.
No one spoke in opposition to that rezone request.
Both rezone requests were approved unanimously by the Board of Commissioners.