Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 8, 2013

County weighs vice-chair rotation

VALDOSTA — The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners discussed the rotation of the vice-chair position during the Monday work session.

Commissioners select the vice chairman. Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter said that once the number of commissioners changed from three to five, the rotation changed to an eight-month cycle, so all of the commissioners would have the opportunity to serve as vice chair.

“The question has come up about whether that’s the way to do it, or whether that individual needs to be elected from the body,” Slaughter said.

Commissioner John Page read from the naming legislation, Section 10, for clarification: “‘The board shall elect one of the district representatives to serve as vice chairman.’ It doesn’t say how long it has to be, eight months is fine with me,” Page said.

Commissioner Richard Raines asked, Walter Elliot, the county attorney, if the board would be violating any statutes, if the vice chair is rotated.

Elliot replied, “Not at all,” then clarified that before the staggered terms, the chairman and the three district commissioners were all elected at the same time, for a four-year term.

“At the beginning of that four-year term, the commissioners had an election, and under that election, one commissioner was elected vice chair for the first 16 months, of the four years, another commissioner was elected for the next 16 months, and the third for the final 16 months,” Elliot said.

Now the five district representatives, can elect to rotate any or all of them to the vice-chair seat in the 24-month period.

“So you can have a rotation, provided it is an election, and by vote of the commissioners,” Elliot said.

The vote will stay in effect as long as these five representatives are on the board; if a commissioner resigns, then the newly elected board will have to vote on the rotation of the vice-chair position.

• Next, Chad McLeod,  Lowndes County project manager, presented a case for the Leila Ellis Building. Four local agencies: LAMP (Lowndes Associated Ministries to People), CASH (Cash Prosperity Campaign), LACC (Lowndes Area Crisis Care), and NCNW (The National Council of Negro Women, Inc.), are interested in occupying the building.

The county is responsible for maintenance cost, which will be included in the rent. The estimated cost of space was calculated by square feet: LAMP – 1,201 sq. ft. – $350.29, CASH – 2,096 sq. ft. – $611.33, LACC – 2,096 sq. ft. – $611.33, and NCNW – 2,152 sq. ft. – $627.67.

Currently, only LAMP, CASH, and the homeless coalition reside in the building. Commissioner Demarcus Marshall asked, “In the past, did we just write it off for tax purposes, versus charging?”

Chairman Slaughter said, some of these organizations have not been paying, but were required to do so; the county is trying to develop lease agreements to restart the use of the space.

Page asked, “Are we recouping any back rent that hasn’t been paid? Have we tried to come to some settlement with these organizations that haven’t paid?”

Slaughter replied, that has been discussed, but these organizations work on small budgets, so “there is basically no revenue to repay the back pay.”

Page asked if moving forward there was a policy in place that in a set amount of time the county would start sending out eviction notices, or do something to try to recuperate the cost so the county does not continue to allow lease violators.

Slaughter clarified, the goal is to move forward so these organizations will have a place to help the community, but the goal is for the county to break even on the property.

— Slaughter asked Jason Davenport, county planner, to present several rezoning requests to the board.

County case REZ-2013-11 Nottinghill: This is a request to change zoning from R-A (Residential Agricultural) to R-21 (Medium Density Residential); the owners intend to rezone because they want to develop a minimum half-acre lot residential subdivision. Davenport said the staff is working with six owners, and they did not receive all of the necessary signatures. Staff and applicant requested tabling of this motion for one month.

County case REZ-2013-12 Barrington: A developer requested to update the site plan approved by the Lowndes County Board of Commission in 2012 (REZ-2012-08). Either two-story single-family or two-family dwellings is the developer’s motivation. The site plan has changed; the developer was approved for 72 units, but asked the county for 50 units, and some single-family homes across the street. Staff allowed this change, but required a fence as buffer.

County case REZ-2013-13 Lester Family Trust: The Lester Family Farm, and surrounding properties, were changed from A-U (Agricultural) to residential in 2006 when the county adopted ULDC (Unified Land Development Code). Davenport and staff recommended the property be rezoned to E-A (Estate Agricultural), whereas Lowndes County Planning Commission voted for R-A zoning.

Commissioner Raines asked why R-A was not a wise options, and Davenport answered because of the location, water and sewer right-of-ways are nearby, and there is residential developments to the south. The county expects residential growth in this area because of the placement of water and sewer. This area is in a central park of the county, Davenport said.

The Lester Farm was allowed to continue its cattle operations without being in violation of the new zoning because the ULDC allowed owners to continue operations as long as they did not stop operations for more than a year. Which would require the owner to request approval from the commissioners.

County case REZ-2013-14 Claude G. and Kellie H. Fletcher: Requested a change in zoning from E-A and C-C (Crossroads Commercial) to R-A. The owners want the subject property to exist on its own, but it does not meet the five-acre requirements, so owners requested to change zoning to two and a half acres for developmental purposes.

More items discussed were:

— The installation of a stop-and-go traffic signal at the Interstate 75 Exit 22 off ramp on the west side of I-75. The signal will control the I-75 off ramp, Shiloh Road, and Amber Road. The county will be responsible for providing power to the signal and the monthly electric bill, estimated at $150.

— Also at Exit 22 on I-75 the county and Georgia Department of Transportation will install interchange lighting which will be completed as a part of the Exit 22 Interchange Project. The project is expected to begin in October 2015. The county will only be in charge of the monthly electrical service, estimated at $2,200 per month.

— Lowndes County and Evidence Based Associates has agreed to provide program services to the Lowndes County Juvenile Court. For the first year, youths were limited to a 12-month period; now they are requesting a nine-month limitation. Furthermore, the state required a 75 percent completion rate for the program, but it was reduced to 60 percent completion rate. The EBA asked for the addendum to be signed which reflects the changes to the original agreement.

— The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office requested that the Clerk of Court be responsible for citation entry/payment processing, and they agreed. This requires the Clerk of Court to purchase more software, hardware, and services to fulfill this responsibility. County Manager Joe Pritchard said the requested $79,000 would come from the county’s contingency budget.

— The board discussed the approval of a vendor for striping, signage, and raised pavement markers on 30.79 miles of roadway in Lowndes County. The GDOT awarded the county $142,491.75 for the project. The lowest bid came from Peek Pavement Marking at $136,179.50. The roads that will be re-striped are Shiloh Road, Skipper Bridge Road, Miller Bridge Road, Lake Park Bellview Road, Val Del Road, Old Quitman Road, Johnson Road, and Whitewater Road.

— Pritchard updated the community on “the storm that wasn’t.” Ashley Tye said the county tracked the storm, and prepared for the heavy rain. On Sunday, the National Weather Service stopped issuing advisories.

— Pritchard announced that the animal shelter will hold its second Animal Health Fair at the Civic Center, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Nov. 2. Also, it is Fire Prevention Month, and county fire chief and staff will be visiting schools providing information to students about fire prevention.

All of these items will be voted on by the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners at its regular session, 5:30 p.m. today, Oct. 8.


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