Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oconee County Issued Building Permit For Gigi’s Cupcakes In Epps Bridge Centre

Franchise Outlet

The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office issued a building permit on Dec. 20 for Gigi’s Cupcakes in Epps Bridge Centre.

The store will be located in the same building as Taqueria Tsunami Restaurant, opposite the University 16 Cinema. Carter’s and Lane Bryant also are in that building.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Oconee County Voters Seem More Receptive To Alcohol Sales, According To Survey

October Survey

Oconee County voters seem to have softened their opposition to alcohol sales, according to a scientific survey of registered voters conducted in the county in the last two weeks of October.

Only about one in four want to keep the current restriction on Sunday sales of beer and wine in the county.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Oconee County Has At Least $2.6 Million In Unspent Funds From SPLOST 2014, Report Shows

Estimate Is Conservative

Oconee County has at least $2.6 million in unspent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues from the 2004 tax initiative as the Board of Commissioners begins preparing voters to approve a new sales tax in May of 2014.

The current tax, SPLOST 2009, runs through October of 2015, and, as of June 30 of this year, the county had spent less than half of the projected revenue from that tax. Revenue is running behind projections, however, and the county has tried to hold spending to about 80 percent of projections.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Accept Committee Ranking Of Farms for Protection

Dispute GDOT Application

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last night accepted a ranking of six farms under consideration for the county’s farmland protection program that put the 75-acre farm of Carole Ludwig, 1510 Old Farmington Road in the south of the county, at the top of the list.

In accepting the recommendation of its review committee, the Commissioners gave themselves considerable leeway to select another of the farms on the list.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Hold Closed Meeting And Tour To Discuss Courthouse Facilities

Two Commissioners Absent

Oconee County voters are being asked to take the word of Superior Court Chief Judge David Sweat and his associates that there is a security problem at the Oconee County Courthouse that can be resolved only by construction of a new facility.

A publicly announced meeting of the Board of Commissioners and Judge Sweat on Wednesday morning was closed to citizens on the grounds the public cannot be privy to the discussion of security issues.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Oconee County Code Enforcement Issued Permit For Restaurant in Epps Bridge Centre

Latin And Asian Cuisine

The Oconee County Code Enforcement on Monday of last week issued an interior build-out permit for Taqueria Tsunami Restaurant in Epps Bridge Centre.

The Latin and Asian fusion restaurant is to be located in the same building as children’s clothing store Carter’s and Lane Bryant, opposite the University 16 Cinema.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Hard Labor Creek Management Board Appoints Recreation Committee From Walton And Oconee Counties

Groundbreaking Under Budget

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board, at its meeting in November, appointed a committee to start planning for the recreational use of the nearly 1,400-acre lake under construction in southeast Walton County.

The three-member committee is being asked to draft a preliminary plan for recreational use of the lake, estimate costs of construction of the facilities, and project operational costs.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Courthouse On Agenda Again For Oconee County Commissioner Meeting Tuesday Night

IDA Wants Lease Income

Oconee County Clerk Jane Greathouse on Wednesday afternoon added two items to the agenda for the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday night.

Commissioners are scheduled to return to the issue of a new courthouse after legal and judicial officials came before them last Tuesday night to say they needed a new facility.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Judge Sweat To Appear Before Oconee County Commissioners To Discuss Courthouse

SPLOST Upcoming

Chief Judge David R. Sweat of the Superior Court of Oconee County has a slot on the agenda for the meeting of the Board of Commissioners tomorrow night to raise the issue again of the future of the county courthouse.

The visit comes as county department heads and other government leaders are submitting their requests to County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko for the planned 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Landscape Group Met With Oconee County Planners To Discuss Complaints About Development Code

Too Many Red Oaks

Landscape designer Jane Bath is unhappy.

She says developers in Oconee County are planting too many red oaks and red maples, planting them too close together and in straight lines, and planting them too close to power lines.

She says the problem is with the county’s Unified Development Code (UDC) and the county’s planners.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oconee County Recreational Affairs Committee Asking For $5.5 Million In SPLOST Funding

On Top Of Bond Repayment

The Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee on Recreation Affairs last night added $5.5 million to the list of requests to go to the Board of Commissioners for inclusion on the ballot next spring as part of the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

The Committee said it really needs $10 million in parks, recreation and historic site funds, but it prioritized its list to include money to complete three projects at Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road and make a variety of overall improvements to parks throughout the system.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Six Farmers Apply For Oconee County’s Revised Farmland Protection Program

Only One New

Six farmers filled out applications by the Oct. 31 deadline telling the county they would like their property to be considered for inclusion under the county’s reconfigured farmland protection program.

Five of the six farmers already had their property on the list of 32 farms under consideration by the Partnership for Farmland Protection, the citizen group that ran the county’s farmland protection program until the Board of Commissioners appointed its own review committee on Aug. 6.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Volunteers Collect 1,500 Pounds Of Trash On Oconee County Side of McNutt Creek

Fifty-one volunteers this morning collected and hauled out an estimated 1,500 pounds of trash from the Oconee County side of McNutt Creek in a small area near the Macon Highway bridge over the creek.

The volunteers were recruited and organized by the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission as part of the state Rivers Alive Cleanup, a program of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Wants $4.6 Million In Future SPLOST Funding

For Existing And Planned Projects

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority voted earlier today to ask the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to earmark $4.6 million in the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for its economic development projects.

The IDA gets no funds from the current SPLOST, approved by voters in 2009 and continuing through the end of 2015, and the Authority said it wanted to get its request before the BOC so it can have its projects included in the next tax.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pebble Creek Owners Dismiss Complaint Against Oconee County Over Zoning Decision

Wanted Smaller Houses

CAAT Holdings LLC has dismissed its suit against the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, dropping its assertion that the commissioners abused their power and acted arbitrarily when they denied a request for a change in the minimum size of dwellings in Pebble Creek subdivision south of Watkinsville.

County Attorney Daniel Haygood announced the resolution of the suit against the county at the end of the BOC meeting on Oct. 29.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Decide Chickens Should Stay Out Of Subdivisions

Roosters Too

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners approved a series of modifications to the county’s Unified Development Code last night, but it decided the existing code language that excludes chickens and other fowl from all but agricultural acreage should remain in place.

B.R. White, director of the county’s Planning Department, told the Board that the possibility of changing the code to allow “poultry and other domesticated fowl” into subdivisions has been “very controversial.”

Monday, November 04, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners To Hold Zoning Hearings On Business Operating On Agricultural Land

Antique Acres

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tomorrow night will hold public hearings on three zoning issues that, if approved, will allow Barton and Melanie Cartey to continue to operate their wedding reception business at 2531 Snows Mill Road in the western part of the county.

The Carteys already have built two reception halls, one resembling an old general store and the other resembling a barn, though county records do not show building permits having been issued for the two structures.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Most Stores Not Downsizing In Move To Oconee County’s Epps Bridge Centre From Atlanta Highway Locations

Gap Inc. Increased Space

The clothing and accessories retailer Old Navy is occupying only three-quarters of the space at its new store in Oconee County’s Epps Bridge Centre as was the case in its now-closed store in Athens Promenade shopping center on Atlanta Highway.

And Children's Place will occupy a store at Epps Bridge Centre that is less than half the size of its current store in Georgia Square Mall.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Student Housing Complex Under Construction On Macon Highway Just Inside Oconee County

Was Puritan Place

Athens student housing is spilling over into Oconee County with the construction of the high-density Athens Ridge residential complex just inside the county line on old Macon Highway at White Oak Road.

Zoned for multi-family residential development, Athens Ridge is labeled a townhome and residential condominium development on county site development plans. Those plans show 190 dwelling units on just more than 35 acres of land on McNutt Creek just before it reaches the Middle Oconee River.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Deed Transfers Oconee County Campbell Center Land To University of Georgia

25 Year Protection

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia recorded deed documents in the Superior Court of Oconee County late last month officially transferring 1,055 acres that had been part of the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conservation Center from the United States Department of Agriculture to the University of Georgia.

As a condition of acceptance, the state agreed to “use the property for agricultural and natural resources research for a minimum of 25 years,” guaranteeing that the acreage will not be developed before 2038.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Developers Preparing Two Nearby Sites Along Oconee Connector In Northern Oconee County

Sewer Upgrades In Future

Developers are preparing two sites roughly a mile apart on the Oconee Connector near its intersection with SR 316.

The Oconee County Planning Department has issued a grading permit and approved the preliminary site plan for Georgia Skin Cancer and Aesthetic Dermatology at the corner of the Oconee Connector and Virgil Langford Road north of SR 316.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eight Oconee County Farmers Attend Meeting On Farmland Protection

Page Featured Presenter

Eight farmers turned out last Thursday night for a meeting at the Cooperative Extension Service to learn about the county’s efforts to find farms for its farmland protection program.

The program was chaired by C. Monte Stephens, county agriculture and natural resources extension agent, but the featured presenters were Russ Page and Laura Hall.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County Dealing With Old Waste Pit Under New Orkin Drive

Cracks and Buckles

Engineers have discovered an old waste pit deep beneath the highway leading to the new Caterpillar plant requiring Athens-Clarke and Oconee County to rebuild the roadway in coming months.

The reconstruction will require closing of some lanes of the four-lane roadway for about two weeks.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Permits Issued For SportClips and Carter’s In Oconee County’s Epps Bridge Centre

Now 90 Percent Leased

Oconee County Code Enforcement issued a permit last week for build out of 1,200 square feet of space at Epps Bridge Centre for SportClips, a haircut salon chain based in Texas.

Earlier this month Code Enforcement issued an interior permit for 4,485 square feet of space for childrens clothing store Carter’s.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Oconee County Planning Commission To Take Up Rezone Requests for A Wedding Hall And A Church

Reception In Barn

The Oconee County Planning Commission tomorrow night is scheduled to review an application for a business zone on farmland on Snows Mill Road near the Apalachee River and an application for a special use permit for a neighborhood church on Lenru Road near Triple Creek Subdivision.

Barton Cartey of 2531 Snows Mill Road is asking the county to rezone just less than two acres of land in an area that is predominantly zoned for agricultural and residential uses so he can continue to operate a wedding hall and reception hall on his property, as he has done for approximately a year.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oconee County Patch Site Now Being Edited From Athens

Gross No Longer Editor

The Oconee Patch web site is now fully under the editorial control of Rebecca McCarthy, editor of the Athens Patch site.

Stephanie Gross, who has edited the Oconee site since shortly after its launch in December of 2010, ended her association with Patch on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oconee County, Athens-Clarke County Investigating Cracks In New Roadway To Caterpillar Plant

Oconee County and Athens-Clarke County officials are trying to figure out what to do about large cracks that have appeared in Orkin Drive, the major entranceway to the new Caterpillar plant near Bogart.

The roadway problems have occurred at a particularly inopportune time, as Caterpillar is planning a Grand Opening Celebration of its facility for the morning of Oct. 31.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Approved Lease For Space in Government Annex But Not Bids For Renovation

Unusual Procedure

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners approved two bids last Tuesday night, one for $17,000 and another for $52,562.

The action was routine. County Finance Director Wes Geddings presented the six submitted bids to the Board with a recommendation at the Sept. 24 agenda-setting meeting.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Verizon Wireless Told Oconee County It Wants To Postpone Decision On Cell Tower Request

Reconsider Options

Verizon Wireless has told county officials it will ask for a postponement of a decision on its request to put a 190-foot cell tower on farmland near the Eastville community.

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to take up the request for a special use permit for the cell tower at its meeting tomorrow night, but Jennifer Blackburn, attorney for Verizon Wireless, told Oconee County Planner Brad Callender on Wednesday afternoon that she would like to defer the decision.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Commissioners To Address Oconee County Cell Tower Request by Verizon At Tuesday Meeting

Tower Number 28

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to decide Tuesday evening if Verizon Wireless can place a cell tower on farmland near the Eastville community over the objections of at least some residents in the area.

Three people spoke against the issuance of a special use permit for the cell tower at the Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 16. They were joined by about a dozen fellow citizens in the audience and said they expected others would have spoken out had they known about the plans for the cell tower.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oconee County Goes Forward With Farmland Program Despite Losing $175,000 In Federal Funds

Application Deadline Set

Oconee County is going forward with the process of identifying and selecting farms for a farmland protection program even though there is no federal money to make the program work.

The local office of the United States Department of Agriculture, which administers the federal program, in July turned back $175,000 in federal funds that were available to the county for farmland protection this year, saying that the county “opted not to put a farm forward” for 2013 funding.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Tell Industrial Development Authority Not To Focus Only On Industrial Parks

Want More Discussion Of Zoning

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority received a cautious response last night when it delivered its report on industrial development to the county’s Board of Commissioners.

Commissioner Jim Luke said the report “was a great work in progress” but that he was concerned that the Authority was putting too much emphasis on creating industrial parks.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Says Zoning Not Holding Up Development

Wants Industrial Sites

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners asked the members of the county’s Industrial Development Authority to study the feasibility of changing the county’s approach to zoning as a way to attract industrial development to the county.

The Development Authority recommended instead that the county should create one or more industrial sites each between 25 and 75 acres in size and that the county should make sure those sites have needed infrastructure for development.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Oconee And Walton Counties To Hold Hard Labor Creek Groundbreaking Ceremony Oct. 4

Gov. Deal Expected

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board has decided to hold an official reservoir groundbreaking ceremony at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 4 at or near the reservoir intake construction site on Social Circle-Fairplay Road in Walton County.

Invited guests will include Gov. Nathan Deal, though Project Manager Jimmy Parker told me on Wednesday that the governor’s office has asked that the governor’s attendance not be included in any formal press releases.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends Denial Of Permit For Cell Tower

Near Eastville

The Oconee County Planning Commission voted 6-4 on Monday night to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that it deny Robert W. Strickland a permit to construct a communication tower on his property just outside the Eastville community in the northwestern part of the county.

About 15 people turned out to oppose the tower, saying it would adversely affect the value of their properties. They asked that the tower be built on commercial property rather than on the Strickland property, which is zoned for agriculture.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mars Hill Road Bidding Delayed By GDOT To Allow For Right Of Way Acquisition

Pushed Back Five Months

The Georgia Department of Transportation has put off until February the letting of bids for Oconee County’s Mars Hill Road widening project.

Brent Cook, District One preconstruction engineer, told me in a telephone conversation today that right of way acquisition by the county is “running a little behind schedule,” making it necessary for GDOT to delay by five months the expected bidding for the $25.8 million project.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cell Tower Proposal Near Eastville Community Before Oconee County Planning Commission

Verizon Will Operate Tower

A Parker Creek Road property owner is asking the Oconee County Planning Commission to grant him a special use permit so he can lease 14,400 square feet of his property to Verizon Wireless for construction of a telecommunications tower.

Verizon says the new 190-foot monopole will allow it to “greatly improve existing wireless service” in northwestern Oconee County, including the community of Eastville and along Malcom Bridge, Hodges Mill and Hog Mountain roads.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Oconee County Land Use Committee Refuses To Recommend Further Action On Development Rights Program

Reverses Study Committee Action

The Oconee County Land Use and Transportation Planning Committee voted 6-5 on Tuesday night against giving further consideration to a Transfer of Development Rights program for the county.

The Tuesday vote, after 165 minutes of discussion across two meetings, countered the unanimous recommendation of a 16-member citizen committee that had studied TDR programs for six months.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Oconee County Land Use Committee Invited TDR Committee To Tuesday Meeting

Request For Proposals On Agenda

The Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning has extended an invitation to members of the county’s Transfer of Development Rights Committee to meet jointly on Tuesday night at the Community Center in Veterans Park.

The Land Use Committee issued the invitation after a discussion of nearly 90 minutes on Aug. 13 in which individual members expressed confusion about their mandate, opposition to a TDR program on the mistaken belief that it involves the federal government, and frustration with the Committee leadership.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Epps Bridge Centre Has Received Building Permits From Oconee County For Two-Thirds Of Total Space

Most Outparcels Still Unbuilt

Oconee County has now issued at least some form of building permit for nearly two-thirds of the total commercial space in Epps Bridge Centre, the new shopping mall at the Oconee Connector and SR Loop 10.

Most of those permits are for the core of the shopping center, which preliminary site plans indicated would make up more than 80 percent of the total mall space.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Bioscience Authority Appointments On Agenda For Board of Commissioners Meeting On Tuesday

Late Addition

Oconee County Clerk Jane Greathouse just before noon on Friday added a new item dealing with appointments to the Georgia Bioscience Joint Development Authority to the agenda for Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting .

Earlier last week she added to the agenda a water and sewer project update by Utility Department Director Chris Thomas. Thomas is to review recently completed water and sewer projects, those underway, and future projects

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fairway Outdoor Advertising Has Removed Old Signs, Illuminated Third Side of LED Display On Epps Bridge Parkway

Sales Tax Increase A Dream

Fairway Outdoor Advertising removed its three signs at Ruth Jackson Road and U.S. 78 earlier this month and has illuminated the third side of its LED sign at Epps Bridge Parkway and the Oconee Connector.

Despite what county officials said would be the case, however, the county will see no increase in sales tax revenue as a result of the new, large illuminated signs Fairway has installed at two locations on Epps Bridge Parkway.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Contrasting Parking Lots Mark Oconee County, Atlanta Highway Shopping Malls On Saturday

New Permits Too

The contrast on Saturday between Oconee County’s Epps Bridge Centre and the shopping centers on Atlanta Highway in Athens-Clarke County was striking.

Epps Bridge Centre was celebrating the official opening of three Gap Inc. stores, and cars filled the parking lot in front of the stores later in the day.

The parking lot in front of the closed Old Navy store in the Athens Promenade on Atlanta Highway was nearly empty.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Leader Of Better Georgia Told Oconee County Democrats Georgia Citizens Are Progressive

Dogs And Guerrillas

Most Georgians are more progressive than their elected state leaders, Bryan Long, executive director of Better Georgia, told a small group gathered for the Oconee County Democratic Committee meeting on Aug. 15.

Long didn’t define what he meant by progressive, but he said Georgians are in favor of better funding for education, are opposed to laws severely restricting a woman’s right to decide on matters of her health, in favor of funding needed government services, and in favor of infrastructure investment.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Oconee County Has Not Yet Investigated Zoning Issues Raised by Garrett Family Rezone Request

EPD Received Complaints

When the Garrett family sought local and state permission to convert its recovered materials processing facility on Dials Mill Road into a materials recovery facility earlier this year, it invited both public and government scrutiny of its current operations.

As a result of that scrutiny, four citizens filed complaints with the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources about the recovered materials processing facility at 1441 Dials Mill Road or about Roll Off Systems, headquartered nearby on B. Garrett Drive.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Oconee County Issued Building Permits For Three New Stores In Epps Bridge Centre

Central Cluster Taking Shape

The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office issued permits earlier this month for construction of stores to house Lane Bryant, Sleep Number and Alumni Hall, all to be located in the new Epps Bridge Centre.

Lane Bryant and Alumni Hall will be in the central cluster of the strip mall, between the now-open University 16 Cinemas and the Oconee Connector.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Patch Web Sites In Oconee County, Athens, Retain Editors

Turmoil In Evidence

The editors of Oconee Patch and Athens Patch survived the first round of terminations yesterday by parent AOL.

The Oconee Patch web site today continues to list Stephanie Gross as editor, and she filed stories today on the site with that title. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Oconee County Could See Big Changes In Media Landscape

Patch And Leader

The Oconee County media scene could change dramatically as early as tomorrow.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that AOL, the owner of the local Oconee Patch web site, plans to close or find partners for 400 of its 900 sites. The Georgia sites, including the one in Oconee County, could be on the list of those cut.

The New York Times reported today that the closings are expected to be announced internally as early as tomorrow or Friday. The story focused on an apology for an awkward firing at Patch on Friday. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Implications Of U.S. Supreme Court Decision For Oconee County House Redistricting Unclear, Representatives Say

Voting Rights Act Ruling

While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act makes it easier for Georgia to revisit redistricting in the 2014 session, Oconee County’s two representatives to the Georgia House of Representative say they are unsure the General Assembly will take up the issue.

If it does, however, they think their plan to bring all of Oconee County back into a single district stands a good chance of being approved.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Rezone Land For Assisted Living Facility, Appoint Farmland Committee

Hotel A Possibility

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tonight rezoned 23 acres at the corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector, making way for a medical and office complex that will include an assisted living facility to be developed by Thrive Senior Living.

The rezone included two additional parcels at that intersection, one of which is being developed for a dermatological medical center. The other is being developed speculatively for a hotel.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Return Tomorrow Night To Controversy On Farmland Committee

Davis Took Lead

In the past six months, the Oconee County Board of Commissioners has invested nearly two hours of public meetings to a controversy of its own creation about a program involving relatively small amounts of money and relatively few people.

The program has required the county to spend just a little more than a half million dollars, but it has received nearly $3 million in state and federal funds.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Resurgence Park Rezone On Tuesday Agenda Of Oconee County Board of Commissioners

NEGRC Had Concerns

Williams and Associates Land Planners is asking the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night to modify zoning conditions on three parcels of land in the northeast corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector for a medical office building, a hotel, and an office park with an assisted living facility.

The Northeast Georgia Regional Commission found the project to be in the best interest of the region and state, though it did express concerns about encroachment on wetlands on the site, excessive surface parking and less-than-ideal pedestrian access.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Postpone Action On Farmland Selection Committee

SPLOST Timeline Set

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners postponed action last night on a slate of candidates for a ranking committee for the county’s farmland protection program even though, at least according to Chairman Melvin Davis, the Commissioners had agreed upon the slate before the meeting took place.

The Commissioners also approved a timetable putting another Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax on the ballot in June or July of next summer, and they agreed to take steps to reduce the size of one of its citizen committees because of difficulty getting enough members to show up to make a quorum.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Set To Replace Farmland Protection Selection Committee

Passed Up Federal Funds

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night is scheduled to remove key responsibility for the county’s farmland protection program from a citizen committee that initiated the program in 1998 and has controlled the program since.

Instead, the Commissioners are set to shift responsibility for selection of farms for the program to a committee they appoint and control.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Oconee County Parks And Recreation Department Got Approval Of SPLOST Funding For Five Projects

Including Veterans Park Trail

The Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department has received approval to spend $220,000 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue in Fiscal Year 2014 for five projects, including completion of the paved walking trail in Oconee Veterans Park.

Also included are funds for a net and shade protective cover at the youth fields at Oconee Veterans Park, for a restroom between fields five and six at Bogart Sports Complex, for recoating of tennis courts at Oconee Veterans Park, and for emergency public address systems and equipment at all of the county’s parks.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fairway Retains Use of Two Old Billboards Covered By Settlement With Oconee County

Sign’s Third Side Not Used

Fairway Outdoor Advertising has not removed two of the four billboards it agreed to take down as part of a legal settlement with Oconee County that allowed the sign company to erect the two huge LED signs on Epps Bridge Parkway.

One of the four signs slated for removal–at the intersection of Ruth Jackson Road and U.S. 78–won’t come down until Fairway has completed its contracts for signs at the site, according to county officials.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

A Doctor’s Office, A Church And A Farm Are On Zoning Agenda For Oconee County Commissioners’ Meeting

Parking And Unpaved Roads Too

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to conduct public hearings on Tuesday night on zoning requests involving an office park near Butler’s Crossing, a neighborhood church near U.S. 78 in the west of the county, and a farm in the far south of the county.

If the BOC follows staff recommendations, it will allow for expansion of a doctor’s office, for conversion of a church from neighborhood scale to community scale, and for subdivision of a farm on a dirt road.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Oconee County Code Enforcement Issued Permit For First Outparcel At Epps Bridge Centre

Two New Tenants Identified

The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office has issued a permit for construction on the first of the 12 outparcels that are part of Epps Bridge Centre.

The 5,500 square-foot-building will house Vitamin Shoppe and Sleep Number, according to Utility Department records. Preliminary construction of the building is underway.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Maps Show Changes Proposed By Rep. Quick To Modify House Districts 117 And 119

Rep. Williams On Board

Oconee County’s two delegates in the Georgia House of Representatives agreed after a town hall style meeting in Bogart in April to release maps showing how their two districts could be reconfigured in the next meeting of the General Assembly to put all of Oconee County voters back into a single district.

Following that meeting, Dan O’Connor, a data analyst in the Reapportionment Office of the General Assembly, provided me the detailed maps–the first ever released–showing the changes in House Districts 117 and 119 requested before the legislative session in January by Rep. Regina Quick from the 117th District.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hard Labor Creek Management Board Set To Consider $28 Million Budget At Meeting On Tuesday

Big Item: Dam Construction

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board is scheduled to consider on Tuesday the $28.2 million fiscal year 2014 project budget, which includes $15 million for construction of the dam and spillway for the reservoir in southeast Walton County.

The budget also includes $2.8 million for construction of the reservoir intake and pump and $3.5 million to relocate Social Circle Fairplay Road.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Oconee County Sees Population Growth Rate of 2.5 Percent From 2010 to 2012

Most Recent Estimate

Oconee County’s population increased by 804 individuals between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2012, according to the latest estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The growth rate for Oconee County of 2.5 percent is just slightly higher than the growth rate of 2.4 percent for the state as a whole.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Called Meeting of Oconee County Commissioners To Deal With Sewer Capacity Fees

Changes For Pending Projects

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet at 5:15 p.m. tomorrow evening in a called meeting to consider changes to the county’s policy on computation of sewer capacity fees.

Utility Department Director Chris Thomas told me on Friday that he is proposing that the county change when capacity fees are paid and how they are calculated.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Oconee County Code Enforcement Office Logged Complaints In April And May Against Oconee Waste Transport

Loud Banging Noise Cited

Oconee County Code Enforcement has logged five complaints against Oconee Waste Transport following acknowledgment by the county in early April that it had agreed to allow the company to operate in violate of a county zoning ordinance in part because neighbors had stopped complaining.

Five different residents of the small subdivision off Greene Ferry Road south of Watkinsville complained to the county on three different dates in late April and early May that OWT was operating before 6 a.m.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Set To Adopt FY 2014 Budget With Water And Sewer Rate Increases

Sheriff Gets Deputies

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tomorrow night is expected to adopt a fiscal year 2014 General Fund budget that is up 5.7 percent from a year earlier but $2.7 million less than department heads and constitutional officers had requested.

The overall county budget includes water and sewer rate increases, with residential water customers paying $19 for the first 1,000 gallons of water used, up 5.6 percent from the current $18, and residential sewer customers paying $21.32, up 4.0 percent from a year earlier.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

County Attorney’s Change Of View Precedes Oconee County Commissioners’ Vote To Approve Beer And Wine License For Theater

No Monitoring Acknowledged

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last week voted to approve the beer and wine license for University 16 Cinema after the theater owner scaled back from three to one the number of auditoriums in which food and alcohol would be sold.

That change led County Attorney Daniel Haygood to drop his opposition to the request and conclude that a restaurant that includes a theater does not necessarily violate the county’s definition of a restaurant as spelled out in the beer and wine ordinance.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Georgia Theatre Company Asking Oconee County Commissioners To Expand Definition Of Restaurant

Developer Bishop Involved

If the Oconee County Board of Commissioners grants a beer and wine license for the University 16 Cinemas on Tuesday night, it will be expanding the meaning of restaurant from what currently is listed in the alcoholic beverages ordinance passed by the county in 2008.

The Board also will be going against, at least to some extent, the recommendation of County Attorney Daniel Haygood.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Oconee County Issued Building Permits For Central Complex At Epps Bridge Centre

No New Tenants Listed

Oconee County Code Enforcement issued a shell permit last week for building 700, part of the central, four-building cluster at Epps Bridge Centre.

The county had issued a shell permit for building 500 on May 8 and a foundation permit for building 400 on May 3.

Code Enforcement issued a permit for building 600, the fourth building in the cluster, in January of this year.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

New Complex on SR 316 in Oconee County To Include Hotel, Medical Offices And Assisted Living Facility

Proposal Not Yet Reviewed

Land planning firm Williams and Associates filed documents with the Oconee County Planning Department on Monday proposing a $57 million project, including an assisted living facility, medical offices and a hotel, for the northeast corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector.

The project, being referred to as Resurgence Park, will require the county to change zoning for the 30-acre parcel to allow for the assisted living facility.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Turned Down Garrett Request For Recycling Facility–Slowly

160 Plus Attended

Forty-three second elapsed between the time Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis called for a motion last night and when Commissioner Jim Luke offered one.

And 11 seconds elapsed between the time when Luke made his motion and Commissioner John Daniell seconded it.

Presbyterian Homes Of Georgia Abandoning Plans For Rocky Branch Road Facility

County Not Yet Notified

Presbyterian Homes of Georgia has decided to abandon its plans to put a continuing care retirement community in the dormant Autumn Glen subdivision on Rocky Branch Road.

In a letter dated yesterday sent to those who expressed an interest in living in the facility, Frank H. McElroy Jr., president and CEO of the south Georgia company, said that the requirement by the county that PHG install a gravity-fed sewer line to connect to the county sewage system killed the project.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Theater at Epps Bridge Centre Seeking Beer and Wine License At Busy Oconee County Commission Meeting Tomorrow Night

Agenda Also Contains Appointments

Near the end of a very busy agenda tomorrow night, the Oconee County Board of Commissioners is set to take up an application for a beer and wine license at University 16 Cinemas now under construction inside of Epps Bridge Centre off Epps Bridge Parkway.

The application is to allow the sale and consumption of beer and wine in what is labeled on the application as the food service area, a banquet room and one of the theater’s 16 auditoriums.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Conflict Of Interest In Zoning Cases Defined Narrowly, Oconee County Attorney Says

Garrett Request Case In Point

One of the votes cast on the controversial request to put a materials recovery facility on Dials Mill Road on Tuesday night likely will come from Commissioner Jim Luke, whose wife's family has property about a mile from the site.

The family connection is not enough to require Luke to recuse himself, according to County Attorney Daniel Haygood.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Hearing Before Oconee County Board of Commissioners On Tuesday For Dials Mill Road Recycling Facility Only First Step

EPD Permit Required Too

If the Bernard Garrett family gets a favorable vote from the Board of Commissioners after Tuesday night’s public hearing on its request for a permit for a materials recovery facility on Dials Mill Road, it will have passed a first hurdle in getting a state of Georgia permit for the facility.

Before the state would issue its permit, it would hold another hearing where the public could once again state its support or voice its opposition to the proposed plan.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Scheduled To Revise Sewer Policy for Assisted Living Facility

Identity Still Mystery

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday is scheduled to approve a change in sewer policy requested by Chairman Melvin Davis to facilitate construction of an assisted living facility at the corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector Extension.

The new policy repeats the existing requirement that no more than 50 percent of the capacity of either of the county’s two sewage treatment facilities can be allocated to residential use, and it excludes from the calculation of residential use facilities operated as an “assisted living community.”

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Dials Mill Road Special Use Permit Decision Could Have Wider Effects in Oconee County

Two Other Rezones Linked

While residents in subdivisions near the proposed materials recovery facility on Dials Mill Road have been most outspoken about the project, the decision the Board of Commissioners makes about the facility has the potential to impact indirectly residents of two other areas of the county.

One of the areas is south of Watkinsville, where the Board of Commissioners in 2005 turned down a request for a waste transfer station. That request is likely to come back if the BOC approves the Dials Mill Road project.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Milton Officials Told Oconee County Leaders And Citizens Why Milton Adopted A Transfer Of Development Rights Program

Commissioner Luke Still Skeptical

Two officials from the north Fulton County city of Milton last night told 30 Oconee County citizens, including four commissioners, why Milton adopted just last June a Transfer of Development Rights program.

The reason, Mayor Pro Tem Bill Lusk told the group, was simple.

The residents wanted to maintain the rural character, the “green space, the open space, your farms,” he said, and the TDR program was a mechanism for doing just that.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Oconee County Farmers Market To Launch Weekday Markets May 14

Fresh Produce For Dinner

Oconee Farmers Market will begin operating 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays on the grounds of Watkinsville First Christian Church in downtown Watkinsville starting on May 14.

Market Manager Cindy Pritchard said the expanded market is in response to customer requests and to help vendors during the peak part of the growing season.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Garretts Claim Their Special Use And Variance Requests Are Consistent With Their Oconee County Agricultural History

And They Got There First

As Bernard Garrett, daughter Katie Garrett, and son Simon Garrett tell the story, the family's companies, Roll Off Systems, Walton C&D Landfill, and the proposed Harvest Recycling, are a simple outgrowth of the family's history of farming and its commitment to the land.

County records indeed document the agricultural origins and vestiges of what has become a business with 35 employees in both Oconee County and Walton County.

Monday, April 22, 2013

GDOT Asks Oconee County Officials To Identify Projects For Possible Funding

Building Bridge Too

The Georgia Department of Transportation has told Oconee County officials it expects to have money to spend on state highway improvements in the region and has asked the county to submit projects for possible funding.

Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara told the Citizens Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning of the state request at the Committee’s April 16 meeting and asked the members to react to two projects he wants to submit.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends Materials Recovery Facility To Board of Commissioners

On Dials Mill Road

The Oconee County Planning Commission, after a hearing lasting nearly 90 minutes, voted 9-2 tonight to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that it approve a special use permit for construction of a materials recovery facility on agricultural land at 1441 Dials Mill Road.

Approximately 100 people turned out for the public hearing at the courthouse, with supporters outnumbering opponents.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Oconee County Asks, And Judge Agrees, To Vacate Order Against Oconee Waste Transport

Attorney Says Nobody Complaining

Oconee County officials have agreed to allow Oconee Waste Transport to continue to operate, at least in the short term, at its site on SR 15 south of Watkinsville during hours that Magistrate Court Judge Eric W. Norris found last October to be in violation of the county zoning ordinance.

OWT had indicated that it intended to appeal Norris’ ruling, but the county joined with OWT in asking Norris three weeks after he issued his ruling to reconsider and vacate it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oconee County Planning Staff Does Not Recommend Approval Of Permit For Recycling Facility

Applicant Says Facility Needed

The Oconee County planning staff has determined that a proposed materials recycling facility on Dials Mill Road in the northwestern part of the county is not consistent with the surrounding area or with developmental goals for that part of the county.

If the facility is built, the staff has concluded, it “could negatively affect the ability for all of the properties adjoining the site” to be developed consistent with county land use plans.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Award Bids For Grounds Maintenance At Parks Despite Complaint

Pebble Creek Suit In Background

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last Tuesday awarded $92,298 in bids for grounds maintenance at Oconee Veterans Park and Heritage Park, but only after setting aside a challenge by one of the bidders.

Chad Keller of Precision Landscape Management, 1351 Jennings Mill Road, had complained that his company’s low bid improperly was passed over in the bidding process.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Pass Issue of Prezoning To County Industrial Development Authority

Page Pushes TDR Again

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last night passed to the county’s Industrial Development Authority the issue of prezoning, requesting that the Authority review the proposed changes in county zoning procedures and report back to the Board.

Commissioners Jim Luke and John Daniell took the lead again last night in pushing for consideration of prezoning as an option for the county.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Oconee Farmers Market Launches 10th Season Saturday In Front Of Courthouse In Watkinsville

Expanded Vendor List

Vegetable grower, egg gatherer, farm promoter and market vender Dana Bradford is really looking forward to Saturday.

That’s when the Oconee Farmers Market launches its 10th season in front of the courthouse in downtown Watkinsville.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

County Attorney Haygood Told Oconee County Commissioners That Prezoning Raises Significant Issues They Will Need To Address

Possible Appearance of Conflict Of Interest

Oconee County Attorney Daniel Haygood told the Board of Commissioners last night that he has a list of at least 22 issues that he feels the commissioners need to address before the county can move forward with prezoning of property for development.

Haygood said the county should consider the consequences of abandoning the current approach of reviewing individual zoning requests and reflect on the method that will be used to select properties for prezoning.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Oconee County Units Request Nearly 20 Percent Increase In Funding For Fiscal Year 2014

Sheriff Cites Shopping Center

Oconee County departments and governmental units have requested $24.1 million from the general fund for fiscal year 2014, up $3.9 million from the budget for the current fiscal year.

The 19.2 percent increase in funding was spelled out in budget hearings before the Board of Commissioners last week and will have to be reconciled with revenue projections for the county by the time the BOC approves the county’s budget by the end of June.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Oconee County Will Remain Divided Between State House Districts Until At Least 2014

Committee Not Receptive

All of Oconee County’s 13 precincts will not be reunited in a single district in the Georgia House of Representatives this legislative session, though both of the county’s representatives say they believe there may be receptivity to revisiting the issue in the 2014 session.

Rep. Regina Quick from the 117th House District and Rep. Chuck Williams from the 119th District told me they came away from a meeting with House Speaker David Ralston the week before last encouraged.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Ignoring, Discussing Zoning Policy

TDR (No); Prezoning (Yes)

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is avoiding the discussion of one significant change in zoning law while launching into consideration of another.

Though the county has advertised for qualified persons or organizations to help it develop a proposal for a Transfer of Development Rights program, it has not followed up by seeking actual proposals and has given no indication it plans to do so.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Traffic Counters Reflect Changes Underway In SR 316 and Mars Hill Road Area

No Permit Required

Traffic counters popped up around the busy Mars Hill Road-Daniells Bridge Road intersection early last week and then disappeared nearly as quickly.

Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara said he had “never seen so many traffic counters in one area in my life.”

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Decide To Seek Citizen For Hard Labor Creek Management Board

Voting Or Alternate Unclear

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners decided last night to advertise for a citizen to join the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board, though it left unspecified how that advertisement would read and whether the citizen would be a voting or a nonvoting alternate member.

Commissioner Jim Luke indicated he preferred that the citizen be a nonvoting member, but Commissioner John Daniell said that the advertisement could leave open the possibility that the citizen be appointed as one of the county’s three voting members or as one of the three alternates.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Oconee County Board of Commissioners To Take Up Citizen Appointment to Reservoir Management Board

Following Davis and Daniell Exchange

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is set on Tuesday night to change how members of the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board are appointed, allowing for more flexibility in appointment of citizens.

The Board also is scheduled to discuss and consider advertisements for citizens who wish to be considered for Management Board membership.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Fairway Installing Triangular Sign On Epps Bridge Parkway As Part of Settlement With Oconee County

Three Old For One New

Motorists approaching Epps Bridge Parkway on the Oconee Connector Extension soon will see a new, illuminated billboard as a result of a settlement with Fairway Outdoor Advertising that also calls for the elimination of three, much older signs on U.S. 78 at Ruth Jackson Road.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Made Appointments Inconsistent With Governing Agreements

Davis Led, Board Followed

When the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 12 followed Chairman Melvin Davis' lead and made appointments to four regional boards, it both replaced people and reappointed people whose terms had not yet expired.

And while Davis said the appointments were required based on intergovernmental and related agreements, he and the commissioners actually went counter to those agreements in making some of the appointments, an examination of those agreements and other documents shows.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oconee County Received Responses From Two Applicants To Develop Transfer of Development Rights Program

After Four Years Of Inaction

More than four years after the Oconee County Board of Commissioners voted to move forward on a Transfer of Development Rights program, the county has finally advertized for and received applications from consultants who have said they would like to work with the county on the project.

Wayne Provost, director of Strategic and Long-Range Planning for the county, told the Citizens Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning last night that the county had received responses from Rick Pruetz of Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Ross and Associates of Atlanta.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oconee County Chairman Davis Thwarted In Attempt To Control Slot on Reservoir Management Board

Board Follows Luke Lead

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board today turned aside an attempt by Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis to gain control of one of the three Oconee County slots on the Management Board.

Oconee County Commissioner Jim Luke, who chairs the Management Board, said he did not think his fellow commissioners would support Davis' proposed change in the language of the intergovernmental agreement creating the Management Board.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Oconee County Sheriff Says His Purchases from Dana Safety Supply Were From Personal, Not County, Funds

Bought Four Revolvers

Neither Oconee County nor the Sheriff’s Office has made any purchases in the last five years from Dana Safety Supply, with which Sheriff Scott Berry disagreed publicly earlier this year because of the company’s decision not to sell some of its products to the general public.

The Sheriff said during that disagreement that he had made recent purchases from Dana Safety Supply, and he told me on Monday that those purchases had all been with personal, not county, funds.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rose Creek Mitigation Bank Seeking Variance To Work On Oconee County Restoration Project

Holds Easement For Site

Rose Creek Mitigation Bank, one of two such banks operating in the county, is awaiting a state permit to be able to violate the 25-foot stream buffer so it can modify restoration work done in initially setting up the bank.

James Parker, manager of Falling Springs, an environmental resource company in Richmond, Va., told me in a telephone conversation on Feb. 5 that his company is being “proactive” in asking the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for permission to modify the existing restoration structures.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Accept Chairman Recommendation to Replace Former Commissioner On Two Boards

Pebble Creek Request Denied

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.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Scheduled To Decide Future of Pebble Creek Subdivision

Now Sitting Empty

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tomorrow night is scheduled to take up a rezone request by the new owner of Pebble Creek Subdivision, who wants to build smaller homes on slabs in the currently unoccupied 143-acre tract on SR 15 south of Watkinsville.

The Planning Commission has recommended that the BOC allow CAAT Holdings LLC to build the homes on slabs rather than with basements or crawl space, provided the slab construction meets current code standards.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rep. Quick Has Draft Legislation In Hand To Change Oconee County House Districts

Receptivity In House Uncertain

Rep. Regina Quick of the 117th House District has received from the House Legislative Counsel draft legislation that would return Oconee County to a single district in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Quick told me on Thursday that she has shared the legislation with Rep. Chuck Williams, who currently represents the majority of Oconee County in the 119th House District.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Oconee County Tax Commissioner Explained New Title Ad Valorem Tax to Civic Center Crowd

Tax Rate Can Increase

More than 50 people showed up at the Civic Center on a Thursday evening to hear Oconee County Tax Commissioner Jennifer Riddle explain the complexity of House Bill 386, which eliminates what is referred to as the “birthday” tax on vehicles.

In its place, the bill passed by the General Assembly last year puts into effect on March 1 a Title Ad Valorem Tax, which everyone who registers a vehicle must pay.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Oconee County BOC Chairman Davis Proposes To Eliminate Former Commissioner Horton From Boards

Horton Could Serve As Citizen

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis on Tuesday proposed a slate of appointments to four regional committees that would remove former commissioner Chuck Horton from the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board and from the Georgia Bioscience Joint Development Authority.

Horton is serving as chairman of the four-county bioscience authority, having assumed that position last fall. The authority promotes development of the SR 316 corridor.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Caterpillar Doubled Water Request for Plant On Oconee County-Clarke County Line

Wants Sewer Meter Too

Caterpillar will need more than twice as much potable water as originally proposed, but the final requested amount of 150,000 gallons per day is considerably less than the figures the company had suggested it might need during deliberations with utility department officials.

Caterpillar still believes it will need more than the 150,000 gallons per day requested, and it will supplement the amount of water it gets from Oconee and Clarke utility departments by recycling and capturing water in the manufacturing process.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Epps Bridge Centre In Oconee County Has Building Permits For 60 Percent Of Core

Georgia Square Mall Tenants Included

The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office has issued building permits for about 260,000 square feet of space in Epps Bridge Centre, accounting for more than 60 percent of the core of the shopping center.

The county also has under review site plans for one of the 12 outparcels for the mall. Those site plans must be reviewed by the county’s Development Review Committee before the Code Enforcement Office can issue a building permit.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Discuss Broad Issues at “Visioning” Session in Veterans Park

Davis: Pad is “Blank”

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners spent just less than five hours today in a “visioning” session at Veterans Park, discussing topics from zoning, sewerage treatment, traffic, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax initiatives, citizen advisory committee membership, and farmland protection.

Nothing concrete was decided at the meeting, and, in fact, BOC Chairman Melvin Davis warned that the comments of commissioners should be taken as preliminary, rather than “the final thoughts” on any given issue.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends Partial Change in Pebble Creek Subdivision Rezone Conditions

Confused Slab Request

The Oconee County Planning Commission tonight rejected the request by the new owner of Pebble Creek subdivision to be allowed to build smaller homes on the now-vacant subdivision on SR 15 in the far south of the county.

The group did recommend that CAAT Holdings LLC be allowed to build the homes on slabs rather than with basements or crawl spaces, provided the slab construction meets current code standards.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Owner Of Pebble Creek Subdivision Seeking Permit To Build Smaller Homes On Slabs

Former Owner Opposed

The current owner of unbuilt Pebble Creek subdivision on SR 15 in the south of the county is asking for a modification to the 2004 rezone conditions to allow it to build smaller, less expensive homes on cement slabs at ground level.

The request, which is scheduled to be before the Planning Commission on Jan. 22 and the Board of Commissioners on Feb. 12, already has drawn opposition, including from E. Dwayne Wilkes, who owned and rezoned the property in 2004 and still has land abutting the empty subdivision.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Oconee County Sheriff’s Plans To Boycott Company For Arms Sale Policy Has Obstacles

Legality An Open Question

If Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry plans to follow through on his promise to boycott Dana Safety Supply because the company has decided not to sell some firearms to the general public, he will have to change the procedures he follows for purchasing weapons.

At present, the sheriff goes through the regular purchasing procedures of the county, where state contracts control many purchases and were low bidders are selected if they can provide the product.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oconee County’s Representatives to Georgia House Not In Full Agreement On Redistricting

Issue Can Wait, Williams Says

Oconee County Rep. Regina Quick said she has asked legislative counsel to draft a bill restoring Oconee County to a single district in the Georgia House of Representatives, but it appears leadership of the House, not its members, will decide if the legislation even gets a hearing.

Oconee County Rep. Chuck Williams told me on Tuesday he will not support Quick’s initiative without approval of House leadership. If both representatives do not agree, the legislation is almost certain to die without action.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Oconee County Issued Four Building Permits Today for Epps Bridge Centre

Extend Strip Mall Shopping

The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office by the end of the day today had issued eight building permits for five different structures at Epps Bridge Centre.

Three of those permits were for the University 16 Stadium Theatre, the most recent issued today for the interior space for the 70,412-square-foot building. Permits for the foundation and for the shell were issued in October.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Approve New Debt for Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir

Treatment Plant On Hold

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously last night to approve loan documents from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) that add $5.8 million in new county debt for construction of the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir in Walton County.

The BOC took the action following a financial analysis by County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko showing that the county can handle this and all future debt for the reservoir and other projects without a water rate increase, though he did not guarantee that a rate increase would not be necessary in the future.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Scheduled To Approve New Hard Labor Creek Debt

Projections Difficult

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to give final approval tomorrow night to loan documents that will add $5.8 million in new county debt for construction of the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir in Walton County.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis has promised county officials will provide information to the public on population projections, future water use estimates, and plans for retirement of the debt before the Board makes its decision.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Oconee County Voters Name Economic Problems As Most Important, Survey Finds

Many List No Problem

Oconee County residents are most concerned about economic issues facing the county, including the need for economic development and for growth in employments prospects, according to a scientific survey of registered voters conducted just before the elections last November.

The voters also are concerned about the county’s schools, about strains on the county’s infrastructure and about the weak housing market.