Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Oconee County Commissioners Put Liquor and SPLOST On November Ballot

Road Agreements Delayed

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tonight voted to put both a 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum and a referendum on liquor by the drink in restaurants on the November 4 ballot.

The Commissioners also denied a request for a cell tower on McRees Mill Road in the rural area of the county south of Barnett Shoals Road and postponed action on three agreements with the Georgia Department of Transportation on road projects on Daniells Bridge Road and Jimmy Daniell Road.

Jimmy Daniell At McNutt Creek

The Board voted to approve a change in the work order to increase by $340,500 payments to Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc. of Norcross for work on the second phase of the Mars Hill Road widening project and to postpone action on a new loan for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir in Walton County.

The vote on the SPLOST referendum was unanimous, while the vote on the liquor-by-the-drink referendum was 2-1.

Vote Tallies

Chairman Melvin Davis was absent because of a death in the family, and Commissioner Margaret Hale chaired the session.

Commissioner Jim Luke and Commissioner Mark Saxon voted for the liquor-by-the-drink referendum, while Commissioner John Daniell voted against it.

Hale read a message from Davis saying he would have voted to put the referendum on the ballot if necessary. The chairman votes only when the four commissioners produce a tie.

Luke and Saxon voted to deny the request for the McRees Mill Road special use permit request, while Daniell voted against the denial motion.

All three commissioners voted to postpone action on the three road projects and to approve the change order for Moreland Altobelli.

Liquor and Cell Tower

The last time the liquor referendum was on the ballot was in November of 2002, when 54.5 percent of the voters turned down the change in county liquor laws.

Four people, including Epps Bridge Centre developer Frank Bishop, spoke tonight in favor of putting the liquor-by-the-drink referendum on the ballot, and three spoke against it.

The Oconee County Planning Commission voted 5-3 on July 21 against recommending to the Board of Commissioners approval of the proposed cell tower on McRees Mill Road.

Tonight, five people spoke against the proposal, while Jennifer A. Blackburn, an attorney for Verizon Wireless, and land use planner Ken Beall spoke in favor.

Verizon wants to lease 10,000 square feet of the McRees Mill Road property, which is zoned for agriculture, for the monopole tower. The special use permit is required for the tower.

Road Projects

BOC Chairman Davis provided the four voting Commissioners with project framework agreements for the Jimmy Daniell and Daniells Bridge Road projects just prior to the July 29 BOC agenda-setting meeting.

The documents spell out the funding sources for the project and project time lines.

Included are the widening of Jimmy Daniell Road from SR 316 to the Atlanta Highway, the widening of Daniells Bridge Road from Mars Hill Road to Hog Mountain Road, and the construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road with a flyover of SR Loop 10.

All three projects are in the current Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS) list of projects, adopted in October of 2013, and in the MACORTS draft of projects, dated June 25, 2014.

The time lines and even funding figures before the BOC tonight were different from what are in the MACORTS documents, which are the official public documents on the three projects.

Five people spoke against the projects tonight, and one spoke in favor.

The Commission voted to postpone action until the Aug. 26 meeting.

Loan Documents

The BOC took no action on the new loan from the state to Walton and Oconee counties for the Hard Labor Creek after County Attorney Daniell Haygood said that the final documents were not ready for action.

No one spoke for or against the SPLOST referendum. Action by the Commission was routine, since it had given approval to the referendum earlier and was only making the official call for the referendum tonight.

I was not able to attend the meeting tonight because of a prior commitment.

Sarah Bell, who attends most BOC meetings, video recorded the meeting for me and provided me with the notes for this posting.


Jon said...

Thank goodness! Hopefully this will start to clear the way for some good restaurants to start buying up space between Epps Bridge and Best Buy. Fingers crossed for a Buffalo Wild Wings!

Anonymous said...

Ummm...Jon...are you serious or being facetious? There are enough chain restaurants in the area. Epps Bridge is a clusterblank of horrible planning.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to get caught up in a "clusterblank" you might as well have a great place to pull over and eat at... and we wouldn't need to drive through these businesses in OCONEE COUNTY to eat in Athens!