Sunday, October 05, 2014

Oconee County Commissioners Set To Make Appointment To Industrial Development Authority And Other Citizen Committees

Rezone And Tavern On Agenda Too

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners, if all goes to plan, will make appointments to five citizen committees or boards on Tuesday night in what normally is a routine procedure.

Eight of the citizens applying for appointment appeared before the Board at last week’s meeting, and two others sent word they wanted to be considered but could not attend the session because of scheduling conflicts. One of those had applied for two different assignments.

At the end of last week’s meeting, the BOC went into executive session to discuss the applicants and agree on the appointments, as is its habit.

At the meeting on Tuesday, a commissioner can be expected to make a separate motion for the appointments to each of the five bodies. After the second to the motion, the Board most likely will vote, without discussion.

Only in the case of the Industrial Development Authority is there any real suspense, as six candidates–all men–are seeking four slots. Three of six applicants are incumbents.

Since the BOC routinely reappointments incumbents who say they would like to continue their assignment, the only real question is who is going to be appointed to replace John Morrison, who resigned from the IDA last month after selling his property in the county in February and moving to Athens-Clarke County.

The BOC on Tuesday also is scheduled to take up a rezone request involving a historic building on Hog Mountain Road and a policy for use of the county’s iconic historic property, Eagle Tavern.

IDA Importance

The IDA, the most powerful of the county’s various citizen committees, has put itself in the spotlight of late.

It has issued a report suggesting the county should prezone for commercial development–even without landowner request–large stretches of land along SR 316 and U.S. 78.

It also has requested–for the first time--funding as part of the November 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum, for development projects, including more industrial and business parks.

It sold part of its Gateway Industrial Park on the edge of Bogart to a company that plans to bring a biopharmaceutical operation to the county and then gave part of the money from the sale to the developer for construction of a roadway to the plant.

And it floated the bonds and built the infrastructure for the Caterpillar plant, also near Bogart in the county’s north.

Prezoning Committee

The prozoning report likely will play the strongest role in the BOC’s decision on appointments to the Authority.

Two of the incumbents seeking reappointment are on the Product Development Committee that wrote that report, and Morrison, who resigned, was that Committee’s chairman. It is likely that Morrison’s replacement on the Authority also will replace him on the Product Development Committee.

The incumbent members of the Product Development Committee seeking reappointment are Matt Elder, owner of Oconee Waste Transport on SR 315 south of Watkinsville, and Ed Perkins, a retired chemical engineer living at 1250 Coventry Road off Colham Ferry Road in the south of the county.

Larry Benson, owner of Benson Bakery in Bogart, is the third incumbent seeking reappointment.

The other applicants are: John Caudill, 1300 S. Rossiter Terrace, east of Watkinsville, an engineer; M. Robin Chasman, 1011 Brookview Court in the Tanglebrook subdivision off Epps Bridge Parkway, a realtor, and Mark H. Thomas, 1531 Aycock Road in the west of the county.

Thomas is a businessman and member of the county’s Board of Education.

Perkins’ Endorsement

Chasman was the first of the IDA applicants to introduce himself to the BOC last week, followed by Elder, Perkins and Thomas.

Perkins took the unusual step during his comments of endorsing Chasman as an Authority appointment.

He said he had “spent 4,000 miles in the car with him this summer” and had concluded that Chasman would be a good addition to the Authority. The video below contains what Perkins called a “plug” for Chasman.

Chasman is a neighbor of Benson, who also lives in the Tanglebrook subdivision.

Caudill and Benson did not attend the meeting.

Other Committees

Caudill and former commissioner Chuck Horton, current citizen members of the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board, have asked to be reappointed to that assignment.

Pat Hays, chair of the Board of Elections and Registration, asked to be continued in that position.

Flynn Warren, 1081 Lane Creek Circle, in the Lane Creek golf development west of Bishop, has applied for reappointment to the Board of Health. Warren is a retired pharmacist.

Adam Cain, 1281 Windy Creek Drive, off Mars Hill Road north of Butler’s Crossing, and Robert Wyatt, 1090 Apalachee Trace, outside Bishop, asked for reappointment to the Library Board. Cain is an attorney and Wyatt is a retired professor of botany and ecology.

Bath Rezone

The Bath Family Development LLC is seeking to convert three pieces of property that front on Hog Mountain Road just west of Butler’s Crossing into a mixed use development with both retail stores and offices.

The property currently contains three houses, one of which is being used as a business, and abuts residential and agricultural properties at the rear.

The house currently being used as a business is known as the Abe Jones House. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and either will be extensively remodeled or removed to accommodate a restaurant, according to the rezone proposal

The building current is occupied by the Yarn House, 2411 Hog Mountain Road.

The proposal is to add three additional commercial structures, including one facing Hillcrest Drive, and three office buildings at the rear to separate the businesses from the residential and agricultural properties.

The BOC will be voting on two related rezone requests for the project. The Oconee County Planning Commission unanimously recommended to the BOC that the rezones be approved.

Eagle Tavern

At the BOC meeting last week, Economic Development Director Rusty Haygood presented a policy developed by the county in consultation with the Cultural Affairs and Tourism Committee to regulate the use of the Eagle Tavern for private, for-profit businesses.

Melissa Piche of North Georgia Tours gave an impassioned plea that the county not require payment of a $50 fee for staff to work during the time the Tavern was open as part of the policy.

She said this requirement would make it impossible for her to offer her ghost tours in Eagle Tavern.

The Board decided to revisit the policy on Tuesday night. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Courthouse in Watkinsville.


Unknown said...

The tourism committee voted unanimously in July in support of the Haunted History Tours. Ms. Holcomb was asked by the county to author a set of guidelines for the Tavern. It was at this point that she introduced the guidelines that include the $50 fee plus $1 per head along with other stipulations. The committee debated for an hour with several members stating that the $50 was inhibitive. They voted in favor only because other venues in the county that are rented for events have a staff member present. My argument was that it is not an event venue that it is a museum for the purpose of promoting tourism within the county and that it is staffed by volunteers during and after tourism office hours, particularly Saturdays. I am a licensed Oconee Volunteer. The statement by Ms. Holcomb at last Tuesday's BOC meeting that the volunteers were only at the Tavern during tourism office hours and often with a staff member is false. The Tavern is a museum that should be protected and promoted for the good of the community and healthy tourism. The tours have a 5 year history of supporting local tourism for the community without a single negative incident. The Haunted History Tours should be applauded by the Tourism Office not inhibited by it.
Melissa Piche
Owner, North Georgia Tours, Inc.

Anonymous said...

Is it me, or is every single elected official in this county, other than Tax Commissioner, and every authority member, a white male, middle-aged or older.

Almost no women, no people of color, a complete lack of diversity.