Sunday, October 12, 2014

Requests For Open Records Filed In Oconee County Deal With Horses, Dogs, Births, Deaths And Cell Towers

Snapshot Reveals Variety

Three people wanted to know about complaints filed with Animal Control.

Seven wanted information from Code Enforcement.

Four wanted marriage licenses, birth certificates, wills, or divorce decrees or other documents part of divorce filings.

Two wanted to know details of petitions filed by people opposed to selling liquor in county restaurants.

Greathouse At BOC Meeting

These queries–and 11 others, for a total of 27--were made through open records requests filed with Oconee County Clerk Jane Greathouse during a 53-day period stretching from Aug. 1 to Sept. 22.

Greathouse said they are pretty typical of the requests that come across her desk as the designated Open Records Officer for the county. Handing these requests is nearly a full-time job, she said.

My Request

I received copies of the open records requests in response to an open records request I filed with the county on Sept. 22.

I filed my request after I learned that someone had filed an open records request with the county for documents related to the Caterpillar project.

Included in the documents I received was an open records request from Jon Williams of Williams and Associates, 2470 Daniells Bridge Road, asking for the scoring sheets for bids submitted for the engineering work on the proposed Parkway Boulevard extension.

That request was filed on Aug. 27 and was followed on Sept. 4 by two from Abe Abouhamdan of ABE Consulting, 2410 Hog Mountain Road. Abouhamdan asked about the Caterpillar project, for which Williams had done design and engineering work.

Williams and Abouhamdan both had bid on the Parkway Boulevard project and were seeking information on the competing bid filed by the other. Ultimately, the contract went to Abouhamdan.

I filed five of the 27 open records requests handled by Greathouse during the seven-and-a-half-week period. All were to get information for posts for this blog.

Horses, Dogs, And IDA

The three requests to obtain documents from Oconee County Animal Control dealt with complaints filed–or that the requester believed were filed–about treatment of horses, a white husky, a redbone hound and a “skinny” dog.

The requests filed with Code Enforcement included two asking for the identity of the builder and plumber of a property with a Bogart postal address as well as information on the license and insurance of the builder and plumber.

Another filed on Aug. 12 by Mary Lenihan, no address given, asked for zoning information and historical records on a 31-acre property that is owned by the Oconee County Industrial Authority as part of its Gateway Park near Bogart. The property is south of SR 316 and separate from the main part of Gateway.

In July of 2013, the Development Authority agreed to sell 18 acres south of SR 316 to Andrew Clyde, who owns Clyde Armory, 4800 Atlanta Highway near Bogart.

Permits And Waste Hauling

An Atlanta resident asked about a construction permit.

A representative of an Athens law firm filed two requests about ordinances governing the issuance of a certificate of occupancy and building permits for a commercial office building and a third about the issuance of a business license for an exercise facility.

Simon Garrett of 1441 Dials Mill Road wanted to know about an inquiry received by Code Enforcement reporting demolition materials being hauled from Winder to the Dials Mill Road property.

Garrett had sought unsuccessfully in 2013 to obtain a special use permit to put a materials recovery facility on that property.

Liquor, Births, Deaths, Cell Towers

Annette Sledge, 1091 Crooked Creek Road, filed a request for letters sent to the members of the Board of Commissioners about the petitions she had filed opposing liquor by the drink in the county. A referendum authorizing liquor by the drink in county restaurants is on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election.

Blake Giles, editor of The Oconee Enterprise, filed an open records request to review those same petitions.

Two of the open records requests were for marriage licenses, birth certificates and wills and were addressed to Probate Court. Two dealing with divorces were directed to the Clerk of the Superior Court.

Jennifer Blackburn, an attorney for Verizon Wireless, filed an open records request on Sept. 5 after the Board of Commissioner denied the rezone request of Verizon that would have allowed for the construction of a cell tower on McRees Mill Road.

Blackburn wanted the ordinance that was voted down by the BOC at its Aug. 5 meeting.

Designated Officer

Clerk Greathouse is the designated open records officer for the county, and she handles the requests that come to the county.

Once Greathouse receives the request, she directs it to the appropriate office or department that handles the records being sought. Greathouse then provides the information to the requester.

Angela Helwig, who is the secretary to the county’s Industrial Development Authority, is the designated open records officer for that group.

Most records held by the county are available to the public as a result of the Georgia Open Records Act.

The Oconee County web site allows citizens to file their requests online, and the bulk of those I reviewed were filed that way.

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