Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis is asking his fellow commissioners tomorrow night to approve of his selection of an eight-member “Sounding Board” for the planned widening of U.S. 441 and construction of a bypass of Bishop.
At least two of those Davis has designed as members of the citizen group have property likely to be impacted by the road construction. Two others are members of the county’s Citizen Advisory Committee for Land Use and Transportation Planning, which the BOC appoints.
Consultant Bill Ross and county Planning Department Director B.R. White also are to brief the five commissioners on the status of a proposed ordinance to create an overlay district to control development along Mars Hill Road, now under reconstruction.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
June 16 Meeting
Davis suggested to representatives of the Georgia Department of Transportation at a meeting on June 16 that a citizen committee be created.
Eric Wilkinson, then GDOT project manager and one of those attending the meeting, requested that Davis appoint the committee.
Davis organized that meeting in the Grand Jury Room of the Courthouse, but the public was not informed about it. I learned of it through an open records request on another matter.
According to the minutes of the meeting, which I also obtained through an open records request, three GDOT officials were joined by Davis, Bishop Mayor Johnny Pritchett, Rep. Chuck Williams, Georgia Transportation Board member Jamie Boswell, and two members of the county staff.
None of the four voting commissioners was in attendance, according to those minutes, and the minutes do not indicate that they had been invited.
According to the document put on the county web site in advance of tomorrow night’s meeting, Davis has asked Pritchett, Land Use Committee Chairman Abe Abouhamdan and Land Use Committee member Tammy Gilland to join his Sounding Board.
Jerry Thomas, owner of Thomas Orchard outside Watkinsville, and Walter Lee, a tree farmer outside Bishop, also have been selected for the citizen group. Both own land along some of the proposed routes for the Bishop bypass.
Buddy Murrow of Farmington, another Davis choice, also has property in that area that could be affected by the widening.
Bobby Griggs, owner of a horse and cattle supply store in Bishop, also has been selected by Davis and would be affected at least indirectly by the project.
Bill Douglas, who has a farm on Price Mill Road west of Bishop, is the eighth designated Sounding Board member.
At a citizen meeting on the U.S. 441 widening last week, Gilland said she had been told the appointed citizens would serve as a “sounding board for GDOT.” Her comments are in the video below.
County Attorney Daniel Haygood is scheduled to present to the Board of Commissioners tomorrow night a revision of the county’s existing animal control ordinance.
The changes are designed to bring the county’s ordinance in line with changes made in state animal control legislation.
The BOC will then hold a public hearing before taking action on the proposed changes.
The BOC discussed these changes at a meeting on Nov. 24 and is scheduled take final action on the ordinance at its meeting on Jan. 5.
Despite calls for a stricter ordinance from Animal Control staff and the public at recent meetings of the Animal Control Advisory Board, no one called for changes in the proposed ordinance at that meeting in November.
Ross And Update
Consultant Ross, who has been working on the proposed overlay district for the Mars Hill Road corridor since the end of the summer, is scheduled to update the commissioners on the status of his work.
Ross met with the Land Use and Transportation Planning Committee on Nov. 10, but that Committee did not take any action on the proposed ordinance.
The proposed overlay ordinance will add a layer of regulations to the county’s existing Unified Development Code.
Included are restrictions on signage, requirements for parking lot screening and landscaping, and inter-parcel access stipulations.
Ross is expected to go before the county’s Planning Commission in January with those plans.