The Stakeholders Committee for the Oconee County Joint Comprehensive Plan is scheduled to hold its first meeting from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road.
According to Justin Crighton from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, this is one of four of five meetings the Stakeholders Committee will hold over the next 10 to 12 months as it works to create a new Joint Comprehensive Plan for the county and its four cities.
The document, according to Crighton, will outline where the county is, determine where it wants to be, and plan how to get there.
Crighton told the Oconee County Board of Commissioners at its meeting on Feb. 7 that three distinct groups are to be involved in the creation of the Comprehensive Plan, an update of the one created in 2008.
The first group is the Stakeholders Committee, Crighton said, which is responsible for the biggest part of the work on the Plan.
“They are going to be responsible for helping me and my staff craft what that vision is, including the future development map, land use, goals, policies, objectives, needs, opportunities.”
The second group is the members of the Board of Commissioners and the mayors and council members of the county’s four cities.
That group will meet three of four times during the process to make sure that what the Stakeholder Committee suggests is not “out of character or undoable.”
Crighton said the elected officials will be asked to “Give your consent and provide your input as well.”
Crighton said the “third and probably the most important (group) is the general public.”
At present, Crighton said he is proposing to hold two public forums, one after the Stakeholders Committee has completed some of its work and the other toward the end of the process.
At that second meeting, “We’ll present a draft of the plan” for public comment, he said.
In addition, the law requires that two official public hearings be held.
The final of these is before the plan is transmitted to the state, Crighton told the Commission.
The Board of Commissioners appointed 24 members to the Stakeholders Committee at its meeting on Feb. 7.
Bishop, Bogart, North High Shoals and Watkinsville each also appointed a member, as did the Oconee County Board of Education.
The Stakeholders Committee consists of two nurses, a geologist, a farmer, four educators, a retired Internal Revenue Service administrator, and a forester.
The Board of Commissioners selected nine women from the 10 who applied for the Stakeholders Committee. A total of 33 citizens applied to serve on the Committee
Maria Caudill and Charles Hunt, members of the county’s Planning Commission, are on the Stakeholders Committee, as is Ed Perkins from the County’s Industrial Development Authority.
Maria Caudill also serves on the county’s Land Use and Transportation Planning Committee. Tammy Gilland, also a member of the Land Use Committee, is on the Stakeholders Committee.
Marcus Wiedower, a custom home builder and general contractor, is a Stakeholders Committee member, as is Bob Bishop, retired from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and an active property developer.
Wiedower ran unsuccessfully for the Board of Commissioners in a special election last November.
Becky Moore, who has spoken out for smart growth, is on the Stakeholders Committee. So is Lisa Douglas, who is one of the organizers of Positively Oconee, a group working to preserve green space in the county.
Citizens interested in serving on the Stakeholders Committee completed an application, though not all used the same form.
The county released most, but not all, of those applications before the Jan. 31 meeting, when candidates were given a chance to appear before the Board of Commissioners.
The county also released a list of applicants, but it was formatted in a way that made it difficult to read addresses. I have recreated that list for the 24 selected citizens, and the list is available HERE.
I also assembled the applications of the 24 selected citizens into a single file, which can be downloaded HERE. The applications appear alphabetically. Laura Iyer appears incorrectly as Laura Lyer on the application but is alphabetized correctly in this file.
The county blanked out some information on some of those forms but not on others.
Video of Interviews
Nineteen of the 24 selected applicants appeared before the Commission on Jan. 31.
I created a video file, alphabetized, of the comments of those 19 applicants. I eliminated the presentations of those who were not selected.
That video is below.
Toby Bradberry, mayor of North High Shoals and the designated representative of that city to the Stakeholders Committee, completed an application but he did not make a presentation at the Commission meeting on Jan. 31.
His application is at the end of the merged file I created of those applications.
Video of Crighton’s Comments
The video below is of the comments Crighton, from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission (NEGCR), made to the Board of Commissioners at the meeting on Feb. 7 explaining the steps to be followed in creation of the Comprehensive Plan.
The county is paying the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission $65,000 to cover the costs of the Commission’s work on the Comprehensive Plan.
In addition, the county pays $30,282 in annual dues to NEGRC.
Oconee County Planning Department Director B.R. White told me he will serve as a resource person for work on the Comprehensive Plan but that NEGRC is responsible for creation of the Plan itself.