Sunday, April 01, 2018

Oconee County Issues New Citations Against Landscaper As Trial On 2017 Citations Is Set

***April 13 Date***

Oconee County has been trying since August of last year to get Chad Forehand to stop operating a landscaping business at New High Shoals Road and Union Church Road.

County code enforcement officers have filed new citations charging they have not been successful.

The county charged Forehand with operating PS Landscaping on land not zoned for business on Aug. 24, 2017, and for operating without a business license on Oct. 11, 2017.

Forehand was scheduled to appear in Oconee County Magistrate Court on March 2 on those citations, but neither he nor his attorney appeared, and the trail before Judge Sam Barth did not take place.

Beginning on Feb. 2 of this year and continuing through March 1, the county has issued 12 additional citations for violations of Oconee County Ordinances, charging Forehand does not have a certificate of occupancy for his building and his property is not zoned for a landscaping business.

Forehand is scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court on April 13 on the two charges filed against him in 2017.

Zoning Denial

County Code Enforcement Officers issued the two citations in 2017 after the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, in a 3-2 vote, in June of 2017 denied a special use zoning request by Chad and Marilyn Forehand.

From Rezone In 2017

The Forehands were asking to be allowed to operate a landscaping business on five acres zoned for agricultural use at the northwest corner of Union Church Road and New High Shoals Road.

The staff of the county Planning and Code Enforcement Department had recommended against the Forehand special use request, but the Planning Commission, in a 6-5 vote, had recommended approval.

Both at the Planning Commission hearing and at the Board of Commissioners meeting, neighbors complained that the business use of the property was disruptive to surrounding neighborhoods and incompatible with land use patterns in the area.

Earlier Citations

County tax records show that the Forehands purchased the property at 2238 New High Shoals Road in October of 2015.

They obtained a building permit for a metal frame barn on the agricultural property on Jan. 11, 2016.

On March 21, 2016, the Forehands received a compliance inspection report telling them that “If the barn is to be used as a commercial operation, verify with Oconee County Planning Dept. that the proposed use complies with code.”

On July 29, 2016, county records show that Chad Forehand was cited for not having a business license for operating the landscaping business in Oconee County and for conducting business in a zone where a special use permit is required.

County Code Enforcement files show that PS Landscapes had a business permit for the county that was issued on Aug. 2, 2013, and that expired on Dec. 31, 2013.

Court Hearing In 2016

Chad Forehand pleaded guilty to the two code violations in Oconee County Magistrate Court on Sept. 9, 2016, and was fined $600, according to Court records.

The court suspended $300 of the fine pending Forehand's purchasing a business license for 2016 and 2017 and obtaining a special use permit for operating the business at the property.

Forehand was given until Dec. 31, 2016, to obtain the licenses and the special use permit.

Jessica Hart, Magistrate Court deputy clerk, sent Forehand a letter on Oct. 19, 2016, restating the Court ruling.

Forehand applied for the special use permit on Oct. 20, 2016.

The county issued the citation on Oct. 11 of 2017 charging that Forehand had not obtained a business license as of that date.

March And April Court Dates

At the beginning of hearings on March 2, Judge Barth informed me that neither Forehand nor his attorney, James C. Warnes, was in the court and that the scheduled bench trial (trial before Barth) would not take place.

I had requested permission to video record the session.

Court records indicate that both Forehand and Warnes had received a Notice of Date of Trail on Feb. 6, 2018.

Deputy Clerk Hart has informed me in email message on March 13 that the trial is now scheduled for April 13 and asked me to refile my video request.

Court records indicate Forehand and Warnes have been served a Notice of Trail Date for 8:30 a.m. on that date.

Forehand also is to appear in Magistrate Court for arraignment on April 13 on the 12 new citations issued by Oconee County Code Enforcement this year.


Anonymous said...

He thought he would put a couple of cows on it and call it a farm. How dumb does he think the county or neighboring property owners are?

Anonymous said...

How long does it take the county to enforce the law?

Xardox said...

Clearly, the powers that be have decided to be flouted at will.
Maybe I'll use the "Forehand Defense" to ignore
any future notice from the county I might receive.

Anonymous said...

Help them stay legal--it's a very acceptable business there--I drive by nearly every day and never had even one small issue with traffic--give the needed exemption, please.

Anonymous said...

There's something odd about that area, an awful lot of NIMBYs seem to have moved in and now want to dictate how their neighbors and fellow land-owners can use their properties. (I'm thinking also of the proposed RV/Boat storage facility that was disallowed). I suppose that sort of thing is inevitable, but just remember: none of US natives, who were here long before there were any subdivisions on Union Church Road, wanted any of YOU here either; we just didn't make a stink, assuming a man's property - within reason - is his to manage. I agree with the previous comment: if there is to be a business there, I can't think of very many less-intrusive options than a landscaping trailer leaving every morning and returning every evening. Why do so many people elect to side with Big Brother these days?