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Commission tightening zoning codes

By Sherri Ellington Lamar County commissioners continue to tighten up the zoning code with three new first readings on changes meant to make it easier to enforce and understand. The first of those three readings held at the April 19 meeting made official something the county has been doing for years ‘“ holding second readings on zoning matters. ’Now it’ll be in the books where it’s supposed to be,’ said county attorney Scott Mayfield. The next first reading concerned the coordination of emergency management services with Barnesville and Milner. It adds an updated chapter to the code, replacing an outdated one so the local code will match Georgia’s. The third one regarded the dissolution of the senior citizen’s advisory board, which was voted on in the March meeting but no code had been written. ’I’d like to note this doesn’t dissolve it altogether,’ said county chairman Jay Matthews. ‘The senior center can still have one but the commission won’t make appointments.’ Commissioners then went on to a second reading of zoning issues. They voted to rezone five acres owned by John M. Mitchell Jr. from agricultural-residential to office residential. They also approved a resolution to change the zoning definition of home occupations. ’We made changes so it’ll need a second reading,’ said zoning administrator Dan Gunter. ‘It means only residents can work at the dwelling, with some exceptions up to three employees for technical or administrative personnel. There can be no signs.’ It also requires off-road parking and changes building access requirements ‘“ in the back on lots of three acres or less unless a side yard variance is obtained due to lot restraints. ’The owners also won’t have to pay $300 and go through the board of appeals,’ said Gunter. ‘It simplifies the process.’ The final resolution was the only one that did not pass unanimously. Commissioner Nancy Thrash objected on the grounds that the zoning code was undergoing too many changes, ‘and we have to be careful how we write them; we can’t have too much government involvement.’ The county also: ’¢ Watched as Lisa Sayers honored Thrash and solid waste director Johnny Poore for their successful efforts to kill a state law that would have allowed unlined landfills in groundwater recharge and other sensitive areas. ’¢ Tabled discussion of work on City Pond and Wilmot roads pending the possible purchase of a chipper sealer and other equipment. Cost estimates are expected in May. ’¢ Approved an $8,900 transportation service agreement after hearing the program cost $5,000 in 2011 for an average of 500 passenger trips a month and the leftover money was returned to Lamar. The numbers broke down to 33% senior citizens, 64% getting people to work and 3% recreation. Medical transportation was not broken out of the statistics. ’¢ Declared computers and other equipment in the tax assessors office surplus so it can be sold. ’¢ Accepted a low bid of $28,725 from Treetoppers of Americus to clear tornado debris from stream beds near rights of way. The work will be paid for by an Emergency Watershed Protection grant. The county will do in-kind work for its 15% grant match. ’¢ Heard reports from Bud Queen of Friends of High Falls Lake, the Barnesville- Lamar County Humane Society and the Dolly Goodpuppy Society.

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