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Cows to be removed from Wadsworth Cemetery land

By Walter Geiger Mike and Brenda Ross appeared before the Lamar County commission Jan. 16 to argue the M-2 zoning at the Meadow Railway industrial site that is home to the historic, embattled Wadsworth Cemetery precluded cattle grazing there. At the time, they were told by chairman Charles Glass the cows were there when the zoning was changed from AR to M-2 and thus were grandfathered in. By Jan 19, Glass had learned from county attorney Scott Mayfield he was in error and the cows will be moving on. ’Scott told me our county code makes no distinction about grandfathering applying to zoning changes requested by the owner or governing authority,’ Glass said. The county recently rezoned multiple parcels from agricultural-residential to residential due to parcel sizes and to clean up zoning maps. Livestock on those parcels are grandfathered in because the county did the rezoning. In the Meadow Railway instance, however, the City of Barnesville, which owns the property, requested the change from AR to M-2. ’Since the meeting, Scott found a case from 2007 involving Butts County where the court clearly said that continued non-conforming use is for zoning changes proposed by the governing authority only. My assumption that all rezoning allowed continued use was wrong,’ Glass admitted. Glass reported he has contacted Barnesville mayor Peter Banks and he expects the city will work with the tenant to get the cows moved. ’I don’t have a timeline for moving the cows yet. I am sure we will work that out this week. I called Brenda Ross and told her I was wrong and that we would get them to move the cows,’ Glass said. The chairman also said he has plans to retract his statements at the commission’s February meeting and will publicly apologize to Mike and Brenda Ross at that time. Mike Ross is a direct Wadsworth descendant. The cemetery bearing the family name dates back to the early 1800s. The city wants to relocate at least 103 graves from it to Greenwood Cemetery in town to make room for industrial expansion and got a permit to do so from the commission last summer. That permit is the subject of dual appeals now under consideration in Fulton County superior court and the grave relocations are on hold pending the outcome of the legal challenges.

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