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Informal workshop reveals deal with Vintage Park developer

By Kay S. Pedrotti Milner council member George Weldon revealed last Monday that he had ‘signed off’ on a change in house sizes in Vintage Park in 2018, from 1700 square feet to 1400 square feet, without receiving approval from the city council. Weldon’s initials appear on a subdivision agreement with Henco Development, owned by Keith Kenney; the builder is Alan Atha. The reason given for wanting the change, Weldon said, was because ‘1,700 square feet would put the house prices out of reach’ of first-time home buyers. Weldon said the developer pledged at the time there would be larger homes in later phases of the development, and that Milner would benefit from having numerous smaller homes to attract new residents. ’I did what I thought was right for the city at the time,’ Weldon said. ‘I apologize. We were excited about the project.’ The discussion was part of an agenda item concerning ‘report/recommendations from P&Z’ (newly-formed planning commission). Members include Weldon, David Haire, Michael Floyd and Richard Smith. Ricky Fallings was also nominated but said at the March 9 workshop that he did not want to serve. Another part of the discussion dealt with stopping further building permits for Vintage Park until the developers agree to larger homes. City clerk Sandra Miles, who is said to be acting city administrator, was given the task of informing the Vintage Park builders that no more permits would be issued for homes less than 1,700 square feet. ’It’s an administrative function,’ said council member Vickie Smith. Miles later determined that such termination would require a court order, and declined to speak to the builders at this time. Local building inspector Dean Morgan was called to answer questions from the council and to explain what was covered in the permitting process. He outlined the procedure and what items are covered in his inspection, noting that all county and municipal building inspectors use basically the same items on a form that he does (power, water, mechanical, etc.). Morgan told those concerned with complaints from Fieldcrest subdivision residents about foundations that ‘soil testing’ or ‘pressure testing’ is not a part of his job and must be done by the builder and checked against current requirements. The state of Georgia licenses builders, he said, and all the reports from construction projects are subject to review by the State of Georgia Building Department. Whether a builder does the job adequately ‘is not on the city,’ Morgan said, and local governments are encouraged to ‘work through the builders and agencies, not against them.’ Other topics considered included a report from Vickie Smith and Skip Seda, newly elected council members who recently attended Georgia Municipal Association training for new city officials. Smith said that after the training she felt that ‘we need better communication to the citizens,’ and advocated that a ‘quick report’ on decisions at each council meeting be sent to residents or posted in some way. She added that the city needs to be working ‘to develop a fund balance’ because there is presently no plan for the city to put aside a part of each account to cover future needs. It was decided that the potential Parks Committee would not be formed. Supervision of park needs and activities would be done by the Downtown Development Authority. Councilman Seda discussed his recent meeting with Lamar County zoning administrator Anita Buice, noting that her information will be very helpful to the city. ’We also found out in the training sessions that there are a lot of cities worse than Milner,’ Seda said. ‘Everybody is envious of the quality of our police department.’ The regular monthly council meeting set for March 16 was postponed.

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