Small-lodging, short-term rental property is the hot-topic issue at commissioners’ work session


Commissioner David Miller

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – A discussion about the land use plan that applies to small-lodging, short-term vacation rental property and variance requests dominated the discussion at the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners work session this week.

Planning Director Larry Reiter asked for clarification on the interpretation of regulations in the residential growth categories that pertain to small-lodging, short-term vacation rental property due to ambiguous wording.

Reiter said current regulations require all “non-commercial” character areas to have a minimum of two acres in order to operate a small-lodging, short-term vacation rental business. However, there are three different definitions of “small lodging” in the code.

However, in 2012, the Board of Commissioners granted a variance to the two-acre requirement with the caveat that the business not be located next to a family with children. Since then, the Planning Commission has reviewed 20 variance requests to the two-acre minimum, most of which were approved without opposition.

Commissioner Bobby Mayfield

Recently, concerned property owners in two different subdivisions have expressed opposition to the variance and the Planning Commission will hear three such requests in February. Staff is in the process of revising the land use code and has asked for direction from commissioners.

Regarding the variance requests to be heard this month, Commissioner Bob Pullen recommended sticking with the two-acre minimum requirement until the board has had time to change it.

Commissioner David Miller said he believes the two-acre minimum is reasonable. “However, I believe there must be accommodations made for specific circumstances,” Miller said. “Rather than mandate the Planning Commission to some predetermined directions from commissioners, I think we should let you guys do your work. If members of the public disagree with your decision, then they do and should have the right to appeal.”

Commissioner Bobby Mayfield said, “The two-acre requirement should be a red flag. If it’s less than two acres, then (Planning Commission) needs to take a hard look at this. If you live out in the country somewhere and nobody lives near you, and nobody objects then I can see why the Planning Commission would have granted those variances. On the other hand, if you choose to live in a community surrounded by a whole bunch of people where all your actions impact those other folks, and they don’t think it’s a good idea, then the Planning Commission should take that into consideration when it grants or doesn’t grant the variance.”

The board will take Planning Department’s requests into consideration and vote on the issue in a future meeting.


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City/County Officials Host GMRC at Camp Merrill


City/county officials from all across north Georgia attended the GMRC meeting at Camp Frank D. Merrill last week.

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners and the City of Dahlonega hosted the monthly meeting of the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission (GMRC) Thursday in the dining facility at Camp Frank D. Merrill, the US Army Ranger facility.

The GMRC serves local governments of the Georgia mountains region by improving the quality of life through economic development, community planning, information technology, and workforce development to support and enhance the region’s prosperity.

Named for the famous Ranger General of World War II in the Burma Campaign, Camp Merrill is the home of the US Army’s 5th Ranger Training Battalion, where Ranger candidates receive mountain warfare training.

Lumpkin County staff and elected officials attend GMRC meeting.

Lumpkin County Commission Chairman Chris Dockery welcomed city and county officials from all across north Georgia. County Manager Stan Kelley, a former Army Ranger, Commissioners Bob Pullen, David Miller, Rhett Stringer and Bobby Mayfield attended along with Fire Chief David Wimpy and Public Works Director Larry Reiter.

Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Michael Hack briefed the audience on the rigorous training regimen ranger candidates undergo in order to accomplish their mission of providing logistical support, training, mobilization, deployment, supporting, sustaining and reconstituting forces.

Roseann Kent, director of the Appalachian Studies Center at the University of North Georgia, explained how the center provides students with a unique opportunity to discover the arts, history, music and nature of southern Appalachia through community engagement, service learning, undergraduate research and creative activities. The center is located on the Dahlonega campus across the street from Price Memorial Hall in the Historic Vickery House.

Lumpkin County Mayoral candidate Sam Norton (right) receives recognition during Small Business Week for his Picnic Cafe.

Dahlonega City Councilman Sam Norton, who is running for mayor in the Nov. 7 election, was given special recognition by Congressman Doug Collins’ office for during Small Business Week for the small business he started in Dahlonega called Picnic Café.

The GMRC also held a Workforce Development Board Meeting in the second floor conference room of the Lumpkin County Administrative Building in Dahlonega.



Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at



Voters Elect Dockery to Second Term as Chairman

News, Politics

LUMPKIN COUNTY, Ga. — Chairman Chris Dockery was re-elected to a second term on the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

The Army veteran received 2,089 votes to defeat District 1 Commissioner Doug Sherrill who had 1,692 votes.

Dockery said the one thing he most wants to accomplish in his second term is to build a better relationship between the city and county. “That is important,” he said. “What we do as a county impacts the city and what the city does impacts us. So, we have to work together.”

Dockery is a business owner who has held many leadership roles in civilian and military life.

“I’ve commanded troops in peace time and in war time overseas,” he said. “That experience prepared me. There is nothing like leading men when their lives are on the line. I’ve also held leadership positions here in the county. I chaired the Development Authority for several years and served as Vice Chair of the Water Authority.”

David Miller beat Bill Scott 2,150 to 1,430 to win the District 1 County Commission seat.

All other local races will have to be contested in the June 26 runoff.

Bobby Mayfield, who had 1,511 votes in Tuesday’s County Commission District 2 race, will run against Steve Shaw who had 1,187.

Long time teacher Mera Turner and Catherine Ariemma will also meet in next month’s runoff. Turner had 1,668 votes to Ariemma’s 1,152.

Amanda Jones won the closest race of the day beating Jim Sheppard by just 18 votes. Jones had 1,262 votes to Sheppard’s 1,244. Incumbent coroner Ronald Fortner finished a distant third with 1,014 and Diane Kimmel had 246. Jones and Sheppard are headed for the runoff.


Lumpkin County Republican Party Forum Commission Post 1 & 2

Daivd Miller

Post 1 Commission Candidate David Miller

Steve Shaw

Post 2 Commission Candidate Steve Shaw

Bobby Mayfield

Post 2 Commission Candidate Bobby Mayfield

Carlton Smith

Post 2 Commission Candidate Carlton Smith

DJ Wright

Post 2 Commission Candidate DJ Wright


Standing-room-only crowd greets Lumpkin County Candidates

News, Politics

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — The standing-room-only crowd that attended Tuesday night’s candidate forum at the Lumpkin County Parks and Recreation facility learned a lot about the people asking for their votes in the May 24 Republican Primary.

One thing they learned was that political opponents can highlight their differences and make a case for their election without attacking one another.

In an informative,well-organized and respectful two-hour question and answer session, candidates for Board of Commissioners Chairman, Board of Commission Districts 1 and 2 and Board of Education District 1 put their best foot forward.

The evening began with Commission Chairman Chris Dockery and challenger Doug Sherrill front and center.

Sherrill said he decided to leave his Dist. 1 seat to run for chairman because he believes the Board needs new leadership.

“My number one leadership skill is I’m a father,” Sherrill said. “I’ve served as the District 1 commissioner for 3 and a half years, I chaired our Board of Health here, I’ve been pastor at a number of churches and been a youth pastor. I’ve also coached youth sports.”

Dockery outlined his military leadership. “I’ve commanded troops in peace time and in war time overseas,” he said. “That experience prepared me. There is nothing like leading men when their lives are on the line. I’ve also held leadership positions here in the county. I chaired the Development Authority for several years and served as Vice Chair of the Water Authority.”

Both believe the Comprehensive Land Use Plan needs to be updated and that private property rights are not adequately protected.

Bill Scott, who is running for the District 1 seat vacated by Sherrill, was out of town on business. His opponent, David Miller, joined District 2 candidates DJ Wight, Bobby Mayfield, Carlton Smith and incumbent Steve Shaw in answering questions.

Miller said if he’s elected, he wants to work with Northeast Georgia Hospital System and Chestatee Regional to develop a medical facility at the intersection of Hwy 60 and Ga. 400 where NGHS already owns 52 acres.

“Hospitals don’t just attract surgeons,” he said. “They also attract many support service jobs that pay $15 to $20 per hour.”

Wight, a former Army Ranger whose responsibility was to deploy a 12-man combat squad anywhere in the world within 18 hours, made a strong case for his ability to attract new businesses to the county.

“I own a real estate business that helps retail businesses find a place to relocate,” he said. “I have 2,000 customers, 200 of which are municipalities. I help them to recruit retailers to their area which is what I want to do as commissioner. For example, in the last 15 years, we haven’t had a good grocery store here.”

Shaw shrugged off that suggestion saying, “If grocery stores were going to come here they would already be here.” Shaw added that he and several commissioners had already recruited grocery stores unsuccessfully. “Not only can we not get a grocery store, we can’t even get a Firehouse Sub.”

Wight drew a laugh from the audience when he countered with, “If every time somebody told me I couldn’t do something I just tucked my tail, rolled over and peed on myself, I wouldn’t have accomplished anything.”

The laughter turned to tears when School Board candidate Mera Turner was asked if teachers should be held accountable for the success of their students.

“To a certain extent, yes,” she said. “But some students come with more skills than others. Some of them, because of their situation of being homeless and needing food, it’s very hard for them to concentrate on what you’re teaching. when they’re worried about where they are going to sleep that night or what they’re going to have to eat. That’s very sad to me.”

After a lengthy pause, tears streamed down her cheek, her voice cracked and she continued, “We can do better for our kids than what they’ve been getting. If I’m on the board that will be one of my passions.”

Her opponent Jay Sessions said, “There is a point where if there is a continuous departure and continuous flow of parents coming to the administration and the Board of Education with complaints about teachers, that’s when they need to be held accountable.”

Both said they opposed Common Core, but Sessions said it was something that teachers would have to get used to.

Catherine Ariemma was out of town and unable to attend.


David Miller Announces Candidacy for County Commission


David Miller, Chairman of the Lumpkin County GOP, has announced he will be a candidate to serve on the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners representing District One.

“As Chairman, I’ve worked to promote the conservative principles of limited government, free enterprise and personal responsibility. I am pleased that Lumpkin County continues to vote well over 70% for Republican candidates and that we have been successful in continuing to elect Republicans to local office. I’m
passionate about Lumpkin County’s future and I am announcing my candidacy to represent District One on the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners. My number one goal is to bring economic prosperity and job growth to Lumpkin County and to provide for our children’s future.”

Miller has also served as Treasurer of the “Friends of the Dahlonega Gold Museum”, is a graduate of Leadership Lumpkin County and member of the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce. Recently, he was appointed to the Lumpkin County Comprehensive Planning Committee.

Miller is owner of MPA Holdings, LLC and his wife Sue is the owner of Refined Brush Art, LLC whose gallery is on the square in Dahlonega. He is also a Professor in the College of Business and Mass Communication at Brenau University where he serves as Lead Faculty for the MBA Program in Healthcare Management and teaches classes in Healthcare and Strategic Management. He was listed in the 2015 “Who’s Who in Georgia Education” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

An Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor recipient, Miller has been active in the Boy Scouts for many years, including positions as Cubmaster, Scoutmaster and member of the Northeast Georgia Executive Board.

David and Sue have been married for 30 years, have two children, Alex and Liz, and are members of Creekstone Church in Dahlonega.


John Davis Qualifies to Run for Surveyor

News, Politics

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Only one new candidate qualified Thursday to run in the May 24, 2016 primary election in Lumpkin County and that was John Davis, who will run for Surveyor.

Chief Magistrate Judge

Randy Pruitt

Probate Judge Candidate
Michael Chastain

Board of Education Dist. 1 Candidate
Catherine Ariemma

Board of Education Dist. 3

Jim McClure

Board of Commissioners Dist. 1 Candidate
David Miller

Board of Commissioners Dist. 2 Candidate
D.J. Wight
Carlton Smith
Bobby Mayfield

Coroner Candidate
Ronald Fortner

Amanda Jones Holbrook

Surveyor Candidate
John Gaston

John Davis

Tax Commissioner Candidate
Rachael Pruitt

Clerk of Court
Rita Harkins

Stacy Jarrard

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