DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Lumpkin County Manager Stan Kelley outlined some of the possibilities of a road maintenance and improvement tax city and county officials are considering during Tuesday’s work session.
City and county officials held a joint meeting last week to discuss placing the tax on the March Primary ballot. The tax is similar to a special purpose local option sales tax in that each time a sale is made in Lumpkin County up to one cent per dollar is placed in a fund dedicated solely to improving roads, sidewalks, bridges, trails and culverts in the city and county.
Kelley estimated the tax — collected over a five-year period — could generate $15 million and he recommended a 20 percent split with the City of Dahlonega.
The city would have to agree to that split then both the city and county would sign an intergovernmental agreement and establish a priority list of road projects before going to the voters.
One project that tops the list for both is the intersection of Oak Grove Road and Highway 19. It has been in need of safety measures for years, but the Georgia Department of Transportation has not placed it on its project list.
Public Works Director Larry Reiter estimated that project alone would cost about $4 million. Road paving projects could cost another $6 million.
Other issues discussed at Tuesday’s work session included:
- An amendment to the county’s hotel-motel tax ordinance that allows filers to remit taxes on a quarterly basis rather than monthly if the filer also remits quarterly sales taxes to the state. The proposed revision to the ordinance also addresses the civil penalties to make the language more streamlined and addresses the criminal penalties to bring the county ordinance in line with state law;
- A resolution to update 9-1-1 charges on telephone services and wireless enhanced services to $1.50 per month and prepaid wireless services to $1.50 per retail transaction;
- Renewal of the agreement with Mobile Communications for phone and radio service that covers all parts and labor (excluding batteries and antennas) and has been in place for several years. Staff says the company has provided excellent service and 24/7 priority response;
- Agreement to lease J.B. Jones Preschool building on Mechanicsville Road to Ninth District Opportunity (NDO) to operate its Head Start Program from Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019 at no charge as an in-kind contribution valued at $152,900. NDO is a private non-profit organization required to match 20 percent of its federal funding with cash or in-kind contribution;
- The appointment of Chairman Chris Dockery as the voting delegate to the Legislative Leadership Conference.
- Rebidding a lease contract with Mark Robinson for operation of the county transfer station;
- Acceptance of the SAFER grant that will allow the county’s emergency services to staff two more fire station and add a fourth ambulance;
- Special event permit for the Hemlock Fest scheduled Nov. 2 through Nov. 4;
- Alcohol beverage license and tasting room for Red, Wine and Blue Vineyard at 400 Blueberry Hill.
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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.
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.
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 FetchYourNews.com
DAHLONEGA, Ga. – When they meet Tuesday at 6 p.m., the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners will be asked to approve an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the City of Dahlonega that will govern the use of the new fueling station and a contract with North Georgia Concrete to replace the asphalt parking lot and concrete walkways surrounding the County Administration Building.
The IGA would establish the rules and fees for the fueling station that is expected to be completed next month. The county is constructing the station and the city is providing the hydrant and water line. The County will be the lead agent on the facility and will operate and oversee its operation.
County Manager Stan Kelley will ask commissioners to approve a contract with North Georgia Concrete in the amount of $165,066.85 to replace the old asphalt parking lot and concrete walkways around the Administration Building to ensure they comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. If approved, the work is expected to be completed by June 2018.
EMA Director David Wimpy will ask commissioners to approve a contract with Emergency Vehicle Sales in the amount of $182,000 for the purchase of a 2017 Ford F450 Traumahawk ambulance. The purchase was approved in the 2017 SPLOST project list and the amount of the contract is $6,335 less than the budgeted amount.
Commissioners will also consider approval of several renewal contracts, including one with the Georgia Department of Transportation to provide public transportation services through June 30, 2018. The total operating budget is projected to be $126,314 and the county would provide a 50 percent match of $63,157.
Lumpkin County’s Transit Program was created over 20 years ago. For FY2016, Transit provided 4,900 passenger trips to the citizens of Lumpkin County to medical appointments, shopping, personal errands, employment, and school.
Planning and Public Works Director Larry Reiter will ask commissioners to approve the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) application for Fiscal Year 2018 and commit to the Georgia Department of Transportation for pavement of three county roads totaling 5.9 miles. The roads include Old Dahlonega Highway from Ga. 52 to the county line, Seabolt Stancil Road from Porter Springs to the end of the asphalt and Lakeview Drive from Lumpkin County Parkway all the way to the end. Total cost of the projects is $1,347,335.
Approximately $650,000 would come from SPLOST funds, $150,000 from the county’s stone and asphalt budget and $549,04172 from the GDOT LMIG fund.
DAHLONEGA, Ga. — The Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners held a work session and regular meeting Tuesday and approved a series of resolutions and renewed several lease agreements.
Commissioners unanimously approved the 2017 calendars for meetings of the Board of Commissioners, the government holiday schedule, budget calendar and the appointment of Capt. Larry Glover to the Veterans Affairs Committee.
The lease agreements approved include four leases with Wimpy’s Airport Hangar and one for the tie-down at the airport. Commissioners did not approve a bridge and sidewalk project at Yahoola Creek Park. The project is being undertaken by Leadership Lumpkin to facilitate access between the all abilities park and the main park.
Commissioners also approved the use of the county’s water truck to water Calhoun Mine Road to eliminate the dust on the road that has resulted from the area’s lack of rain.
Director of Planning and Public Works Larry Reiter addressed the Board recently about complaints his office has received from homes along the road. Reiter said the county cannot pave the road because property owners would not grant the county the necessary right of way.
DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Lumpkin County Manager Stan Kelly said Wednesday that he is still considering what disciplinary action to take against Larry Reiter, the county’s Director of Planning and Public Works, following an altercation at Yahoola Creek Park last week during which Reiter was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery.
“We’re still investigating and getting statements from people,” Kelly said. “I’ll make a decision about what action to take based on what I hear. I can assure you there will be consequences if warranted. There’s already consequences because he has to deal with the justice system and with some administrative issues at Park and Rec. Based on what I know right now, however, I am not considering termination.”
Reiter was arrested last week following an altercation during a youth football practice. He has been released on $2,700 bond.
According to the arrest report filed by Lumpkin County Deputy Myron Ward, Reiter, 51, is accused of choking Brett Melanson, 42, after Melanson began arguing with Coach David Wood about how hard his son had been hit during practice.
Wood allegedly asked Melanson to leave the field and he did but, according to the report, returned and continued arguing. Wood said he then called police which, he added, made Melanson even more angry. At that point, Reiter stepped in and told Melanson to stop using foul language in front of the kids.
Wood stated that Melanson looked like he wanted to fight and Reiter grabbed him around the neck and let go when law enforcement arrived.
In his report, Ward stated there was a red mark around Melanson’s neck consistent with being choked and Melanson stated he wanted to press charges.
“I asked Larry if Brett was ever physical with him and he stated no,” Ward reported.
I then told Larry that Brett wished for charges and that he was under arrest for battery, at which point Larry told me that he wanted Brett arrested as well for poking him in the chest. “I told Larry that he had just told me that Brett didn’t touch him. I told Larry I would state in my report that he changed his story and Brett would not be arrested at this time.”
Melanson, however, was arrested the next day and charged with disorderly conduct.
Melanson’s attorney A.J. Richman said he is leaving the door open to a lawsuit against Reiter and possibly Lumpkin County.
“We are definitely looking forward to our day in court,” Richman said. “We’re investigating the case with our people now so we’ll find out what really happened as opposed to what they say happened.”
DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Lumpkin County Commissioners worked their way through a long list of agenda items in less than two hours during Tuesday’s work session.
At the top of the agenda was a presentation by Bill O’Leksy, a member of the Friends of the Library, on the status of the county library. O’Leksy said the library was already three years below state standards when he moved to the county 27 years ago and now ranks last in the state.
He pointed out that the building is not ADA compliant and it would cost $500,000 to $1 million to just meet the minimum standards. “Even if we put $1 million into the building, we still have a building that was too small in 1988,” he said.
O’Leksy asked commissioners to appoint a task force to look at all the alternatives and recommend a plan of action. “There was $1 million put into the 2014 SPLOST but it’s sitting there without a plan,” he said. “Without a plan, we can’t get grants or help from the state.”
O’Leksy said he could submit a list of names to serve on the task force and Chairman Chris Dockery agreed to meet with him and review the list prior to next Tuesday’s voting session.
In other action, commissioners discussed appointments to various boards including Barbara Bosanko to the AVITA Board (formerly the Georgia Mountains Community Services Board) and John Gaston as an alternate member to represent the Development Authority of Lumpkin County on the Lumpkin County Water and Sewer Authority.
Finance Director Allison Martin asked commissioners for authorization to join the National Purchasing PartnersGov coop. Membership is free and members have access to a large number of publicly solicited contracts to simplify purchasing while complying with procurement requirements.
The board also discussed an ongoing problem of water draining from two county roads (Coppermine Road and Chestatee River Ridge Road) causing damage to property owned by the Eckler family.
The property owners believe the problem is a result of actions taken by the county and the county should pay to fix the problem. County staff believes the problem is a result of the builder of the house turning the drainage during the construction of the house and not taking proper actions to redirect the water away from the house.
The cost of material to fix the problem is estimated at $4,500. Larry Reiter, Director of Planning and Public Works, recommended a cost-sharing agreement between the county and property owners.
Ridge Rairigh, attorney for the Ecklers, said, “My folks aren’t 100 percent agreeable to cost sharing and I do believe there is liability on the part of the county. I’m a citizen of Lumpkin County and I don’t want to sue the county. I do believe the court cost would greatly outweigh the cost of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Dockery recommended Rairigh and the staff meet again and come up with a solution the board could act on at the next voting session.