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October 30, 2003 Issue

A single car accident east of Wrens last Tuesday afternoon sends 35 year-old North Augusta resident Jina Davis skidding upside down on SR 80 after she looses control of her vehicle. Davis was transported to MCG Hospital.

Zoning ordinances to be discussed

Resident questions draft ordinance which he says is "full of problematic errors"

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Jefferson County commissioners heard from only a few residents but received a multitude of questions and concerns at the first public hearing on the new proposed zoning ordinance conducted Oct. 20 at the courthouse in Louisville.

At the beginning of the hearing, commissioners announced that statements and questions from the public would be recorded. Answers to those concerns would be addressed at the next meeting once commissioners had been afforded the time required to research the issues.

County resident Ben Benson surfaced nearly all the comments and questions posed to the board. He contended that the draft ordinance is "full of problematic errors. If passed in its current state I am convinced this will kill any real growth potential for this county."

He cited what he said were a significant number of errors in definition and usage throughout the 153-page document.

Benson made numerous statements and raised questions about the proposed ordinance. He noted that the wording in some of the sections, including the definitions section, could be construed to limit or prohibit certain actions by residents or cause their property to require rezoning.

To illustrate, Benson furnished a list of examples of his concerns. One of those was the definition of a junkyard. If interpreted literally, he said it would cause every farming operation in the county to conform to the definition of a junkyard and would be a "slap in the face to those who grow the food we eat."

Another example cited was the definition of a kennel. After reading the definition from the proposed ordinance, Bentsen said that if adopted as written, it would require that everyone who raises, keeps or breeds animals would be required to have their property rezoned C1, C2 or M1.

"I realize the intent of the ordinance, but the intent is not written," said Benson. "And it is the written word that a judge or jury must consider when rendering a verdict."

Benson offered an alternative to adopting the proposed zoning ordinance. He suggested that commissioners consider addressing the problems associated with the current ordinance.

"I believe that instead of passing this 'unified development ordinance' or even considering passing this third attempt to a zoning ordinance in the last eight years, that this governing body should finish addressing the major existing problems with the current ordinances which are seven or so years out of date and still unpublished," Benson said. "Once that is accomplished, then tend to this ordinance. To compound problems and open more technical errors with the existing ordinances is tantamount to misfeasance, nonfeasance if not down right malfeasance of office."

The consideration of adopting a new zoning ordinance stemmed in part from the questionable nature of the current ordinance. As it exists today, the ordinance adopted in 1999 does not conform to state law that requires public hearing prior to adoption. Accordingly, some in the public and local media have called into question whether the current ordinance is legal and enforceable.

The next public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse in Louisville. Additional pubic hearings or meetings have not yet been announced.

Cast your vote in elections Tuesday

Two mayors and one council person will be elected Tuesday

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Voters in four cities in Jefferson and Glascock counties will determine their near term future Nov. 4 as they elect mayors in Gibson and Wrens and fill two city council positions in Wadley and one city council seat in Louisville.

Gibson voters will decide whether incumbent Mayor Donald Kent or council member Gregg Kelley will serve as mayor.

Incumbent council members Paul Hinton and Warren Pittman had no challengers.

The mayoral race in Wrens will be between David Hastings and council member Dollye Ward. The winner will be the successor to longtime Mayor J. J. "Juddy" Rabun. Incumbent council members Ceola Hannah and Sydney McGahee faced no opposition.

The two at-large council seats in Wadley are up for election. Incumbents Charles Lewis and Edith Pundt will face former council member Albert Samples in the Tuesday contest.

In Louisville, one of the two council seats is being challenged. Incumbent Tom Watson faces challenger David Smith while incumbent James Davis faces no opposition.

Incumbent Stapleton council members Paul Beckworth and Stephen Harden had no challengers for their expiring terms. Mayor Harold Smith was also unopposed.

And in Avera, incumbent council members Lisa Hadden and Charles Padgett faced no opposition.

Final "Best of Jefferson County" ballot in this issue

Who do you think in the best fireman in Jefferson County? The best teacher? The best lawyer? Who do you think serves the best hamburger? The best iced tea or home cooking?

Every year The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter gives its readers the opportunity to cast their votes for who they believe deserve the designation of "The Best of Jefferson County" in a variety of different categories.

See the ballot on page 4B of this edition as this week will be the last opportunity to cast your vote.

Ballots will be accepted through noon on Friday, Oct. 31.

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Last modified: October 29, 2003