Residents in a Jones County neighborhood continue to be unhappy about construction taking place and the support – or lack thereof – from the Board of Commissioners about their concerns.
The Aug. 21 Board meeting was called to order by Chairman Chris Weidner, and he recognized Martha Branson, who was first on the agenda to speak.
Branson presented the board with an additional sheet of signatures of petitioners and wasted no time informing the board that she was not happy that the cross remained in the yard of the residence in question on Joycliff Circle. She said she asked the Planning and Zoning office if property owner Mark James had applied for a variance for the cross and was told no.
“I’ve got questions. If he doesn’t ask for a variance, what happens?” she asked.
County Attorney Frank Childs explained that, at this time, James did not need to apply for a variance because he had not given Zoning Officer Tim Pitrowski his final decision.
Childs said he was researching whether the cross was out of compliance with county ordinances.
“Mr. James has not been told to take the cross down. That’s when he would apply for a variance,” the attorney said.
Branson said it was her understanding at the previous meeting that the attorney had determined the cross was not in compliance.
“What changed?” she asked.
Childs said nothing had changed.
“I won’t make a decision until I’m 100 percent comfortable with it,” he stated.
The attorney did not give a timeframe for his final determination.
Branson and Bub Lister represented their neighborhood at the Board’s Aug. 7 meeting to voice their concerns about a large house being constructed by James on Joycliff Circle, an accessory building in front of the house and a cross that he erected near the roadway.
The accessory building was actually addressed at a meeting of the Board of Appeals and Adjustments Aug. 8. That board determined the building should be removed and gave James 30 days to do so.
Branson presented a petition at the Aug. 7 meeting containing 66 signatures objecting to the construction of the structures.
Before sitting down at the Aug. 21 meeting, she noted her numerous appeals to the board and her understanding that Childs had already determined the cross was not in compliance.
“I don’t know what changed, and I’m not happy,” she reiterated.
Building Maintenance Director Bobby Bonner spoke to the Board about a project to bring fresh water to the Government Center. He asked the commissioners to reject previous bids for the project and instead break the project down into phases.
He also suggested putting three other Government Center projects on hold in order to pay for the needed improvements.
Bonner said phase one was new water lines at the Government Center building.
“The pipes are all old and need to be replaced. We are talking about every fixture in the building,” he said.
Consulting Engineer Tim Ingram assisted with the planning of the project and supported Bonner’s assessment.
“You are looking at the original galvanized pipes and lots of issues. You’ve got to go through the walls to get to the plumbing,” he said.
The director said phase two was hot water heaters in all lavatories and new wiring. The final phase is the purchase of a large booster pump that Bonner said might not be necessary if the other improvements went well.
Commissioner Sam Kitchens asked about the timeline of the project and Bonner said it would take a couple of months.
“We need to start immediately,” he said.
The vote to begin the project was unanimous.
Jones County Water Superintendent Jeff Pehlke asked for the bids for backup generators for the county water facilities to be tabled. County Administrator Jason Rizner explained that the bids were higher than expected and Pehlke added that was because the generators needed to be much bigger that previously thought.
The superintendent said he would like to have time to do more research about the generators. He also asked for SCADA controls for the Haddock Water System in order to be able to monitor the system from his office.
Parks and Recreation Director Matt Goins said lighting improvements at the Morris Bank Recreation Complex were rebid. The bids were sent to 31 vendors and once again only one bid was received. He added that the second bid was higher than the first.
Kitchens made the motion to reject the bid and place the lighting improvements under the county’s energy savings program. The motion was unanimously approved.
Martin made a motion to ask the Middle Georgia Regional Commission for assistance to add the Mattie Wells gym and South Jones County to the Urban Redevelopment Plan. The motion was approved unanimously.
Commissioners’ comments consisted of words of appreciation to Jones County staff and employees about this year’s budget process.
“Thank you to the staff for their work on the budget,” Commissioner Jonathan Pitts said.
“We were able to find cuts and were still able to give more services. I’m proud of all our employees,” Kitchens said.
“This is my 10th budget and by far the easiest,” Commissioner Tommy Robinson said.
“Our employees are doing an excellent job. I’m happy we can give back to them,” Martin said. “This is my sixth budget and the easiest.”
Other approved agenda items:
• Earlene Hamilton
appointed to the Historic Preservation Board for the term Sept. 1, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2021
• Memorandum of understanding with Central Georgia Technical College for adult education program in Jones County
• Resolution to operate the county until the 2019 budget is approved Sept. 6