Commissioners vote 6-2 against proposed development
By Stephanie Johns
The majority of the members of the Morgan County Planning Commission voted to recommend against the four applications pertaining to the Parallel Housing development on Bethany Road.
Two commissioners were absent and two voted in support of phase one of the proposed development.
Curry Wadsworth of Athens-based Parallel requested that property on Bethany Road be rezoned from Planned Professional District (PPD) to Planned Residential District (PRD).
Commissioners tabled Wadsworth’s original request at their April meeting, saying they needed additional information to make a decision.
At that meeting Madison City Planner Bryce Jaeck explained that when it comes to rezoning PPDs, it’s all or none: commissioners could not rezone just a portion of property zoned PPD because all of it would have to be changed.
Between the April and May meetings, commissioners were provided with a development agreement as well as a completed traffic report.
Wadsworth’s amended request was for phase one to be rezoned from PPD to PRD, residential and phases two, three, and four be rezoned from PPD to PRD, residential with limited commercial.
Those members of the public who spoke in opposition to Parallel’s plan included Tim Reilly, Abie Harris and Ann Kimsey.
Reilly noted that his well and the water in it was “legally defensible.” He voiced concerns that construction of the development might make his water undrinkable and force him to use city water.
By Stephanie Johns
The Morgan County Relay For Life raised $12,800 during its event held last Friday evening through Saturday morning.
Athens-based American Cancer Society Staff Partner Sarah Burnheimer said this brings their current total to just under $40,000.
“But we still have all summer to fundraise!” she shared. “We have a goal of $65,000, so we aren’t there yet, but we promote Relay as being a year-long movement.”
About 300 people showed up to take part in the event, which included 17 teams.
There were tears, certainly, but also applause and cheers, laughter and hugs, and even some dancing.
“I really enjoyed the Morgan County Relay For Life event,” she shared. “I thought that there were a lot of dedicated members of the community supporting us, and seeing the cause make an impact on the faces of the survivors and seeing the kids’ faces light up with excitement made me feel as though we were really making an impact in Morgan County.”
About 26 survivors were present. Event Chair Beth Bradley introduced and offered her support as John Garrett and Bekah Everett spoke during the opening ceremony.
Garrett said the evening wasn’t about him and the other survivors but about those who supported the survivors in their fight against cancer.
“Thanks to this organization and organizations like it, this disease will be beaten,” he said. “We have to whip this disease.”
Burnheimer shared her appreciation for Garrett and his story.
“It is moments like those when I realize how important my job is, and I realize how much good is being done to make a stand against cancer,” she shared.
By Stephanie Johns
Members of the Madison City Council unanimously voted to deny a request from the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration to use the city’s Municipal Complex at 1501 Fairgrounds Road as a polling place.
Councilman Michael Naples shared information about the board’s idea to consolidate voting precincts from 11 to five, which would have them coincide with the Morgan County Commission and the Morgan County Charter School System districts.
Naples said the board had received no complaints following the 2012 elections and wondered why they would want to change it.
He added that the possible savings - $18,000 during a presidential election and $13,000 during mid-term elections – would not warrant a plan “fraught with harm.”
At one point he asked the Citizen if it was aware of any other reasons behind the consolidation. The response: consolidation not only would save money, it also might help alleviate voter confusion due to complicated ballots currently required.
In a later interview, Elections Supervisor Bobby Howington confirmed this: “Consolidation would reduce confusion by reducing the combo or combination ballots.”
He added that during a run-off election last year the board had to open five precincts to have a run-off in one district.
Another concern Naples had: 37 percent of voters would have to go farther to vote, based on data provided by the board.
In all, Naples said he was concerned about suppression of the minority vote.
By Patrick Yost
With a long Memorial Day weekend and graduation ceremonies approaching, Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley is warning motorists to be prepared for increased police activity.
Markley said the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office has coordinated with the Madison Police Department, the Georgia State Patrol and the Department of Natural Resources to establish road blocks and safety checks on Morgan County’s roads and waterways over the weekend.
The intent, he said, was to “curb drinking and driving” during the holiday weekend. “We will have increased patrol and road checks,” Markley said.
“Historically there’s a large propensity for accidents during the Memorial Day weekend that, in some instances, involve alcohol.”
He also said graduation night demands caution on Morgan County’s roadways.
“I don’t want to see a high school graduate honored and then ruin their lives or the lives of others by making bad choices,” he said.
Increased activity will begin Friday afternoon and remain in place until late Monday night, he said.
Printed in the May 23, 2013 edition.
By Stephanie Johns
Athens-based Parallel Housing Inc. has submitted an amended application to the City of Madison. City staff then shared that information with the Morgan County Planning Commission.
Members of that advisory body seemed pleased with the changes made to the original plan, which prompted concerns and an eventual tabling during the group’s meeting last month.
Chairman Brian Lehman, who voiced numerous concerns about the original plan during that meeting, said of the amended application, “This is a better plan.”
Madison City Planner Bryce Jaeck noted that the amended plan includes a trail in the four-acre greenspace as well as a completed traffic report and development agreement.
In their original four-phase plan, Parallel Housing sought to change the property’s zoning from Planned Professional Development (PPD) to Planned Residential Development (PRD). While they had plans for all four phases, Curry Wadsworth with Parallel said they only intended to finish out the first phase.
Parallel now seeks to change phase one from PPD to PRD, “residential use only,” and to change phases two, three, and four from PPD to PRD, “residential, with limited commercial.”
IN OTHER NEWS
Dollar General has asked for a variance to the setback requirement for its Rutledge site at 176 Newborn Road. According to County Planning Director Chuck Jarrell, they want a variance from 50 to 20 feet.
Bucky and Stacey Kirk have requested a rezone of 6.5 acres located at 3220 Prospect Road in Rutledge.
Abe Abouhamdan has submitted a petition on behalf of Jerry Smith for a variance to the sign ordinance.
Also on the agenda, a request to rezone 1551 Fairgrounds Road from heavy commercial (C5) to light industrial/limited commercial (I1). Jaeck noted that the property originally was zoned I1 years ago.