dick schmidt

Callidora Ranch attorney Dick Schmidt Monday asked for and received permission from the Buckhead Town Council to allow the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission to author an ordinance that would clear the way for the ranch to both operate an agri-business and become annexed into the Buckhead Town limits.

The attorney for a ranch owner hoping to annex more than 270 acres into the town limits of Buckhead asked Monday if the company could prepare its own zoning regulation for council review.

At Buckhead’s Town Council meeting, attorney Dick Schmidt said Callidora Ranch would, with the council’s approval, have the regulations written by the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission (NEGRC) in Athens.

He said Callidora Ranch would pay for the work. “We can go to the (NEGRC) and ask them to write it,” he said. “We would bear the cost.”

Callidora Ranch is hoping to create an agri-tourism business with a list of permitted uses that include a farmer’s market, ranch and farm tours, private special events, horse shows and rodeos, free fishing and hunting, dog trails and zip lines. Conditional uses would include meat processing, a winery with a tasting room and public special events.

In April, Schmidt said, the company was told at the town council meeting that completion of the ordinance by the Morgan County Planning and Development Department would take six weeks. Schmidt inferred that the planning and development department had not yet produced an ordinance and Callidora was anxious to have the ordinance produced and approved.

Council Member Richard Harris agreed and took no issue with the company producing the ordinance. “I don’t have any problem with y’all having the (NEGRC) write it if it speeds it up,” said Harris.

In April, Chuck Jarrell, director of the Morgan County Planning and Development, said once an ordinance was completed, the ordinance would need to be presented the Morgan County Planning Commission for a recommendation of approval or denial. That recommendation would then come back to the Buckhead Town Council.

When the project was announced, Callidora Ranch owner Raul Rivera said the property, which extends northwest out of the town limits, would incorporate its dude ranch and trail destination as a working cattle farm that would also produce and slaughter beef on site. At Monday’s meeting Schmidt said the company had faced some pushback on the beef operation. “I think the only issue… is the cow slaughtering operation,” he said.

Also on Monday, according to Buckhead Town Clerk Cheryl Saffold, Callidora Ranch General Manager David Hodge presented the city with a $5,800 donation from money raised during a Fourth of July fundraiser at the ranch.

In other town council business, the council:

♦ Heard brief statements from four of five candidates who submitted applications to become a city council member. The council needs to appoint someone to replace the two-and-a-half term of former Mayor Pro Tem Drew Miller, who replaced former Mayor Ricky Walker after the council accepted Walker’s resignation. Candidates include Emanuel Cervantes, Christy Oliver, Yolanda Peters, Daisy Benford and Zeb Walker. The council will make a decision on the applicants at its July 29 meeting.

♦ Agreed to spend $175 to purchase an anti-buzzard system for the town’s water tower.

♦ Discussed funding for proposed mulch for the town’s playground area.

♦ Set April 9, 2022 for the next Buckhead Days festival.

♦ Discussed a possible nepotism clause that would clarify how the council manages both paid employees and volunteers of elected and paid officials. “As long as your significant other is not getting paid, that’s great,” said Saffold. “It’s the kind of thing that resolves problems before they happen.”

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