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Commissions approve revisions to special land use ordinance

After meeting behind closed doors for approximately a half hour, the Grady County Board of Commissioners reopened their meeting to the public Tuesday morning and voted unanimously to approve revisions to the county’s special land use ordinance.
Board members met in a closed door session with Thomasville attorney Raleigh Rollins, who is the county’s legal counsel in a lawsuit filed by local motocross track operators.
On Sept.15, commissioners conducted a public hearing on proposed changes including registration, lighting, noise restriction, enforcement, fees, application procedures and complaints.
A standing room crowd attended the public hearing last month with the majority voicing opposition to the proposed changes being considered by the commission.
This week, Rollins presented commissioners proposed revisions to the ordinance that took into account the public comment from the Sept. 15 public hearing.
“There were some strenuous objections to a lot of the changes discussed at the public hearing. I have taken those into consideration in preparing these recommended changes,” Attorney Rollins said.
The Thomasville attorney advised against changing the noise level provisions of the ordinance, but he recommended making other changes to correct concerns the commission has with the original ordinance.
“These changes will make the ordinance more enforceable. Under the revised ordinance the motocross operators must register with the county,” Rollins said.
By registering an official agent of the track operation the county’s code enforcement officers know whom to issue citations to, whereas in the past that was debatable.
“Before, the county didn’t know whom to give the citation to. Do you cite a single rider, all riders, or just an employee who happens to be working at the time, or the owner. Under my proposal the registered agent is who is issued the citation,” Rollins said.
Rollins also recommended regulated users pay a registration up to $100, but Commissioner Charles Norton voiced opposition to the fee, which would be charged in addition to the new county business license.
“We can just strike that or you can choose not to charge a fee. It is purely your discretion,” Rollins said.
Rollins recommended making the hours of operations for family tracks and commercial tracks the same. In the original ordinance, the hours of operation permitted were different.
Under the revised ordinance lighting , with the exception of security lighting, can only be used during the permitted hours of operation.
Rollins noted that at the Sept. 15 public hearing there was a lot of discussion about changing the decibel levels permitted in the ordinance. He recommended no change in the permitted noise level, but did push for a change in where the sound measurements are taken.
In the original ordinance, the measurements were taken from the property line of the regulated use. Under the revised ordinance adopted Tuesday, the measurements will be taken anywhere on property owned by the complainant.
“The problem is where the property line is located in the original ordinance. We were concerned if those cases were to go to court the person cited could argue you were not at the property line. We were worried that Larry (Ivy) would have to carry a surveyor every time a citation was issued,” Rollins said.
According to the attorney, under the revised ordinance the measurement would be taken from the complainant’s property and the complainant could testify in court that the code enforcement officer was indeed on his/her property.
The new ordinance also stipulates that the calibration of the sound detection equipment can be done 72 hours prior to a measure being made.
“I believe these changes will be good for the people of Grady County,” County Administrator Rusty Moye said following the vote by  commissioners to adopt the proposed changes.
Moye says the newly revised ordinance is effective immediately.

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