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Meeting minutes prove Renaud was right

Dist. 2 Grady County Commissioner Charles Renaud, who lost his  bid for reelection last month to Billy Poitevint, did not end his term quietly.
During the last commission meeting of the year held last Tuesday, Vice Chairman Renaud questioned his fellow board members and County Administrator Rusty Moye as to when public hearings regarding zoning in unincorporated Grady County would be held.
County Administrator Rusty Moye told board members the board had never voted to authorize the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission to proceed with the drafting of a zoning ordinance or hold public hearings. Chairman Al Ball also said that the issue was discussed numerous times, but he did not recall a vote to contract with the Regional Commission.
Renaud apologized and said he thought the board had voted to authorize the Regional Commission to proceed. Following the meeting, Renaud and other county officials began to research the minutes of the commission meetings and what they discovered was that a vote had been taken.
According to the approved minutes of the May 18, 2010 meeting, the board of commissioners voted at that meeting to enter into a contract with the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission to prepare a draft of a zoning ordinance for the county, and to conduct a series of public hearings on the matter in order to allow the public the opportunity to learn more about zoning and the pros and cons of comprehensive zoning.
The minutes also reflect that a motion made by Commissioner Charles Norton to deny entering into the contract with the Regional Commission died for lack of a second. Vice Chairman Renaud then offered a motion to enter into the agreement with the Regional Commission and Commissioner Elwyn Childs seconded the motion.
According to the news reports of the meeting from the May 19 edition of The Cairo Messenger, Commissioner Childs stated that in his conversations with people in the community there appears to be a balance between those who favor zoning and those who oppose.
Childs went on to comment, “If they have the opportunity to attend these meetings and see the maps and what is going on and they confirm that they don’t want or need zoning, then that’s great. I don’t mind looking at it though.”
At the May 18 meeting, Chairman Ball stated, “If we can give closure to this issue, I think we should do it.”
Ball joined Childs and Renaud in voting to employ the Regional Commission to develop a draft zoning ordinance and hold public hearings. Norton voted against. Commissioner Bobby Burns, who is also leaving office on Dec. 31, was absent from the May 18 meeting, but he had stated previously that the decision should be made by commissioners whose districts are outside the corporate limits of Cairo, where zoning is in place and has been for decades.
The Regional Commission projected the cost for developing a zoning ordinance from start to finish would cost approximately $12,000, plus the RC would charge $250 additional for each public hearing.
Moye told commissioners back in May that the RC would only charge the county for the work completed so that, if after the public hearings were held and the commission decided to pull the plug on the ordinance, the county would not be committed to spending the entire $12,000.
After researching the minutes of the May 18 meeting, Chairman Al Ball said this week he had not accurately remembered the action taken, but he said the county would communicate the board’s wishes to officials with the RC and “proceed with the drafting of the ordinance and the public hearings.”
Moye also admitted this week he did not remember voting on the matter, and he has contacted Regional Commission Executive Director Dan Bollinger to discuss the project.
“I will brief the board at its Jan. 4 meeting, and I expect we will proceed,” Moye said.
The county administrator said that the board will have to meet with RC officials to develop the draft of a zoning ordinance and to prepare proposed zoning maps to be used during the public hearings.
Moye says it will likely be midyear at the earliest for public hearings to be scheduled. He also said that commissioners had discussed the possibility of holding hearings around the county, but he was not sure if that was acted on or if the board would just hold one or two hearings at the courthouse.
“There is a lot of work to be done before we present it in a public hearing,” Moye said.
Renaud was pleased the matter had been researched by Ball and Moye.
On Tuesday, he commented, “The thing about having these hearings is that I trust the people of Grady County to make a good decision if they have the opportunity to get accurate information and have their questions answered. By having these meetings, we are not advocating zoning. We are advocating getting information to people rather than allowing them to make decisions out of fear based on misinformation.”
Renaud also said, “For too long, the way this subject has been broached in the past was by scaring people. Gossip starts and people get scared and they are naturally against zoning. That is not the way to go forward. If the people have accurate, unbiased information I trust they will make a good decision, no matter whether it is for or against.”
When asked why the matter was dropped following the May 18 meeting, Renaud predicted it was an oversight by the county administrator and the board who, at about the same time, were wrapped up with the 2011 operating budget, the issuance of the 404 permit for Tired Creek lake just weeks later, and other related issues.
“It was likely an oversight, but I’m glad we have picked up on it and are moving forward with it,” Renaud said.
During his campaign for reelection, Renaud said in a debate with his challenger regarding zoning, “Doing things differently isn’t always comfortable, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”
The outgoing District 2 commissioner believes the county needs zoning and points out that the county is being marketed by real estate developers at a national level for its lack of zoning, which he believes should concern all local property owners.

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