Officials continue to debate zoning

Grady County commissioners are moving forward with public distribution of a proposed county zoning ordinance, as well as designating meeting places for upcoming public hearings on the proposed new ordinance.
County Administrator Rusty Moye on Tuesday sought direction from the board as to how to proceed with the draft zoning ordinance.
“I would not feel comfortable with moving forward until the five of us have a workshop and get our heads together before we go out and begin making presentations. Or does everyone else understand it all and are ready to go?” Commissioner T.D. David said.
Moye hesitated, but reminded commissioners they each had the opportunity to be involved in the formulation of the ordinance by the Grady County Planning Commission.
The county administrator also noted that the ordinance is a “living document” and is expected to change as the process proceeds.
Vice Chairman Elwyn Childs said the county had reached the point the board had asked for, and that is to hold public hearings on the ordinance to judge the public’s support or opposition to the plan.
“I want the public to know as much as they can about it and to put this document out. I want them to tell me what they think about it, not me tell them what I think of it. The only way is to get the public to read it and expose the people to it and go from there,” Childs said.
Commissioner Al Ball agreed with Childs, but asked for confirmation that the issues highlighted by commissioners previously had been changed in the draft and were deemed satisfactory.
Moye indicated the revisions had been made and he was not aware of any necessary changes at this time.
“I’m not saying I understand the whole thing by any means, but I am convinced I want the public to have input and if we put it out there they can,” the vice chairman said as he made a motion to distribute copies of the draft ordinance.
Commissioner Billy Poitevint took issue with some of the locations identified by Moye as distribution points for copies of the ordinance. “At some of these places, working people will not have access to them period.”
Commission Chairman Charles Norton agreed and highlighted the public schools.
“You say you want to inform the public, but they can’t get to it if they work. The schools close at three o’clock,” Poitevint said.
In addition to the public schools, Moye has recommended the Volunteer Fire Stations, Roddenbery Memorial Library, the county commission office, local post offices and various convenience stores. The ordinance is also posted on the county’s website.
The debate then turned to how many copies of the ordinance to publish.
Moye recommended an initial printing of 1,000 copies, but Chairman Norton suggested the board table the matter until the cost of printing was known.
“We’ve already got $12,000 invested in this. What is the cost of all these copies going to be?” Chairman Norton asked. He added, “People need to know what the numbers are.”
Commissioner Ball said the added expense of the process was due in part to Norton’s insistence of having multiple public hearings in the county’s five commission districts.
“Having more than one hearing in each district is not necessary,” Ball said.
Norton then said he was not in favor of downsizing the process now. “I’m not for cutting anything now. We’re going to educate the public,” he said.
Ball made a motion to proceed, whatever the low bid on publishing 1,000 copies would be, and the motion passed unanimously.
Moye also requested commissioners consider the time and places for public hearings on the ordinance.
Ball continued to question the need for hearings at nine different locations, but Poitevint said, “You were one of the main ones, Mr. Ball, who wanted to make sure the public was informed so let’s put it out there.”
“I agree with having one in each district, but I don’t see the need to have it at all nine of the volunteer fire stations,” Ball replied.
Moye said his recommendation if the hearings were going to be held at the nine different fire stations would be to hold them over a three week period with hearings on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 7 p.m.
Commissioner Poitevint urged every commissioner to be present at all of the hearings. “I want the ones on this board who live in town to hear what people who live in the county think about it,” he said.
“I would hope and would want us to all listen, but I still think it is unnecessary to go to all nine fire stations,” Ball said.
Chairman Norton also demanded that at the conclusion of each hearing a show of hand either opposed or in favor be called for.
Norton also said the hearings should be held before daylight saving time begins. He said the hearings should not be held when farmers will be in the fields. “We need to do it while it is still dark at  7 p.m. and no later than February,” the commission chairman said.
Moye said he would meet with County Volunteer Fire Coordinator Wayne Hadden to schedule times for the hearings and bring back a recommended schedule for the board’s approval.

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