Fayette Commission set to meet Jan. 5 to choose chairman

The Fayette County Board of Commissioners has completed its regular business for 2016, and the 2017 agenda will begin earlier than usual.
The board typically meets the second and fourth Thursday of each month except for holidays, which means there is only one meeting scheduled for this month. It was at that meeting, Dec. 8, that the 2017 schedule was approved with some minor tweaks.
Normally the annual organizational meeting, during which the chairman and vice chairman for that year are selected, is the first regular meeting of January. That will be Jan. 12, but the board voted last week to convene a special called meeting for Jan. 5 to handle organizational issues.
This is because the very next day an intergovernmental meeting is scheduled with officials from the county’s cities to discuss matter related to the proposed SPLOST referendum on the March ballot. This meeting is required by state law and must take place at least 30 days before the call for the referendum.
As for the remaining scheduled meetings of 2017, the second meeting in April and the first meeting in June have each been moved two days earlier, to Tuesday, because of scheduling conflicts with ACCG (Association of County Commissioners of Georgia) events.
The 2017 meeting schedule will be distributed by county officials and also added to the county’s website for reference.
A request by Commissioner Steve Brown to change the hours for county lakes, after several months of discussion, was resolved with no official board action taken. Brown reported that he met with all relevant parties over the course of three meetings and a consensus was reached with regard to the Peachtree City Rowing Club, which will get access to the lake areas before and after regular hours when necessary.
The club will enter into an agreement similar to what local sports associations have regarding athletic fields and other facilities, according to county manager Steve Rapson.
The additional access is needed mainly when club members need to load and unload equipment for transport to events in other areas, so the issue is access to the facility and not use of the lake during off-hours, Rapson added, and the arrangement will be consistent with Recreation Commission and Water System policies as well as those of the Board of Commissioners.
Brown noted that another concern, the use of gasoline-powered outboard motors, was being addressed through an entity that is prepared to come up with a sizable donation for electric rechargeable outboard engines.
The board approved a request from Fayetteville to modify a section of the annexation consent agreement regarding the Pinewood Atlanta development. One condition of the agreement is for Fayette County to fund the construction of a pedestrian tunnel under Veterans Parkway or Sandy Creek. A change has been requested to allow the construction of a bridge over Veterans Parkway. This was approved by a 3-0 vote with Commissioner Charles Rousseau recusing himself from the deliberations (Commissioner Randy Ognio was absent).
In other business, the board approved a zoning ordinance amendment concerning septic tanks and drain field line setbacks. The state reduced the required setback for septic drain fields from 10 feet to five feet, according to county staff, and the amendment keeps the county requirements in line with state regulations.
Two public hearings at the meeting involved applications for retail alcoholic beverage licenses for establishments on Hwy. 92 in Fayetteville. Both were approved.
The board approved five initiatives from the Public Arts Committee relating to Balloons Over Fayette, the Spring Chalk Art event, a lecture series program, and the development of pop-up shows as well as art programs in partnership with Southern Conservation Trust. There was no discussion as these were on the consent agenda along with an ordinance to adopt the International Fire Code, conversion of part-time funding into two full-time firefighter/EMT positions, a transportation grant project list, and a $28,000 agreement with Peachtree City for the paving of a portion of Redwine Road.
Two consent agenda items were removed and approved separately. One was a $432,020 bid award for construction of a firing range, observation tower and shoot house. The other was acknowledgment of Sheriff Barry Babb’s decision to dispose of county property, namely vehicles that will be replaced.
Also approved was a $216,500 bid for lighting at two McCurry Park soccer fields.
Two more requests for disposition of tax refunds came before the board, as has been the case in recent months. One concerned a disabled veteran’s homestead exemption and county legal staff recommended denial. A motion to deny the request failed by a 2-2 vote, as did a subsequent motion to authorize a partial refund. The other request was approved as recommended by legal staff, citing the fact that square footage for the property in question was erroneously reported.
Brown presented a request to allow a van pool to be utilized in a county parking lot for physically disabled Fayette County residents. He cited a specific case of a local resident whose visual impairment prohibits him from driving and has issues with getting to and from his van pool every day because of the distance. After considerable discussion it was determined that a number of questions remain that should be addressed by county staff to be prepared in case of future similar requests. Brown ultimately moved to table the matter until the first meeting of February.
This was the final regular meeting for Commissioner David Barlow, who is leaving office at the end of the year. He was recognized at the beginning of the meeting for his service, and he took some time at the end of the meeting to thank a number of people, beginning with the citizens who elected him. “Working for you has truly been an honor,” he said.
Barlow listed several achievements of the board in recent years he was thankful to be part of, beginning with the hiring of Rapson and county attorney Dennis Davenport. He called Rapson’s accounting expertise in relation to local government “beyond compare” and said what he has done for the county the past few years cannot be appropriately articulated. Davenport’s high level of expertise “helps keep the county out of trouble,” he added.
Saying that he was proud to have voted for balanced budgets that included two property tax rollbacks, Barlow noted the county’s higher bond rating and gave Rapson and county finance director Mary Parrott the credit for that accomplishment.
Barlow achieved Certified Commissioner status during his time in office and serves in other capacities such as chairman of the Fayette County Board of Health and a member of the McIntosh Trail Community Service Board.
Other recognitions during the meeting went to Tax Commissioner George Wingo for 24 years of service; winners of the first Fayette County Model Water Tower Competition along with Fayette County Water System staff; and the Fayette County Parks and Recreation for achieving the District 4 Georgia Recreation and Park Association Special Event Award for last year’s inaugural Balloons Over Fayette.
A representative of the McIntosh Trail Community Service Board gave an overview of that organization’s recent work in the community.
An archived video recording of the meeting can be viewed on the county website.