At last week’s meeting, the Upson County Board of Commissioners heard from Rick Berry on behalf of Medardo Rivera, who has requested rezoning of the property he owns on at 2009 Highway 74 East for the purposes of opening up a metal recycling center. Building and Zoning Director Doug Currier II and the Planning Commission recommended the board deny the request to change from C-2 and R-5 (commercial-general and single family residential) to M-2 (manufacturing-general) because there are no other adjacent industrial properties. He also noted that the area is a major artery into the community and asked the board to consider if this is the type of business they want people to first see when coming into Upson County. After listening to both, the board decided to postpone a decision until Mr. Berry could present them with a plan in writing, detailing the type of landscaping and use of the area.
“Our plan is to upgrade the property. Our plan is to bring a recycling center to Upson County and run it in a professional manner. We hope to bring pride to your county,” said Berry.
He told the board the company, Rivera Parts Supplier Inc., plans to put an at least a six-foot privacy fence all around the property and landscape the front that can be seen from the road. Their goal is to have the fence high enough that it deters people from trying to enter the facility when it is not open. The business deals with ferrous and non-ferrous metals and does not store much on the premises, as Berry noted selling the material is how they make their money. He continued saying there would not be a need for new construction because the building that is already located on the property would be fine for their use, if they would be allowed to remodel it.
Currier noted that this is a legitimate business that is needed in the county, but the problem is with the location. He went on to say he would consider this to be negative spot zoning as well since there are no other adjacent properties with industrial uses nearby. The setback requirements are also greatly increased due to the lack of manufacturing zoning in the area. The property is located next to Kelly’s Korner and across the street from Poppies Country Store.
“We certainly welcome a well-run recycling business, this is just the wrong location,” said Currier. “Most of the M-1 and M-2 zoning that you have is on Barnesville Highway. I would suggest we maintain that as the corridor for all of your industrial uses and try to encourage this type of use and similar ones to go in locations along Barnesville Highway.”
According to Chairman Rusty Blackston, the property was previously used as a recycling center in the 80s. Currier noted the property was non-conforming to the current zoning laws, however it had been grandfathered in prior to 1995 when the laws took effect. The Occupational Tax Certificate had been renewed until 2009, which is when it the grandfathering went away.
After hearing from both gentlemen, the commissioners voted to table the matter until they could see the plans from Mr. Berry. He is to have them to the board this week and then a decision will be made possibly at the next regular board meeting on Tuesday, January 28.
The board also tabled the matter of a beer pouring license for the Proud Ace Club until the necessary repairs stated by Safebuilt (the company who does inspections for the county) could be completed and another inspection could be done. The owner, Mr. Clemson, told the board the work is being done but is not yet finished.
In other business, the board unanimously approved the deeding of a small portion of land to the City of Thomaston. The property, which is the “back alley” between Hometown Printers and Rescue Me Market, had become part of county property. However, Blackston noted since it was located in the city, the county wished to deed it back to the city for them to maintain.
The qualifying fees for upcoming county elections were set at three percent of the commissioners’ base salary. County Manager Jim Wheeless noted the elections are being moved to May because of the federal elections. Commission seats up for re-election this year are Commissioner Ralph Ellington (District 3) and Commissioner Frank Spraggins (District 4).
Changes were made to the county holiday schedule for 2014 to allow for a full day off on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, during the meeting. Wheeless told the board that part of the reason the board had thought to changing those two holidays to a half day off was to save money, however, it would actually end up costing the county more to come in and turn on the heat and electricity. Commissioner Ralph Ellington had stated when the schedule was approved the first time that in the business world, those two days were considered working days. He voted no to make the change to a full day off, but the matter was approved 4-1.
The board has selected United Bank as the financial lender for the 2014 TAN (Tax Anticipation Note) for up to $6 million. United Bank had the low bid at 1.835 percent and Southcrest Bank bid 1.92 percent. Requests were sent to Colony Bank and West Central Georgia Bank, however they did not respond.
Finally, Commissioner Frank Spraggins was chosen as Vice Chairman for the board for 2014.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1