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Commission Declines Zoning Change for Matthew's
by Ashley Murphy

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In a lengthy public hearing during last night's commission meeting, several people came to speak their opposition to an agenda item that would deny or grant Doug Matthews a zoning change for his property on Harris Creek Road from FAR to commercial, C-3. Matthews wished to use the property for storing parts and equipment for his business, Matthews' Pool and Spa. In addition, he wished to have employees park their cars here during work hours while they were out driving the company trucks.

Kenneth Withrow took the podium first, presenting the commission with a petition containing 227 names. These were names of residents in the community, "all over 18 years of age" and opposed to the zoning change to commercial. Russell Donegan was one of those in opposition, saying that Matthews' has a "dismal track record" with the Harris Creek Community.

Matthews also brought along legal representation that spoke on his behalf. Sarah Coleman spoke to the commission outlining the use of the property and what her client wishes to do with it. She also stated that Matthews was willing to incur costs to build lines of Evergreen trees to more conceal the property, adding that there would be no change to the air quality or any negative impact to the environment.

After hearing each person speak, the commission felt there were many more in opposition to the community and voted to decline the zoning change.

Another big topic was a vote to instruct the Redistricting Committee to retain the current districting format of 7 districts with 2 commissioners representing each district, instead of going to 9 districts and having only 1 representative from each. Commissioner Mel Griffith believed that if the county were to respond to the population growth by decreasing the number of people representing the districts, then wouldn't that make as much sense as decreasing the amount of other governments and even schools.

Commissioners Jeff Yarber and Adam Lowe disagreed and said they would like to look into possibly going to 9 districts with 9 commissioners. Lowe made a substitute motion to move the discussion to work session and find out more instead of voting on the matter now. The substitute motion passed with Griffith and Robert Rominger voted against the idea.

County Attorney Joe Byrd wished to make an announcement at what became his last commission meeting. Byrd has been serving as County Attorney for 5 years and has acted as Bradley County's Delinquent Tax Attorney for the past 3 years. Byrd wished to formally make his resignation known, for he has taken a job in Florida as Senior Pastor of a church there. Byrd said he plans on starting that position before the school year begins.

The commission also passed a recommendation from the Building and Land Committee to allow a Blue Star Memorial marker to be placed around the Courthouse, exact location still to be determined. In addition, the Tax Levy for Bradley County has been accepted, with no changes or hikes, and was approved unanimously.

The Bradley County Commission will meet for their voting session on Monday, August 8th at noon.