Going to hell in a handbasket: describes a situation headed for disaster without effort or in great haste. – Wikipedia
Well, there was plenty to rant about in last week’s local news. First off, how ‘bout those local builders? After running the idea of gutting local building regulations up the flag pole at a commission meeting in early March and getting nothing but negative feedback from the public, the media and the bloggers, the Barrow County Builder’s Association is back - this time formally asking the board of commissioners to agree to significant changes in the unified development code.
The changes include: reducing minimum home size from 1,600 square feet to 1,350; eliminating the one lot per acre requirement in subdivisions; eliminating sidewalk and open space requirements; reducing tree requirements and buffer widths; and reducing the sight distance required on subdivision entry roads.
The BCBA is also asking for a reduction in sewer tap fees and for the county to let builders pay half of those fees up front and half when the certificate of occupancy is issued…Doesn’t that sound like the builders are asking the county – our broke county – to give up revenue and “loan” them half the required tap fee until the home is built? In exchange for…what?
Oh, that’s right. Once all these cheap little homes in ugly subdivisions are built the county will be flooded with buyers who just couldn’t find what they were looking for anywhere else…Right. The logic doesn’t fly.
Anyone who can afford to buy a home - and qualify for a loan - has a fine selection of unoccupied subdivision and foreclosure homes, right here, right now, in Barrow County. Do we really think the only thing holding back local home sales is a lack of homes in the under-$150,000 market? Come on!
These requests are future profit-based nonsense being marketed as some kind of economic stimulus plan. I’m amazed the board of commissioners is even considering these requests, especially in the context of the intensely strained 2011 county budget.
While we’re on the topic of the board of commissioners, kudos to Commissioner Worley for uncovering the lack of building license and permit code enforcement that’s apparently been going on for some time in our cash-strapped county. At last week’s meeting, Worley told the board in his district alone (District 3) he had found some $6,400 in uncollected revenue due to building without the required permits.
When Mr. Worley contacted the head of the county’s License and Permits department, Mr. Lyn Clement (back on March 15), Mr. Clement’s response was that his department has “been so slow” they haven’t been riding the subdivisions to see what’s going on.
Whoa! I have so little to do that I’ve stopped doing the little I have to do? Now there’s a department head really earning his keep while setting a fine example to our county employees. Mr. Worley also discovered problems with soil erosion not being monitored - to which Mr. Clement replied that was not his department’s job. Oops! There it is, right there in the job description – soil erosion. But no worries, if what Mr. Worley saw in that department’s personnel files is correct, no one in License and Permits has been trained to monitor soil erosion anyway, so maybe it’s better they’re not doing it.
Do these people not have job evaluations? How can you still be on the ailing county payroll and not know what your job description says? In these times, you better not only be fulfilling those job requirements, but exceeding them. I wonder how all those folks who lost their county jobs last year feel when they read about all this…
And, finally, the City of Winder: At a time when city fathers should be pulling together (on the heels of the recent passing of City Administrator Bob Beck) the mayor and at least one councilman are sparring over who has the power to hire Mr. Beck’s replacement. What makes this even more counter productive is the city charter makes it very clear the mayor - not the council - has the power to hire city employees.
The irony is that the mayor and Councilman Dixon (the most vocal proponent for council involvement in the hiring process) seem to be saying the same thing. The mayor says he will consult the council during the search for a new city administrator, which is the very thing Mr. Dixon is demanding…Come on, guys, let your hackles down and cooperate.
Councilman Eberhart’s prayer plea at the end of last week’s contentious council meeting may have been the most productive thing said, “…we can disagree, but we shouldn’t be disagreeable.” Amen, Mr. Eberhart, Amen.
It’s never to late to be what you might have been, the expression goes, and I hope that’s true for the City of Winder and Barrow County. It’s past time for a return to reason and rationality in local government. Please, contact your commissioner and/or councilman and let him/her know what you think he/she is doing right and what you’d like to see go differently. After all, we’re in this handbasket, too, and too much is at stake not to get involved.
Lorin Sinn-Clark is a writer for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amen to what you have written here Lorin...AMEN! Barrow county is over run with "brand new shacks" as it is. We DO NOT need more cracker box houses every where we look. As for city and county government, despite the critics and his way of doing things, Yearwood took the bull by the horns and did the right thing when he cleaned house and reduced the obscene public salaries of those 'in charge'. Mayor Thompson would be better served to abandon a vision of downtown Winder as some sort of 'make over' wonder destination. No face lift will cure what the roads can not deliver.
And how about property rights, mark my words? Whoever said that, in America, a "housing authority" has a right to exist? And where in the founding documents of this Republic can anyone show me where property and income taxes are allowed (sorry 16th Amend is unconstitutional!). Shame on you, mark my words, where is your passion for freedom and prosperity in America?