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12- 2-04 Did Oconee Officials Compromise Zoning Action Early On?

JASPER COUNTY 6-04 -   Kathryn Allen, a senior assistant attorney general for Georgia, told the commissioners to "Err on the side of openness to cut down on mistrust....Err on the side of full disclosure."….. in practice there are situations that can get you in trouble if you do not follow the agenda  …………”

AVOC

 

December 1, 2004

 

Did Oconee Officials Compromise Zoning Action Early On?

 

Were There Discussions of Land Donation and Sewer

Capacity for Oconee Parkside (Plant A Seed LLC 500 Acres) Before Zoning?

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

Zoning matters are said to be quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial.  Some feel that local government officials should not commit to anything or conditions before the rezone hearing.  To agree to conditions ahead of time removes the legal and real impact of the Zoning hearing. 

 

SEE:  JACKSON COUNTY ZONING ISSUES

http://avoc.info/Editorials/JACKSON%20COUNTY%20COMMISSIONER%20SAYS%20INDIVIDUAL%20ZONING%20CONTACTS.htm

 

There have been numerous press reports that the Parkside Project (Dooley Land on Hwy 53) involved sewer capacity commitments; promised school land; and a promised Fire Station Lot.   While Press reports are not authoritative and not always complete (particularly in Oconee County), these features of the project have been widely discussed publicly.

 

 PARKSIDE IS NAME OF 500 ACRES  IN ZONING PROCESS- Rezone #4118, Plant A Seed LLC, A-I &AR-l to R-2MPD, + or - 500.61 acres, Hog Mountain Rd.-Mars Hill Rd. http://avoc.info/info/article.php?article=1952&PHPSESSID=17df887655d0ae942692ebb3bfe69ea9

 

If such agreements or commitments were made, who made them and when?  Was a sewer capacity letter given to the owners of the property?  Are such letters or correspondence part of the County’s Planning and Zoning file on this project?

 

If these commitments were made, were they approved by the Board of Commissioners?  Was this done in Executive Session?  Are there minutes or records of the commitments?   Was the GA Open Meetings Law violated?

 

SEE: JASPER COUNTY—ATTORNEY GENERAL DISCUSSON

http://avoc.info/info/article.php?article=1377&PHPSESSID=17df887655d0ae942692ebb3bfe69ea9

 

MADISON COUNTY LITIGATION

http://avoc.info/info/article.php?article=829&PHPSESSID=17df887655d0ae942692ebb3bfe69ea9

 

ALSO SEE:

ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS

………..

Conclusion

It is, therefore, my unofficial opinion that the Open Meetings Act generally requires agencies to make official meetings open to the public, but portions of such meetings may be closed or conducted in “executive” sessions under certain specific circumstances if the proper procedures are followed. Agencies may go into closed “executive” sessions, along with other necessary participants, for discussion and deliberation under certain circumstances, but all votes, even on privately discussed matters, must be taken in public. Although the Act does not require that minutes detailing the substance of the closed sessions be kept, the public must be properly notified prior to a closed meeting 

Prepared by: CHRISTOPHER A. MCGRAW
Assistant Attorney General

http://ganet.org/ago/read.cgi?searchval=Open%20Meetings%20Law&openval=U98-3


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