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1-5-05 Oconee BOC Approves Controversial Mars Hill Rezone on Split Vote

Commissioner Horton made a motion to deny and Commissioner Hale seconded. On the vote, Commissioners Luke and Norris voted no and were joined by Chairman Melvin Davis in breaking the tie to deny the motion to deny the rezone.

AVOC

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January 4, 2005

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Oconee BOC Approves Controversial Mars Hill Rezone on Split Vote

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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Late reports to AVOC.The Oconee County Board of Commissioners, with two new members, Chuck Horton and Jim Luke, held its first meeting of 2005 tonight.On the agenda was the continuing saga of Mars Hill Investments rezone request for commercial zoning:

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1.Consider Rezone Request No. 4196 by Mars Hill Investment Group LLC, ± 1.643 acres, located on Cliff Dawson Road and Mars Hill Road, from OIP to B-1.Â

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2.Consider Rezone Request No. 4197 by Mars Hill Investment Group LLC, ± 1.2746 acres, located on Mars Hill Road, from AR-1 to OIP.Â

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This area has been the subject of numerous rezone items for the last four years. A larger adjacent area was denied by the Board at its December 7, 2004, meeting.

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According to reports, during tonight’s proceedings, Commissioner Horton asked some very intelligent and pertinent questions.He was reported as saying that he did not think that Mars Hill Road could handle the additional traffic flow from this project.He also asked questions about the standard OIP protection for existing residential subdivisions. Observers told AVOC that his participation and questions were a “refreshing change to the Oconee County BOC”.

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Commissioner Horton made a motion to deny and Commissioner Hale seconded.On the vote, Commissioners Luke and Norris voted no and were joined by Chairman Melvin Davis in breaking the tie to deny the motion to deny the rezone.

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One observer told AVOC that then Commissioner Luke looked questioningly at Commissioner Norris and then the two proceeded to move and second approval of the request.   Horton and Hale voted no.Chairman Melvin Davis then broke the tie approving the rezone.

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Citizens who have been concerned about the pace of growth and developer influence in Oconee County are hopeful that Commissioner Horton will be a reasoned voice on the new BOC. Some speculate that Commissioner Luke will be another “yes vote” for the Chairman.

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The positive side of the event is the questioning and discussion of Commissioner Horton and the split vote. During the last two years, too many votes appeared to have been pre-determined before the actual meeting.There was seldom any public disagreement.

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AVOC believes the majority of Oconee Citizens want more public and participating discussions and less “behind the scenes” decision making in Oconee County.


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