RUNDOWN: Bulloch County Commission Meeting – 04/02/24

This is an informal rundown of what happened at the April 2, 2024 Bulloch County Commission meeting.

Call to Order, Welcome Media and Visitors
Invocation and Pledge
Roll Call
– All commissioners present.

Presentation

Employee Health Insurance Recommendations – 2024/2025

Employee Health Plan administration quotes and other information pertinent to the 2024/2025 employee benefits plan were presented, along with recommendations for vendor/partner selection. Following the presentation, staff requested that Commissioners take action to approve the recommendations presented.

Approval of Zoning Agenda

Brian Scott Reddick has submitted an application for the conditional use of allowing a facility to host private and public functions. The property is located at 10143 Hwy. 80 East, Parcel No. 163 000029 000.

The property will be made into a wedding venue.

Approved unanimously.

Related documents.

Raybon Anderson has submitted an application for a conditional use to locate a 195-foot tower to be used for telecommunications equipment. The property is located on Jim Waters Road, Parcel No. 080 000019 000 & 080 000019 001.

Approved unanimously.

Related documents.

Eagle Creek Construction, Inc. has submitted an application to rezone approximately 42.5 acres from AG-5 (Agricultural 5 acres) to R-40 (Residential 40,000 sq. ft.) for the purpose to allow a single-family residential neighborhood to be built. The property is located at 6417 Arcola Road, Parcel No. 163 000018 000.

John Dotson appeared before the commissioners to ask that the application be withdrawn. Commissioner Toby Conner asked if this was the second time this request had been withdrawn, saying “this can’t keep happening.” The project was denied by commissioners as a R-25 project two years ago, in addition to the previous withdrawal by the developer.

County attorney Jeff Akins said commissioners could agree to the request for withdraw or they could hear the matter and vote to approve or deny the request.

Commissioner Jappy Stringer made a motion to honor the request to withdraw the application, which was approved unanimously.

Related documents.

Star Equity Development, LLC, has submitted an application to rezone approximately 32.35 acres from R-25 (Residential 25,000 sq. ft.) to R-15 (Residential 15,000 sq. ft.) to allow for the development of a single-family residential neighborhood. The property is located at Youngblood Road, Parcel No. 107 000033 000.

The request for rezoning to move from R-25 to R-15 would allow Star Equity Development LLC to build additional homes in a subdivision on smaller lots. Staff said it was eight additional homes but the acting agent for the project told commissioners it would be ten additional homes for a total of 57.

Staff recommended approval of the rezone request with special conditions while Planning & Zoning denied the request in a 6-0 vote.

According to county officials, the property was rezoned years ago to R-25. After going through various processes, to include plat maps, it was determined that the property needs a community septic system because too much top soil has been moved from the property. According to the departmental review, the soils are not suitable for individual septic tanks, thus, the need for the EPD septic system in order for the development to occur. The developer was seeking the rezone request to increase the number of lots – and system users – to offset costs of installing the system.

The project has been sitting incomplete since ‘2019 or 2020,’ according to staff, with some roads laid out and minimal preparation work completed.

The plan as proposed would mean the development would pump sewage to another community septic system up the road, which is owned by Lindsey Martin of MSO Water Systems.

Negative impacts listed on the department review included:

  • School impact – A minimum of 17 new students in the Southeast Bulloch High School Feeder district, which is already at or near capacity.
  • Law enforcement – Bulloch County has 33 sworn officers for road patrols. The Level of Service would be 49.
  • EMS/Fire – Response times for fire and EMS are adequate but the development may create a staffing deficiency upon build out if current staffing is not increased. In addition, the development may provide cause for the County to provide additional equipment.
  • Recreation – creates a deficiency of public park space

P&Z denied the request in a 6-0 vote but staff recommended approval with two conditions include:

  1. The principal uses approved for this property will be a R-15 single-family district as represented by this application with exception to any bonus density allowed by ordinance.
  2. All structures must be site-built traditional construction according to state minimum building codes. No manufactured or industrialized structures shall be permitted.

Diane Kingerey spoke against the development as R-15 zoning as did Dustin Guilfoyle. Kingery lives in the neighborhood across the road from the development. She expressed concerns about this being the only R-15 property in the area. “If this gets zoned R-15, then we’ve got a piece of property owned by Mr. Robert Bell that I’m afraid will try to develop and they’ll want to request an R-15 and I don’t see that that’s good for the value of my home.” She asked commissioners to follow the lead of Planning & Zoning.

“I also, I’m a little bit concerned that we’re more concerned with the money that a developer’s going to lose over the loss of value of my home. Just because my home isn’t worth over a million dollars (referring to the investment in the system by the developer) doesn’t mean that shouldn’t be a consideration,” she said. “I’m sorry if he’s lost some money, but I’m probably going to lose money.”

Guilfoyle asked commissioners to deny the request until people can examine how the community septic system would work.

Fred McCoy spoke against the development, citing the need to move the septic product a mile away. “The ground just won’t support it,” he said. “It’s all in the middle of upscale subdivisions, above average homes and when they will speak to you and tell you that it’s all been engineered and they’ve all had the engineers do it, we will all vote to have their sewage pumped to the engineer’s home and dispose of it there. We don’t need additional housing down there, they can’t accommodate what they’ve got.”

Lindsey Martin, owner of a private water company that manages a property up the road, said he was present to answer questions of commissioners, saying EPD already approved and permitted the project and it is only 1,800 feet to move the sewage. He said the testing requirements are also the same as the city of Statesboro or City of Savannah.

Commissioner Timmy Rushing asked if it was already approved by EPD and if it mattered if it was zoned R-15 or R-25. “It don’t matter – it’s going there?” Martin replied ‘yes, it’s already been approved.’ He said the water is already in for the development as well.

Commissioner Toby Conner asked if the developer could keep the property at R-25 to be consistent with the zoning in the area. Martin said there’s 30-40 duplexes across the road. “Those can’t be R-25, they’ve got to be R-15, but nobody mentioned that,” he said. He said the developer is at ‘almost a million dollars’ which is why he’s seeking R-15. “He’s just curbing the blow a little bit.”

Commissioner Jappy Stringer asked staff if there were any other R-15 developments in the area, to which Planning & Development Director James Pope said there was not. The duplexes mentioned by Martin, he said, are R-2.

Justin Randall also addressed commissioners about consistency in zoning. He said the conversation was distracted by the sewage field, which will be put in place whether it’s R-15 or R-25. “My question as a homeowner in the area is this creeping in of moving from R-40 and R-25 to R-15…Now we are changing the demographic and the whole feel. I’d like to see this stay with lots similar to what’s there now.”

Ultimately, Commissioners Simmons made a motion to approve the request from R-25 to R-15 with the conditions. The motion was seconded by Mosely. Rushing, Mosley, and Simmons voted in favor of the request with Stringer, Conner, and Deal opposing.

Thompson was the tiebreaker and he voted in favor, calling it a “no win situation.” He said specifically that he felt he needed to honor staff’s recommendation for approval.

Related documents.

The Bulloch County Planning and Development Department proposes to adopt an update to the comprehensive plan “Smart Bulloch 2045: A Joint Comprehensive Plan for a Better Tomorrow.” A Joint Comprehensive Plan for Bulloch County, City of Brooklet, Town of Register and Town of Portal.

Pope said this is not necessarily in need of a vote Tuesday night. The DRAFT was for consideration and review. This plan adds 5 years to the previous version. P&Z recommended approval for the land use portion of the plan.

View the updated comprehensive plan.

Approval of General Agenda

Consent Agenda

All agenda items were voted on collectively. The consent agenda was approved unanimously

Minutes – March 19, 2024 – 8:30 a.m. meeting
Motion to approve a splash pad resurfacing project at Splash in the Boro Waterpark

The resurfacing of the splash pad at Splash in the Boro Waterpark is on rotation to be refinished every four years. The old surface has already been removed in house to cut down on the cost of this project.

Sealed bids for this project were accepted and opened on February 22, 2024. Of the two bids submitted, Robertson Industries, Inc. with a bid of $122,185.80, met all criteria.

It is the recommendation of Alex Estrada, Aquatics Manager, to accept the bid from Robertson Industries, Inc.

Motion to approve a repair order for the Courthouse Elevator by Vertical Lift Systems of Statesboro

The elevator in the State Courthouse is due for a modernization upgrade. This upgrade will bring the elevator up to state code 2019 compliance. The maintenance agreement is with Vertical Lift of Statesboro. The cost of the modernization upgrade to the State Court Courthouse elevator is $95,450.00.

Motion to approve the purchase of an Ambulance Chassis and Remount

On February 29, 2024, Medic 7 was involved in a motor vehicle crash. After looking at the vehicle, the adjuster for ACCG recommended the chassis be totaled. The vehicle was initially built at Custom Truck & Body Works so it was taken back to them. A quote was requested and received to purchase a Ford F-450- Chassis and remount the module on Medic 7 to the new chassis. The quote received from Custom Truck and Body Works was for $132,777.

Motion to approve the purchase of a replacement door on Hangar #3 at the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport

Hangar #3 door needs to be replaced. Budget was $40,000 and low bid from Hawk Construction
came in at $36,760.

Motion to approve the nominations of Brannen Smith, Gary Mikell, and Dr. Brian Deloach to serve on the Hospital Authority of Bulloch County
Motion to enter into negotiations with the most qualified responsive firm for right of way acquisition services for S&S Greenway Phase 3

For completion of the S&S Greenway Phase 3 design, the County will be required to acquire 0.296 acres of right of way for drainage improvements,0.506 acres of easements for maintenance of slopes, 0.042 acres of easements for driveway reconstruction, and 0.099 acres of easements for fence relocation. These acquisitions involve 14 parcels, with 29 separate acquisitions. These right of way acquisitions are required to meet state and federal design standards. All costs for the right of way acquisitions are eligible for reimbursement through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant which Bulloch County has for this project. Bulloch County executed a contract with GDOT in February (approved at the February 6, 2024 Commission meeting)for reimbursement of right of way acquisition activities. The County will be reimbursed for 80% of the costs (for up to $310,000), and the 20% local matching funds will come from TSPLOST. The right of way acquisitions must be conducted according to state and federal guidelines because it is being funded by the TAP grant.

Upon completion of appraisals done by a GDOT-certified appraiser, the County will initiate right of way acquisitions. Following state and federal guidelines for procurement, Bulloch County advertised this solicitation on the Georgia Procurement Registry, Statesboro Herald, Bulloch County Procurement Website, and also sent the solicitation to 14 GDOT-certified firms in our area. The County received submissions from four firms on March 7, 2024, as detailed in the attached memo from the Purchasing Manager. The submissions have been scored according to scoring criteria in the solicitation, and staff is requesting approval to begin cost negotiations with the highest scoring firm. The County Engineer recommends approval of this motion.

Motion to approve a contract with IAR Realty, LLC, in the amount of $30,420.00 for valuation appraisal services for S&S Greenway Phase 3, to be funded by TAP Grant (80%) and TSPLOST (20%)

IAR Realty was selected by staff for negotiations for this contract based on criteria in the Request for Proposals (RFP) for appraisal services for the S&S Greenway Phase 3 Project. IAR met all requirements in the RFP and is certified by GDOT for appraisal services. The estimated cost for valuation appraisal services in this contract was $56,875. IAR has proposed a contract amount of $30,420, which is well below the estimated cost.

The County Engineer recommends approval of this contract.

For completion of the S&S Greenway Phase 3 design, the County will be required to acquire 0.296 acres of right of way for drainage improvements,0.506 acres of easements for maintenance of slopes, 0.042 acres of easements for driveway reconstruction, and 0.099 acres of easements for fence relocation. These acquisitions involve 14 parcels, with 29 separate acquisitions. These right of way acquisitions are required to meet state and federal acquisition standards. All costs for the right of way acquisitions are eligible for reimbursement through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant which Bulloch County has for this project. Bulloch County executed a contract with GDOT in February (approved at the February 6, 2024 Commission meeting) for reimbursement of right of way acquisition activities. The County will be reimbursed for 80% of the costs (for up to $310,000), and the 20% local matching funds will come from TSPLOST. The right of way acquisitions must be conducted according to state and federal guidelines because it is being funded by the grant.

Upon completion of property title certificates, the first step in the right of way acquisition process for the project is to have appraisals done by a GDOT-certified appraiser for all of the acquisitions. Following state and federal guidelines for procurement, Bulloch County advertised this solicitation on the Georgia Procurement Registry, Statesboro Herald, Bulloch County Procurement Website, and also sent the solicitation to 14 GDOT-certified appraisal firms in our area. The County received submissions from two firms on March 7, 2024, as detailed in the attached memo from the Purchasing Manager. The submissions were scored according to scoring criteria in the solicitation. The Board of Commissioners approved staff to begin negotiations on March 19, 2024.

Motion to approve the purchase of an industrial mixer for the Bulloch County Correctional Institute

The Bulloch County Correctional Institute was approved for the purchase of an industrial mixer for the kitchen to replace the current mixer. The current mixer has reached its end-of-life and the repairs are becoming cost prohibitive. Trimark gave the lowest quote of $26,578.00. Approval is recommended to approve the purchase from Trimark.

Motion to approve a Contract with Skillet Kitchens, LLC to provide food service at the BCCI and Bulloch County Jail Facilities

The BCCI with Skillet Kitchens, LLC currently provides food service for the Bulloch County Jail and Bulloch County Correctional facility. The contract includes a price increase of 5.3% due to the rising employee labor costs and rising food cost.

New Business

Motion to Approve an Intergovernmental Agreement for Housing Market Needs Assessment and Planning Services

Bulloch County has been asked to participate in a regional housing study with the other participating entities including, Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham counties and the City of Savannah. Each entity has been asked for $20,000 to match 50% of a state grant from the Department of Community Affairs. The Georgia Tech Research Center will conduct the study. There are also several other value added tasks included such as a cost of services study and future impact simulation modeling for each entity.

Financial Impact: $20,000.

The motion passed 5-1 with Commissioner Toby Conner voting no.

Bulloch Commissioners Approve ‘Housing Market Needs Assessment’

Public Comments

Marcus Toole thanked commissioners for voting for the housing study because it will help private entities apply for grants. He also said high density housing is a good thing. "We don't want to concentrate wealth and we don't want to concentrate poverty...That's not a good way to have a good cohesive community. I want to commend you, I think today's meeting has been very good."

Keith Howard spoke on the changes in Bulloch County over recent years. He spoke on the county manager's position as an appointed official and said citizens have no say in whether or not he stays. He also brought up the Magistrate Hearing between Commissioner Rushing and Lawton Sack, who is Chairman of the Bulloch County Republican Party. "Why do we have to have two armed deputies at the commission meetings?" Howard, as a candidate for Sheriff, spoke on his own race as well.

Jimmy DeLoach said he wanted to apologize to the commissioners 'on behalf of the fair-minded people in Bulloch County' for the way they've been treated over the last six to eight months. He said people should disagree without being disagreeable. He stated he didn't like that taxes went up but he would be upset if he called the Sheriff's office at 3am and he was told they couldn't come because the budget request was voted down. "We are impacted by the short-term financial hardship that your decision has placed upon us. While you have to look at the short-term hardships you have placed upon us, y'all have an obligation to look long term."

Commission & Staff Comments

There were no comments from the county manager.
Randy Tillman, Public Safety Director, addressed commissioners with Chief Hendrix and Fire Chief Ben Tapley, with an update on EMS and fire services.

Adjourn

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.'

Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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