Planning and Zoning sees strong opposition in meeting


GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – With several zoning requests considered for January, two saw increased opposition alongside some support from residents, neighbors, and members of Keep Gilmer Rural (KGR). The nearly three hour meeting on January 20, 2022, saw discussion stretch from public discussion to debate among the board members over issues.

The first debated application came for 128 Adventure Trail by Jonathan Graves to rezone from R-1 to A-1 in support of a Hobby Livestock Farm.

Those in opposition to the rezoning spoke against the location being surrounded by other Residential zoned lots. Some noted other allowances that could come to the site if sold. Additionally, concerns were raised over potential nuisances for close neighbors and references were made to Gilmer’s ordinances.

An opposition was also noted about the environment as the location tends to drain into the road in heavy storms and then into a creek which feeds into a pond and then on into the lower Cartecay River.

Both Graves and one speaker in support of the application noted that while no A-1 zones touched his property there are some large A-1 zones nearby. Graves noted that one of these farms already drains into the local creeks in a natural way. He said he may not know everything about the impact of that, but his intentions were not to build an intensive animal farm. Rather, a more hobby-livestock style of farming would mean less animals and drainage than many were thinking.

With board members debating about due diligences when buying properties, one noted that a lot doesn’t have to have A-1 touching it to be considered. Chairman Mooney stated, “I’m sympathetic to what Mr. Graves is trying to do but he stated he bought it with the intention to do agricultural type activity. The proper way to do it is to get it rezoned the way you want it before you purchase it.”

Ultimately, a motion and approval came with one opposed to deny the application.

The nights second major discussion came for a new 50 unit subdivision at 0 Boardtown, Cherry Log. A 66.37 acre tract comes in under the moratorium while maximizing the acreage. The applicant, Joe Sission of Sisson Corporation, stated, “We are requesting it to be zoned R-1 to build vacation homes.”

When asked about how many homes, Sission said he hadn’t done a preliminary yet. Though he estimated 50 homes considering space for roads, easements, water system, and driveways.

The property is looking to connect to different roads for ingress and egress including potential options of Boardtown Road, Lucius Road, Goose Island Road, and Whitepath Road.

With concerns raised over traffic and contamination of a spring, the major issue debated by public speakers came with speakers using Mooney’s own words saying that the rezoning should have been sought upon buying the land. Citizens pointed to Sission’s experience both as a developer and as a Planning and Zoning Board member that he should have sought the rezoning when he purchased the property.

The discussion became a major focal point with some calling it favoritism and unfair zoning that the board might consider this zoning minutes after telling another applicant that a major zoning change with major impact is subject to “due diligence” that should have been sought before completing a purchase.


Tom Whatley speaks to the Planning and Zoning Board about a 50-unit subdivision on Boardtown Road.

Others also pointed to a lack of planning and information available during the meeting for both the board and citizens to consider. The stated that Sisson himself noted he hadn’t done a preliminary and was unable to give specifics on how many homes he was building.

Sisson replied saying, “As far as a plan stating exactly how many houses that would be put on this piece of property, it would be impossible to determine until we know if we’re able to get the zoning.”

One speaker spoke to how Sisson has improved and bettered areas of the county. Sisson himself later added that he would be aiding in tourism which has been one of the county’s greatest sources of income.

Board discussion spoke about the differences in the two applications and the involvement of animals and going from Agriculture to Residential and inversely. Mooney stated in response to the comparisons, “It is a different situation. But that was one of the factors that played in my decision. It wasn’t the only factor, it wasn’t the main factor. There were several factors that weighed in. I try to take in all the factors and weigh those.”

The board also noted several access points would allow the traffic disbursement to spread along different roads. Mooney also noted that it would be ideal for every citizen to be able to afford 100 acres to build on. He said it isn’t practical, though. He stated, “With the smaller tracts, you’re putting people in homes that probably couldn’t afford them if they were bigger tracts.”

However, several citizens noted after the meeting that Mooney was off-base in his comments as he was speaking of homes for people to live in that couldn’t afford larger homes while Sisson specifically noted in the beginning that he was building vacation homes and second homes and later noted he wanted to aid in tourism. Citizens were angered by the unanimous approval of the development in the meeting.

Kimberly Reckles, an attendee to the meeting, later commented on social media saying, “I still cannot wrap my head around why they denied a young family a zoning variance — from R-1 to Ag-1 — to build themselves a private hobby farm, but approved a variance from Ag1 to R-1 for Sisson to build a 50 lot subdivision in the middle of agriculturally zoned land.”

County ready to take the next step in construction of Lanierland Park Phase 2

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – The Board of Commissioners is expected to award the bid for construction of Lanierland Park Phase 2 to Astra Group, LLC in the amount of $14,820,000 plus a $200,000 contingency when it meets Tuesday (Apr. 20) at 2 p.m. in the County Administration Building, 110 East Main Street.

Astra Group will provide all materials, equipment and labor for the project, that will include bridges, baseball field facilities, tennis court facilities and equipment, sports lighting, site lighting, artificial turf surfacing, pavilions, a restroom/concession building, a restroom and special-purpose ballfield for players with disabilities with support buildings, scoring building, signage, landscaping, irrigation. The project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2022.

Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include consideration of:

  • Purchase an Eventide Netlog 740 Recording System through Quality Recording Solutions, LLC for the E911 Department under a State of Georgia Contract in the amount of $208,396.34;
  • Purchase of replacement membranes for the Manor Water Reclamation Facility from Suez Water Technologies in the amount of $234,446.00;
  • Approval of a Task Order with NOVA Engineering and Environmental for Lanierland Park Phase 2 Geotechnical and Construction Inspections for the Department of Public Facilities in the amount of $98,405;
  • Purchase of one new Crafco Super Shot Diesel Melter for the Department of Roads and Bridges from Reynolds Warren Equipment in the amount of $69,645.00;
  • Purchase of one new Compact Loader for the Department of Water and Sewer from Bobcat of Atlanta in the amount of $78,885.73;
  • Purchase of three new Front Loaders for the Department of Parks and Recreation from Mason Tractor in the amount of $88,466.44;
  • Purchase of three new Compact Loaders for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Staff Recommendation: award to Bobcat of Atlanta in the amount of $122,103.53
  • Approval to award the design/environmental services contract for a multi-use trail on Pilgrim Mill Road, Holtzclaw to Tidwell Park Entrance for the Department of Engineering to American Engineers, Inc. in the amount of $628,600.00;
  • Approval to award the bid for Audio Visual System Upgrades for two (2) Juvenile Courtrooms to Conference Technologies, Inc. in the amount of $64,161.94;
  • Approval of a Final Response Time to Reconciliation Letter between Jacobs and Archer Western Construction regarding the Fowler Water Reclamation Facility Expansion;
  • Approval of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Improving Community Preparedness to Assist Victims of Mass Violence and Domestic Terrorism: Training and Technical Assistance (ICP-TTA) and Forsyth County;
  • Adoption of a Waterline Extension Policy to define a process for extending water service to existing, developed areas that do not currently have access to the Forsyth County public water system;
  • Approval to design and build a Customer Service Facility at the Sexton Hall Campus with authorization for this Project to be included in the existing contract for the Sexton Hall Site Master Planning with Lose Design. The new Facility will serve as the replacement for the Sharon Springs Tag Office and provide services for the Tax Assessors’ Office and Department of Water and Sewer to assist the residents in South Forsyth.The estimated cost for the Project is $2.5M;
  • A discussion and possible direction regarding amendments to the Unified Development Code related to Special Event Facilities and Agritourism;
  • A discussion and possible direction regarding proposed amendments to the Unified Development Code regarding Pools and Accessory Structures;
  • An offer from Georgia Transmission Corporation to acquire an easement across County property located at 7385 Browns Bridge Road;
  • A discussion and possible direction regarding moving alcohol application approvals to an administrative process;
  • Nominations and possible appointments of at-large members to the Forsyth County Development Authority;
  • A request by the Board of Registrations and Elections for an increased meeting per diem and monthly expense account;
  • A Right to Enter Agreement with Anson Logistics Assets, LLC to accommodate wall construction for Parcel 7 of the Ronald Reagan Boulevard Extension Project;
  • A review of a Short Term Rental Permitting Ordinance.


BOC approves McFarland Parkway development

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A new mixed-use development that includes 59 townhomes and 51,000 square feet of commercial space will soon become a reality. The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Liu Investment Partners request to rezone 18.534 acres at 100 McFarland Parkway to Master Planned District at Thursday’s meeting.

Christopher Light, representing Liu Investment Partners said his client had reduced the number of townhomes from 67 to 59 and increased the commercial space from 44,000 to 51,000 which would include a commercial building that exists on the property and will be renovated to code standards.

The development is also expected to include 233 parking spaces and amenities like a playground, and walking trails.

Following public hearings, the Board approved:

  • The request for an alcohol license to sell malt beverages (beer) and wine for consumption on the premises for Moto Asian Cuisine Inc. located at 655 Atlanta Highway;
  • The request for an alcohol license to have a farm winery on the premises for Stoney J’s Farm and Orchard, LLC located at 1506 Stoney Point Road;
  • The request for an alcohol license to sell malt beverages (beer) and wine for consumption on the premises for Southern Grit + Grace, LLC dba Board and Brush located at 6655 Town Square, Suite 1210;
  • The request for an alcohol license to sell malt beverages (beer), wine, and distilled spirits by the package on the premises for Robert J. Russell, III, Inc. dba Red Barn Package Store located at 4310 Settendown Village Road;
  • The request for an alcohol license to sell malt beverages (beer), wine, and distilled spirits for consumption on the premises for La Mara XVI, Inc. dba Laredos Taqueria and Grill located at 5310 Matt Highway, Suite 101;
  • The County-Initiated request for agritourism and agricultural sales on 25.4 acres currently zoned Agricultural District (A1);
  • Postponed a vote regarding the County-Initiated variance request to: 1.) Reduce the exterior setback from 50 ft. to 15 ft. adjacent to the +/- 6.0 acre outparcel proposed to be subdivided from the property which is proposed to remain zoned A1 and as shown on the submitted concept plan on file with the County (UDC Table 11.2(b)); 2.) Reduce the exterior buffer from 25 ft. to 0 ft. adjacent to the +/- 6.0 acre outparcel proposed to be subdivided from the property which is proposed to remain zoned A1 and as shown on the submitted concept plan on file with the County (UDC Table 11.2(b)) – Parcel 169-135 – 5690 Hendrix Road, Cumming, GA;
  • Approved amendments to Chapters 3, 8, 11, 16, 18, and 21 related to light pole height variance within the Unified Development Code of Forsyth County;
  • Approved amendments to Chapter 19 related to conservation subdivisions within the Unified Development Code of Forsyth County;
  • Approved amendments to Chapters 3, 10, 11, 15, 16, and 21 related to backyard chickens within the Unified Development Code;
  • Approved a request to operate a 1,636 sq. ft. short-term rental for 6 overnight guests with 3 parking spaces on 1 acre currently zoned Agricultural District and located at 3930 Aaron Sosebee Road, contingent upon the Board’s adoption of a Short Term Rental Ordinance;

Under New Business, the Board:

  • Approved a request by Domain Realty, Inc. to rezone from Agricultural District (A1) to Single Family Residential District (RES2) 11.16 acres for 8 residential lots with a density of .72 units per acre with the following variance to: 1.) Eliminate the 5,000 ft. sewer distance requirement to facilitate the use of an on-site septic disposal system (UDC 18-5.18). Property is located at 7010, 7012, 7014, 7016, 7024, and 7026 Dickerson Road, Cumming;
  • Postponed GPB Properties, LLC request to operate an open storage yard with 82 parking spaces with an existing 2,479 sq. ft. accessory office on 2.71 acres currently zoned Agricultural District (A1). Property is located at 5060 Dawsonville Highway and 7835 Knight Road, Gainesville;
  • Ratified the enactment of an emergency temporary moratorium, imposed on April 6, 2021, to bar all rezoning applications (until May 7, 2021) to the Res6 zoning designation, where the requested density for such rezoning is to a density that is greater than 4 units per acre.

Under announcements and reports, Chairwoman Cindy Mills read a proclamation declaring the month of April 2021 as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month in Forsyth County.

“These are some special people in our community that do a lot to help kids,” Mills said. “We’re thankful they are with us today and for all they do.”

The Board also recognized the Forsyth County Parks Foundation for its efforts to promote healthy and active lives by creating awareness and financial support to Forsyth County. Mills read a resolution recognizing Linda Duncan, a member of the Foundation who will be leaving soon.

Commissioners also announced that the second week in April is recognized as National Public Safety Telecommunicators week in honor of public safety personnel for their commitment, service and sacrifice



Gilmer looks at developments, subdivisions, and it’s future as rural or metro

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer’s Land Ordinance could push our county into a metro city rather than our rural agricultural based feel. A comment from County Attorney David Clark offered his professional opinion on what could happen with releasing density restrictions on land use ordinances.

The topic was ultimately pushed to a later meeting, however, that decision came after a lengthy discussion on the proposed changes. Revisits to the ordinance have come after a Gilmer has experienced record setting numbers and sizes of developments in the county. In July of 2020, there were nine multi-lot developments with plans filed. An overabundance of developments like this could and is changing the face of Gilmer County. For better or worse is a split response among some citizens and developers.

Public Works Director Jim Smith

Even the County Attorney David Clark warned the Board on the possible outcomes of the new ordinance as it appears. Commenting on the high number of developments, Clark said part of the need for a response was due to “the high demand that was being placed on the infrastructure that simply wasn’t there.”

Clark went on to offer the board his thoughts on increasing population density saying, “Density is not a friend to an agricultural community. In my opinion, it’s the enemy.”

With notes referencing the county’s own emblem, he pointed out the major agricultural influence the county has through its poultry, apple orchards, and the mountain rural life. He also offered other counties as evidence including North Cobb and Paulding Counties when he was much younger.

Clark said, “Gilmer is known and is an agricultural community. The density that is allowed, the size of the lots that are allowed at this current time, is going to change that.”

The continuing density growth and concerns have been echoed through citizens comments on recent topics such as the Flint Mountain Holdings’ 305 lot major subdivision on Highway 282.

More recently, September saw a major moratorium on certain subdivisions, greenspace developments, and Class E Roads. These large developments are now continuing to push for a return to work since that moratorium. However, discussions on the Land Use Ordinance are continuing after minor confusion on some of the recommendations from the Planning Boards and the needs of what the Commissioners and the people of the county desire for the ordinance and for developments in the future.

Clark called Gilmer County’s future a “bedroom-subdivision of Atlanta” if the major density increase is allowed to support increasing numbers of people working from home. The allowance of unrestricted developments could lead to this outcome. However, he said it ultimately comes down to what the Commissioners want Gilmer to look like “30 years down the road.”

He reiterated that this is a major part of shaping that future.

Speaking with Public Works Director Jim Smith, the Commissioners heard more concern for loopholes within the ordinance and fixes that Smith wants requiring rezoning from R2 high density in situations that do not meet certain requirements. Smith also spoke about county roads needing support in the face of these developments. Especially since these roads were not built to handle the traffic and wear due to the adverse impact.

Smith went on to add that he believed a solution for roads be that the developer need pay for the improvements that the roads require rather than setting that burden on taxpayers who must have the Road Department go out and improve, fix, and upgrade the roads.

Echoing similar sentiments, Planning and Zoning Director Karen Henson said that zoning should match road requirements and capabilities.

The county is ultimately trying to balance its growth with density, developers, roads, and citizens needs. Yet, no final action has been taken. Instead, the commissioners are looking to address this either next month or in a special called meeting before then.

Three hour executive session leads to doubt for Pickens Superintendent

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JASPER, Ga. – Pickens County could be seeing another chapter in its ongoing Superintendent troubles over the years after a three-hour-long meeting was held almost entirely in Executive Session.

On January 16, 2021, the Pickens County Board of Education held a special called meeting posted to host both an Executive Session and General Discussion items on the Agenda.

During the meeting, it was said that the general discussion was originally put in to discuss a different topic. However, some citizens present said they were present to “show support” for Superintendent Dr. Rick Townsend.

Pickens County Board of Education, Superintendent

Rick Townsend, Superintendent of Pickens County Schools

While the Board of Education spent almost all of the three hours in Executive Session, Dr. Townsend was not present for a large part of the meeting as he was seen exiting the room where the executive session was being held.

The only results of the meeting that were publicly stated as the Board returned from their executive session was the calling of yet another Special Called Meeting for this Monday, January 18, 2021.

However, sources have messaged FYN saying they are expecting the School Board to be dismissing or firing Dr. Townsend on Monday.

The board said in their Friday meeting, “We will have a Called Meeting on Monday at 3 p.m. It will be published over the weekend.” This means they will be meeting on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, although there is yet to be an agenda or meeting placed on the Pickens Calendar on their website as of the writing of this article.

Gilmer BOE updates code, meeting dates, and handbook in December


EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Preparing for the new year and new board members, Gilmer Schools updated their students code and handbook as they hit their mid-year meeting and prepare for the return for the second semester in January.

Coming late in the year, changes to the student handbook were approved this week in order to provide for students needing certain credits for graduation. Adjusting specifically a world language instead of certain CTAE courses in graduation requirements, this change comes, according to Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, as the virtual academy is not able to do those courses online.

Because of this and because some students need to adjust and cover this requirement in their final semester of high school, the Board approved the change to support this digital students as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to require adjustments and changes from organizations moving into the future.

meetingAdditionally, the board is changing an official job title adding a Title IX Director for Lindy Patterson, who is already the school system’s State and Federal Programs Coordinator.

The Board is also looking at new meeting dates next year. They have looked at the dates since November, adjusting and changing as needed. The board of education usually approves these meetings in January of the year, approving the 11 months of that year along with the January Meetings for the following year.

This means that the Board’s two newest members, Joe Pflueger and Michael Parks, will have the opportunity to vote on these in their first meeting of the new year.

The Board is updating its Student Code of Conduct to incorporate new needs as the school shave reached a point when students have Chromebook for use throughout their grade levels. Incorporating information gained through use of a program monitoring what students are typing and reading through the Chromebook. This new update will incorporate the new screenings that the school is using along with protections on the Chromebook usage.


Commissioner to consider COLA and salary increases for staff during Thursday’s meeting

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – County commissioners will consider adoption of the FY 2021 budget with the approval to apply a two percent COLA increase as budgeted and to apply an increase of one percent to the Salary Range Schedule to maintain competitive salary ranges when they meet in a voting session Thursday (Nov. 19) at 5 p.m.

Other items to be considered under New Business include Conditional Use Permits (CUP) and Rezoning Requests for the following:

  • Midwest Haybale Blinds, LLC – CP200013 – to operate an open storage yard on 2.791 acres currently zoned Agricultural District (A1). Property is located south of Francis Road, approximately 300 ft. east of the intersection with Clark Drive;
  • Patriot Development, LLC – CP200020 – to operate an open storage yard with 37 parking spaces on 1.97 acres currently zoned Restricted Industrial District (M1) with variancesProperty is located approximately 300 ft. west of Ronald Reagan Boulevard approximately 325 ft. north of the intersection with Oak Industrial Lane;
  • Chris Livesay – CP200021 – to operate an open storage yard with a residence for a night watchman in an existing 2,142 sq. ft. structure on 0.802 acres currently zoned Commercial Business District (CBD) with variances. Property is located at 832 Atlanta Highway, Cumming;
  • Lizeth Cano – ZA3979 – to rezone from Lake Residential District (LR) to Agricultural District (A1) on 1.796 acres with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for an open storage yard associated with existing buildings totaling 1,125 sq. ft. with variance. Property is located approximately 350 ft. west of Little Mill Road, approximately 435 ft. north of the intersection with Browns Bridge Road;
  • An agreement regarding 5225 Shadburn Road, PIN 254-022, acquisition of 0.86 acres from William Waite Family for a future access road;
  • An agreement regarding 3910 Evans Road, Fire Station #4, PIN 031-058, GDOT acquisition of ROW for SR20;
  • An agreement regarding 1605 Canton Highway PIN 099-055, Greenway Trailhead location, GDOT acquisition for SR20 (Canton Highway) Widening;
  • An agreement regarding Canton Highway, PIN 064-036, Greenway Trail access to Canton Highway, GDOT acquisition for SR20 Widening.

The Old Business Agenda includes consideration of the following:

  • The request for an Amendment of Zoning Conditions on ZA2915 (Coordinated Properties, Inc.) by Josef and Elizabeth Venable at 2430 Monet Drive, Cumming;
  • Request by Fam Group, LLC – CP200011 – to operate a 100 sq. ft. vehicle sales dealership in an existing building with 3 parking spaces on 2.196 acres currently zoned Restricted Industrial District. Property is located at 915 Branch Drive, Suite 100, Alpharetta;
  • Possible direction regarding Sketch Plat approval for RUS-AL (USA), Inc. and Variances to the UDC;
  • Possible direction regarding RUS-AL (USA), Inc., CP190014, to operate an open storage yard with 133 parking spaces associated with existing buildings totaling 18,000 sq. ft. with 26 parking spaces on 6.680 acres currently zoned Restricted Industrial District (M1).

Commissioners will make a series of announcements and reports, including the following;

  • Presentation of a Resolution to the Forsyth County Public Library Friends and Advocates who have been awarded the Fabulous Friends Award by the Friends of Georgia Libraries;
  • Presentation of a Resolution recognizing those who celebrated the Festival of Diwali on November 14, 2020;
  • Recognition of the 2020 Georgia Association of Water Professionals Awards received by the Department of Water and Sewer;
  • Recognition of the Department of Engineering’s Roads and Bridges Division for its hard work and commitment to the Forsyth County community during Hurricane Zeta;
  • Board recognition of Chris Grimes, Emergency Management Agency Director, for receiving the Charles F. Welch Citizenship Award;

A series of public hearings are scheduled for Thursday’s meeting, including:

  • A Sketch Plat approval for Ronald Reagan Corners LLC – Parcel 132-029 – SP200009;
  • The County-Initiated request to operate a vehicle sales dealership in an existing building on 2.074 acres currently zoned Commercial Business District (CBD) and variances to the UDC, Section 12-10.9, Section 12-10.15 and Table 17.1 – Parcel 234-024 – CP200031;
  • Sketch Plat approval for Rochester & Associates, Inc. – Parcel 319-015 – SP200011;
  • Proposed abandonment of public right of way in Southers Plantation Lane, as requested by Southers Plantation HOA, Inc.


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Board lowers Bond Millage with final approval of rates

Millage Rate Meeting

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A unanimous vote on Monday, August 24, 2020, saw the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners follow up on statements from last year where they discussed lowering the Bond Millage Rate in the county.

While they did not approve lowering the rate in 2019, many citizens have continued discussing and pushing for the reduction this year. A few have very vocally called for the reduction of the “extra half mill” that was put on the Bond Millage rate raising it from 1 to 1.5 mills. Additionally, the viral outbreak and subsequent shutdowns of counties and states cast a dark shadow on local economies and doubt for the financial future of Gilmer.

The Commissioners halted capital spending and major projects as they watched and waited to see just what kind of impact it would have, even delaying their pool project that has been underway for over a year now. The pool was closed at the beginning of May in 2019.

However, the last two months have shown quite the difference. Despite the cancellation of major events in the county and increasing numbers from the virus, recent reports show an increase in collections from tourism and SPLOST.

Whether this played a role in their decision, the commissioners did not say, but they did approve a drop in the bond millage rate by .25 mills, taking it from 1.5 to 1.25 mills.

The School-Board-approved millage rate of 13.963 was approved to be implemented by the Board of Commissioners. This is the Rollback Rate calculated for Gilmer County Schools as they have advertised over the past month since the July meeting. The Board of Education approved this rate last week during their regular August meeting.

They also moved forward with approval of the county’s M&O (Maintenance and Operations) Millage Rate of 6.783 mills. This is also a Rollback Rate calculated for the Board of Commissioners and advertised for the past month since their July Meeting.

County seeks to help farms to support recovery

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer’s Board of Commissioners made two approvals this week for farms to, as Chairman Charlie Paris said, “try to recover as quickly as possible.”

While Paris said they are looking at several areas of the county’s economy, two of the approvals in June focused solely on farms and agriculture including the first steps of a change and easing of the ordinance for Farm Wineries and a Resolution supporting the “Right to Farm Act” in legislation.

With local farm wineries, Paris said the only way the county can really help with this is through lessening regulations. To that end, the Commissioners voted to approve moving forward with advertising to change the ordinance to allow local wineries in the unincorporated parts of the county “to serve local Georgia craft beer in their tasting rooms. They would not be allowed to sell the beer packaged and there will be no Sunday sales.”

Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson said, “I know that the winery owners have requested this for some time and we were waiting to bring it up and to see when the right time was. I do think it is a great time to put that gesture in… I also love the fact that we are restricting it to Georgia Craft beers, so it is not any of the name brand national or international brands.”

Gary Engel speaks to Commissioners in June of 2020 about easing the ordinance restrictions for local Farm Wineries and allowing craft beer sales of Georgia Craft Beers.

Gary Engel speaks to Commissioners in June of 2020 about easing the ordinance restrictions for local Farm Wineries and allowing craft beer sales of Georgia Craft Beers.

Gary Engel spoke to the Commissioners in the work session noting that a few wineries were represented in the audience. He said that other counties in the state are already selling beers. He also noted that it would not equate to a great surge in sales, but rather it allows a service to different tastes. Engel said that sometimes a couple will come up to listen to music, one doesn’t like wine but would enjoy a cold beer. He did say that the small increase in sales could aid in the wineries business as well.

He also said they are wanting to increase and pursue the business as Gilmer is increasing in popularity with these as well. Engel said, “From a perspective of the state, with the number of wineries that are going into Gilmer County, this county will soon be the most populated county, south of Virginia, with wineries.”

Additionally, the other approval for farms came in support of a legislative Act in Georgia, the “Right to Farm” Act. Paris said that lawsuits come often against farms as people move in nearby and then sue over the smells or noise. Paris explained that through discussions with farmers, he found that these are not often won, but are often filed and can be expensive to fight against in courts.

In support of local farmers and through discussions with them, Paris said that they asked for support for this Act in protection of some of what he called “nuisance lawsuits.”

The Act increases requirements to file lawsuits against farms according to Paris, in attempt to protect them from some of these filings.

The approval came for Resolution to support the Act at the state level in efforts to help it pass.

Gilmer BOC will hold April Regular meeting in person


ELLIJAY, Ga. – Both cities and counties carry on amid the shutdown, and Gilmer is also moving forward in this time with their April meeting, but with a few changes.

Gilmer has already made changes over March as meetings saw a distancing line in the meeting room, and all meetings have been held in the Jury Assembly Room in the Gilmer County Courthouse. However, this month will see another change as the Board is only sending one agenda. Gilmer’s BOC will still meet is person, as of now, but will not be holding their usual work session.

Gilmer is continuing monitor situations during the shutdown and two agenda items stick out among the agenda as potential ramifications of the nations current situation.

Among the items is listed “Discussion and possible action to grant authority to the Tax Commissioner to waive Interest and Penalties” and “Discussion and possible action regarding the upcoming May General and Presidential Primaries.”

Elections have been a growing topic as we draw closer to May during a Presidential Election year which has, historically, been one of the highest turnout years for elections.

Not holding a work session, the public will be hearing discussion and votes in the same day for April. The rest of the meeting is set to proceed as normal with usual items like Citizens wishing to speak and the financial statement. The meeting will be held on Thursday, April 9, 2020, at 6 p.m., in the Jury Assembly Room of the Courthouse.





BOC Meeting called two days before Christmas


ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners are calling for one last meeting in 2019.

Next week will see a special called meeting for the board, but it will come two days before Christmas Day. The schedule sets the meeting to begin at 8:30 a.m. on the morning of December 23, 2019.

While the meeting agenda is set with only three items, it almost got bigger last week with the Board of Commissioners looking to add a few items tabled from their regular meeting.

With Public Works Director Jim Smith returning to the meetings after taking personal time, the Commissioners had originally tabled the Concrete Bid agenda item from November. Commission Chairman Charlie Paris asked to table the bid again until this meeting on December 23 to give Smith more time to analyze the bids. However, taking time as the meeting progressed Smith worked on the bid submissions to make sure to give the board an answer. The board wound up awarding the bid in the meeting and cancelling its addition to this meeting.

However, the meetings’ second addition did not get canceled as new information is arising from the agenda item to consider possible action to rent Airport space to the Georgia Forestry Commission. The board is taking extra time to investigate issues with the Forestry Commission’s previous rental space in Pickens and agreement details.

The meeting will go forward with three agenda items;
1.Discussion and possible action to rent Airport space to the Georgia Forestry Commission
2. Discussion and possible action on approval of an MOU with SORBA/IMBA
3. Resolution to Adopt the 2020 Budget.


Fannin County High School Hosts a Meeting about Vaping

Announcements, Community

Announcement: Fannin County High School is hosting a meeting about vaping on Thursday, October 4th at 6:00pm at FCHS Performing Arts Center. Use the QR Code to submit questions!

Lt. Governor Cagle to Host Health Care Reform Task Force Meeting

State & National

ATLANTA, June 30, 2017 – Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, along with Sens. Renee Unterman, Dean Burke, Chuck Hufstetler, Ben Watson, Kay Kirkpatrick, Jack Hill and Doc Rhett, will hold a meeting of Georgia’s Health Care Reform Task Force at Tift Regional Medical Center on MONDAY, July 10, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Members will discuss innovative reforms to advance Georgia as a national leader in delivering patient-centered health care.

The Task Force will be hear presentations from representatives of Tift Regional Medical Center, Emory University, and Dr. Keith J. Mueller, Interim Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa.

Who:                     Lt. Governor Casey Cagle

What:                    Georgia’s Health Care Reform Task Force Meeting

When:                  Monday, July 10th at 10:00 a.m.

Where:                Tift Regional Medical Center
901 18th St. Tifton, GA 31794


BKP Interviews Georgia House Speaker David Ralston

State & National

On FYN TV, BKP interviews Georgia’s District-7 Representative Speaker of the House (R-Blue Ridge) David Ralston, as they discuss President Trump’s aggressive plan for  1.5 trillion dollar infrastructure investment that was presented and highlighted at a meeting for Republican leaders including Ralston, Monday at the White House. Speaker David Ralston comments on what that means for Georgia.

Pictured below: Speaker of the House for Georgia District 7 David Ralston at this past weekends Infrastructure Meeting at the White House with Republican leaders and President Donald Trump.

Pesticide Safety Month and Apple Producers Meeting


Hundreds of people get sick each year from inappropriate pesticide use.  Pesticides are used in homes, workplaces, apartments, farms and other places where humans need to control pests such as weeds, insects, fungi, rodents and even viruses. Of the 11 states participating in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) pesticide safety program, workers reported 853 serious injuries from pesticides in 2011.  During National Pesticide Safety Education Month this February, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension personnel are urging homeowners, and all Georgians, to learn more about the safe use, storage and disposal of pesticides.

According to Dr. Mickey Taylor, UGA Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) Coordinator, “pesticide safety education is key to helping homeowners and pesticide applicators, both commercial and agricultural, safely and effectively use available pesticides to protect their homes and crops and livelihoods.  At the same time, they want to protect themselves, their employees and colleagues from any potential ill effects of pesticide use in addition to protecting their families and neighbors. As good stewards of the land, pesticide users want to preserve our environment for the future.”

UGA Extension’s PSEP promotes the safe, responsible use of pesticides by individuals and commercial groups by providing training programs, materials and educational resources covering pest identification, personal safety, safe storage and disposal of pesticides, environmental protection, pesticide drift and runoff prevention, threatened and endangered species protection, water quality protection, and food safety.

One way that UGA Extension reinforces safe pesticide usage is to conduct workshops, meetings, and trainings in which pesticide usage and safe handling is taught.  One such course coming up is the North Georgia Commercial Apple Production meeting.  It will be held on Wednesday, February 21st at the Gilmer County Public Library on Calvin Jackson Drive in Ellijay.  There are other regional trainings held for producers.  If you would like information about those trainings, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

Dr. Taylor is also the editor of the UGA Extension “Georgia Pest Management Handbook.”  The handbook is revised and published annually.  It has information about labeled pesticides that can be used by homeowners and commercial producers. Copies of the handbook are available for purchase through the UGA market place at and there are copies in the UGA Extension county offices if you would like to view one before purchase. Remember to always read the label before you use or store any pesticide.

An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution


Georgia Governor Candidate Visits FYNTV

Election, Politics

BKP Interviews GA Candidate for Governor, and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Among many topics, Kemp discusses immigration, Georgia voting machines, paper ballots, pay for law enforcement, and what Kemp’s opinion of the negotiations to bring Amazon HQ2 for Georgia.

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