Outback can now put these kinds of signs at its Dawson County location after Planning Commission's vote
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Here are five highlights from the last Board of Commissioners meeting of 2021
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Planning Director Shannon Farrell speaks to the Dawson County Board of Commissioners during their Dec. 16 voting session.

After lively public comment two weeks ago about the forthcoming short-term rental ordinance, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners approved the measure with a 60-day delayed implementation. 

That time period will give the Planning Department enough time to create the necessary forms and orient the growing marshal’s office to their duties relevant to the ordinance, said director Shannon Farrell. 

The commissioners took into the consideration the various concerns raised on Dec. 2 about experience with audio and visual nuisances, as well as safety and parking problems. 

This ordinance includes language that any usage of vacation rentals be for at least a two-night stay. The parking ratio was changed to be one space per bedroom, and short-term rental permits will be issued in one-year increments. 

After Commissioner Emory Dooley asked how nuisances that aren’t noise-specific would be addressed by the ordinance, Jarrard & Davis LLP attorney Molly Esswein explained that there are more general laws that do address problems like late-night lights. 

“We’d have to look at those on a case-by-case basis to see if what’s occurring would rise to that level to bring it back to you for a possible hearing,” Esswein said. 

With the growth of the Marshal’s Office, made possible in part by the recently-passed FY 2022 budget, Commissioner Tim Satterfield said that marshals could work on-call or alternating shifts on nights and/or weekends so they can go out to rental sites and immediately take care of reported nuisances. 

“A lot of complaints we get…are on the weekends,” he said. “We go out on a Monday, and they (visitors) are gone.”

“When we do these ordinances sometimes, it all comes down to ‘How can we enforce it?,’” said Commissioner Chris Gaines.  

Following the ordinance’s adoption, Gaines called the measure a good “starting point” as he and the other commissioners continue to gain input from the public and others. 

“This is a new thing that’s upon us and other communities,” he said, “so we’ve got to start somewhere.”

Possible cell tower tabled 

The vote on a cell tower near the Dawson and Lumpkin County lines has been tabled until the Board of Commissioners meeting on Feb. 3, 2022. 

If the commissioners approved a special-use permit for the Verizon tower, it would be located near the intersection of Ga. 52 and Wesley Chapel Road. 

Commissioner Gaines added the conditions that the applicant perform another balloon test before Feb. 3 and that the commissioners will be there for that event. Gaines clarified that just having the balloon test won’t guarantee passage of the special-use permit. 

During the November Planning Commission meeting, neighbors to the proposed cell tower site said such a structure would constitute visual blight and a degradation of their property values and reasons for buying, much of which centers around appreciating the surrounding landscape.

Permit applicant Greg Spence and presenter David Kirk announced that the plans for the tower now have it moved back an additional 300 feet from the road, eliminating the need for the previously-requested variance. If the Planning Commission had approved that variance last month, the tower’s precise spot would have been allowed to be slightly less than the required three-mile distance from an existing tower to the south. 

The new proposed location will still have the tower at a height under 200 feet, so the tower would still not need lights that the FAA requires for taller towers. 

Subdivision application withdrawn

Developer consultant Jim King withdrew his client’s application for a proposed 379-home subdivision off of Ga. 9 and Goodson Road after much community outcry. 

During the Planning Commission’s October meeting, nearby neighbors raised concerns about the density of the subdivision because of property topography, lacking amenities such as parking and the impact of increased traffic on parents commuting to schools and emergency response vehicles. 

These concerns were repeated during a meeting at Rock Creek Park on Nov. 17, where King and the client sought more neighbor input. 

Then, at the BOC session the next night, the board granted King the motion to postpone a vote on the zoning and variance application, citing his request before that time. Following that, a letter was sent to the board saying that King was taking a renewed look at site plans. 

But just like with the postponement, since a vote on the proposed subdivision had already been advertised by the county, Chairman Billy Thurmond had to present the commissioners with the options of going ahead and hearing the application or approving the applicant’s request to withdraw it. 

Position updates 

For 2022, District 4 commissioner Emory Dooley will continue to be the vice chair for the Board of Commissioners. 

As for the Planning Commission, Jason Hamby has been reappointed for District 1 for a 2022 term, with Seth Stowers being reappointed as his alternate. Tim Bennett was reappointed to the District 3 spot, with Jean Maryanski as his alternate. 

BOC meeting change

Starting in 2022, Board of Commissioners voting sessions will occur directly after the work sessions, which begin at 4 p.m. in the Dawson County Government Center’s Assembly Room. 

The BOC’s first meeting of the new year will be on Jan. 20, 2022.