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Giles County Regional Planning Commission Meeting Minutes – January 9, 2024 (Approved)

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9 JANUARY 2024


The Planning Commission Chairman Connie Howell opened the meeting asking Commissioner Terry Jones to offer a prayer and lead the pledge.  The minutes of 7 November 2023 were moved for approval by Commissioner Erin Curry, seconded by Commissioner Terry Jones, and were approved unanimously.


The Chair asked if County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe had any announcements and there being none, the Chair then asked the CE to discuss the subdivision standards developed by Putnam County.  The CE said he had discussed those standards with Putnam’s Planning Director.  He related the comparison between the two counties, i.e., Putnam and Giles, and there being considerable similarities, in addition to neither county has zoning regulations.  He did note Putnam has a full time Planning Director/Engineer, and that the standards had been reviewed by a professional engineer.  The estimate to hire OHM to do a review on behalf of Giles County would be an approximate $5K – $10K fee.  In particular the CE referenced our need for a plat check list, and mentioned the Putnam standards include roads, sewers, lots, drainage, hillside development, as well as drawings and illustrations.  The CE in discussing the comparisons said the Giles County standards are more vague, resulting in developer calls, and that his desire would be to have clarity on what is desired without being too restrictive.  The chair mentioned she gets calls, for example, on what about a cul-de-sac, and current information is vague or non-existent.  She also mentioned the Putnam County standards are 68 pages in length.

Commissioner David Adams discussed an area in his district that is building 20 homes and will only have one road emptying into a county road.  Given the current standards that would not be a subdivision.  Commissioner Terry Jones said until the road is considered a county road by the Road Superintendent meaning built to the county specifics it would not be considered a subdivision.  Other areas were also mentioned, those being utilities, sewer, obtaining an address, being in the flood zone, potential erosion.  Question on which flood zone time period, 100-year flood zone, is considered was raised with Emergency Manager Bill Myers said couldn’t answer at this time but discussing how those designations change over time.  Commissioner Erin Curry mentioned previous attempts to identify funding for such an effort, as outsourcing to an engineering firm, and those efforts failing during full commission meeting(s).


At this time Mr. Chip Moore asked to speak.  He owns a farm in Giles County, but currently lives outside the county.  He has extensive experience in this area and had reviewed the Giles standards.  He offered his view on some of the problems, e.g., failing to pay attention to timing of emergency services, sidewalks must be at least five foot wide, invasive species of plants, questions on if developer fails, where does he go or do at that point, just to name a few.  Ms. Mary States was invited to speak as well and she discussed a particular situation mentioning a selling requirement by banks and surveyors on dividing two properties, less than five acres, and only one road.  However after discussing, Ms. States was told those were issues requiring legal assistance, not overseen by the Planning Commission.


Malcolm Moore stated his concern with standards, e.g., the 68 pages of the Putnam County, that are so lengthy that the full commission could reject as being too restrictive.  The Chair said what she envisioned includes what is already in the standards but needs more clarity, perhaps more points to direct within the standards.  The CE said zoning (which had been raised as a perception problem) is not the intention, as zoning is intended to regulate property owners, whereas subdivision standards are intended to guide developers with requirements that protect property owners.  Commissioner Evan Baddour thanked Mr. Moore for showing up, and suggested the standards be phrased as a learning experience to protect consumers.  Commissioner Terry Jones mentioned the one page in Putnam’s standards as being useful.  Kristen Pfeiffer mentioned water pressure and told of a fire where deaths occurred due to water being diverted, water pressure falling at the other location, and she said that needs to be in our checklist.  The CE said he would be happy to leverage Mr. Moore’s input, and would take the existing standards and the discussion, and begin drafting a revised version to bring back to the Commission.  The CE stated the draft would not be fully developed in time for the February meeting.


The Chair asked if any old business/new business, there being none, she stated the next meetings would be 6 February at five o’clock.


Bill Myers moved for adjournment, and with Commissioner Terry Jones providing the second, the meeting was adjourned.

ATTENDEES:  Members of the Commission – Chair Connie Howell, Malcolm Moore, Kristen Pfeiffer, Bill Myers (absent Tamieka Russell, Scott Stewart, John Haislip and Tommy Pope) Commissioner Members –Erin Curry, Annelle Guthrie, Terry Jones    Other Commissioners attending:   David Adams, Evan Baddour, Gayle Jones    Other:  County Executive Graham Stowe    Public:  Robert Brindley Jr, Chip Moore, and Mary States