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RPC Minutes; 8 Apr 24 (Approved)

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Chair Connie Howell opened the meeting stating a quorum was present, and asked Tommy Pope to offer a prayer and lead the pledge.  The minutes of 5 March 2024 were moved for approval by Scott Stewart, seconded by Commissioner Terry Jones, and were unanimously approved.

The Chair then asked County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe if he had any announcements and he did not.  A handout was provided reflecting proposed subdivision standards of Giles County, TN.  The Chair then gave a short recap on revising the county’s subdivision standards, identifying considerable work already done and including the CE’s efforts.  Of specific note was the use of Putnam County’s standards, a county similar to Giles in that no zoning is included.  She noted the concern with the existing standards as being vague, resulting in numerous developer questions.  She stated that Highway Superintendent Barry Hyatt has reviewed the proposed changes and approves them.  In addition, one of the major changes includes minimal standards for setbacks (with the CE noting that some local developers already practice what’s being proposed.)  The Chair asked if anyone had anything in the proposed standards that concerned them. 

Commissioner Terry Jones stated he had no issue with the proposed changes.  Scott Stewart asked for any additional information on surety bonds.  The CE said those bonds are often at the discretion of Barry Hyatt, especially in what needs to happen before any county road can be accepted during/after building a subdivision.  Mr. Stewart asked who collects the surety bond, with Barry Hyatt answering the county’s Financial Manager.  As noted in the standards the bond may be reduced after some or all completion, giving consideration that some development may cover several years.  Mr. Hyatt noted with the completion, the end result, the amount kept of the bond is at his discretion, and gave examples of already seeing some road failure at that time.  So the developer is not guaranteed to get the total back.  He further noted that a letter would be sent to the Planning Commission supporting or not supporting the request for the bond amount held or not held. 

Mr. Malcolm Moore addressed family-owned property and potential use of that property by other family members.  The CE referred to Section 4 of the handout which had been changed to be more descriptive of division and plats of land partitioned by the owners. 

Mr. Stewart noted that previously the standards were only about county roads, where the proposed changes provide more guidance on other areas as well.  The CE said that the most changes are about the plats, e.g., they must be surveyed by a Tennessee licensed surveyor, and a place for signatures on plat. 

Some examples were given by several members noting:   family- owned property; or subdivision developer’s work where the developer said he was selling lots only, not developing a subdivision; and a developer building individual roads connecting to a county road for each home being built.  Concerns were raised on enforcing Giles County standards in particular several years after a development that never was approved as a subdivision by the Planning Commission. 

The Chair said for changes to the county’s subdivision standards, the TCA code requires a 30-day public hearing on those changes, which per the CE must be done before presenting to the Planning Commission for a final vote.In keeping with that requirement, the Planning Commission will host that public hearing on 14 May 2024, (thereby meeting the 30-days) and will then have the Regional Planning Commission meeting immediately after the public hearing.  The CE noted the document will be available on the county website so that the public has available for review. 

The Chair then asked if the public wanted to speak, and Mr. Jason Doggett, President, along with Mr. Tony Townsend Vice-President, of the Giles County Farm Bureau Federation spoke on their balancing of a desire to not inhibit growth in Giles County residential building with a concern on vanishing farmland due to development.  For instance, over the last 20 years the US has lost 11 million acres of farmland to development.  Jason noted that a meeting is held every 2nd Friday at noon at the Farm Bureau office with 21 board members.  He encouraged all to visit.  Tony mentioned the central location of Giles, being between Maury County and Huntsville/Athens Alabama.  Both locations are some of the fastest growing locations, which means that growth will only turn toward Giles County in the near future. 

Unfinished Business – The Chair said the next meeting will be on the 14th of May at 5:00 p.m. and will allow people to speak.  Afterwards the Commission should plan on voting on the proposed changes, although that could be postponed depending on the public response.  The meeting will be posted in the paper.

A motion by Tommy Pope to adjourn was made, and with Commissioner Terry Jones providing the second, the motion was approved unanimously. 

ATTENDEES on the Commission – Chair Connie Howell, Tommy Pope, Malcolm, Scott Stewart, Tameika Russell   Commissioner Members:  Annelle Guthrie, Terry Jones (Of all Members Absent – John Haislip, Bill Myers, Commissioner Erin Curry, Kristen Pfeiffer),  Other attendees:  County Executive Graham Stowe, Road Superintendent Barry Hyatt, and Steve Kelly; Public Jason Doggett and Tony Townsend