The decision to change the ordinance was made to avoid conflicting with Second Amendment issues raised by a Georgia gun rights organization.
The action eliminates the word “firearms” from a list of items whose sales could be suspended in case of a local disaster declared by the county commission chairman. The wording was questioned in a Jan. 18 letter, hand-delivered to commission Chairman Marty Smith, by James Camp of Temple, representing GeorgiaCarry.org.
In recommending the amendment, County Attorney Cynthia Daley said the ordinance was drafted 11 years ago from a model provided by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.
As originally worded, the ordinance says that in times of local disasters or emergencies the commission chairman could “suspend the sale, distribution, dispensing or transportation of firearms, alcoholic beverages, explosives and combustible products and can close businesses which sell them.”
“My recommendation is that we remove it (the word ‘firearms’),” Daley said. “I can’t think of any incidence where it would be used.”
Camp was in attendance at the meeting, but did not speak.
The vote was 6-0 in favor of the amendment, with District 1 Commissioner Trent North absent.
GeorgiaCarry.org has filed legal court cases against similar ordinances in other locations and has been successful in many cases of getting the laws removed, according to the organization’s website. The group has also asked the city of Carrollton to remove firearms as one of the prohibited items from the GreenBelt trail, but the city hasn’t yet acted on the request. The February city council meeting, which would have been held Monday, was canceled.
The BOC also approved a budget amendment by a 6-0 vote. The action increased revenues and appropriations for the current year by $50,023.
It also moved $13,659 from the contingency expense line item to various other accounts, including: McIntosh park workers compensation expense, $2,000; Carroll County park workers compensation expense, $5,000; planning and zoning program expense, $159; and community development workers compensation expense, $6,500. The amendment also transferred $128,000 funds from animal control to the correctional institute due to a departmental change.
The BOC quickly approved one zoning action but tabled another, requesting additional information.
The board approved by a 6-0 vote a request from Helen Eidson for a conditional use permit to divide out a 1.75-acre tract with a mobile home from 73.34 acres at 668 Bell Road, Bremen.
On a motion from District 6 Commissioner George Chambers and a second by District 5 Commissioner Kevin Jackson, the board voted 5-1 to table a rezoning request by Harry Lawson, who owns a meat processing business at 6579 Mt. Zion Road, Waco. District 4 Commissioner John Wilson cast the sole dissenting vote.
Lawson requested the amendment of the zoning ordinance and map to rezone a 2-acre tract from agricultural (A) to commercial (C) zoning. He said the property would be joined with an additional 28 acres he already has in commercial use with his business. He said the 2 acres would be used for additional parking and a building addition on the back side of the property.
A neighbor, James Watson, spoke in favor of the rezoning.
But three other neighbors spoke in opposition, questioning possible additional traffic in the area and harm to nearby property that is used for agricultural purposes.
“This would be a warehouse to ship meat products and this is a residential area,” neighbor Lee Benefield, who lives across Highway 16 from the plant, said. “It’s not a good fit for the neighborhood.”
Diane Reeves, who owns 3 acres across the road, said, “I think this would create a lot of hazards and more traffic. We have a lot of farm animals and children in the area.”
In rebuttal, Lawson said he plans to build a house on the property and live there with his family.
“I’m not concerned with the traffic,” he said. “We already have a lot of poultry trucks and logging trucks on the road. I plan to be there for the long term. Our safety record speaks for itself. Most of the neighbors I’ve spoken with have no opposition; they’re good with it.”
In the motion to table the request until the next BOC meeting, Chambers said he’d like to see clarification from the planning department about past zoning on the site and for the county to consult with the Georgia Department of Transportation about load limits on the highway.