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Fence makes for bad neighbors
Commission tables action on Yellow Bluff dispute
John McIver2
County Commission Chairman John McIver says, "In the five years I have been in office, this is the most negative issue we have faced — a fence." - photo by Courier file photo
The controversial Yellow Bluff fence should be reconstructed to comply with Liberty County zoning rules within 60 days, according to a county commission decision Tuesday.
The 60-day delay included in a motion by Commissioner Eddie Walden is in effect a disapproval of the Yellow Bluff Development’s request for a zoning variance to allow an eight-foot fence that has been the subject of Liberty County Planning Commission deliberations, a lawsuit and much public discussion.
Early in the marathon meeting, LCPC Director Sonny Timmerman reported his staff recommended denial of the variance because none of the conditions specified in the zoning ordinance were met. But the LCPC had voted for a second time to send the fence variance request to the commissioners with a “no comment” recommendation.
Commissioner Marion Stevens, who represents the district that includes Yellow Bluff, made a motion to deny the variance for the fence, as recommended by the LCPC staff. His motion died when no other commissioner would second it.
Commissioner Kenny Fussell then made a motion to approve the variance. He said he did so reluctantly, and he said no conditions or limitations could be attached to a variance approval.
Fussell asked Yellow Bluff attorney Jeff Arnold for what period of time the variance was requested: “Is this for 2,000 years?”
Arnold replied, “in perpetuity.”
Savannah attorney William Glass argued against the fence variance, representing H. Lee Johnson whose property adjoins the fence. (Glass also represents Johnson and his neighbors, Gary Barnes, Buddy Anderson and Rachel Turner in a civil suit against Yellow Bluff.)
As discussion continued, Commission Chairman John McIver noted that, “In the five years I have been in office, this is the most negative issue we have faced — a fence!”
No second was heard for Fussell’s motion. After a discussion of parliamentary procedure, sometimes heated, Walden said he would second, proviproviding the fence would be brought into compliance within 60 days. Eventually he made his own motion effectively disapproving the variance, but granting 60 days for it to conform.
Walden’s motion passed 6-1 with Stevens voting no.
More Yellow Bluff discussions lay ahead as the commissioners worked through their agenda. Gary Barnes had requested time to present his concerns about Yellow Bluff.
Barnes is a Statesboro developer who has changed his residence to 295 Oyster Point Dr. at Yellow Bluff. He related to the commissioners the history of his connection to Yellow Bluff and numerous concerns that had arisen as the Yellow Bluff Development company purchased the fishing camp and surrounding land as a site for an upscale residential community.
Among his targets were street layout, small or nonexistent cul-de-sacs, fire protection, at least two fences, placement of electrical boxes and other matters.
Arnold wanted to reply to Barnes, but McIver said,  “That’s not the way it’s going to happen.” He explained that Barnes had requested to appear on the commissioners’ agenda, while, “There was no request from Yellow Bluff to be on the agenda.”  The chairman told Arnold he would graciously grant him a place on a future agenda if requested.
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