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Liberty BOC tables rezoning request
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Rev. Vernecia Mells, center, addresses the Liberty County Board of Commissioners Tuesday regarding a rezoning request, as Minister Houston, left, and his wife Althea Houston, right, look on. - photo by Denise Etheridge

The Liberty County Board of Commissioners tabled a rezoning request filed by Mike D. Howe to rezone his property from AR-1 (Agricultural Residential District) to B-2 (General Commercial District) during a regular meeting on Sept. 4. Commissioners raised concerns about the property and reasoned a 90-day delay would give the county time to gather more information.

Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission planner Alan Seifert informed the commission that the 4.77 acres was located on the north side of Barrington Ferry Road at the intersection of South Coastal Highway. The property could be used to operate a semi-truck and auto equipment repair facility should it be rezoned and a conditional use permit be granted. Seifert said the request for a conditional use permit would be a separate application from the rezoning request.

Seifert presented county commissioners a zoning analysis which states the property is designated as a mixed-use rural corridor. The analysis also determined the property, “is at a precarious location near multiple intersections,” and can be considered spot zoning.

The aerial map of the land presented was not an accurate representation of what the property currently looks like, according to District 1 Commissioner Marion Stevens, Sr., who lives near the area.

Stevens questioned why the petition didn’t mention there is a church adjacent to the property or that trees had been cleared in the area. Stevens also said he saw truck tires on the property that could be breeding mosquitoes.

Seifert was asked if a permit was obtained to clear the land and if letters were sent out to neighboring residents about the rezoning petition. He replied he didn’t know if a land disturbing permit had been obtained, and said letters to adjacent property owners were sent out by standard mail. Commissioners suggested that in the future the LCPC send such letters by certified mail.

“How tall is the cell tower? Is it in the fall zone?” Commissioner Eddie J. Walden asked, concerning the facility’s location on the property. Stevens added that Howe tried to turn on power to a mobile office and wasn’t successful. 

Members of The New Outreach for Christ Center, which is adjacent to the property, said they never received a letter informing them of the rezoning petition.

“We are concerned with it being in close proximity,” said Reverend Vernecia Mells. “There is nothing safe about 18-wheelers pulling out onto that street.”

Former Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver, who attended the meeting, said he was worried that rezoning the property could cause possible depreciation to new houses being built in the area.

The BOC voted to table the petition for 90 days to investigate whether a land disturbing permit had been obtained.

“We’re trying to be consistent with how we handle these things,” Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette said.

The BOC voted in favor to enter a contract with Carroll and Carroll to resurface the Liberty Independent Troop Park track. The bid from Carroll and Carroll was $640 less than the bid proposed in June of this year. 

Commissioners also approved an amendment to the school officer memorandum of understanding. The amendment to the memorandum will formally authorize payment to the BOC, a sum equal to the actual pay of the deputy designated as the school resource officer.   

A resolution to the 911 charges on prepaid wireless fees was approved as well as an amendment to the applicable work week for employees. 

Annual and semiannual releases of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 6 funds to the East End Clinic were approved by the commission. The East End Center Gymnasium proposal was postponed another two weeks.

The Board of Commissioners mid-month meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Sept. 20 in the commissioners’ boardroom. 

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