Turnout was light Tuesday evening for a follow-up land-use planning meeting at the Liberty County Community Complex in Midway.
Only five Midway residents, not counting Liberty County Board of Commissioners Chairman Donald Lovette, attended the meeting, which was conducted by Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Planner Melissa Jones.
During the first meeting, LCPC leaders agreed to rework Midway’s land-use map to show mixed-use development along the two major thoroughfares, Highways 84 and 17. They also were asked to designate a small part of downtown Midway as well as the Liberty County Community Complex as public/institutional.
The Cay Creek Wetland Interpretative Center previously was noted as agricultural/forestry, but those attending the first meeting asked that it be re-designated as a conservation area.
“We have marked up (Midway subarea) land-use map with the changes we were asked to make,” Jones said. “Once we have your approval, we’ll take the (revised) map before the (Liberty Consolidated) Planning Commission in January. It should then go before the Liberty County Board of Commissioners and Midway City Council in February.
“The land-use map only reflects the changes we made in our last meeting. It does not change your zoning classifications. That’s one of the questions we have been asked in the past.”
One resident asked how she might get the zoning for her property changed.
Jones told her the request would have to be made through the LCPC, which would provide a document requiring specific information about the request, including if the re-zoning request is within the comprehensive plan and the city’s master plan. If it is not, she said the LCPC would not recommend approval, but that didn’t mean it would not be approved by the county commissioners.
Another question was asked about projected growth in Midway and Liberty County and how the land-use map fit it with those projections. With material from the state, Jones said LCPC is projecting a population increase in Liberty County of about 25,000 by 2020. She noted, however, that projections are difficult in any community near a military installation.
With Department of Defense forced to make troop-strength cuts and the possibility of another base closure and realignment commission, it’s harder to predict population growth, she said. She said Midway’s comprehensive land-use plan was part of the overall Liberty County Comprehension Plan, which is used as a guide by community leaders for future development that would result from an increase in population.
Still another question concerned when land owners would have an opportunity to provide their input about the land-use plan. Jones said that was the purpose of the community meetings, adding that the Georgia Department of Community Affairs does not require local government leaders to hold public meetings about land use, but she and LCPC Executive Director Jeff Ricketson felt it was important to get input from residents of each of the 12 subgroups Liberty County’s Comprehensive Plan is divided into.
Jones said the problem is that people don’t express their concern until they hear about and disagree with decisions made by those residents who did attend the public meetings.
“During the process of completing the Midway Master Plan back in 2006, we had three public hearings,” Midway city clerk Lynette Cook-Osborne said from the back of the room. “And just like the turnout now, we didn’t have much of a turnout.
“We advertised. The engineers were there. City leaders were there. We just didn’t have much input from citizens.”
Lovette pointed out that those who miss the public meetings still have voices in their community through their city-council members or county commissioners. Jones added that the county commissioners will hold two hearings before approving Midway’s updated land-use map, and there would be an opportunity to voice opinions when the new map is considered by the Midway City Council.