The Liberty County Board of Commissioners approved a false-alarm ordinance at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening.
Despite the absences of District 2 Commissioner Justin Frasier, District 4 Commissioner Pat Bowen and District 6 Commissioner Eddie Walden, a quorum was present, and the ordinance passed unanimously.
Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Dennis Davis presented the ordinance to the board for approval. Davis said that in 2012 and ’13, the sheriff’s office responded to a total of 1,904 alarm calls, and that 70 alarms were responded to last month alone.
According to Davis, a false-alarm call can tie up a deputy for 20-30 minutes. Davis also said that 85 percent of the time, the property owners do not show up in response to the alarm.
The ordinance will impose a fee relative to the number of false alarms responded to at any one location within a 12-month period.
The first four false alarms re-sponded to will incur no charge, with a letter being sent to the property
owner on the fourth call informing them that the next false alarm will incur a fee. The fifth false alarm will result in a $100 fee, as will each subsequent false alarm up through 10.
False alarms 11-20 will incur fees of $150 apiece; 21-30 are assessed at $200 per, and false alarms 31 and beyond will result in fees of $300 per occurrence.
False alarms activated by electrical interruptions or natural disasters will be classified as exceptions and will not incur a fee. The ordinance also allows for a review board, which will hear appeals to false-alarm determinations.
Though the ordinance is effective immediately, County Administrator Joey Brown said it will take time to get necessary requirements in place and targets Aug. 1 as a tentative date of enforcement.
In other business, the commission:
• approved the adoption of Faithland Road for county maintenance purposes. The motion passed three to one, with District 5 Commissioner Gary Gilliard opposed.
• unanimously approved a conditional use request by Mary C. Hines to operate a child-care center on E. Oglethorpe Highway.
• unanimously approved a variance request by Billy E. West to build a garage in front of his home on Screven Fork Road.
• approved a memorandum of understanding related to a Gateway grant. The $39,180 grant will fund a beautification project at the intersection of Highways 17 and 196.
• approved the signing of the intergovernmental agreement between Liberty County and the cities of Allenhurst, Flemington, Gum Branch, Hinesville, Midway, Riceboro and Walthourville. The agreement is related to the disbursement of SPLOST 2015 funds, should the referendum pass in November.
• approved a motion to show intent to match funds required in accessing more than $5 million in funding assistance for the runway extension project at MidCoast Regional Airport. The $900,000 in state funds and $4.3 million in federal funding will require a match of approximately $1.4 million from Liberty County. The matching funds are provided for in the upcoming SPLOST referendum. Should the referendum fail to pass, the match will be split between the airport’s three funding entities — the city of Hinesville, Liberty County and the Liberty County Development Authority.