The Bulloch County Planning & Zoning Board is set to hear arguments on a proposed rezoning application in south Bulloch County. The land at Highway 67 off I-16, currently zoned agricultural, would be change the 4,682 acre plot to ‘light industrial’ in an effort to expand economic development efforts for the county and the region.
Not without opposition, though.
The issue has proved controversial as those who support the rezoning and recruitment for industrial entities say the county needs more jobs and development while those against say the change would disrupt the agriculture community, harm endangered species and widlife, and drain groundwater resources while costing the county in infrastructure improvements.
Though the decision is one ultimately left to the local Board of Commissioners, Liuetenant Governor Casey Cagle and State Representative Ron Stephens have both weighed in in favor of the project, as has the districts State Senator, Jack Hill. Because of the statewide influence, many Bulloch County residents are wondering where the current state representative, Jan Tankersely, and her opponent, Major Woodall, stand on the issue.
Tankersley responded by email saying:
“This rezone request is a local government decision that rests with the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners. I have not seen either of the letters you (AllOnGeorgia) referenced from Lt. Governor Casey Cagle or Representative Ron Stephens and I would not presume to know what their intentions were, but I do know that elected state officials do not have authority to intervene in local zoning decisions…Over the years I served as a county commissioner, I can tell you these decisions are not easy to make and this is one they will not take lightly.”
Tankersley also forwarded the correspondence she sent to the County Manager requesting to be placed in the commissioner and P&Z packets:
“I am respectfully requesting that you instruct the county clerk to make this email a part of the Planning and Zoning and Board of Commissioners’ packets. As you know, I have the utmost respect for both of these boards but at the same time I think you all should know that a lot of concern has been expressed about elected state officials weighin in on this matter and whether or not this will impact either board’s decision. I have heard from a number of constituents by phone who are adamantly opposed to this rezone request and they are doing all that they can to make sure that their concerns are heard.”
Woodall said in a prepared statement:
“As a leader who is committed to supporting and putting forth ideas that lead to both economic innovation and environmental sustainability, I am strongly opposed to the plans to convert 4,682 acres of agriculture timberland and wetland here in Bulloch County into an Industrial Park, which unfortunately serves neither. The Bulloch Bay is one of the critical elements of what makes this community unique, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes, along with thousands of other citizens, to ensure that does not happen.”
The two will face off in the November election. Tankersley was elected as a Republican in 2010. Woodall is running as a Democrat.
The Planning and Zoning Board will meet on Thursday, September 8th at 6:00 P.M. at the Bulloch County Annex. Regardless of the decision by the Planning & Zoning Board, the measure will be heard before the Bulloch County Commissioner at the regular meeting on Tuesday, October 5th at 5:30 P.M.