Bulloch County Commissioners met for over three and a half hours for their regular bi-monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, November 7, 2023. The full agenda included approving the first two liquor stores in the county. Both of them are just outside the city limits. One will be located at 22963 Highway 80 East, and the second will be located at 1831 Barri Way, which is off 301 North just past the Veterans Memorial Parkway.
The Commissioners opened the meeting by receiving a presentation by Kristi Morgan with the Hospital Authority of Bulloch County. Kristi reported that the Authority presented the County with a check for $1,407,314.13 to go to the general fund providing tax relief. They also gave $139,050 in grants to local non-profits including Hearts and Hands, Feed the Boro, Bethany Assisted Living, and the American Red Cross.
The next presentation was by Marcus Toole, Community Relations Coordinator with Habitat for Humanity. Mr. Toole spoke concerning affordable housing needs in Bulloch County. Toole began by commending the Commission for approving the water and sewer between Statesboro and the City of Brooklet. One of the essential components for affordable housing requires high density. Water and sewer is critical to this being successful for high density development. Without it, it makes it impossible for an investor to install affordable housing along the sewer line.
He then shared a 2015 map prepared for the Port of Savannah by Georgia DOT showing the projected growth. This map shows DOT was expecting most of the growth from the Port of Savannah to happen around Statesboro long before the announcement of Hyundai.
"We all must plan for growth and manage it in a way that the quality of life remains good and that all of us can continue to afford to live here on the other side of this growth," Toole said. Toole then outlined types of housing.
- Affordable housing - some sort of subsidy attached. Like Habitat, which is a private subsidy, it is government housing or investment housing built with a tax credit.
- Workforce housing - can include all of the three types; housing that can house incoming workers.
- Low cost housing - relative to the rest of the housing market, it is inexpensive. Old, not in great condition, and surrounded by other houses not in great condition. Pushing 80 years, it is highly vulnerable to being replaced by more expensive housing. Similar sort of housing: trailer parks in the rural part of the county.
He sees the need for affordable housing opportunities in the county. He said most of the existing affordable housing in Bulloch is in Statsboro. And most of it is aging. Some of it is HUD, and that is not increasing. It is a mix of Section 8 and various tax credits. Again, a lot of it is aging. The most recent development of this type is the Senior Building going in the old Julia P. Bryant school.
There needs to affordable housing out in the County. There is not enough space in the city limits to accommodate this need. Density is essential to affordable housing. We need apartment complexes and smaller houses built on smaller lots.
The essential component to this is water and sewer. The quicker the better on water and sewer expansion. That is a critical component to this.
The County needs to look at accessing the various mechanisms for acquiring subsidies. Significant subsidies for infrastructure and investment in workforce housing are coming. When you get subsidies, workforce housing becomes affordable housing.
He asked he Commissioners to consider joining the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing program to help deal with the growth issues Bulloch County is facing. In doing this, they are able to help developers get an extra point when they apply for tax credits to add affordability as a component to their housing as they consider investing in Bullloch for workforce housing.
Continue reading for all of the County business covered in the meeting.
DENIED 5-1 VOTE - 1. Lewis Properties, LLP has submitted an application to rezone 3.57 acres from AG-5 to HC (Highway Commercial). The property is located at Veterans Memorial Parkway and Westside Road to build a Dollar General.
Attorney Steve Rushing spoke in favor of the rezone. Lewis Property is selling to Teramore Development. Josh Rasmusen with the developer is in the audience, and Tommy Lewis, property owner, is in attendance as well.
The traffic study they did is based on 54 parking spaces. They will seek a variance in the future to reduce parking to 36 to allow a change in the position of the building. The property is in the suburban corridor district, which allows and encourages this type of development. The Dollar General will hire 8 to 10 fulltime jobs and invest $1 million in capital construction. It is expected to generate $80k in annual sales tax revenue. There are 7,200 people living within a 2 mile radius of the site.
John Dotson spoke against the project. His family has owned the property adjacent this since 1939. The bypass was constructed in 1990 and split their land in two parts. The state built it, and they exercised the power of imminent domain to get the land. Increased traffic, noise, and lighting will cause a negative effect in the area.
Jack Deal spoke against the rezone. He lives beside this proposed rezoned property. "I spoke to you in December of last year about my objection to this. Nothing has changed since then. They have a history of armed robberies. Pulaski has been robbed at least twice. BA and residences are in gunshot range if things go wrong in an armed robbery. Traffic congestion is a concern, and this would add to this negatively. Please consider denying the rezone."
Mickey Deal is the wife of Jack. "We don't want this. Traffic is bad, and this will generate more traffic. When you go through the bypass on the intersection, you may see broken glass. Always remnants of a wreck. Multiple people have died at this intersection. I don't want to see any more. We treasure where we live. To put a Dollar General there [being] more important than people is wrong."
Attorney Rushing responded to concerns by saying it may be used for ag use, but it has been vacant and improved for all of this time. The bypass is the reason this land is located in the suburban district. Traffic is a concern to the developer; that is why they had a traffic study and will comply to any improvements that must be made.
WITHDREW - 2. Bulloch Academy, Inc. has submitted an application to rezone 0.8 acres from AG-5 to HC (Highway Commercial). The property is located on Veterans Memorial Parkway between Pulaski Road and Westside Road.
Attorney Steve Rushing said this is a tandem rezone for the Dollar General project. Since the first is denied, he asked for approval to withdraw this rezone.
APPROVED - 6-0 VOTE - 3. H2 Properties LLC. requests to rezone approximately 1 acre from R-80 (Residential 80,000) to R-40 (Residential 40,000) to allow a single-family residence. The property is located on Cypress Lake Road.
Don Marsh representing the developers spoke in favor. It's a total of three houses on five acres. The houses will be commensurate to the homes in the area.
APPROVED - 6-0 VOTE - 4. Guninder Singh requests a conditional use for the operation of a liquor store at 22963 Highway 80 East.
Guinder Singh spoke in favor of the conditional use.
Tabled to December 5th meeting - VOTE 6-0 - 5. Warren Brothers Investments, LLC. seeks to rezone 6.12 acres from R-25 (Residential 25,000) to R-3 (Residential 15,000) for a multi-family residential subdivision. The property is located on Pats Lane.
Lindsay Martin, MSO Water Systems, an agent for the applicant, spoke in favor of the rezone. There are 78 units in this area and 46 are rental. He said there was concerns about water. There are more tanks there than in Beaumont and Johnson Run subdivisions. There was a tractor, dump truck, and mechanic truck on the road this week. The dirt road is in bad shape. It is a county-maintained road. In the conditions, it was asked that we overlay the road for $40k and take responsibility for the road. The dirt road does need work on it. The paved road is in pretty good shape. The county bears some expense in this. This subdivision was approved in the 1970's to allow 4 bedrooms homes. We can build 4 bedroom houses or the same number of bedrooms in a duplex. Consider removing paving of the road and responsibility of the road from the conditions to the rezone.
Lance Hodges spoke in opposition. He has lived in this area for 33 years. His house is on a 5 acre tract. This will bring more people and more traffic into the neighborhood. It will also increase crime. In 2019, their house was broken into. Speeding, block parties, and trash are prevalent now. The road is gravel and very thin and will not take much more use, especially from the construction trucks. If these units are built, the construction trucks will tear up the roads.
Deon Hendrix read a letter from a resident with concerns about increased traffic on the deteriorating roads and increased fire protection needs.
George Jenkins spoke against the rezone. He has lived there since 1980. He gave up right of way for the paving of Billy Mikel road. The residents that are here are opposed to this. We are suffering from infrastructure deterioration.
Commissioner Timmy Rushing asked Mr. Martin where traffic will come out on Pat's Lane. He said it would exit on Pat's Lane, which is a county road.
APPROVED - 6-0 VOTE - 6. Lindsay Martin requests a conditional use for the operation of a liquor store located at 1831 Barri Way.
Lindsay Martin spoke in favor of the conditional use variance. Commissioners asked if there was a way to tie cleaning up the junk cars beside this property to approval of this variance. Mr. Martin owns this property as well and leases it to the car storage operator.
The County Manager and County Attorney said that this would be problematic to add this to this variance unless Mr. Martin agreed. There have been code violations, and the operator complied to the Magistrate Court orders.
Mr. Martin said he is willing to agree to this additional variance to clean up the car storage property. Commisoiner Mosley asked that the junk cars are removed by the time the new business opens.
WITHDREW - 7. Eagle Creek Investments, has submitted an application to rezone approximately for 42.5 acres from AG-5 (Agricultural 5 acres) to R-25 (Residential 25,000 sq. ft.) for the purpose to allow single-family residential neighborhood to be built. The property is located at 6417 Arcola Road.
CONSENT AGENDA -APPROVED - 6-0 VOTE - Except item 15 which was deferred
Minutes Approval: Tuesday October 17th, 2023 08:30 AM
1. A motion to purchase Uniforms from NAFECO
The Bulloch County Fire Department was budgeted to purchase uniforms for staff, the uniforms meet all NFPA standards and will give a professional appearance to all members on shift. The uniforms will include Department patches, name strips, badge, and collar insignia sewn on for the purchase price of $21,570.00. This purchase is through NPPGov, a cooperative purchasing program that Bulloch County Fire Department is a member of, NPPGov also meets the requirements of the AFG Grant.
2. Motion to purchase Hurst Rescue Tools from MES
The Bulloch County Fire Department was budgeted to purchase a new set of Hurst eDraulic rescue tools, for the amount of $49,996.99. The set will include; a cutter, spreaders, ram, batteries, chargers, as well as air bags and controls. This purchase will help our Department equip another engine with life saving rescue tools to better serve our citizens.
3. Approve a three-year Service Agreement/Contract with Tyler Technologies for Supervision Software
In August 2023 the Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of new supervision software for Adult Probation. The software would be purchased through Tyler Technologies, which has several other programs that are used throughout the county. The Supervision software would replace our current program (Probation Tracking System) which was developed in the mid-90's. The Probation Tracking System is outdated and lacking in the technologies which would help increase the productivity of the probation department.
Tyler Technologies was notified and provided with the Purchase Order that the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners had approved in August 2023. Tyler Technologies has provided the probation department with the Service Agreement/Contract on October 17, 2023. The service agreement was forwarded to the Count Attorney for his review. By approving the service agreement, we are entering into a three-year agreement with Tyler Technologies. The service agreement has provided the projected cost of the program for the next three years.
The New Supervision software will provide the probation department with technology that would increase the ability to communicate with probationers and provide better case management tools.
4. Resolution to Reform and Improve Mental Health Services for the Citizens of Georgia
ACCG is asking all 159 Georgia counties to adopt a resolution urging the Governor and General Assembly to continue efforts to reform and improve mental health services for the citizens of Georgia. They have stated that as the mental health crisis persists, it is incumbent upon Georgia's county officials to continue to help lead efforts with state officials to devise solutions for all Georgia residents.
5. Reject a portion of the bid received from Friendship Ford and approve the purchase of vehicles from the State of Georgia vehicle purchasing contract.
A bid for 18 vehicles was issued on September 28, 2023. The bid opening was held on October 26, 2023. Only one bid was received from Friendship Ford out of Bristol, Tennessee. A bid was emailed to two dealerships located in Statesboro, Georgia, and one dealership did not respond with contact information. A bid ad was posted in the Statesboro Herald on September 28, 2023, and posted to the County’s website and on the Georgia Procurement Registry for the duration of the bid cycle.
The State of Georgia contract prices were not yet available when the bid was issued. At the time of the vehicle bid opening the State of Georgia’s purchasing window has opened for some vehicles. A comparison has been made between the available vehicles through the state contract and the vehicles submitted on the bid. Other vehicle comparisons will be made as time allows. There is a clause in the vehicle bid that allows the County to accept the bid in whole or in part. It is recommended to reject items #1, #2, and #8 on the bid and order the two Ford Explorers and the F250 for the Fire Department through the state contract at a savings of $5,865.00 on each Explorer and a savings of $7,579.00 on the F250. By ordering these three vehicles through the state there will be a total savings of $19,309.00.
6. Motion to approve the bid submitted by SD Clifton for the EMS Building Addition and the Register Fire Station Addition/Renovation.
The Register Fire Station Addition/Renovation was originally bid on August 24, 2023. No submissions were received for the bid. It was decided to bundle the EMS Addition with the Register Fire Station project to see if interest could be generated for the projects. There was a total of 15 bids emailed on September 18, 2023 and a mandatory pre-bid held on September 28, 2023, with 11 contractors attending each meeting at the respective job sites.
An addendum was issued on October 4, 2023, with updated plans for the Register Fire Station; an add alternate for the EMS Building (adding a split face block corner to match the existing building); and extending the due date. Three submissions were received for the bid. A recommendation is made to accept the low bid submitted by SD Clifton Construction in the amount of $921,111.00 with the add alternate of $2,000.00 making the grand total for the complete project $923,111.00.
7. Approval of IBG Amended and Restated Member Agreement
Bulloch County partners with IBG Administrators, Inc. (“IBG”), who coordinates and provides an array of “in-network” medical providers under the Bulloch County Employee Health Care Plan. There is a written agreement between the parties that outlines the terms and provisions of this partnership.
A new provision under federal law requires health plans to file a “Gag Clause Prohibition Compliance Attestation,” affirming that the plan is not restricted, under any of its service agreements, from providing provider cost information or quality of care information. The first attestation is due on December 31, 2023.
The existing agreement with IBG has been amended and restated to clarify certain agreement provisions in order to ensure compliance with this new federal requirement. Other than these compliance provisions, there were no other changes to the IBG agreement. The original agreement term (7/1/2023 to 6/30/2024) and the cost remain unchanged.
Approval of the attached Amended and Restated Member Agreement is recommended.
8. Motion to Approve Progressive Insurance Release
On January 21, 2022, a vehicle accident caused damage to the pool decking at Splash in the Boro. The cost of the repair was $6,635.27. County staff filed an insurance claim to seek reimbursement from the vehicle insurance carrier, Progressive Premier Insurance Company. After reviewing the claim and associated documentation, Progressive has agreed to make full payment to cover the repair costs, but only if the County executes a written Release settling all claims against the driver, the vehicle owner, and Progressive Insurance.
9. Approve an EIP Economic Development and Construction Agreement for Aspen Aerogels
The City of Statesboro applied for and was awarded an Employee Incentive Program grant for $750,000. The City will use EIP grant funds to assist with water and sewer improvements at the Aspen Aerogels site located in the Bruce Yawn Commerce Park. The project will create 250 jobs of which 100% will be for low to moderate income persons. This agreement is part of the grant award documents.
10. Motion to approve Services Contract and Business Associate Agreement with Stealth Partner Group, LLC, for the performance of services related to Employee Health Care Plan
As part of the Employee Health Care Plan renewal for 2023/2024, the benefits broker and staff recommended a partnership with Stealth Partner Group, LLC. Services provided by Stealth include, but are not limited to, oversight and facilitation of the County's stop-loss insurance plan, pursuit of stop-loss reimbursements to the Plan, and administration of a specialized pharmacy benefit program that covers the cost of certain gene therapy drugs. The fee for these services is $1.00 per covered employee per month.
The terms and conditions of this partnership are outlined in the attached Services Contract. The parties will also enter into a Business Associate Privacy and Security Agreement which governs the handling of Protected Health Information that may be involved in the execution of the Services Contract.
The Board of Commissioners previously approved the partnership and fee as part of the Health Care Plan renewal. The requested motion approves the two written agreements that govern the administration of the program. Approval is recommended.
11. Motion to grant a 2024 alcoholic beverage renewal license for package retail beer and wine sales to certain establishments with a current 2023 license.
12. Authorize the County Manager to execute a Grant Administration Agreement with JMCM Consulting
Authorize the County Manager to execute a grant administration agreement with JMCM Consulting with regard to pre-award and post-award activities for Assistance to Firefighters Grant application. JMCM will be compensated at 5% of the YTBD award.
DEFERRED - 13. Approve the County Manager to Execute a MOU with the Willow Hill Heritage and Resource Center
Authorize the County Manager to execute a MOU with the Willow Hill Heritage and Resource Center to provide $38,000.00 for operations and maintenance for Bulloch County Recreation and Parks Department to provide mutually agreed upon programming at the facility. Financial impact of $38,000.00.
APPROVED - 6-0 VOTE - 1. Motion to enter into a Professional Services Agreement with Goodwyn Mills Cawood, LLC for planning services to develop a sub area plan for Southeast Bulloch
Staff recommends approval of the agreement with GMC in the amount of $115,000, of which $25,000 will be covered under the General Fund and $90,000 from TSPLOST. The plan developed under this agreement will contain transportation and land use input and analysis. This data will also be used to develop the update to the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Bulloch County et al in 2024.
DENIED - 6-0 VOTE - 1. Public Hearing and Resolution to Abandon a Portion of County Road No. 387 a/k/a Pless Clifton Road
- Donna and Mike Clifton spoke in favor
- Janice Jones and David Knight spoke against
Commissioners agreed there is a safety issue. They will look at signage and other ways to deter speeding and hazardous driving conditions.
The attached petition has been submitted requesting that the Commissioners consider abandoning a portion of Pless Clifton Road. In accordance with Georgia law, the Commissioners must hold a public hearing on this issue before taking action to formally abandon this portion of Pless Clifton Road.
The attached public hearing notice was published in the Statesboro Herald on Thursday, October 26th, and Thursday, November 7th, and property owners on the road were personally notified of the hearing with a letter sent via regular U.S. mail.
If, after conducting a public hearing, the Commissioners find that abandonment of a portion of County Road No. 387, also known as Pless Clifton Road, is warranted because it has ceased to be used by the public to the extent that no substantial public purpose is served by it or its removal from the county road system is otherwise in the best public interest, then the Commissioners may adopt the attached resolution to certify abandonment of this portion of the road.
DENIED - 6-0 VOTE - 2. Public Hearing and Resolution to Abandon a Portion of County Road No. 196 a/k/a Old Ephesus Church Road
The attached petition has been submitted requesting that the Commissioners consider abandoning a portion of Old Ephesus Church Road. In accordance with Georgia law, the Commissioners must hold a public hearing on this issue before taking action to formally abandon this portion of Old Ephesus Church Road.
The attached public hearing notice was published in the Statesboro Herald on Thursday, October 26th and Thursday, November 7th, and property owners on the road were personally notified of the hearing with a letter sent via regular U.S. mail.
If, after conducting a public hearing, the Commissioners find that abandonment of a portion of County Road No. 196, also known as Old Ephesus Church Road, is warranted because it has ceased to be used by the public to the extent that no substantial public purpose is served by it or its removal from the county road system is otherwise in the best public interest, then the Commissioners may adopt the attached resolution to certify abandonment of this portion of the road.
DEFERRED - VOTE 6-0 - 3. Public Hearing and Resolution to Abandon County Road No. 1082 a/k/a Jones Road
The attached petition has been submitted requesting that the Commissioners consider abandoning Jones Road. In accordance with Georgia law, the Commissioners must hold a public hearing on this issue before taking action to formally abandon Jones Road.
The attached public hearing notice was published in the Statesboro Herald on Thursday, October 26th and Thursday, November 7th, and property owners on the road were personally notified of the hearing with a letter sent via regular U.S. mail.
If, after conducting a public hearing, the Commissioners find that abandonment of County Road No. 1082, also known as Jones Road, is warranted because it has ceased to be used by the public to the extent that no substantial public purpose is served by it or its removal from the county road system is otherwise in the best public interest, then the Commissioners may adopt the attached resolution to certify abandonment of the road.
Leisha Nevil: Tonight has been the nicest meeting I have been to in a while. We are Bulloch and we have been since 1796. I have lived here for 60 years. The County is very divided right now. I live on I-16 at 301. I am not a happy camper. Nothing is easy, and nothing will make everyone happy. I put alot of the negative things out there. I will never give up on our county. If it means I have to put stuff out there about you. I want to appeal to you to remember who we are and remember that we all need to work together. We need feedback. You need to talk to your people and figure out a way to have more communication. Truly we have to work together. There will be more fighting over wells and zoning. I appreciate the fact no one attacked anyone tonight. We hold you to a higher standard and want you to represent us, at least until the next election. We do not have to give our county away.
Michael Bailey: Two things: I don't hold you to a higher standard. I hold you to the same standard I hold myself. We don't always agree. But that is OK. I grew up in Effingham County and left in 1980 and haven't been back. We need to look at the 119 curve; it is dangerous and really need to move forward with the 4 way stop sign. It has been dangerous for almost 60 years. Don't let them put a traffic circle there. Had a guy at the farm helping me last week -- a student at GS, a history major. I have a signed picture of the Flying Tigers. He had no clue who they were. The 11th of this month is Veterans Day. I thank you all for allowing me to serve you. We missed it this week, please mention this at the last county meeting. I appreciate you and will stand toe to toe.
Cassandra Mikell: Parking out here is an issue. The employees take up spaces, and it is hard to find a spot. The 2024 election will be tough, especially for handicapped voters. In regards to Marcus Toole, I disagree about Bulloch being a high density vision. His vision is not my vision. I don't want government subsidized dense housing. The ten minutes is not enough time. You need to give them more time. Please reconsider renting the room. It is hard to find meeting space in Bulloch County.
Lawton Sack: Here because of items that show up on the Consent Agenda. It does not give citizens time to make comments. Consider moving public comments to the beginning so folks can speak to them. A lot of the issue here is people feel like their voices are not heard. I encourage you to allow them to do that and change the way the Consent Agenda is.
COMMISSION AND STAFF COMMENTS
James Pope, Planning Director, reminded the Commissioners and public about three important meetings:
- Monday, November 13 from 5 am to 7 pm comprehensives plan kickoff meeting. We encourage citizens input.
- Tuesday, November 21, 8:30 am a public hearing for the comprehensive plan as part of the bi-monthly morning meeting.
- Thursday, November 16th 5 pm to 7 pm at the Randy Newman Center in Brooklet will be the second transportation plan meeting. Public input is encouraged.
Commissioner Anthony Simmons said, "I have been here a long time. I have never seen what I have over the past two or three months. We have had controversy before, but I have never witnessed citizens come up here calling me a rat and telling me that I need a Kevlar vest. Talk to me with respect and I will talk to you. But I am not going to listen to theatrics. We are all humans, we have family just like you. You would not want me to talk to you like this on the street.
I expect that if you come as a citizens, without the theatrics and screaming, and we are going to listen. For the last couple of months, we sat here and listened to God awful stuff that didn't have to be said the way it was said. Threats to us to be voted out. I have had five or six people threaten to run against me. I am still here. If you call me names and make theatrical approaches, it is not going to make it with me. I will listen if you are civil. I have been holding this in for two months. We are all humans in this building, and we need to treat each other as humans. There have also been several references to bad roads tonight. We have hundreds of miles of dirt roads, and our road department are doing their best."
Commissioner Timothy Rushing added, "Folks wonder why we don't talk back. We are listening. We need to be educated. We can tell in five minutes if you know what you're talking about. Remember that. We are listening and appreciate your input."
No action taken.
CLICK HERE to view the agenda and supporting documents.
Due to the length of the meeting and the municipal elections occurring simultaneously we did not get comments from everyone who spoke at the meeting. However, the full meeting live stream is below.
The live stream of the entire meeting is below: