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Chair Thompson Breaks Tie, Approves Rezoning at Commission Meeting

Chairman Thompson made the tie breaking vote to rezone a property adjacent to Youngblood Road from a Residential-25 to Residential-15, after developers received approval from the EDP to utilize a community septic-sewage system. Residents of homes near the proposed subdivision spoke in opposition to the request. Click on the picture to read all County business covered at the meeting.
Bulloch County Commissioners at their April 2 meeting

Bulloch County Commission Chair Roy Thompson cast the deciding vote after a 3-3 tie on a rezone request at the bi-monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, April 2, 2024.  This is only the second time in 8 years as chair he has had to cast a vote to break a tie. 

The rezone from R-25 to R-15 was for a new single family residential neighborhood on Youngblood Road.  They also were presented with proposed updates to the Comprehensive Plan and approved joining a housing study with other counties in the area.

Continue reading for all business covered by the Commission.

Commissioner Timmy Rushing began the meeting with a moment of silence for Jay Knox, a Bulloch County Public Works employee who died in a tragic car accident last week. He then gave a prayer and led the pledge of allegiance

UNANIMOUS APPROVAL 1. Discussion an/or Action on Employee Health Insurance Recommendations for fiscal year 2024/2025 RESOURCE PERSON/FACILITATOR: Human Resources Director Cindy Mallett

With all board members present, Cindy Mallet, the County Human Resource Director began a presentation about Employee Health Insurance recommendations.

A MARK III consultant recommended switching to Medical and Dental Administration by CIGNA for the 24-25 fiscal years effective 7/1/24.  CIGNA was chosen for its robust network and sophisticated administrative platform.

County Manger Tom Couch was involved with the interviewing process with CIGNA and said that the switch will be beneficial for employees, and says he supports MARK III's recommendation, stating as well that it is cost effective to switch to CIGNA.


  1. APPROVED - Brian Scott Reddick submitted an application for the conditional use of allowing a facility to host private and public functions. The property is located at 10143 Hwy. 80 East, Parcel No. 163 000029 000.

Reddick's letter of intent stated that the property would be used for weddings, business parties, family reunions and other events. He also intends to build his home on the property after the venue’s construction.

Reddick says the venue will be a high-end barndominium. With no further discussion the request was approved with the following conditions:

  1. A minimum of two handicapped parking spaces are required and they shall be paved.

  2. No unlicensed alcohol sales are permitted.

  3. Uses of buildings to host public functions includes but is not limited to weddings,

    receptions, dinners, festivals, and socials.

  4. The site shall be permitted to build a maximum of two dwelling structures with adequate

    livable space for use by the event lessee. Long term rental of housing structures shall be prohibited. A primary single family structure shall be allowed as a permanent residence of the property owner.

  5. Expansion of any new or existing structures to accommodate the proposed uses will require application for a new conditional use.

  6. Buffers and Screening: All provisions of sections 405, 406, and 407 shall apply. Specifically, a buffer 50 feet in width (or 25’ with approved fence) shall be planted and maintained along the following property boundaries: East, West, & South. A minimum vegetative buffer of 15 feet in width shall be planted and maintained along the north property line. Existing natural plantings may be maintained as a buffer around the property to minimize the visual impact upon adjacent properties.


  1. UNANIMOUS APPROVAL - Raybon Anderson has submitted an application for a conditional use to locate a 195-foot tower to be used for telecommunications equipment. The property is located on Jim Waters Road, Parcel No. 080 000019 000 & 080 000019 001.

This telecommunication tower is to be built and operated by Verizon Wireless. This proposed tower will be able to accommodate at least four additional carriers. Verizon representatives say that the company is committed to sharing its towers for additional use and carriers to eliminate the need for the construction of more towers in the area whenever possible.

Wendy Doyle, representative of Doyle Consulting Inc and Verizon Wireless as well, says that Verizon discovered a hole in their coverage through complaints from customers in South Bulloch county. Verizon is proposing to fill this gap to improve capacity and coverage issues so phone calls and other smart device uses are improved. All FAA and FCC recommendations are met.


  1. WITHDRAWN - Eagle Creek Construction, Inc. has submitted an application to rezone approximately 42.5 acres from AG-5 (Agricultural 5 acres) to R-40 (Residential 40,000 sq. ft.) for the purpose to allow a single-family residential neighborhood to be built. The property is located at 6417 Arcola Road, Parcel No. 163 000018 000.

The Planning and Zoning Commission denied by a 6-0 vote. There are presumed negative impacts to law enforcement, EMS/Fire capabilities and other county services. 

John Dodson spoke on behalf of the developer who asked that the rezone request be withdrawn.

With discussion about how the item has now been denied once and withdrawn twice, the request was honored and the item was withdrawn.


  1. APPROVED 4-3 - Star Equity Development, LLC, has submitted an application to rezone approximately 32.35 acres from R- 25 (Residential 25,000 sq. ft.) to R-15 (Residential 15,000 sq. ft.) to allow for the development of a single- family residential neighborhood. The property is located at Youngblood Road, Parcel No. 107 000033 000.

The Planning and Zoning Commission denied the request by a 6-0 vote. Staff recommends approval with the following conditions:

1. The principal uses approved for this property will be a R-15 single-family district as represented by this application with exception to any bonus density allowed by ordinance

 2. All structures must be site-built traditional construction according to state minimum building codes. No manufactured or industrialized structures shall be permitted.

Planning and Development Director James Pope detailed background information . This was a previously approved as R-25 subdivision but soil was not suitable for septic systems. Roads and infrastructure were built but the property has been vacant. New developers plan to pump sewage to a community septic system near by as allowed under the R-15 classification.

Don Marsh represented Star Equity Development and explained that Lindsey Martin’s community system is 1,800 feet away from the proposed subdivision. With R-15 classification the developer can reduce lot frontage and as a result there is the potential for the original 47 lots to increase to 57 lots.

Diane Kingery spoke against approval. Kingery lives in Hamilton subdivision across from the development and was concerned about an engineered septic system. She is also concerned about the rezoning because the property adjoining the subject property is owned by Robert Bell and she is worried they may try to develop and rezone this area to R-15 as well. She says this would negatively impact her property value. Kingery requests the commissioners follow the recommendation of the planning and zoning board and deny the request.

Dustin Gilfoil said the project needs to be studied deeper and the septic system.

Fred McCoy spoke against as well stating, “We don’t need an additional number of housing when they can’t accommodate what they’ve got.”  

Lindsey Martin spoke in favor of the development stating that it has been engineered and approved by the EPD already.

Commissioner Jappy Stringer asked if there was a similar existing system and Martin said yes, replying that there is a system on the corner of Talon’s Lake apartments as well as in planters row housing.

Martin says the system connected to the property was inspected three weeks ago and that four test wells check for sewage related chemicals in the ground water, and results are sent to private labs and the state. EPD tests happen every month and every six months a series of more extensive tests are required.

This subdivision already has well water infrastructure including two 6-inch wells supplying water to two existing subdivision.

Septic tanks in the proposed homes will pretreat the waste water so the waste water flowing into the drainage field will just be brown water.

Kingery rebuted that the drainage field  is unsightly. She is unconcerned with the losses of the development company but is concerned about the loss of her property value and doesn't want more density of homes.

Justin Randall says that he knows the drain field is a done deal, but says the pattern of rezoning, the moving of the zoning from R-4- to R-25, has been a domino like affect at worries that area is going to be changed. 

Commissioner Stringer asked Pope if there were other R-15s in the area. Pope said the duplex near this property on Amanda Road is an R-2. Pope says this area is going to feel pressures of growth in Statesboro and the future zoning plan could allow these changes and recognizes that the development and sewer introduction wouldn’t change current land characteristics.

Fred McCoy says that constructing smaller, inexpensive homes will depreciate the value of established larger subdivisions and homes.

Commissioner Anthony Simmons motioned that the request be approved with conditions - The vote ended in a 3-3 tie

Chairman Thompson says this is the second time in 8 years he's had to break a tie. Thompson accepted staff approval and broke the tie with an approval


  1. The Bulloch County Planning and Development Department proposes to adopt an update to the comprehensive plan "Smart Bulloch 2045: A Joint Comprehensive Plan for a Better Tomorrow." A Joint Comprehensive Plan for Bulloch County, City of Brooklet, Town of Register and Town of Portal.

James Pope brought the update forward for input and consideration from the commission. The proposed draft plan will be brought to commissioners in mid April.


View the updated Smart Bulloch 2045: A Joint Comprehensive Plan for a Better Tomorrow Packet on the April 2, 2024 County Commission Packet starting on page 50.


  1. Minutes Approval: Tuesday March 19th, 2024 08:30 AM
  2. Motion to approve a splash pad resurfacing project at Splash in the Boro Waterpark

The resurfacing of the splash pad at Splash in the Boro Waterpark is on rotation to be refinished every four years. The old surface has already been removed in house to cut down on the cost of this project.

Sealed bids for this project were accepted and opened on February 22, 2024. Of the two bids submitted, Robertson Industries, Inc. with a bid of $122,185.80, met all criteria.

It is the recommendation of Alex Estrada, Aquatics Manager, to accept the bid from Robertson Industries, Inc.

  1. Motion to approve a repair order for the Courthouse Elevator by Vertical Lift Systems of Statesboro

The elevator in the State Courthouse is due for a modernization upgrade. This upgrade will bring the elevator up to state code 2019 compliance. The maintenance agreement is with Vertical Lift of Statesboro. The cost of the modernization upgrade to the State Court Courthouse elevator is $95,450.00.

  1. Motion to approve the purchase of an Ambulance Chassis and Remount

On February 29, 2024, an ambulance was involved in a motor vehicle crash, totalling the chassis(frame). The Emergency Medical Services Department received a quote for a new chassis and the remount of the old ambulance module, at the cost of $132,777 from CUSTOM TRUCK AND BODY WORKS.


  1. Motion to approve the purchase of a replacement door on Hangar #3 at the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport

The budget was $40,000 and the lowest bid from Hawk Construction came in at $36,760.

  1. Motion to approve the nominations of Brannen Smith, Gary Mikell, and Dr. Brian Deloach to serve on the Hospital Authority of Bulloch County

(Nothing in the packet about this one)

  1. Motion to enter into negotiations with the most qualified responsive firm for right of way acquisition services for S&S Greenway Phase 3

For completion of the S&S Greenway Phase 3 design, the County will be required to acquire 0.296 acres of right of way for drainage improvements,0.506 acres of easements for maintenance of slopes, 0.042 acres of easements for driveway reconstruction, and 0.099 acres of easements for fence relocation. These acquisitions involve 14 parcels, with 29 separate acquisitions. These right of way acquisitions are required to meet state and federal design standards. All costs for the right of way acquisitions are eligible for reimbursement through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant which Bulloch County has for this project. Bulloch County executed a contract with GDOT in February (approved at the February 6, 2024 Commission meeting) for reimbursement of right of way acquisition activities. The County will be reimbursed for 80% of the costs (for up to $310,000), and the 20% local matching funds will come from TSPLOST. The right of way acquisitions must be conducted according to state and federal guidelines because it is being funded by the TAP grant.

Upon completion of appraisals done by a GDOT-certified appraiser, the County will initiate right of way acquisitions. Following state and federal guidelines for procurement, Bulloch County advertised this solicitation on the Georgia Procurement Registry, Statesboro Herald, Bulloch County Procurement Website, and also sent the solicitation to 14 GDOT-certified firms in our area. The County received submissions from four firms on March 7, 2024, as detailed in the attached memo from the Purchasing Manager. The submissions have been scored according to scoring criteria in the solicitation, and staff is requesting approval to begin cost negotiations with the highest scoring firm. The County Engineer recommends approval of this motion.


  1. Motion to approve a contract with IAR Realty, LLC, in the amount of $30,420.00 for valuation appraisal services for S&S Greenway Phase 3, to be funded by TAP Grant (80%) and TSPLOST (20%)

IAR Realty was selected by staff for negotiations for this contract based on criteria in the Request for Proposals (RFP) for appraisal services for the S&S Greenway Phase 3 Project. IAR met all requirements in the RFP and is certified by GDOT for appraisal services. The estimated cost for valuation appraisal services in this contract was $56,875. IAR has proposed a contract amount of $30,420, which is well below the estimated cost. The County Engineer recommends approval of this contract.

  1. Motion to approve the purchase of an industrial mixer for the Bulloch County Correctional Institute

The Bulloch County Correctional Institute was approved for the purchase of an industrial mixer for the kitchen to replace the current mixer. The current mixer has reached its end-of-life and the repairs are becoming cost prohibitive. Trimark gave the lowest quote of $26,578.00. Approval is recommended to approve the purchase from Trimark.

  1. Motion to approve a Contract with Skillet Kitchens, LLC to provide food service at the BCCI and Bulloch County Jail Facilities

The contract includes a price increase of 5.3% due to the rising employee labor costs and rising food cost.


County Manager Tom Couch gave his sincere condolences to Jay Knox's family and spoke on how it was his honor at being able to attend his funeral.

1. APPROVED - Motion to Approve an Intergovernmental Agreement for Housing Market Needs Assessment and Planning Services

Bulloch County has been asked to participate in a regional housing study with the other participating entities including, Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham counties and the City of Savannah. Each entity has been asked for $20,000 to match 50% of a state grant from the Department of Community Affairs. The Georgia Tech Research Center will conduct the study. There are also several other value added tasks included such as a cost of services study and future impact simulation modeling for each entity.

Find the full proposal on the April 2, 2024 County Commision Packet starting on page 155.

Discussions have been occurring around housing since Hyundai’s Meta Plant was announced according to County Manager Couch. He says these studies would give us a baseline for pursuing impact fees, as state law requires impact studies. He says this will give us another tool in the planning tool box. It was approved that the county would take part in the study.


Markus Tool, Resource Development Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity, expressed his support of the future planning map and the housing study. He says the study will help entities applying for government grants for housing. He noted that he does not support concentrating wealth or poverty through housing, as it does not foster community.

Keith Howard, a candidate for Sheriff, gave comment for his disapproval of the particular direction of growth in the county, and suggests attendees register to vote and participate in the upcoming election. Howard says their is a need for more transparency within the county.

Jimmy DeLoach says that although we disagree as citizens, we cannot attack the Board of Commissioners. He does not like his taxes being raised and does not believe that the will of the people was represented in the budget plan, but knows commissioners are trying to do their job. He says that tax payers are affected by short term impact of the tax raises, but the commission is obligated to look into the future, and in this way he understands the decision that was made in increasing taxes.


Randy Tillman, Public Safety Director, introduced Fire Chief Ben Tapley and EMS Director Brian Hendrix who gave updates for the public about their departments.

Tapley reported 3,150 calls in 2023 and over 900 calls in the first 3 months of this year. They responded to 88 actual fires this year, with Statesboro and Bullloch County working together to respond to structure fires.

Hendrix then thanked Tapley for his team and help, next reporting that his dispatch responded to 2640 calls last year, and this year is mirroring the same patterns

He says collections are up over $100,000 from last quarter. With the increase funding by the Commissioners they were able to hire 13 people last year as well as add two new stations.  Hendrix is incredibly proud of our public safety family.

The men were asked how much an ambulance and a fire truck cost each, which they reported was $400,000 and $850,000 respectively.

Chairman Thompson says they often get questions about why they have raised taxes, and says it is important that people know that these funds are being used to service them.

"We don't want to raise taxes but we have to, or we are going to watch houses burn and we are going to watch people die," said Thompson.

Commissioner Stringer shared his satisfaction with the public safety sector.

Commissioner Ray Mosely says it is good to be able to tell citizens what they are doing for them when they ask, noting that there are now ambulances in Register and Portal.

The Meeting was adjourned at 7:19

Find the full meeting packet here.

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