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News Planning Board makes recommendations for county property

The Macon County Planning Board held a special called meeting Thursday, Dec. 12, to review feedback from department heads concerning surplus properties currently owned by the county. At the October meeting, the board, at the request of the county commissioners, considered various county owned parcels of land and potential uses for them. At the conclusion of that meeting, the board members chose to approach various department heads to see whether the properties could be put to use by the different entities.

According to County Planner Matt Mason, an email was distributed to request feedback from three departments returning comments.

“The Health Department is not interested in the property, the Solid Waste Department is interested in a couple of pieces, including the old school, and Emergency Management is interested in the old school,” said Mason.

The school in question is the old Cullasaja School located on the Highlands Road. Mason indicated that Emergency Management could potentially use the area for training purposes. Other properties that piqued the interest of the Solid Waste Department Director Chris Stahl included the old county garage located on Old 64 West and a 3.76 acre piece of property off of Bethel Church Road.

“The director of Solid Waste indicated that the property where the recycling center is now off of the Highlands Road is one of the busiest areas in Macon County. The center serves people from Holly Springs, Sugar Fork and Clarks Chapel.

Mason also informed the board that FROGS (Friends of the Greenway) expressed an interest in a small tract of land between the Highlands Road and the Greenway. Another piece of property that had been discussed at the October meeting was a parcel of land off of Iotla Church Road in close proximity to the Macon County Airport.

Chairman Derek Roland asked the board how much longer they were willing to wait on any decisions since the department heads had been given two months to consider the properties.

“You know we've had three departments come back to us with discussion in two months,” Roland pointed out.

Vice Chairman Chris Hanners made a motion that the board recommend the commissioners stage a discussion with the school board who technically owns the Cullasaja School, to further explore the potential future of the property and to inform the members of the interest shown by the two department heads. John Shearl seconded the motion with the board approving it unanimously.

The board then moved on to the old garage property since there was interest shown in it as well.

“Since the county owns the land we need to try to use the property before we sell it and then have to go out and buy some more,” member Mark West said.

Joe Deal made a motion that the board recommend that the commissioners keep the old garage property. It passed unanimously.

The 5.02 acres near the airport will also be kept by the county if the board gets its wish. The reason behind the decision is that the chances of being able to sell the land may be slim considering that there are likely hefty FAA regulations regarding property adjacent to an airport. The board also voted to recommend keeping the small parcel between the Highlands Road and the Greenway.

The board voted to recommend that the commissioners attempt to sell 3.52 landlocked acres on Middle Creek to one or both of the surrounding owners. Potentially selling two parcels on Bradley Creek and another on Barnard Road was also recommended as a result of a motion that was passed unanimously.

In regards to the transplant of a recycling center on the Bethel Church Road property off the Highlands Road, the board discussed the issues of grading and the extensive construction that would be required to place a center at that location as well as community feedback.

“Chris (Stahl) stated that the center is the busiest in the county. His plan would be to increase the size of the center, make it more user friendly, and remove the traffic congestion from the Highlands Road,” said Mason.

The planning board voted to recommend keeping the property in order to review disposition options from the community.

The meeting was adjourned with the acknowledgment that the meeting was Roland's last meeting as chairman. Roland moved into the role of county manager on Monday. Hanners will be moving into the role of chairman at the next meeting which takes place on Thursday, Jan. 16, at 4 p.m. at the Health and Human Resources building. The board will be looking at the Macon County Comprehensive Plan.

Additional information provided by Macon Media (www.thunderpigblog.blogspot.com).


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