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County Commission round-up

On Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 9 a.m., the Madison Board of County Commissioners met at the Courthouse Annex for their bi-monthly meeting. Commissioner Ronnie Moore called the meeting to order and local softball coach Tommy Garner proceeded to approach the podium. He informed the commissioners that the Benjie Dyal Softball Tournament was a huge success and a total of $5,069 was raised and presented to the Dyal family. Garner thanked the commissioners for waiving park fees for the event to take place. Next, the commissioners proceeded to approve the minutes from the last meeting. Department reports began with the Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Ben Stewart approached the podium and briefed the commissioners of the missing person search that was being conducted at the time of the meeting. Annie R. Paul was last seen on Sunday, Feb. 8 at approximately 2:30 p.m. She was currently a resident of Rosas Caring Heart assisted living facility located at 2873 NW Hwy 221 in Greenville. It was reported she suffers from dementia and may be disoriented and in need of medical assistance. Stewart informed the commissioners that all the necessary measures were being taken to find Ms. Paul. He reported that helicopters were flying over the area and using special radar that detects body heat. They had scanned the area with dog teams and, as of meeting time on Wednesday, Sheriff Stewart reported that a grid search was in progress. “The dogs have had difficulty picking up scent,” said Stewart. “The area is woody and swampy; we have had dive teams explore the gator holes and so far there has been no result.” After reporting on the missing person search, Sheriff Stewart confirmed that a community forum had taken place on Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Court House featuring a panel discussion led by Sheriff Stewart, Rev. Marcus Hawkins, Pastor Jonathan McGriff, retired Orlando Police Department; Minister Steve McHargue and Judge Augustus D. Aikens. The forum is titled C.L.O.T and stands for Community Law Orientation Training and served as an opportunity to discuss building positive relationships between the community and law enforcement. “This is one of the best things I have ever seen happen,” said Stewart. With nothing left to report from other departments, the commission moved forward to discussing the Northwood Subdivision driveway permit. At the last meeting, Commissioner Hamrick had presented a request to the board of commissioners on behalf of the previously mentioned subdivision. Due to the closing of Celosia Road, the citizens have been forced to navigate a lengthy and inconvenient way home. Since it is certain Celosia won't be re-opened any time in the near future, the citizens have requested a permit so that a drive can be constructed from the subdivision to Country Kitchen Road. It would greatly assist those who commute to work and help cut their travel distance in half. There were several issues that needed to be addressed. Commissioner Hamrick discussed the fact that the subdivision plat included a restriction that states no part of the subdivision shall have direct access to Country Kitchen Road, except lots 20 and 21of block A. “The restriction on the plat is a contract between the property owners so I don't think we are bound by that,” said Attorney Tom Reeves. “They may spend their money to get a driveway put in, and then their neighbor file a lawsuit that says they have to take it up, but that's something between the members of the homeowner's association of that subdivision; its not on us.” In order for a driveway to be put in, the persons wishing to install the driveway must apply for a new driveway permit which is a $50 charge. Next, the site is inspected by the county and public works advises the applicants whether or not a culvert is needed and what size driveway is required. The applicants are responsible for finding a contractor or building the driveway themselves. Once the driveway is in place, the county inspects it and takes possession of it, seeing it is maintained in the future. Reeves continued, “The question I think you all need to decide is, policy wise, do you want to allow that? If someone has a piece of property and they dont have access to a public road, you generally have to give them a road and you have to give them access... but what you do for one, you have to do for all of them.” There are around twenty lots on either side of the road. Like Reeves, the commissioners worried that, once one driveway is granted, everyone will want their own driveway. Each driveway would be county maintained and could become a problem with forty or so driveways lined side by side. Therefore, an alternative was discussed. The commissioners entertained the thought of purchasing one of the empty lots and using it as a place to build a community-shared driveway. “Once you purchase a lot you are bound by the subdivision's plat restriction that says you cant have access to Country Kitchen,” said Tom Reeves. “We would have to get a release from whatever entity controls those restrictions-- the association of the subdivision. Or, once purchased, we could take the property rights.” It was unanimously agreed upon that it makes more sense to build a shared driveway which connects the public road to the subdivision's road. They agreed their next step was to meet with the homeowner's association and come to an agreement. The next topic of discussion was the Cherry Lake Project. The commissioners had previously met for a workshop to discuss placing a structure at the lake which controlled the negative effects of the man-made drainage ditch. They agreed that before any work was done, the drainage ditch would need to be measured and the area surveyed for their records in order to properly maintain the structure in the future. The estimated cost of this structure project is $5,000. The meeting was adjourned after the Commission voted to sell the old Greenville library building by the process of a sealed bid. The next County Commission meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. in the Courthouse Annex building.

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