Kingston discussion tabled
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Morgan County commissioners tabled until January a discussion on the Lake Oconee development called Kingston currently being built in the southeastern portion of the county, on the Morgan-Putnam line.
In a special called meeting immediately following the regular work session last week, commissioners considered an appeal by Kingston developer Don Davis of a decision made by Morgan County Planning and Zoning Director Chuck Jarrell.
Jarrell had declined to allow Davis to put up a performance bond in lieu of completion of the water and sewer infrastructure at Kingston, a move which would allow Davis to begin selling lots in Kingston before infrastructure is complete.
Morgan County development regulations do not allow this, requiring water and sewer systems to be up and running before final plat approval and therefore, initial sales of lots
“These infrastructure systems have already been contracted for—they are on their way,” said Davis, who offered to let county officials look at contract documents so that they could be assured the parts for the sewer system were en route. “And Piedmont—they’re bringing in the water regardless of what I do,” said Davis, referring to the private water supplier that is providing water to the development in both Morgan and Putnam.
Davis said that he was anxious to be able to begin to sell lots, since construction is far behind schedule and in the current economic climate, customers may be harder to come by. Jarrell estimated that the water system is about 50 percent complete, while sewer work has not yet begun; Davis acknowledged that it could take 90-120 days to complete the infrastructure work.
Members of the public speaking at the meeting in opposition to the appeal urged county commissioners to exercise caution, telling of developers who thought that things were good, only to have a project go south at the buyers’ expense.
“I hope y’all look at this long and hard,” said Buckhead resident Gary Timberlake, who said that he owns a lot in Florida which he has been holding for four years but upon which he still can’t build because the developer went belly-up and there is no infrastructure in place. “Look beyond Morgan County—this happens in other places,” said Timberlake.
Commissioner Sammy Cathey, in whose district the Kingston development is located, made a motion to uphold Jarrell’s denial of Davis’s request, but that motion died for lack of a second.
“To me, you’re throwing [development responsibility] right back on the people who are buying these lots…those people are going to be my constituents, too,” said Cathey.
Jarrell indicated that if the county commissioners were not inclined to uphold his denial of Davis’s request, his second choice would be for the county to amend the development agreement with Davis in order to allow him to put up a performance bond or cash bond or both in order to guarantee that funds will be available to pay for the development’s infrastructure.
“Something like water and sewer, that is critical to the saleabilty of these lots,” said Jarrell. “That’s were all this comes into play.”
The commissioners will discuss the appeal again at their January 6, 2009, meeting.
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