Commission shoots down event permit ordinance - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Commission shoots down event permit ordinance

November 5, 2003

Dawson-- A proposed zoning ordinance that would have required permits for almost all gatherings in Terrell County has been shot down. The ordinance called for anyone planning outdoor events on private property to pay fifty dollars for a permit.

But county commissioners agreed with the people that it hinged on violating constitutional rights.

It was standing room only at the final public hearing on a controversial zoning ordinance. People there were upset, "We have the right to assemble in this country. We don't need a permit. There are too many laws on the books now," says Jack Hufstetler.

The County Commission agreed, after listening to a half dozen people complain about the proposed ordinance they voted to send the Zoning Commission back to the drawing board.

Chairman Wilbur Gamble says, "I also want some clarification that it won't drop down and interfere with people having a family reunion picnic or something of a smaller nature. You see right now that's not the intent, but you may have a different person serving the board later and they might have a different idea about it."

Chamber President Paul Rakel also challenged the ordinance, "While we support the idea of controlled growth and the concept of what the board was trying to do we felt the requirements in it could be changed to be more friendly to business development."

Now, businesses like the Sasser Flea Market and Mark's Melon Patch, which both draw crowds this time of year, can carry on without potentially expensive and time restrictive permits.

Sasser Flea Market owner Dee West calls the decision a small victory, "I think so, I think it has brought attention to the residents of Terrell County to see how ridiculous this zoning ordinance was written."

Now, the ordinance will be re-written-- and this time, the Chamber of Commerce and business owners plan to be a part of the process.

The Planning and Zoning Board Chairman says the intention was not to hurt business or restrict people, but to encourage controlled growth in Terrell County.

Posted at 4:14 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com