Jasper City Council discusses Sharktop Ridge annexation

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Jasper, Ga. – The Jasper City Council dealt with an option to annex into the city limits a section of property on Sharktop Ridge Road.

The annexation is a part of a Planning and Zoning issue revolving around Paul King looking to have a residential development in the area connecting to Sharktop Ridge. The development would host around 23 homes, according to King. While he would utilize city water for the project, the sewage would be dealt with in septic tanks.

However, King and his development project have been met with resistance on the project at the Planning and Zoning level as well as at the council meeting. While none in opposition directly opposed the project itself, several citizens spoke in opposition to the project connecting to Sharktop Ridge. Almost an hour of discussion was spent at the council’s June 4 meeting delving into the heart of the citizens’ concerns. Ultimately, the viable complaints focused on the safety of the road with increased traffic along a treacherous left turn onto the road as well as the wear and tear on the road with an extended period of heavy construction equipment traveling the road as the only access point to the development.

While options were discussed such as moving the access to another point, possibly Old Burnt Mountain Road, or at least having the construction traffic access the development in an alternate route, no official action was taken. This is because the opposition to the project asked for additional study and options to prevent the “undue stress” on residents.

While there is no point where the city can officially block what is allowed under a residential zoning, this issue arises as the land is being considered to be taken into the city as an R1 zone to allow the project to move forward. King mentioned and later agreed to bring in an engineer to analyze the viability of accessing the land from Old Burnt Mountain Road despite the extra costs. However, King did note that he already had the engineer glance at the area and offer a preliminary estimation that the slope and grade of the road would make accessing the land there far too costly for the project.

The council will be looking at the agenda item again next month along with requested documents like the engineer’s official report and an accident report on the road and intersection with Cove Road. One citizen also requested they provide an additional independent engineer’s opinion on the access viability.

As discussion heated after 35 minutes, Councilmember Tony Fountain commented saying, “We’re sitting here tonight to discuss and vote on the annexation of that property … The last time I checked, we still live in a free country where if you have the good fortune to take your retirement and buy a piece of property. And you wanted to develop it and [sic] make you a little money. Who is it for us to say, ‘No, you can’t do that because you might disturb some of your neighbors.'”

He was not the only council member to comment as new member Kirk Raffield also spoke up. One of the first council members of the night to mention tabling the issue to further investigate, Raffield questioned King on his willingness to access a different road. While King suggested an increased cost would make him unwilling to go that route, he had previously agreed to look into it and said he would be willing to investigate, putting off the item until next month.

Raffield also commented on the item as a whole thanking both parties for attending the meeting. He went on to say, “As frustrating as it may be on both sides, thank you for sticking with it. Please do not lose your temper, remain professional at all times, that’s why we’re here. I know it’s frustrating … I understand your concerns, and I understand your right. So, please remain patient with us.”

With the official motion to table the annexation of the property in an effort to look for better information, citizens are already considering returning July 2 to see the further information provided and continue the discussion there.

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Begins Sorting Through Hundreds Of Stolen Items

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Subsequent to the arrest of Tony Merrell officers have retrieved over 1,000 items in potentially stolen property. Detectives say the property came from Pickens and surrounding counties and were allegedly either traded to Merrell for drugs or he paid for them.

Merrell has been charged with three counts of theft by receiving, two counts of altering the VIN number of vehicles, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, having a firearm as a convicted felon as well as possession of drug charges.

His wife Tonya Michelle Merrell faces charges of altering vehicle serial numbers and theft by receiving. She was released on bond Tuesday. Investigators believe a third arrest will be coming soon.

The sheriff’s office has posted photos of the stolen property which can be viewed here:  

 Anyone who has had items stolen is welcome to make an appointment with the criminal investigation division.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns, and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of these counties, please visit FetchYourNews.com

Arrest made in Pickens County after search warrant recovers numerous stolen items

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant on July 11th for a residence on Reavis Road in Marble Hill.

The search recovered numerous stolen items and may also include property from Cherokee County’s jurisdiction.  Tony Elbert Merrell, 45,  was arrested after the warrant was served to search his home and the surrounding property. He is being held at the Pickens Adult Detention Center for a multitude of Felony Charges. Some of these include the Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony, Possession of Controlled Substances and Possession of a Stolen Vehicle. Additional charges are pending the completion of the investigation.

The search revealed a variety of potentially stolen items including eighteen guns, hundreds of knives, eight cars, jewelry, and different collectibles. Detectives are sorting through the items with hopes of finding the rightful owners. Along with Pickens Sheriff’s Office, detectives from the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office are actively working to verify other potentially stolen property from their jurisdiction as well.

FYN spoke with Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Officer Kris Stancil, who told us, After speaking with detectives that are still sorting through property to try and get pictures out, we are going to wait until Tuesday (July 18th)  to send any formal release so that we can also provide access to images and help get stolen property returned to owners. They also have potential for additional warrants that they need to finish first as well.

Merrell is being held without bond, the case is still very active. FYN will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

Pickens County Board of Commissioners discuss senior property exemptions

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The Pickens County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on October 20th and part of the agenda was talk of senior property exemptions.

Pickens County Board of Commission Chair Rob Jones said, “The discussion over the senior tax exemption has been heated!”  Jones went on to say, “I would like to know exactly what the cost or somewhere close for the taxpayer if the senior tax exemption goes in place.”

 

This is the current Local School Exemption – Persons age 62 or older with a combined total gross income of $25,000 or less from all sources of everyone living on the property qualify for a total exemption from School M&O taxes.   Even though the Pickens County School System’s millage rate is around 17 less than 12 is used in the Pickens County schools because of the reallocation to other areas.   According to County Attorney Phil Landrum,  a Pickens School Board member raised issue with the fairness of 6 million of Pickens County money being received by some counties  which are  granting senior exemption.  

Landrum went on to say, “It’s apples and oranges that’s not really the debate because we really do not have control over that but it is a consideration.” 

The decision was made to extend an invitation to the Board of Education to join in a joint discussion.  Landrum will write a letter to the Pickens Board of Education to invite them to begin a dialogue in the form of a meeting to discuss the exemption.   Landrum further stated he had not spoken with Georgia House State Representative Rick Jasperse but believed they would want resolutions from both County and City Governments to introduce the legislation to change the exemption.

Watch the discussion below:

All Georgia residents are eligible for homestead exemptions on their primary residence with the amount of the exemption varying in each county and sometimes also by city. These exemptions can generally save you a couple of hundred dollars a year or more, again depending on the county. Additional “Senior” exemptions (again for primary residences) are available that vary by county, in some cases starting as early as age 62 or as late as 70 this will make more sense as you get into the summaries for each county below.  When the exemptions apply to School taxes, the savings can be in the thousands! To apply for any exemptions, you must have lived in the home as of January 1 and if there is an age-related exemption, one person on the deed must be the specified age as of January 1.

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