LEESBURG -- As good-news, bad-news scenarios go, the one the Lee County Commission received at its work session Tuesday night was weighted heavily toward the bad.
Blair Barnhardt, CEO of the Kennesaw-based Barnhardt Group, told commissioners they were ahead of the game in having a pavement management system in place. But, he noted, to properly maintain county roads over the next decade will take some $25 million, considerably more than the $300,000 the county is currently budgeting for repairs.
"Scientific information has shown that for every dollar you spend on maintenance of your roads, you save $7 or $8 down the road," Barnhardt, who has conducted an evaluation of all roads in the county, said. "At $300,000 a year, all you can really hope to do is stop the bleeding."
Barnhardt said Lee County's 288 centerline miles of roads have an aggregate pavement condition index average of 59. The National Highway Institute rates a score of 80 and above very good to excellent. Lee's 59 average is considered at the top end of the NHI's "at-risk" category.
The commission also held public hearings on three variance requests at the meeting: James Parrish asked that he be allowed to have an accessory building on his Philema Road property that has a greater square footage than the primary residence on the property; a representative of Petro South Inc. asked for a variance on the height of a flag pole and the size of an American flag flying at the Fussell Road business; and Verizon Wireless asked for variances that will allow it to build a cellular tower higher and in closer proximity than code allows to another tower on Philema Road South.
Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander told the commission the county's Planning Commission had recommended approval of all three variances, the first two under certain specific conditions. Alexander said the fire department had recommended OKing Parrish's request, while he noted that most other cell towers in the county surpass the 260-foot height restriction.
Jen Blackburn, an attorney for Verizon, said the company had been trying to negotiate a settlement with a competitive communications company whose tower it infringed upon.
"We've been trying to negotiate for 18 months, but (the competitor) has been nonresponsive," she said. "Our sole purpose for installing the tower is to provide needed coverage to our customers in that region."
The commission also voted to accept deeds of rights-of-way, easements, roads and water system infrastructure at the Quail Chase III Subdivision, and voted to move some $11,400 in excess Department of Family and Children Services funds into the county's general fund to be used to repair a county-own building that houses the local DEFACS program.