ALBANY — The Dougherty County Commission voted unanimously at its final 2013 business meeting Monday to OK rezoning and special approval requests that will allow New Communities Inc. to turn 41 acres of land at the former Cypress Pond Plantation in the extreme southwest portion of the county into an indoor/outdoor events center.
The request by New Communities, whose president is Charles Sherrod, called for rezoning from AG (agriculture) to C-8 (commercial recreation) so that land at the former plantation, including the $3 million plantation home, may be used for weddings, receptions and other such events.
“Tourism is the No. 2 industry in Georgia,” New Communities’ Latoya Cutts said. “Tourists spent $20.8 billion in the state last year. That amounts to 241,000 jobs and $1.6 million in tax revenue. This project has the potential to bring significant ag- and eco-tourism to the county.”
Commissioners also approved an alcohol beverage license for consumption of liquor, wine and beer at River Pointe Golf Club.
Prior to the business portion of the meeting, commissioners were given reports on the Dougherty County Extension program, the county’s library system, the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit and Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful.
ADDU Commander Maj. Bill Berry offered sobering statistics in his report to the commission. He noted the rise in methamphetamine and prescription drug arrests in the county, part of some $990,145 in drug seizures during the year.
“Meth arrests have tripled,” Berry said.
The drug unit commander also told commissioners his unit, concerned about the dramatic increase in prostitution complaints, had opened its own Internet “dating” service and had gotten 174 contacts on the first night it went live.
“They almost shut our server down,” he said.
Berry left the board with some ominous words.
“We’re doing the best we can,” he said. “But we’re not winning this thing.”
County Extension Coordinator James Morgan updated commissioners on 4-H, ag and natural resources, food and nutrition, and family and consumer science programs coordinated through his office.
“We’ve impacted 47,614 people this year,” Morgan said.
Newly appointed Library Director Pauline Abidde told the board during her report that the Westtown Library Branch, scheduled to be re-opened for 16 hours a week after being shut down a year ago as a cost-saving measure, should be ready to receive patrons by the middle of January.
KADB Director Judy Bowles said in her report that the organization had 87,780 participants and 36,319 volunteers contribute 84,772 hours of service during the year.
“If you put a dollar value on that, it amounts to $1,875,745,” Bowles said of the award-winning agency.