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Dougherty County Commission approves rezoning over protests of next-door property owner

A Dougherty County resident protests location of Family Dollar store adjacent to his property

Dougherty County Finance Director Martha Hendley discusses the county’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget during the commission’s meeting at the downtown Government Center Monday morning. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Dougherty County Finance Director Martha Hendley discusses the county’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget during the commission’s meeting at the downtown Government Center Monday morning. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

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County resident Linzie Powell presented photos to Dougherty County commissioners Monday morning that Powell said offered evidence of Family Dollar Store’s inability to keep its property clean. The company plans to build a store on rezoned property adjacent to Powell’s. (Special photo)

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Linzie Powell told Dougherty County commissioners Monday he’s concerned that a proposed Family Dollar store at Gillionville Road and Weymouth Drive will impact his adjacent property. Powell presented photos of overflowing trash containers at other Family Dollar stores as evidence for his concern. (Special photo)

ALBANY — Linzie Powell said he bought property on Weymouth Drive in southwest Dougherty County about a decade ago with plans to build his “dream home.”

Powell told the Dougherty County Commission Monday morning that development of a Family Dollar store at 3907 Gillionville Road, on property that abuts his planned home site, could quite possibly turn his dream into a nightmare.

Powell objected to a rezoning request by Garrard Development Services for 4.997 acres of property at the corner of Gillionville and Weymouth, saying the development of the Family Dollar “mini grocery store” would leave his property subject to issues that jeopardize his plans to build a retirement home on the lot next to the proposed store.

“Go by any of their stores in this area; they’re in violation of all kinds of city and county codes,” Powell told commissioners. He asked if he could run to a nearby pharmacy to pick up photos he’d taken of overflowing trash recepticles at area Family Dollar stores, but Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard told Powell he’d had time to collect the photos before Monday’s commission meeting.

Even after the commission voted to allow the rezoning, with a concession signed by Garrard principle Peter Pelt saying the Family Dollar owners would locate only one Dumpster on the Gillionville property and that it would by contained in a covered area, Powell brought newly obtained photos to the commissioners.

“I welcome Family Dollar to Albany with open arms,” Powell said after the meeting. “But they don’t have a history of being very good neighbors. I’ll have to deal with mosquitoes and snakes from their holding pond, trash blowing onto my property and the stench of their garbage. They say they have an efficient waste disposal system, but I beg to differ. Look at these pictures.

“This is a concern for me, for my health, my home and my well-being.”

Pelt agreed that other Family Dollar stores have not done an adequate job of maintaining their waste, but he assured Powell and the commission that the company’s “new system” would alleviate such concerns.

District 3 Commissioner Clinton Johnson said, “You’re talking about a new system, and all Mr. Powell and this commission have to go on is your promise. Mr. Powell has presented historical evidence.”

Powell said he’ll also have to contend with 24-hour-a-day lighting at the Family Dollar, delivery trucks making frequent trips to the facility, high traffic in the area and the threat of random thieves in the neighborhood.

“This is just the kind of stuff I tried to move away from,” he said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the commission:

— Approved purchase of a 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe for the Dougherty County Jail at a cost of $26,634;

— OK’d an HVAC upgrade at the Department of Human Services building at a cost of $157,823;

— Renewed the county’s annual Georgia Indigent Defense Services agreement;

— Renewed its annual agreement with Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Services;

— Agreed to accept waste from the Lee County Utilities Authority;

— OK’d service agreements with the city of Albany for procurement, Code Enforcement, recreation and fire services;

— Passed a resolution prohibiting county employees from possessing a handgun or weapon in government buildings or vehicles;

— Renewed the senior judge position in the Dougherty Superior Court budget;

— Denied the use of $125,000 in county funds to re-open the Southside Branch library.

In an ongoing discussion of the county’s FY 2015 budget, County Administrator Richard Crowdis said amendments to the budget to include the cost of security cameras at the Northwest Branch library and accessories for sheriff’s vehicles pushed the proposed spending plan up to $77,314,873, an increase of $17,856.

Crowdis said $1,451,951 in funding that was projected to be taken from the county’s general fund to balance the Fiscal Year 2014 budget would instead by added to the fund balance, giving the county a projected total of $16,124,002 at the end of the current fiscal year.