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Airport improvements approved

Commissioner says incoming board should be heard on matter

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

McDONOUGH — The Board of Commissioners voted 4-2 Tuesday to accept a contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation for a 1,000-foot runway extension and a 25-foot widening project at the airport. The county also approved a contract award to E.R. Snell Contractor Inc. in Snellville for the extension, rehabilitation and widening of the existing runway and lighting improvements at Atlanta South Regional.

Warren Holder, who has been a commissioner in District 1 since 1997, was voted out of office in August. He said the county should have waited until his successor, Bo Moss, and other incoming commissioners take office in January before obligating them to pay for improvements to the airport.

Holder said although he supported the county’s purchase of the airport from Clayton County in 2011, incoming commissioners ran on a platform that included opposition to the deal.

District II Commissioner Brian Preston also voted against the contract. He said although he supports the county’s purchase of the airport, many residents in his district and the county were opposed to it.

“I support this, but I think there’s a few things that need to kind of be neatened up a little bit,” said Preston.

The BOC also approved a professional services agreement with Croy Engineering for capital improvements at the airport up to $223,400. Commissioners bought the airport, formerly known as Tara Field, from Clayton County in 2011.

Commission Chairman Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis doesn’t typically vote on matters before the BOC. However, she made an exception by voting for the runway expansion and improvements and the agreement with Croy.

Mathis said she wanted to make her support for the airport “perfectly clear.”

Commissioners also approved a request from the police department and the Planning and Zoning Department to address amusement game rooms in the County Code of Ordinances to crack down on illegal gambling. Police Chief Keith Nichols said there have been a growing number of complaints associated with game-room establishments and that some patrons have received illegal payouts from those businesses.

The BOC also amended the County Code of Ordinances to put standards in place for who is eligible for retail alcohol sales. The amendment states that alcohol licenses will only be given to:

• A person of good moral character without a felony conviction;

• A natural born citizen or a permanent resident with a green card;

• A previous holder an alcohol license who is deemed fit to have one;

• A person whose business is conducted by a manager or agent, if that manager/agent is qualified to hold a license;

• A person who is the owner or lessee of the business to be licensed;

• A location that is suitable for a license in regard to traffic congestion, general character of the neighborhood or the effect the establishment would have on the surrounding area.

Other actions approved by the BOC included:

• Allowing the Henry County Police Department to use roughly $1,700 in seized funds to pay for Lts. Christy Nebel and Vance Rosen to attend Command College in Columbus.

• Approval of a $41,641 contract with Com-Tech Communications of Stockbridge for fiber optic cable, network equipment and low voltage voice/data services at the county’s new transit facility in McDonough

• A $44,894 increase to the Georgia Department of Human Services coordinated transportation contract to account for more passengers attending DHS programs in Henry

• Authorization to sign a GDOT right-of-way agreement for the intersection of Phillips Drive and Ga. 20/81 in McDonough

• A proclamation recognizing Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority General Manager Lindy Farmer for 30 years of service.

Three items were tabled by the BOC for a later vote.

One of those items was a public hearing to amend appeal procedures for the Zoning Advisory Board.

The BOC also tabled a vote on whether to amend the Henry County Code to allow the sale and consumption of beer and wine at Nash Farm Park in Hampton, Heritage Park in McDonough and the Locust Grove Event Center in Locust Grove.

Commissioners were due to vote on a new deferred compensation plan for county employees through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia to maintain compliance with federal and state law. The item was tabled for a later meeting.

Commissioners did not meet in executive session as previously scheduled.