The good news: they didn't close the road to Hotchkiss Crossing at the Alapaha River. They tabled it until their next meeting, which is in two weeks, 26 February 2013. Video will follow tomorrow, in which you will see the room was packed, mostly with people opposed to the road closing, some from as far away as Tifton. All concerned now have two weeks to absorb all the new information and work out a solution.
Below is what I sent to the Lowndes County Commission at Commissioner Joyce Evans' request before the meeting tonight, followed by a bit more information.
Subject: River Corridor Protection Plan
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2013 16:49:50 -0500
Dear Commissioners and County Planner,
When I was talking to Joyce Evans just now, I mentioned the 100 foot natural vegetative buffer state law requires local governments to establish next to perennial rivers. Here is a summary of the state law, the definition it contains, the GA EPD rules, and some notes on the relevant parts of the Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan.
Lowndes County govt may not be a Qualified Local Government unless it has a River Corridor Protection Plan, which it doesn't at the moment. Turning Hotchkiss Crossing into a county park could be part of such a plan.
These notes are mostly in the form of links to blog posts, in the interests of time, in getting them in before tonight's meeting.Thanks,
John S. Quarterman
Perennial river corridors shall be protected –GA state law
Georgia Mountain and River Corridor Protection Act, O.C.G.A. 12-2-8 (2010)
What does perennial mean?
All of the Alapaha, Withlacoochee, and Little Rivers in Lowndes County qualify according to the definition in the state law.
Rules for river corridor protection –GA EPD
These are the rules the law says GA EPD had to produce:
Rules of GA EPD Chapter 391-3-16
Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria
391-3-16-.04 Criteria for River Corridor Protection
What does Lowndes Comprehensive Plan say about river corridor protection?
It doesn't, and it needs to.
Acree Park at Hotchkiss Landing?
County Planner Jason Davenport pointed out to me (still before the meeting) that Lowndes County's Uniform Land Development Code (ULDC) does have 3.03.00 River Corridor Protection Districts (and 3.0.2.00 Water Resource Protection Districts and 3.03.00 Groundwater Recharge Area Protection Districts and 3.05.00 Wetlands Protection Districts)
The 3.03.00 River Corridor Protection Districts are shown on the Water Resource Protection Districts Ordinance (WRPDO) Overlay Map which does show 100 foot buffers beside each of the Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers in Lowndes County.
The buffers are a bit hard to see on the public map, but he showed me on his internal GIS detail of the buffer at Hotchkiss Landing and he agreed the boat landing was entirely within the buffer.
Jason checked and found those maps and districts in the ULDC were adopted in 2003. He did not know whether they were consistent with the 2010 law. I told him that was my point: nobody had had time to absorb all the new information, and he agreed.