Blue Ridge, Ga – Land Development cleaned up 15 neglected property lots since 2017, but changes to state law and new citation form threaten to slow progress.
Marie Woody, Head of Land Development Office, reported the county enforced the clearing of four properties as of July for 2019. However, as of July 1, the state of Georgia issued new condemnation forms/citations and so far, no one across the state knows the new protocol.
“Right now, there’s a hullabaloo about citations and what citations we can write a local ordinance on. So until that gets situated, we can’t even write a citation today. It’s a judicial thing’ it’s not us. They’re saying everyone has to write a citation on a certain form that form does not comply with our local ordinances.”
The form stated that a post officer or member of law enforcement must fill it out to assure enforcement by the magistrate court.
“The law says citations will be issued on this form, but you have to be a post officer, said County Attorney Lynn Doss,
“They have to have arrest powers. They made no provision in the law for any county code enforcement officer for any city for anywhere in the state.”
Magistrate Judges were told anyone could issue citations as long as they use this form. Magistrate Chief Deputy Clerks have instructions to only allow the new form and no other. Meanwhile, the State Patrol refused to purchase new forms until the old ones run out.
Right now, Woody could issue a citation, but it could be contested because she isn’t a post officer.
The state has promised to work out the issue as soon as possible.
“It’s one of the biggest concerns I get from people is why can’t the county make people clean that up,” stated Post One Earl Johnson, “It’s a sticky situation telling people how to treat their property. Their neighbors have rights as well, not to fight off rats or snakes. There’s just a lot of places that are very, very trashy. There has to be something in place…when everyone figures out their not going to enforce it, it’s not going to get better.”
South Ada Street property will soon receive an EPB violation letter, and after EPB acts, the county can proceed.
Owners who receive a condemnation letter have 30 days to comply.
“People have property rights, and I have a high respect for that, but at some point in time, after we’ve exhausted every reasonable effort, we just have to move forward,” said Chairman Stan Helton.
Johnson asked, “In what situation can we stop things from getting worse?”
Woody explained, “We’ll first send you a letter and give you 30 days to get it cleaned up. If you don’t, we can write a citation and take you to magistrate court for [them] to deal with it. If you don’t clean it up, then you can be fined.”
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Winter Storm Inga has passed through our area. Temperatures dropped over night and the threat of icy roadways continues for Fannin County. Due to this threat, many businesses and organizations will be closed or opening late today.
Public Works Director Zack Ratcliff spoke of road conditions in Fannin County on Wednesday, Jan. 17: “They are bad everywhere. What did melt from the salt refroze overnight because of the temperature.”
Ratcliff warned that icy road conditions are not just on secondary roads, that even major thoroughfares such as Hwy. 515 are not safe to travel on at this time.
“If you have to get out, use extreme caution, but it is best not to get out at this time,” Ratcliff warned. “We (Public Works) are out working right now, and we are trying to get it knocked out the best we can.”
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued a State of Emergency that includes Fannin County.
In a statement, Deal said, “Following the latest update from the National Weather Service, and acting upon the recommendation from the state’s Emergency Operations Command, I’ve issued an executive order closing state government for non-essential personnel tomorrow,” said Deal. “The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will continue treating our roads and interstates. To ensure people’s safety and to allow GDOT to do its job, I urge people to remain home and off the roads. We will continue monitoring the weather and will provide updates as necessary.”
There are currently no shelters open at this time in Fannin County. If you are in need of assistance and it is not a life- threatening emergency, you can call the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at 706-632-6022 or 706-632-2043. All life-threatening emergency calls should be placed to 911.
***UPDATED Jan. 17 9:30 a.m. **
Blue Ridge City Government Offices
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (The Art Center)
Fannin County Chamber of Commerce
Fannin County Division of Family and Children Services (DFACS)
Fannin County Juvenile Court
Fannin County Government Offices
Fannin County Magistrate Court
Fannin County Schools (12-month personnel may be asked to report later in the day)
- Blue Ridge Elementary School
- East Fannin Elementary School
- Fannin County High School
- Fannin County Middle School
- West Fannin Elementary School
Fannin County Water Authority meeting cancelled for Wednesday, Jan. 17
McCaysville City Government Offices
LATEST WINTER WEATHER UPDATE:
Wind Chill Advisory until 10:00AM Thursday
…WIND CHILL ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM EST THURSDAY… …WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM EST THIS MORNING…
* WHAT…Occasional light snow and very cold wind chills expected. Little or no additional accumulations are expected. Expect wind chills to range from 10 above zero to 10 below zero.
* WHERE…Fannin, Gilmer, Union, Towns, Pickens, Dawson, Lumpkin, and White Counties
* WHEN…For the Winter Weather Advisory, until 9 AM this morning. For the Wind Chill Advisory, until 10 AM Thursday.
* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Roads will remain icy and treacherous as temperatures remain below freezing all day. If you must drive, use extreme caution. The cold wind chills may cause frostbite in as little as 30 minutes to exposed skin. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving. A Wind Chill Advisory means that cold air and the wind will combine to create low wind chills. Frost bite and hypothermia can occur if precautions are not taken. Make sure you wear a hat and gloves.
* AFFECTED AREAS: DAWSON … FANNIN … GILMER … LUMPKIN … PICKENS … TOWNS … UNION … WHITE