For the record. Evidence of caprice in Glynn County?

For the last five decades, much effort has been expended on vitiating the powers of the citizens, who govern, by insisting on THEIR compliance with official directives and by turning the complaint, which in practice initiates all legal action into a dysphemism. That is, to complain is supposed to demonstrate weakness when, in fact, it rallies the power of the law. Crooks, of course, are antagonistic to the law. That’s true whether they operate from the street corner, a corporate tower, or the Court House.

Basic to the law is proper procedure and adherence to the clock. Unfortunately, an increasing number of public officials may know how to read the clock, but they do not know how to tell time and follow a proper sequence. Thus, their behavior becomes arbitrary.

Subject: TA3771 Comments
May 17, 2018
Glynn County Board of Commissioners;
Glynn County Staff;;
Dear Honorable Commissioners:
            Are all of the boxes checked for TA3771? The answer is a resounding NO!
The First Unchecked Box: [] Proper Initiation.
            Section 1103(a)(1) of the Glynn County Zoning Ordinance states as follows:
“Ordinance amendments may be initiated by the Board of Commissioners, Planning Commission, or the owner(s) of property within Glynn County.”
            Clearly missing from this list is County Staff. Proper initiation is the very first box that must be checked in order to pass a Zoning Amendment that complies with the Georgia Zoning Procedures Law.
            Here, this box has not been checked. The Memorandum[1] before you clearly states “County staff initiated” TA3771. There was no application by a property owner or a resolution by the Board of Commissioners or Planning Commission. Nothing has been presented showing that TA3771 was properly initiated.
            Staff cannot initiate an Ordinance Amendment. It is improper.


            Furthermore, Section 1104.1(a) requires “Applications for Ordinance Amendments shall be in a form approved by the Board of Commissioners. Section 1104.1(b) requires the application to be filed with supporting documentation at least 21 days prior to the Planning Commission’s meeting. Section 1104.1(c) says “[a]ny other communication purporting to be an application for amendment shall be regarded as mere notice of intention to seek an amendment.” The Ordinances require a formal application. Mere communications with County Staff are insufficient.

            TA3771 is not properly before the Board of Commissioners and was not properly before the Planning Commissions. You do not have authority under Georgia law and Glynn County Ordinances to amend Section 727 at today’s public meeting.[2] It will be unlawful, void, and subject to legal challenge. If Sea Island wants an Ordinance Amendment to Section 727, it must apply for the Ordinance Amendment, provide supporting documentation, and it must be properly vetted by the public, County Staff, the Planning Commissions, and the Board of Commissioners. Georgia law requires it.
            Let’s save Glynn County the trouble of another lawsuit and only pass Ordinance Amendments once they have been properly initiated, applied for and vetted.
The Second Unchecked Box: [] Fair Notice.
            The second box has been purportedly checked by staff but it has not been under the law.
            Glynn County published notices of public hearing on Ordinance Amendments to Section 727 in the Brunswick News on April 28, 2018, for the Island Planning Commission public hearing and on April 30, 2018, for the Board of Commissioners public hearing.[3] But, the proposed Ordinance Amendment did not even exist until the release of the May 11, 2018, Memorandum from Ms. Leif.
            The Brunswick News notices were meaningless because the public could not obtain the information for which notice was given. Furthermore, the May 11, 2018 Memorandum was not released to the public until May 14, 2018. That was one day before the Island Planning Commission public hearing and three days before Board of Commissioners public hearing.
            The purpose of notice under the Georgia Zoning Procedures Law is to allow the public to obtain the application, the proposed Ordinance Amendment, and other substantive documentation so that the public can review it and offer public commentary at the public hearings. By sending out a notice without a drafted proposed Ordinance Amendment, there is no effective notice that complies with Georgia law.
            Indeed, Zoning Ordinance Section 1105.1 says the notice shall contain a “description of the proposed amendment(s).” If the proposed amendment does not exist, how can it be described? It cannot. The notices published on April 28, 2018, and April 30, 2018, do not comply with the Georgia Zoning Procedures Law and Glynn County Ordinance Section 1105. TA3771 was not even identified by name in the notice. This is not fair notice.
The Third Unchecked Box: [] Timing of BOC Meeting
            Section 1105(a)(5) only allows a proposed ordinance amendment to be placed on the agenda of the next regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners “following formal action by both Planning Commissions.” Here, TA3771 was placed on the May 17, 2018 Agenda prior to the Planning Commissions May 15, 2018 special called meeting. On its face, this procedure does not comply with the law. Staff acknowledges this failure:
            But, the facial defect is even more problematic substantively. The requirement of placing it on the next regularly scheduled of the BOC “following formal action by both Planning Commission” assures that the formal report made by the Planning Commissions will be noticed in the Brunswick News and the public will have 15 days to consider the formal report of the Planning Commissions. The BOC meeting two days after the Planning Commission meetings upends this procedure and process. The procedure adopted for TA3771 is facially defective, chills public participation, and violates the Georgia Zoning Procedures Law.
            This is especially problematic for TA3771 because the Planning Commissions recommended substantive changes to the staff initiated Ordinance Amendment. The public has never seen those changes. As of this morning, May 17, 2018, the public has not seen the proposed amendment to be considered by the BOC or the Planning Commission report. We don’t know what is being considered. We don’t know what the proposed Ordinance Amendment is. Even if we submitted a GORA following the May 15, 2018 meeting, the County would not reply until after the May 17, 2018 meeting. This is intentional and violates the open meeting and open records laws. Even if the Planning Commissions’ formal action was proper (it is not), the BOC cannot hear TA3771 because 15 days’ notice must be given to the public.  The public has a right to see and consider the changes recommended by the Planning Commissions.
The Substance of the Ordinance Amendment
            As of this morning, May 17, 2018, the public is not adequately informed as to what TA3771 seeks to do. We can only guess. But, what it appears is that TA3771 is special legislation for Sea Island Company.

            Here, are questions that need to be asked:
·       What exactly does the “consultation” process involve? How will this process work?
·       Who in Glynn County will be responsible for making this call and coordinating with GA DNR?
·       Will there be any Glynn County or GA DNR oversight over these maintenance, management and repair projects?
·       With what other laws or regulations must these maintenance, management and repair projects comply?
·       Will there be a public notice of any kind related to these projects?
·       Will some entity monitor and track these projects to ensure that no abuses occur? If so, who?
·       Who will make the determination that the activities “will have no significant adverse environmental effects” on the beach and dunes?
·       Which Agency(s) will be responsible for this determination?
·       How will the public know that projects have been proposed so they can provide input?
·       What type(s) of work is “Excavation of sand and/or disturbance of vegetation in Area A” referring to? This language has the potential to be very detrimental to the setback area without further clarification.
·       How will Sea Island and other Glynn County residents know about proposed activities if all approvals come from the GA DNR?
·       Will Glynn County have any oversight over proposed maintenance or management projects on Sea Island? If so, what will that oversight entail? Will there be any follow-up to ensure that the projects have not significantly affected the beach and dunes? If so, how will follow-up occur?
·       Why is Sea Island being singled out for less oversight by Glynn County as opposed to other beaches on St. Simons and Jekyll Islands?

            If this Ordinance Amendment really is for Sea Island, Sea Island Company should be required to file an application, present supporting documentation, and answer these questions. Only afterwards, should this Ordinance Amendment be considered to determine whether it is wise and appropriate. To consider TA3771 now is improper, arbitrary and capricious.
When the property owner’s right to the unfettered use of his property confronts the police power under which zoning is effected, due process guarantees act as a check against the arbitrary and capricious use of that police power. . . . If a land-use regulation is arbitrary and capricious then the regulation cannot stand.
Diversified Holdings, LLP v. City of Suwanee, 302 Ga. 597, 611, 807 S.E.2d 876, 888 (2017), reconsideration denied (Nov. 14, 2017).
            This Board has uncivilly accused other public officials of being “arbitrary” and “chaotic.” If you approve TA3771, you need to look in the mirror. Your errors can and will be corrected at the ballot box and in the courts. I am confident that the citizens of Glynn County are ready for competence and lawfulness. The age of this Board serving special interests through unlawful procedures must stop. Go through the correct procedures, take the public’s input, and then approve TA3771 if it’s appropriate. But, do not preempt the law simply because you want to help a private corporation, Sea Island Company.
Jane Fraser