“[We’ve been] slighted, denied, treated like an afterthought. We’re talked to like we don’t know what we’re asking for.”
These were the words of a Gwinnett County citizen addressing the Gwinnett County Commissioners at a recent Public Hearing on September 24, 2013. The community group, Neighborhoods in Peril, resubmitted information to the commissioners indicating that the county was set to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in the developing of what is currently 130 acres, zoned for industrial use.
Rocklyn Homes, owned by David Jenkins, who was granted immunity in a bribery case with former commissioner Kevin Kennerly, was the developer that was granted favor by the Gwinnett County Commissioners over the concerns of a large community group that took up at least a third of the room that night. The community does not want a new subdivision and their commissioners seem to have forgotten that they work for them and approved the rezoning anyway. (link: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/gwinnett-residents-band-together-fight-proposed-su/nZ5gf/)
I have expressed this very sentiment to the same commissioners as I have tried to bring a property rights issue to their attention. I contacted Commissioner Jace Brooks to let him know that my property rights were being overlooked. In his response, he stated that one of the “Top 5 priorities of Gwinnett County government” was “rebuilding a culture of trust and leadership.” I can imagine this is because of the tainted past of the Gwinnett County Commission with past commissioners being charged in bribery cases and one even facing jail time.
Commissioner Brooks went on to say, “Surrounding all of these priorities is also financial integrity- wise use of resources,” and then indicated that he was concerned with what the constituents of District 1 would like him to focus on.
I will let you determine how concerned Jace Brooks is with the issues that District 1 cares about by his response to the community group last month. The main thing that the Commissioners seemed worried about was whether there would be a bathroom in the pool cabana or not.
And let’s talk about “financial integrity.” Developer David Jenkins has already been involved in one case of bribery with an ex-commissioner. Why are we continuing to do business with crooked developers, over and above the desires of the tax payers and citizenry that live in Gwinnett County?
According to former commissioner Shirley Lasseter, bribing county officials is the way to get things done. (link: http://duluth.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/lasseter-says-bribery-was-a-common-practice) Let’s hope that this new set of Commissioners will change this for Gwinnett County.
I was told by the commissioners to form a community group or perhaps start a petition. So that I can do what ought to be my right to do in my own private back yard: hobby level chicken keeping. This hobby is growing in popularity and has been proven to be beneficial to communities, the environment, and families that simply wish to grown their own food. Even more simply put: it's well within my rights as a property owner to pursue this hobby responsibly on my own property.
Based on what I saw at the Public Forum, a community group is not going to help me.
Mr. Jenkins, of Rocklyn Homes, did not have a community group and he was granted the zoning changes he requested for the property that he owns, despite opposition from District 1, and even after admitting that this wasn’t going to work out entirely well for the whole community.
If the Gwinnett County Commission will be consistent in their respect of property rights and granting zoning changes based on the wishes of the property owner, has yet to be seen.