Main subject of the rezoning application at the meeting of the municipal council
Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Executive Director Jeff Ricketson was explaining a rezoning request submitted by Paul Krebs to rezone a property he owns along Airport Road and Barry McCaffrey Boulevard during the city council meeting from January 6, 2022 in Hinesville. Krebs is requesting a change from Commercial Zone 3 (C3) to Commercial Zone Two (C-2) to develop 168 townhouse units.
While explaining the petition, Councilor Diana Reid asked Ricketson to explain the difference between C-2 and C-3 zoning, saying that at the May 6, 2021 council meeting, a rezoning request was approved. for a proposed 40 unit apartment complex just up the road at Barry McCaffrey and Kelly Drive. The May 6 application was submitted by then-owner Horse Creek Partners, LLC.
While Ricketson explained that C-3 allows for a lot more uses than C-2, Reid’s question was mostly his way of bringing another topic to the fore.
“When it (the rezoning application) came to us, it came to us as Horse Creek,” she said, adding that after the May 6 rezoning, the property was sold to a new owner.
“And consistent with what our city attorney said,” Reid continued, “I think things should be disclosed. If any of us own a property that we’re going to develop, they should be disclosed. Let’s be clear, let’s be professional, and above all, let’s be honest.
Not sure if it was for anyone in particular, Mayor Allen Brown was about to continue the meeting when Reid interrupted him, saying the person it was meant for was about to speak.
“Mr. Mayor, this is totally inappropriate,” City Manager Kenneth Howard replied. “It has nothing to do with this property (Kreb rezoning request), and somehow another, we were able to integrate my property into it.”
Reid chimed in, thanking Howard for revealing that it was indeed his property now that was being developed.
“First let me say this, Mayor and Council, this has gotten out of control,” Howard said.
“I agree,” Mayor Brown said.
“I have people in the community come to me about this same type of situation,” Howard continued. “People who say I have property that I stole, bought illegally and everything else, and
this is far from the truth.
He then directed his next sentence to Reid, saying she was going to people’s homes, telling them about her property and how it was inappropriate.
“I didn’t do anything inappropriate,” Howard reiterated. “I paid for it, and it’s not the only property I have in the town of Hinesville. I’ve never experienced this kind of abuse and envy of what I have.
Reid referred to a previous meeting where she “hypothetically” asked City Attorney Linnie Darden if he thought a city employee or official should disclose their development plans. Darden had replied, noting that it would be a good idea to do so. At last week’s meeting, Darden confirmed that was his answer.
However, Howard said he was under no obligation to release the information and did not own the property at the time it was rezoned. He bought it later.
“At the time, I had no interest, no ownership in this property,” Howard said. “So there was no need for disclosure.” Howard went on to say that the rumors and allegations that he did something wrong were pure lies.
“I’ve worked hard for the past 30 years, and what I’ve done is flawless, and I’ve been very successful at it,” he said. “I will not apologize for my success.”
After the trade and a public hearing, council voted to approve Paul Krebs’ rezoning application.
The Board has approved an application by Liberty Properties and Holdings Co., LLC (Claude Dryden), for final flat approval and acceptance of dedications for seven lots on 1.29 acres on de la Marne Boulevard. They approved the final dish
approval and acceptance of allotments for a 51-lot, 17.27-acre subdivision on Grayson Avenue. They approved the final design for the Hinesville Fire Hall and Administration Building. They approved several liquor license renewals and a special one-day liquor license to serve beer and wine at the annual Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and Taste of Liberty banquet, scheduled for the January 20, 2022.
During Council Member Reports, Councilor Vicky Nelson asked about a previously mentioned Tiny Homes project.
Howard said they were discussing a tiny house program to fight affordable housing. He said they were looking to hire a replacement for Donita Gaulden, who was the director of the community development department, before moving forward with new projects. Nelson also brought up the issue regarding chickens being kept within the city limits and the city ordinance. Howard mentioned that the town is in a dispute with a current resident, adding that right now it’s stalled. Nelson also asked the city to consider a shorted television program for the city to broadcast the meetings, noting that she still hears constituents complaining about audio and technical issues while using Facebook Live. During Howard’s report, he recommended the council extend COVID precautions for an additional 30 days. Read this story on the front page of today’s Courier.