KATHLEEN — Officials said at Thursday morning’s Vision 2020 meeting that progress was being made to unify code enforcement measures in Houston County and its three cities.
Houston County Planning and Zoning Director Tim Andrews said he met with planning and zoning heads from Warner Robins, Centerville and Perry and came up with a draft ordinance with regard to handling items including junk cars, overgrown lots and trash collection.
Tom Hall, one of the county’s attorneys, presented a draft sign ordinance for all the jurisdictions. He also mentioned looking at a California ordinance on dilapidated buildings that included criminal action for being in violation.
“This is the start of a long process ... because it involves a number of codes and all four of our municipal jurisdictions,” Houston County Commission Chairman Ned Sanders said during the meeting. “We’re getting started on that process.”
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Houston County Tax Commissioner Mark Kushinka said he was looking into placing a hold on business licenses if the businesses hadn’t paid their taxes. Far too often, he said, people get delinquent on their taxes but continue doing business.
Warner Robins officials suggested delaying the expansion of the new animal shelter because the facility has not found itself at capacity.
Warner Robins City Councilman Mike Daley said several Centerville, Houston County and Warner Robins pods that house animals currently are empty.
“We understand our responsibility,” Daley said. “At this point, we have the funds to expand, but not needing it, and in the present economic conditions, we’d like to do it when we need it.”
Brenda Parks-Mathern, a Warner Robins Police Department officer who runs the animal shelter, also came before the board with issues concerning wording of the unified animal control ordinance that is seeing tickets thrown out by judges.
The problem, she said, is wording in the section on restraint. The code says owners should not use chain, cable, rope or other tie-out devices as a primary source of restraint, but the judges are saying it is not punishable if done on personal property.
“They’re jumping fences and hanging themselves,” Parks-Mathern said. “If another animal comes into the yard, (the restrained animals) are not able to defend themselves. These tickets are being thrown out, and I don’t think that’s why this was being put into effect. We’re saying if they can’t control their dogs by verbal command, buy a fence or a kennel.
“We’re going to see a lot of animals that are going to die this summer because of this.”
The meeting took place inside the cafeteria of the new Veterans High School, off Piney Grove Drive, which will open for students in the fall.
Before the meeting, officials attended a street dedication for Pamela Greenway Drive, named after the former Houston County Board of Education chairwoman who died in March 2009. School officials, as well as local elected officials and members of Greenway’s family, spoke about Greenway’s impact.
“There was never any doubt where her heart was,” outgoing Houston County schools Superintendent David Carpenter said during the morning ceremony. “It was with those children. She was the type of person you wanted on your side.
“We can’t replace her, but she will always be missed.”
Members of her family were presented with duplicates of the street signs that are posted along the road.