Commissioners approve development order after emotional vote
The Holmes County Board of County Commissioners approved a minor development order for the Family Dollar/Dollar Tree store slated for construction in Ponce de Leon in an emotional 3-2 vote.
While the order was approved, it was not without conditions. The developers will need to provide a letter stating the town of Ponce de Leon will provide water and sewage to the business, a geo-technical report of the current site and a drainage easement must be recorded. Should these conditions not be met, the developer will have to resubmit the order. The Holmes County Planning Commission approved the order two weeks prior in their meeting.
Commissioner Jeff Good made the motion to approve the order with the three conditions, and Chairman Earl Stafford set aside the gavel to second the motion.
“Some of y’all might not like me after I say this, but at the end of the day the government doesn’t have the place to say what items you have in your store, or to tell someone not to sell their land to have a business there,” said Commissioner Clint Erickson. “When I took this job it was not to tell people what they can and cannot do with their personal property. My heart goes out to you, but I cannot sit up here and dictate what people do with their land and how they sell it. We have to draw that line and cannot pick and choose. With that, my vote is yes.”
“This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Commissioner Jeff Good said. “It is not right that a company can come in and do this but it is legal. I understand that you are fighting for your business, and I would do the same thing as you. It is sad that the community has been torn apart but my vote is yes.”
Commissioner Phillip Music simply said, “No.”
Ponce de Leon native Commissioner Brandon Newsom said, “I will just say this, as for the controversial issues that have been going on I’ve never really told people that I was going to do something and not do it. What I have told people is that I would back up the municipalities, so my vote is going to be no.”
The last to cast a vote was Chairman Earl Stafford who said, “I have stopped at Wayne’s Grocery every morning for 20 years. This is the hardest vote I have ever made, it is, but this has been put on us. We have citizens that we have to look after as well as a government. They have done everything by the book. Do I want it over there? No, but I am voting yes.”
The matter is expected to come before the Ponce de Leon Town Council at their regular session in March.
In other business, Emergency Operations Director Adrienne Owen requested to apply for a state capability grant that would fund a cyber security examination to determine how strong their security is and how they will move forward after the results. The commission approved the request.
The Bonifay Fire Department was given approval for use of the recreational center grounds for the annual Fourth of July event. The fire department has taken over the event from the ministerial association that has hosted the event for several years. The Tourist Development Council will help fund the event as the BFD handles the event itself.
The Holmes County Employee of the Month was awarded to the Building Department’s assistant Nina Nallick. County Manager David Corbin said Nallick came to the department from Road and Bridge and has been a great asset.
“Nina gives 100 percent in all she does,” Corbin said. “She always goes above and beyond.”
The Holmes County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in regular session at 6 p.m. March 7.