Better communication was the main topic at the March meeting of the Upson County Planning Commission held last week. Earlier this year, board members decided it would be advantageous to invite different leaders in the community to their meetings each month to discuss what is going on in town and if there is anything the Planning Commission needs to improve upon.
Upson County Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston was the guest this month and he spoke with the board about the issues Thomaston faces when it comes to attracting industry. He noted that other counties are funding their Industrial Development Authorities with extra money that can be used as incentives for a business to locate in their community and he feels that is something that will need to be done locally in order to give Upson County a fighting chance.
“We as a county have got to start supporting our IDA (financially). We’ve got to get the funding in there so we can bring industry in here,” said Blackston. “This is where we are going to have to sell the community and educate the citizens as to why we need to do this. One way we can possibly do this is ask for a SPLOST for a couple of years to improve the IDA. Another way is to fund it out of the general revenues and set up some type of program for it. This is one of the reasons we just renewed the contract (for the county to fund the IDA) for just one year because it is one of the aspects in the LOST negotiations. We have got to put up the money to get industries to come in.”
Planning Commission member Joel Pitts stated that he believes there needs to be better consensus between the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners when it comes to zoning issues. Pitts noted that it makes both boards looks bad when the Planning Commission recommends approval of a zoning application and then it is denied by the BOC. One way he felt that any questions could be cleared up is for a member of the BOC to come to a meeting.
There used to be two commissioners I saw in these meetings on a regular basis,” said Pitts. “One of them was myself, because I sat on this board and the other was Steve Hudson. However, in the last few years we do not see a commissioner in this room when we have a meeting. How can we work together if we do not communicate?”
Blackston agreed with Pitts and stated that he would try to have a member of the BOC at each meeting so that everyone would be up to date on any zoning issues.