- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—VALDOSTA — The Lowndes County Commission is unlikely to vote on amendments to the Moody Activity Zone tonight.

Lowndes County Planner Jason Davenport has been negotiating the amendments with officials at Moody Air Force Base. He said Monday that common ground has not been reached, but the two parties are close.

“My hope was I would be able to get a planning commission recommendation tonight, but it appears Moody AFB has not yet committed on our latest proposal,” Davenport said. “So I’m continuing to work with them, try to isolate their concerns and try to get them and us on the same page before moving forward.”

The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission recommended Monday evening to table discussion on the MAZ for 90 days, mentioning that the new wing commander at Moody was not up to speed with proposed changes.

“The last word I heard from them was last Monday night and it was, ‘We’re very close,’” he said. “I’m encouraged by that, and we’re continuing to make progress.”

The Moody Activity Zone is an area with specific restrictions to protect Moody AFB and its missions from landowners’ complaints regarding noise and safety. It also regulates commercial and residential developments that could impede Moody’s missions.

When asked by Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter if the GLPC would recommend tabling the amendments or even withdrawing them, Davenport said both options are realistic.

“The withdrawal gives us some time to go back internally rather than having to keep a report for you,” Davenport said. “If we table it, we continue to use the momentum we have now, so both options are absolutely worth discussing.”

Davenport said he intends to communicate with Lowndes County Manager Joe Pritchard, get feedback from the GLPC at its meeting Monday night, and will report to the Commission at tonight’s meeting.

Slaughter explained why the commission felt the review of the MAZ was necessary.

“The MAZ is a great document, it’s recognized all the way across the country and by the Department of Defense as being a groundbreaker in that area, and we want to continue to do that,” Slaughter said. “But the reality is, if you have an ordinance like that, you should be able to take it down and look at it, review it and see if the times have changed to where you may need to make some adjustments. That’s really all this is.”

Slaughter also explained that the Unified Land Development Code, the code which the MAZ sits inside, was designed to be amended.

“When I served on the GLPC, that’s when the Unified Land Development Code came into being, and it was basically presented to the community as a living, breathing document, so you can take it down and address issues that may arise.”

Slaughter argued that a new mission at Moody would be more than a valid reason for the ULDC and the MAZ to be changed, or even enhanced.

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