Tifton Gazette

Local News

September 13, 2011

Dangerous intersection: Forest Lakes residents ask for county's help

TIFTON — A group of residents from Forest Lakes Subdivision approached Tift County’s Board of Commissioners during their meeting Monday night to ask for help with an intersection they believe is dangerous.

Donnie Connell,4814 Forest Lake Drive, came with John Ellis and Dr. Ches Smith to speak to the board regarding the safety of the intersection located at the entrance to the subdivision. Connell said, “The intersection we’re talking about is the intersection of Mount Olive Church Road, Sutton Road and Forest Lake Drive, which is the primary entrance into that subdivision.

“That subdivision currently has 166 residences. Many, many more than it was several years ago. The intersection has had several accidents that have resulted in serious injury and even death in recent years.

“The more traffic increases, the more dangerous it becomes. When the intersection was first cut into Mount Olive Church Road, both Forest Lake Drive and Sutton Road were dirt roads with very little traffic.”

Connell explained that many factors have played a part in causing the intersection to become dangerous. Changes that have resulted from roads being paved, the high school being moved, people from other counties coming to Tift Regional Medical Center and the growth of Tift County to the north have all played a part in causing the intersection to become dangerous.

According to Connell, the intersection is basically unimproved since the time it was put in. The relationship of the subdivision entrance to the intersection is such that the subdivision itself cannot change its entrance in any way to solve the problem without the county becoming involved.

Sherry Miley is the commissioner for the district where Forest Lakes is located. She asked, “Do you have an idea of what kind of change you’re wanting? Because I’m familiar with that. I agree Sutton Road has become a cut-through for lots of people and the traffic is getting heavier.”

Connell said, “There is vacant property that could be used to put an entrance perpendicular to Sutton Road instead of coming in at an intersection. There is also right-of-way further east on Mount Olive that could be used for a new entrance.”

Miley wanted to know if the citizens had spoken to the developer of the subdivision, Chip Morris. Smith stated, “I called Chip Morris and he gave us his blessing on coming to speak to you folks and said he would be open to anything we could work out. He wanted to be here but was out of town.”  

Commissioner Donnie Hester suggested that since the intersection falls within Sherry Miley’s district, she, along with County Manager Jim Carter and Jason Jordan, Head of Special Projects, should meet with the citizens and begin a discussion.

Carter said, “We need to look at what the standards and rules are that govern this. What we really need to do is take a good, hard look at it and see what is feasible. The safety of intersections is important to all of us. We want to try and fix it if we can, but the first thing we need to do is look at what the possibilities are.”

Carter asked for the contact information for the citizens and assured them he would begin looking at the situation and then contact the group for discussion.

Following public comments, the board met in regular session to take action on the agenda from their Sept. 6 work session. Carter brought up redistricting for what was to be another in a series of meetings where the topic was discussed. Carter has arranged a tentative meeting date of Oct. 6 for Tift County’s Board of Education, the Regional Commission (RC) and the general public to meet with the board for viewing and discussion of the proposed maps. The RC has drawn a selection of possibilities for new district lines based on census data and will have three of those maps on display.

Carter asked that the date be considered for approval so that time could be allowed to advertise the meeting to the public ahead of time. “Public hearings on redistricting are not required, but I think having a listening session will be beneficial to everybody.” he said.

The board approved beginning the process of placing some properties owned by the county on a surplus list. Properties on the surplus list may be offered for bid to the public with the stipulation that those properties be relocated, while some properties will be demolished. Each property considered will be brought before the board in public session before any decisions are made.

In other business, the board approved the re-zoning of a six-acre piece of land on Whiddon Mill Road to general business in order to allow the development of an upscale RV park and campground. The board also approved the donation of one surplused ambulance to Moultrie Technical College and one surplused ambulance to be donated to the City of Omega.  

Commissioner Melissa Chevers asked for attendance of other commissioners at the ribbon cutting she has planned with Craig Sowell for Copeland Parkat 5:30 p.m. Oct. 7. Chevers also said, “Thank you to the staff for the sidewalk on MLK. It’s coming along very well. Hopefully by the middle of next month we should be complete with that. It’s looking good.”

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