Members of the group known as Save Our Sandfly (SOS) went before the county commission today for help. They're accusing Chatham County of not following one of its own zoning codes. They say because of that, a Wal-mart may go up in the middle of their community. County lawmakers are telling their citizens they can't help them.
They're asking the county to follow ordinances for a planned unit development that were passed before the 52-acre lot was bought in 1989.
"What the PRD says is, if you don't have a building permit issued within two years, you have to go back and reevaluate the zoning and determine if the zoning is still appropriate," SOS attorney Don Stack explained. "If not, then you need to rezone it for the appropriate category."
The property has never been revisited for zoning purposes; in fact the ordinance has never been enforced.
"We have failed to administer and enforce, and we are sorry we have compromised your community," said commissioner John McMasters.
And commissioners are now saying it's too late.
"You can't change the game once it's started," said commissioner Dean Kicklighter. "Wal-mart has already applied for this. They've already applied to build there. The county cannot act without opening itself up to major lawsuits. The county would lose."
But the SOS attorney feels the county commission is picking the easier target.
"They know it's going to end up in the courts," Stack said. "And I think they'd rather face Save Our Sandfly than Wal-mart lawyers."
Save Our Sandfly says it's ready to take it that far if necessary. That organization and Wal-mart will both go before the metropolitan planning commission one Monday to state their cases. We'll let you know what happens.