Commission fails to reach
Nuwaubian rezoning decision
Macon Telegraph/October 17, 2001
By Rob Peecher
Eatonton -- The zoning status of a portion of the United
Nuwaubian Nation of Moors' 476-acre village remains in limbo
after Putnam County Commission members Tuesday made three
motions on a rezoning request that weren't seconded, and a
fourth motion ended in a tie vote.
The nine owners of the village sought to have 1.6 acres
rezoned from residential to agricultural and another 10.67
acres rezoned from agricultural to residential.
Commissioner Howard McMichael was absent from Tuesday's
zoning hearing, and three remaining commission members each
made a separate motion on the request. Commission Chairman
Steve Layson, who made no motions but did finally second the
fourth motion, said after the meeting he was not sure what
the tie vote meant.
"We're going to have to get an opinion on that; I'm not
quite sure," Layson said.
County Attorney Bob Prior said to Layson after the hearing,
"This was a mass confusion."
Commissioner Sylbie Yon, who has worked with the Nuwaubians
on their continuing building and zoning problems, made a
motion to defer any decision until about 20 buildings or
structures on the property are brought into compliance with
county ordinances. Her motion failed for lack of a second.
Commissioner Sandra Adams made a motion to deny the rezoning
request, which initially failed for lack of a second.
Commissioner Jimmy Davis made an unseconded motion to table
the request until the next meeting to give the Nuwaubians
time to get a deed showing the nine property owners do
actually own the property. Putnam County Sheriff Howard
Sills, who spoke against the rezoning request, said it is
his opinion that the property owners do not have good title
to the land.
After the three motions failed for lack of a second, Layson
asked Adams to restate her motion to deny the request.
Layson then seconded her motion. Davis and Yon voted against
the motion, and the issue was at an end.
Frank Ford, an attorney whose wife and law partner was
county attorney and who represented the county in much of
its litigation during the past four years, said he believes
no action was taken because the final vote, ending in a tie,
was no different than the motions that failed for lack of a
Under a normal denial of a rezoning request, Ford said, an
applicant has to wait six months to a year before bringing
the request back before the commission. Ford said he
believes, based on the tie vote, that no action was taken
Tuesday, and therefore the Nuwaubians could bring the
request back before the commission at its next rezoning
Ralph Goldberg, the attorney who has represented the
Nuwaubians in the bulk of their litigation with the county
about zoning and building disputes, said he believed the
commission denied the request but would "hate to argue with
Frank Ford on county procedure."
Al Woodall, who presented the request to the commission,
said the Nuwaubians needed the rezoning as the first step to
bring at least two of their buildings into compliance with
Robbie Howell, the county engineer, told the commission
nearly 20 buildings or structures on the property are not in
Sills told the commission that the Nuwaubians were seeking
the rezoning in an effort to circumvent a court-ordered
injunction he obtained that forbids use of one of the
buildings until it is brought into compliance.
Sills also said the request should be rejected because the
nine individuals who claim ownership of the property have no
standing to make a rezoning request because the title they
hold is bad.
The Putnam County Planning and Zoning Commission last month
recommended the County Commission deny the request.