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JASPER — A request for a zoning change was denied by the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners.

At a June 4 meeting, Douglas McGauley’s request to change approximately three acres of commercial highway interchange to residential zoning was denied with a vote of 3-2.

The board expressed two main concerns: that the site would be turned into a mobile home park, and that changing the zoning would go in the opposite direction of the county’s effort to encourage economic development.

Commissioner William Mitchell made a motion to allow the zoning change, under the condition of a deed restriction that would allow for single dwelling homes. Commissioner Beth Burnham then seconded the motion, but it was voted down by a 3-2 vote.

“My concern is when we’ve gone through so much effort to maintain and clean up these exits, I feel it’s a step backwards in the direction the county should be going,” said Chairman Josh Smith.

Commissioner Randy Ogburn agreed.

“I feel like it would be a step backward also,” Ogburn said. “From commercial back to residential, I feel like it may not be in my time, but in the future that land is going to be valuable and we’ll need it for commercial growth.”

SVEC Operation Roundup

Suwannee Valley Electric Director of Communications Jon Little gave a presentation at the start of the June 4 meeting, explaining a new SVEC project.

Around $14,400 has been awarded to Hamilton County teachers through Operation Roundup, according to Little.

Operation Roundup takes the monthly electric bill from SVEC members and rounds it up to the nearest dollar. Little said most members have agreed to participate.

“Teachers can apply online for grants for materials that they want,” Little said. “We’re still active this summer and collecting money. We’ve had a lot of books being purchased, chemistry lab materials, math modules.”

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Mike Jones is a sports writer for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press in North Florida.