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Commissioner suggests environmental court

By Justin Boron

The possibility of an environmental court in Clayton County surfaced at the close of the county commission work session Wednesday when Commissioner Charley Griswell proposed the creation of an environmental judge to shore up lapses in code enforcement.

Although Forest Park and Morrow have implemented environmental judges, the county has yet to make the move, depending primarily on inspectors to identify violations in homes around the county.

Consequently, violators aren't taking the county regulations seriously, Griswell said.

"They're laughing at what we've got now," he said.

Eddie Williams, director of community development said the county's method of code enforcement is not effective enough because there is no threat of legal action.

"We go out there and beat our heads against the wall," he said.

A judge would hold violators more accountable through binding legal decisions, Williams said.

Currently, the county has no recourse against violators who refuse to comply with the environmental board's decision, he said.

If a violator did not comply with a judge's order, he or she would be in contempt of court and face jail time or fines, Williams said.

The following also was discussed at the commission's work session:

? Griswell expressed opposition to the creation of a blasting ordinance that would require a permit for the use of explosives in the county. He said he was concerned about the cost of administering a new ordinance that could require the hire of blasting experts.

? The commissioners also said they wanted to hold off on approving more Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds for road widenings in order to catch up on re-pavings. Mt. Zion Road had been proposed suggested for a road widening.

? The final two candidates in the search for an indigent defense firm appeared before the commission. Reed, Scott, & Associates and Lister & Holt, LLC are the final two firms. The commissioners will decide who receives the approximately $1 million contract in the coming weeks.