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Supervisors OK new district lines

Lincoln County supervisors Monday approved physical descriptionsof new supervisor district lines that are expected to be used innext year’s elections.

Bob Allen, board attorney, said he had been awaiting theboundary line descriptions from the redistricting consultant. Thecounty’s plan can now be turned in to the U.S. Department ofJustice for pre-clearance under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“That’s the last thing I needed to submit it,” Allen said.

Following the county’s submission, the justice department has 60days to pre-clear the plan or request another 60 days by asking foradditional information. Allen said he did not think thepre-clearance process and timeframe would impact use of the newlines by election officials next year.

“They will use the lines until they are stopped,” Allensaid.

Allen said all necessary information will be included in thecounty’s submission, so the justice department should not have toask for additional review time. He mentioned that other countieswere having their plans pre-cleared within the initial 60-dayperiod.

The county had to redraw supervisor lines after the 2000 censusshowed district populations with a 16.63 percent variance from theleast-populated district to the most populated district. Guidelinesgenerally allow no more than a 10 percent variance.

Allen said the county’s plan lowers the variance to 7.34 percentand restores the minority majority percentage of District 1 to65.94 percent, with a voting age population of 62.68 percent black.Following the 2000 census, the percentages had slipped to 65.84percent and 62.58 percent, respectively.

“We’ve done it in the simplest, least complex way,” Allen saidabout population adjustments.

Allen said the county’s plan affects less than 900 people, whowould be administratively re-registered in their new districts. Analternative redistricting plan, which was submitted during a publichearing and would greatly increase the District 1 black population,would have affected 6,000 to 7,000 people, Allen said.

Following the death of long-time District 1 Supervisor CliffGivens, political observers expect a wide open field of candidatesnext year.

Among those said to be contemplating a run include the Rev.Larry Jointer and Brookhaven Aldermen Dorsey Cameron, Terry Batesand the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson. Givens’ wife Vedia, who was appointedsupervisor, has not expressed an interest in seeking the officenext year.

In other business Monday, supervisors heard from Dennis Bowmanand Becky Bowman regarding their opposition a proposed cattletransfer station near their property on Jackson-Liberty Road. BeckyBowman has expressed concerns about smell, flies and decliningproperty values due to the cattle operation.

Developer Robert Rawls said last week he had not decided what todo with the property that is being cleared. He acknowledged thepossibility of a cattle transfer station but also the possibilityof a mobile home park.

With a few exceptions, Allen said Monday the county has no landuse ordinances. Exceptions he mentioned included septic tankrequirements, swine operations, garbage and subdivision roads.

“I could find nothing giving the board any authority tointerfere with someone’s use of their property,” Allen said.

Allen said the Environmental Protection Agency and theDepartment of Environmental Quality have regulations that beapplicable. Chancery court could be another option if a party choseto pursue that, he said.

Finally Monday, supervisors authorized two days off for countyemployees on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There was somediscussion about working part of the day Christmas Eve, but theboard ultimately decided to close county offices for the fullday.