Problems, solutions at first BOC town hall of 2013

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A few of the issues are easy fixes -- citations already issued and crews already sent out.

But lawyers or officers will have to be consulted for a few of the other concerns facing homeowners, who came out to talk to commissioners Tuesday during the first of a spring series of town hall meetings.

The crowd was light, and, for the most part, so was the mood, as neighbors helped each other out with concerns over homeowners associations or even mailboxes.

"I have no real concerns tonight," said Raymond Rodden, who has chastised the board on occasion on issues like an airport controversy in recent years. Starting a conversation about how rezoning matters get tabled, he said the town hall meeting was more about getting to know the politicians.

"It humanizes folks in your chair," he said, expressing gratitude that leaders were willing to meet and asking for more occasions. "We don't always come with rocks, but we do on occasion."

Marlin Knapp, who has met the leaders over the years with his work with his homeowners associations, followed up with his commissioner about stopping the proliferation of handbills thrown into his driveway, an issue that county attorneys are currently studying.

"There's a fine line between freedom of commercial speech and litter," he said, with Commissioner Jace Brooks saying the practice is "aggravating," but a solution is hard to come by.

But Lanelda and Benjamin Kelson were excited to hear some answers to concerns about their Lawrenceville-area community.

A recent complaint to commissioners brought a crew to help clean up trash along Bramlett Shoals Road, but the pair said they have had a hard time getting volunteers to help continue a clean-up effort.

"It has become a mini-dumping site," Lanelda Kelson said, receiving suggestions from the board before learning they could issue a complaint against a garbage company whose trucks may have been losing their load.

"I have a contact now, so I feel good," Lanelda Kelson said, although commissioners had few suggestions to help Benjamin with the neighborhood's issues with foreclosed homes, a problem officials said they have not been able to surmount themselves.

But Benjamin Kelson, a homeowners association president, was able to give a few pointers to another distressed resident who was concerned that her own HOA was not allowing her to view their records.

After Tuesday's session at the Historic Courthouse in Lawrenceville, officials have plans to visit each of the remaining commission districts for similar sessions. And at least one commissioner said he had hopes for a bigger turnout.

The others sessions are planned at 7 p.m. April 30 at George Pierce Park in Suwanee, May 1 at Grayson High School and May 9 at Lucky Shoals community center in Norcross.