CECIL BENNETT TEXT AMENDMENT DENIED
February 28, 2016
Cecil Bennett of Bennett Cove submitted a text amendment to hold special events in the Agriculture districts of Jasper County. The amendment was to be applied to the entire county; however his text amendment was specific to his “cabin.” Here’s the amendment he submitted:
“The site is to be used for special events for a vacation cabin rental home for weddings, retreats, get-a-ways, and family oriented events with these certain stipulations.
- Not allow any event that will be advertised, have a cover charge, involve excessive alcohol use or encourage lude activities. Individuals that violate these clauses will lose their deposit if they are discovered before the event.
- We reserve the right to enter events at any time to ensure compliance. If there is a violation the sheriff will be called and the event will be shut down.
- We will request that any outside music be turned off, turned down or move inside the cabin after 8 pm.”
Dr. Bennett was allowed to present first at the P&Z hearing. Watch PART 1-Cecil Bennett tells how he started renting out his cabin
PART 2—Continuation of Cecil Bennett opening remarks
During his comments Dr. Bennett made some notable points—
- He made sure everyone knew he allows the Sheriff’s Dept and Fire Dept to have their annual picnic there for free.
- Told everyone this is a valuable facility “for the county.” (How is that? The County only has complaints to 911.)
- He said it was NOT meant to be a business, but then told how he charged for weddings and overnight stays.
- He said people tried to slip things by them and he acted like they had no idea what was going on at his cabin.
Everyone attending spoke against this proposed text amendment
Jeff Martin’s comments are representative of what others said. Listen to what he said:
Other comments addressed DUI’s, trespassing on private property adjacent to Bennett Cove, profanity laced music throughout the night, music so loud people can’t hear their TV’s in their own homes 1/4 to 1/2 mile away, and the effect on horses and other farm animals.
Bennett then was allowed to address the citizen’s comments (11 citizens spoke about what was going on at Bennett Cove). He started with, “We have NEVER been cited by the police one time” in 8 years he’s been there. This seems to be the #1 problem everyone at the meeting mentioned—no law enforcement. Is that because when the Sheriff’s car drives up it causes the music to be turned down, or because the annual department picnic is held there free each year, or because the noise ordinance is just “too vague” to enforce? Not having law enforcement of DUI and trespassing were also mentioned.
The fact that Bennett has been running a commercial business for 8 years without a license in an AG district with nothing being done about it is a code enforcement issue.
Vote on text amendment by P&Z Board
“Someone is not doing what they are supposed to do on the enforcement side.“
The vote was 5-Ø to deny the text amendment on the basis it was not a text amendment. As Ross Hays said when he spoke, “This is a set of house rules, not a text amendment.”
“I can do what I want to if I don’t charge money”
Listen to Cecil Bennett’s comments after the text amendment was denied. He seemed determined to continue what he was doing despite all the problems he and his property manager heard at the meeting.
And who is going to determine if he charges money or not? He already said he did so in his opening statements. Does Dr. Bennett think his neighbors have no rights?
Bennett Cove has been a commercial business operating illegally in an agriculture district without a business license, without any health department inspections, and without following any zoning rules.
The people that live in the area have had to put up with “profanity laced music” all night long, loud and disturbing noise, “drink til you faint” parties with DUI drivers on our roads, others trespassing on their property, and being denied the private and peaceful use of their own property. As everyone in the room agreed, including the P&Z Board, the lack of law enforcement is THE problem.
On March 8th, the Board of Commissioners will hear the same text amendment. The BOC will be informed as to how the P&Z board voted, but they will decide on their own if this will be allowed or not. Make plans to attend—March 8th at 6:00PM.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.