April 22, 2018
The hearing concerning the Tournament Lake on Hwy 212 W revealed some interesting facts.
Did you know that this “pay lake” has been registered as an LLC and operates as 212 Lakes LLC, Melanie Neal, Registered Agent, since 9/5/17? This property was purchased by Ashley and James Ray on 7/11/17.
Did you know that 4,900 pounds of salt was put into the “pay lake” along with 21,000 pounds of carp in January 2018?
Did you know that a tournament lake is not allowed in conservation? It appears that the Ray’s want the tournament lake designation added to the use table in Agriculture zoning so they don’t have to pay a $13,000+ penalty for breaching the conservation covenant. Doing all they have done already apparently does not constitute a breach of conservation.
Did you know that the carp put in the shared pond are not sterile? Before the meeting Shane Sealy had told some citizens as well as one or two P&Z board members that the carp were sterile. However, during the meeting James Ray (who spoke for the tournament lake), said the carp were not sterile when asked about it directly. The P&Z board seemed to be shocked with the revelation since carp are an invasive fish.
Did you know that Pope’s Creek, a major source of water for the City of Monticello, flows through this pond?
Even though she was the applicant, Melanie Neal did not speak. James Ray did and gave some details about the proposed “carp tournament.” The carp tournament will be every Saturday and/or Sunday from 7am-7pm. There will be no PA system and no night fishing. Customers will pay per set of 3 poles, pick a spot around lake, and fish for 12 hours. He said his profit is 20%.
Mary Alice Carter, Chair of the JCWSA, spoke and said she was very concerned about water conservation, water use, sedimentation, erosion, etc. She said since Pope’s Creek flows through the pond, a Pond Management Plan will have to be approved by a certified person and that plan must include an erosion and sedimentation policy.
The owner of the shared pond, Cindy Bryant, told the P&Z that the Ray’s/Neal’s had raised the water levels so high to accommodate all the carp, that she now has carp in her pond because when it rains the shared pond overflows into her pond. She said the dyke overflows when it rains. She also said the carp were 15-20 pounds and she did not want them in her pond.
The P&Z Board was questioned about the definition of a tournament lake. Even though a text amendment was advertised, there was no text amendment available and therefore no definition of a tournament lake.
Questions that were asked included:
- Will the noise ordinance be in effect?
- How many people at a time can be there?
- What kind of facilities have to be available for sanitation?
- What hours would there be for operation?
- Is there going to be a minimum lake size?
- How can you do something like this in a pond that you do not entirely own? The shared owner does not want it, so how does this work?
Board member, Lee Holman, brought up the fact that whatever decision was made will affect entire county, not just this one lake/pond. (Note: James Ray said this pond was 4.23 acres; however, Mr. Sealy later looked at a satellite view and determined it was approximately 2.53 acres.)
A motion was made to deny the text amendment and inclusion of a tournament lake into the table of uses. It was seconded and the vote was 5-Ø to deny.
The P&Z Board realized they could not come up with a definition that night and agreed they needed someone with more expertise to help. A work session will be planned for the 4th Thursday in May that may also include “special events” according to the discussion.
It was brought up that there was night fishing being done presently on the Hwy 212 shared pond, and James Ray said it was “for his friends and family” and they could do that on his own property. (Remember this is a pay lake.) Sounds like Bennett Cove, doesn’t it? Mr. Bennett said he wasn’t charging for weddings, parties, etc. and therefore he could do what he wanted on his property.
Neighbors don’t seem to count when it comes to Code or Zoning enforcement.
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.