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Clermont recycling business asks for 2nd chance

POSTED: April 7, 2014 8:51 p.m.

Ben Jackson readily admits he got off to the wrong start.

A few years ago, Jackson built a 4,800-square-foot warehouse on his father’s property on Campground Road in Clermont and began operating a plastics recycling business.

But in addition to not being zoned for such a business, Jackson also never received a certificate of occupancy or business license.

That oversight cost Jackson dearly when Hall County marshals responded to a complaint about the business in early January.

Having already invested about $300,000 in the business, Jackson was forced to pay $18,000 in penalties for operating the business illegally.

“It was a mistake,” Chris Walker, a Gainesville attorney who represents Jackson, told the Hall County Planning Commission on Monday. “Our ultimate objective is to get square with the county on everything.”

Calling it a hardship case, Walker asked the Planning Commission to rezone the property to allow the recycling business to continue operating once the proper licenses and permits are acquired.

“We throw ourselves at the mercy of the county,” Walker said.

Additionally, Jackson is proposing to add storage to the property.

“You’re asking to expand that violation,” said commission member Don Smallwood, who chided Jackson for not taking the proper steps in opening his business. “It seems, in the beginning, everything was done wrong.”

But Smallwood and other commissioners were sympathetic to Jackson, as well, finding no problem with the rezoning request despite staff’s recommendation to deny approval.

“We don’t want to put anyone out of business,” Smallwood said.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the Hall County Board of Commissioners approve the rezoning to planned industrial development, but added a few conditions, including a limit on operating hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It didn’t start out right, but this is a first step,” said commission member Johnny Varner.

The Board of Commissioners will take up the matter when it meets April 24.


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