#37: Cartersville, GA 7/21/16

Quick! Put on your seersucker and chug a pitcher of sweet tea–the whole town’s a-goin’ down to watch the Cartersville city council dole out some Southern justice.

Yessir, today the fine men and women of the jury are deciding whether to change the zoning on a troublemakin’ patch of grass yonder. And the city’s brightest legal lights are here to deliver an Atticus Finch-worthy performance.

The judge–a.k.a. Mayor Matt Santini–narrowed his steely eyes at the packed room of onlookers. “Anybody’s welcome to get up and speak. However, if it doesn’t relate back to one of those 13 points–” he gestured to a PowerPoint slide with, ironically, only ten points, “–then we’re really not getting anywhere.”

With that, the Trial of the Century began. First up, attorney for the defense.

“This would be a distribution-type facility such as you see for Amazon,” the simple country lawyer drawled. “Those type of things are goin’ up these days. Seems like that man comes to my house every night with something my wife ordered on the Internet.” He flashed a smile to the jury.

The Cartersville city council meeting

The star witness for the defense was a 51-year resident of Cartersville with a lethal knowledge of local roads.

“I’m personally familiar with the traffic flow of the county. On my way over tonight, I clocked the mileage from the Waterford [subdivision] to the intersection of Erwin Street and Old Mill Road: 1.7  miles.” This modern-day Rain Man dazzled the jury with flashy testimony not seen since the O.J. Simpson trial:

“The natural flow of traffic is coming up 75 or 41 to 293 onto Old Mill. Or it’s gonna be going out Erwin to the South Bridge. Or it’s gonna be Old Mill to Douthit Ferry to 113 and then either going up to 61 to Dallas or Rockmart. Or it’s gonna be going Burnt Hickory Road to the new roundabout.”

This man NEVER gets lost.

Ladies fanned themselves. Gentlemen loosened their ties. Newspapermen chomped on cigars. Now, for the prosecution: a patrician man in a disarmingly-casual blue Polo approached with hands in pockets.

“I stand here before you trying to decide if I’m opposed to us having business coming into Cartersville,” he slowly pondered. “In the mornings and late in the evenings, if you’re coming out of Erwin Downs, you sit there at that stop sign for a good long while waiting for the traffic.” The Georgia night air was heavy with sweat and tension.

“If we add another 400 trucks–this is just my opinion if you don’t mind–but if they have the choice of going 293 or coming up across South Bridge to 41, you know where they’ll go,” he warned the jury, his eyes sliding from person to person to deliver his closing argument. “I’m opposed to it. I hate to say that I’m opposed to business coming into Cartersville.”

Some onlookers were overcome with emotion.

At this point, the mayor-judge interjected: “I should have said this off the top. There will NOT be a vote this evening on this zoning request. That will take place at our meeting two weeks from now.”

No verdict? Well, shucks! Thelma? Toss on another order of grits–justice is gonna take awhile.


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