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County clears the way for aerial photography contract
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Smile, Effingham County — the county is going to take a picture.

County commissioners approved a plan to have aerial photography of the county done, partnering with the Chatham Metropolitan Planning Commission to save approximately $60,000 on the deal.

“There’s a number of great projects we could do,” said Kresha Jones-Aycock of the county’s GIS department.

Such flyovers are done every three or four years to update specific projects and to get more accurate tax assessments, she said.

But the flights have to be done soon, according to Assistant County Administrator David Crawley.

“We’re in a time crunch,” he said. “The flight has to be in January through March when the leaves are not on the trees.”

With the trees bare, aerial cameras can see more clearly what’s on the ground.

Earth Data, which did the last three flyovers, was the lowest bidder for the Chatham MPC’s bid. Crawley said the county could sign on as a co-signatory or enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the MPC. The most recent aerial photography flights were done in 1997, 2001 and 2004.

“They are working on this as quickly as possible,” he said of the MPC. “The problem is, we’re not having a second meeting in January where we could approve it.”

The flights also will use LIDAR — short for light detection and ranging — to give the county digital elevations. The county has small portions of Effingham  done for flood maps purposes.

“It helps in site development issues and in flood map issues,” Crawley said. “It should help us on all our major road and drainage projects.”

With LIDAR-based flood maps, property owners also will be able to see if their homes are in areas where flood insurance is necessary.