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Chamber president appointed to vacant city council seat

The Sylvania City Council agreed unanimously Tuesday night to appoint Tripp Sheppard to fill the remainder of council member Jeremy Hill’s four-year term, which ends Dec. 31.

Sheppard, 26, is a vice president of the Bank of Newington and is president of the Screven County Chamber of Commerce.

Hill resigned so he can accept a job at a university in Kansas.

In other action Tuesday night, the council agreed to draft an amendment to the zoning law that would allow a property owner on S. Main Street to operate a bed and breakfast. The council will decide at a later meeting whether to move forward with the zoning change requested by Lisa Mock.

Sheppard has lived in Screven County all his life, except for five years he spent in college in Athens, Ga. He has lived in Sylvania for three years. He and his wife Crystal, director of the pre-school program at First Baptist Church, celebrated their third wedding anniversary Wednesday.

“I grew up in a small town,” Sheppard said. “I’ve always been really, really attached to this place.”

Sheppard said he has worked in his family’s bank since he was 16 years old. He graduated from Screven County High School in 2000 and earned a B.B.A. in real estate from the University of Georgia in 2005.

Hill will become director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan. He said he and his family will keep their home in Sylvania and will be back to visit often.

“I regret leaving early,” Hill said. “It’s something I needed to do for my family and future.”

Voters will fill seat on the council in the regular election this fall. Terms also expire at the end of this year for Mayor Pro Tem Preston Dees and Council Member Joette Black, according to City Manager Carter Crawford. Council members are elected at large by all city residents, not in districts.

Hill had served at Georgia Southern as assistant director for the Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development and as director of the Coastal Rivers Water Planning and Policy Center.

Hill’s resignation is effective Friday and he starts work in Kansas on May 15. Sheppard’s work begins on the council on Friday.

The zoning change requested by Mock would have to be advertised and go through public hearings before it could be approved, said Hugh Hunter, city attorney. Council members discussed requiring a buffer of at least 5 acres to protect neighbors.

If the change is adopted, property owners would be allowed to rent rooms overnight and host weddings, receptions and corporate meetings.

Mock, who operates Platinum Properties Real Estate Group Inc., and the Sylvania Way assisted living home, owns a house and guest house on more than 18 acres adjacent to the Savannah River Parkway. She said she has had a number of requests in recent months to rent the guest house to out-of-town visitors and she would like to start a bed and breakfast on the property.

She said she would rent rooms for $75 per night, with $25 more for each additional person.