The Henry County Board of Commissioners held a regularly scheduled public meeting at 6:30 p.m., on Tuesday, May 17, 2005, in the Community Room, County Administration Building, 140 Henry Parkway, McDonough, Georgia. Notice of this meeting was posted in the entrance foyer of the County Administration Building. The Daily Herald was notified of this meeting. Those present were:
Jason T. Harper, Chairman, presiding
Warren E. Holder, Vice-Chairman/District I Commissioner
Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis, District II Commissioner
Randy Stamey, District III Commissioner
Gerry Adams, District IV Commissioner
Lee Holman, District V Commissioner
Also attending were Patrick Jaugstetter, County Attorney; Rob Magnaghi, County Manager; Susan B. Craig, County Clerk; Peggy L. Malcolm, Deputy County Clerk; Michael F. Turner, Public Safety Division Director; Terry McMickle, Public Works Division Director; Michael Harris, Economic Development Division Director; Michael Sabine, Risk Management Manager; and others.
Chairman Harper called the meeting to order. He announced the zoning request of West Panola, LLC (RZ-04-74) from RA and R-1 to R-2 for property located to the east and west of Clark Drive and to the south of County Line Road, consisting of 131.4 +/- acres, has been tabled by staff. He announced a new zoning sign and advertisement will provide the date when this matter will be heard.
Chairman Harper asked for an Acceptance of the Agenda, with the following amendments:
1. Add Item XII.A. – Request approval of a Consultant to Prepare the Public Involvement Portion of the Comprehensive Transportation Plan (tabled at the 5/16/05 meeting).
2. Add Item XII.B. - Request to locate a Subdivision Entrance Sign in the Right-of-Way.
3. Add Item XII.C. – Request Approval and Authorization to Extend the Current Commercial Lease Contract for Off-Site Storage for the Building Department Files.
4. Add Item XII.D. – Request Approval of an Emergency Purchase of Security Fencing at the County Jail.
5. Add Item XII.E. – District IV Appointment to the Library Board Due to a Resignation.
Commissioner Adams made a motion to approve the agenda, with the five amendments; Commissioner Holder seconded; and the motion passed by a vote of 5-0, with Commissioners Holder, Mathis, Stamey, Adams and Holman in favor.
Chairman Harper noted the Board previously scheduled a Proclamation for the Veterans Wall of Honor Day, which will be postponed until the next Board meeting.
REQUEST OF VININGS PARK COMMUNITY TO APPEAR BEFORE THE BOARD REGARDING SAFETY AND SECURITY; LIGHTING NUISANCE; EXCESSIVE AND UNWANTED TRAFFIC; IN AND OUT OF THE ENTRANCE AND PRIVATE DRIVEWAYS; VIOLATION OF PRIVACY; AND INADEQUATE BUFFERS CREATED BY THE EXPANSION OF TOWNCREST SHOPPING CENTER:
Ms. Delia Spencer, 205 Grover Turner Way, made the following statement:
“We are representing Vinings Park Community. On a whole, I have a petition here, and we have about 75 signatures to show you that the residents of Vinings Park are really not happy with the situation that has been created by the adjacent or business development, which is right at our entrance. Most of the people, when they bought the homes, did not realize what was being created. It was very vague when we asked what’s going to be here. We were told there was going to be a one-story building. Well, with the façade of the building, the story is one level, but it is like two stories high. So, the first complaint is the safety and congestion entering the subdivision. I think we are about the only subdivision in Henry County who shares the business community entrance with the residential community.”
“They have shops that have been extended from the strip mall. The shops are not open, yet. We are already having people come in, make u-turns; some people think you can just drive through, so we are getting traffic that’s coming straight through our community, and then they turn and then they exit. We are also getting a lot of u-turns. If you are coming from the west and you make a right turn, then you want to get over to the shops on the east side, you split through and we are trying to enter and exit. We already have enough problems coming from 75, then off of Jonesboro Road, and then we can’t even get into our own entrance. Really, it’s going to be hazardous. When those shops open up, there’s going to be more congestion and eventually there’s going to be accidents there, too. It’s really not safe.”
“Then we see that one of the shops looks like a restaurant with outdoor seating. We’re not having any privacy at all. You walk into your subdivision, you’ve got to look at strangers out eating, and they are looking at you. Recently, children used to walk to the bus stop, but the parents are taking the children and staying there now, because we are having undesired elements come in that don’t live there. It is really just not safe.”
“Another problem is that there are not proper buffers there; there’s some little bushes and then there are some little pine trees that were thrown up instead of sturdy Leyland Pines that, as they develop, create a wall and a buffer, or either we need a wall, because why should you make an investment of $170,000 in a home and then you have to go buy black-out shades because all these lights in the building are shining into your bedrooms and onto your deck. There’s one picture that shows where the reflection from this building is coming into somebody’s bedroom and it’s affecting about five homes. In fact, even a block down I talked to some residents and they said, ‘well we bought black-out shades.’ My yard looks just like Turner Field. It was not like that until they made this extension and development. I just don’t feel like enough care and concern for us, as residents, for us to exist in an optimal compatibility just wasn’t there. It’s just, hey, we’re doing this, and you all live with it, and people just really are not satisfied.”
“One man’s whole deck is lit up when those lights come on. We don’t know why the lights have to be on totally anyway all night long. When you come into your house, it gets dark, and you want to retire; you want everything to go down. You don’t want to be lit up like a carnival. We are lit up like a carnival at the entries. That’s just totally ridiculous. And then there is nothing to shield us from these lights. In essence, we are concerned with our security and safety. The safety and the interest of going in and out of that subdivision everyday, with congestion, and it’s going to build up and the safety of ourselves and our children with strangers just coming in and sizing up the community and finding out that, oh, this is not a thru street, and just going through out of curiosity.”
“Like I said, we have already noticed the big difference of all the cars coming in. That’s not what we settled for. You know, your home is for contentment. Everybody is stressed and very unhappy about it.”
“Another thing, we have a piece of land, I don’t quite understand, you have a development, then you’ve got two utility lanes in addition to people coming in and out. They’ve got two utility lanes for these trucks to enter these shops. So, you’ve got all these trucks and delivery trucks coming in and out of your subdivision. The noise is really a bad situation. We just don’t think enough concern was given to the residents and a lot of people said that they felt like, and I don’t know how many people have bought a home and said ‘let me go and see,’ maybe you should, it’s hindsight now. You look up and see what the plans are for the future, but a lot of people did not, but they did ask and they really weren’t told that ‘you know what, you’re going to have intrusive lights into your building and you’re going to have excessive traffic, do you want to deal with this.’ We weren’t given the option; we really were not, and now we are in there.”
“They were very shrewd. Tim Jones Development is very shrewd. They built the homes first, sold the homes, and then they completed the development.”
Ms. Donna Stanley, 162 Vinings Drive, addressed the Board as follows:
“My concern, as well as hers, is also focused on the situation where the pictures I’ve just passed out, where there are four entrances into these businesses and office complex/strip mall where there’s no stop signs. My pictures have indicated vehicles coming out of these strip malls/office complexes without stopping. All four in and out entrances have no stop signs, no signs up indicating ‘children at play.’ It’s a community of families, small kids, adults riding bicycles back and forth, and kids playing out on the sidewalks. There are no signs indicating speed limits. I don’t understand this. There’s real estate signs up; there’s community signs to sell the properties.”
“There was no care or concern that our subdivision is tucked back where the businesses are up front, and it seems to be focusing only on the dollar amount, or whose going to rent out these office complexes and whose going to rent out these strip malls, because our children are not involved. The school bus comes into our entrance and stops right beyond the last drive you see in the pictures. Children are getting off that bus, elementary children. We live in a community where these children should be able to get off and see their home and walk to it, but the way the situation is standing is, they are not going to be able to do that due to the fact of the traffic coming in and out and our concern was ‘why particularly the shopping center area has access onto Vinings Drive, because there are two entrances that go into the shopping complex.”
“I don’t understand why those two entrances couldn’t have been used. That would eliminate traffic coming through our neighborhood. I was told when I purchased my home by Tim Jones Community that Tim Jones was building an office complex on the other side of the road, right in front of our entrance, which I was fine with that. I have no problem with that; he has an entrance that comes into his office complex, but across the street, where the strip mall is located, is my concern, because there are so many shops there. There’s an ice cream shop, pizza shop, there’s going to be a restaurant opened up there. There’s going to be a lot of traffic coming in and out, as well as they are coming in and out now, as you can see in the picture. That could be stopped if that entrance road was closed. That would help tremendously, and the only access into our community would be the people going to the office complex or the residents of our community. That’s what I feel really strongly about is the safety of our children and our families.”
“As far as the buffers and the landscaping, in the pictures I have indicated there is lighting on the back of these buildings. In front of that lighting there’s a big strip of land and the grass is about knee high. The front of this strip mall and the front of the office complex is all nicely landscaped. Then, as you pass the shopping center and office complex on the left, there’s a strip of land. It just looks terrible. Nobody is taking care of it. I don’t know who owns it. From my understanding, there may be another building of some sort put there, but it is right backed up to her property.”
Ms. Spencer said: “When I looked at my home, looked at the back yard, I said this is a nice view. I guess within six months or within a year, I have the back of the building with another row of lights shining into my home and into my yard. I’m talking about directly 200 yards from there; that’s all I can see. There are not adequate buffers. This should be blocked out; we shouldn’t even have to deal with that. We should not even have to know what is going on the other side.”
Ms. Stanley continued: “So, if they are sitting on their deck on a two-story home, you are looking out into the back of this strip mall. You’ve got your dumpsters (Ms. Spencer interjected) that you hear at 2:00 in the morning. It’s very annoying for her. Fortunately, I live in the back of the subdivision, so I don’t have to deal with that light situation, but I do know for a fact they are having a terrible time. You want to be able to get in your home and rest, if you want to rest. You want to be able to lift your shades up if you want to. That’s our situation.”
Ms. Spencer added: “I have had people tell me, I keep my blinds closed, or we bought black out shades. Why do you have to do this? Some concern was taken to the residents you are adjacent to. Why should you have to do this? The man’s house that the whole deck and whole side of his house is lit up, he’s in the Army, but he’s not really a happy camper about this. To me, it’s just blatant disrespect and concern. You have these little bushes here, and that’s not what you should have put up. He cannot sit out on his deck; he really can’t. He’s just an open picture to the world, to the development. There’s no privacy whatsoever.”
Ms. Stanley continued: “So our requests are not really a tremendous amount of differences except for maybe adding some adequate buffers, turning down the lights, doing something with the lights at night so these families can rest. I’m sure they have got children who have got to get up in the morning. Eliminating some of the traffic coming through our neighborhood, there’s no outlet in our neighborhood, so once you come into our neighborhood, you’re going to come out the same way.”
Ms. Spencer said: “I saw a big oil tanker, 24 wheeler, come through. He drove in, and he couldn’t make a u-turn. He had to go all the way around.” Ms. Stanley continued: “That was yesterday. That’s our concerns. I have sold real estate for 23 years and I have never seen a subdivision quite like this one. I was told that the office complex was going to be there, but not accessibility into that strip mall.”
Ms. Spencer said: “I hope by us presenting this to you is not in vain. A lot of people did not come. The general consensus is that our developer, Tim Jones, has Henry County wrapped up; he does what he wants, and the Supreme Court ruled for him. That did not give him the right to just walk over us and abuse us and be indifferent. That seems like that is what is happening.”
Ms. Stanley said: “Besides that, though, we do have a petition of how 74 percent of the people in our neighborhood do feel the same as we do with this. If you would like to have a copy of this. . .”
Chairman Harper said some of the concerns noted by Ms. Stanley and Ms. Spencer could be addressed by the Board, but there are some the Board cannot address. He said in 1999, the Board at that time fought the development and tried to keep it from occurring to begin with; however, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled against the County, so it was allowed. He said the Board cannot take the zoning away, nor can the Board impose additional conditions upon the zoning because he has his rights vested. Chairman Harper said Commissioner Mathis has been working on the lighting issues, which is a legitimate concern. He said residents should not have a lighting nuisance in their homes.
Chairman Harper said the Board could have signs put up on public right-of-way. He said if the intersection meets warrants, a stop sign could be installed. He said “children at play,” “no thru traffic” or “subdivision traffic only” signs could also be installed.
Commissioner Mathis said Mr. Doug Gilbert, Building Department Manager, looked at the lighting behind the buildings, and he said there is an issue with the lighting, which is too bright and should be downcast. She said the Planning staff informed her the buffer is inadequate, and the zoning will have to be revisited to see what is required by the Board as a condition, and determine what the Board can require.
Ms. Spencer said: “There were some trees put up on the side that I live on, but they have all blown down. They were just thrown up, and I was told they were put up just to satisfy the zoning for the time. Those trees are all blown down, because they weren’t really planted and were planted at the wrong time of the year. They are the wrong kinds of pines. There are some kinds of pine trees that when they grow up, they make a wall you cannot see through, and you don’t hear through them very well. The problem is, everybody is saying if they want to extend that wall, we don’t have a problem with that, but that access; sharing that commercial entrance with a private community.”
Commissioner Adams said he believes there is an ordinance that prohibits dumpsters from being emptied too early in the morning. Chairman Harper asked the residents to contact the Commission if the dumpsters continue to be emptied too early in the mornings.
Ms. Spencer said: “I would like to say one thing about the lights. Across the street from me, there is a home. We sit out in the evening; we have a light show from that house, because those lights are reflecting on their panes, so I just keep my blinds closed. Then the woman next to me, directly behind the building with all the lights, his deck, his bedroom, my sunroom, all of this is lit up. Since that development, I have seven additional direct lights, and the way that building is shaped, sort of on a slant, that it could reflect and make that much damage.”
Commissioner Mathis asked Ms. Spencer if she has been in contact with the developer. Ms. Spencer said, “I mentioned that to the developer and he said, ‘lights do shine.’” Commissioner Mathis asked Ms. Spencer if she has discussed all issues and concerns with the developer. Ms. Spencer said, “No, not really.”
Commissioner Mathis said since Mr. Jones is present at the meeting tonight, perhaps he would be willing to meet with Ms. Spencer and discuss some of the issues as good neighbors, noting she finds him to be a reasonable man. Ms. Stanley said she has not had a chance to meet Mr. Jones, because he has a power of attorney at closing. She asked if speed humps could be installed. Chairman Harper said there is a petition process, and he will provide her with the appropriate contact in the Department of Transportation.
Ms. Spencer said, “I just wonder why all the other businesses, Target, everyone else, Eckerd’s, they enter off of Jonesboro Road. They have their own entrance. Why was a driveway not cut into this business?” Chairman Harper said anyone owning property along a public road would have a right to access it, and the developer is accessing the public roadway, and that is why that occurred.
Kenneth Howell – RZ-05-07.
Mr. Ray Gibson, Assistant Planning & Zoning Director, presented the rezoning request of Kenneth Howell to rezone property from RA (Residential Agricultural) to C-2 (General Commercial) for property identified by Parcel ID Number 167-0104900, located at 4579 Highway 81 East. The property consists of 2.74 +/- acres, and the request is for a commercial development. The Municipal Planning Commission recommended denial on March 24, 2005.
Mr. Gibson stated the applicant is requesting a gas station convenience store. He said the request does not meet the intent of the Future Land Use Map, which calls for Residential Agricultural land uses at up to 1.0 dwelling units per acre.
Mr. Kenneth Howell, 655 Milton Drive, McDonough, and Mr. Mike Chamlee, 700 New Morn Drive, Hampton, appeared before the Board concerning this request. Mr. Howell provided a letter stating, “a denial would be a violation of my right to due process, a taking without due process, and would restrict my use of the property beyond normal limit, without granting any benefit upon the health, safety and welfare of the community adjacent to this particular piece of property.”
Mr. Howell asked Mr. Gibson if the only problem with granting a C-2, mentioned in the zoning evaluation report, the fact it does not comply with the Future Land Use Map. Mr. Gibson answered affirmatively. Mr. Howell asked whether the request meets all other requirements of the ordinances. Mr. Gibson said it does meet requirements for a C-2 zoning district; however, it does not meet the Future Land Use Map, which calls for Residential Agricultural land uses up to 1.0 dwelling units per acre.
Mr. Howell said he wants to construct a convenience store on the property, with gas pumps. He said he could make it attractive to the neighborhood and meet most of the conditions that are reasonable to make it attractive. He said there is a need in the area, and there are many residents in the area.
Commissioner Adams asked what type of business is proposed. Mr. Howell said it would be a convenience store with gas pumps.
Mr. Mark Mitchell, 1240 Robin Drive, McDonough, addressed the Board in opposition to the request. He said he lives across the street from the proposed rezoning. He said Mr. Howell stated he feels the community is in need of another service station. He said, “if you start at the intersection of S.R. 155/S.R. 81 and travel east toward Covington, there is a Citgo at the intersection; one mile further down 81 there is a Chevron at the Publix Shopping Center; 1.2 miles further down the highway at Old Jackson Road, there is a BP gas station; then 2 miles from there is a Chevron at New Hope, which is Mr. Howell’s facility now; then 1 mile from there is under construction a BP at North Ola Road; then .7 mile from there is construction at Keys Ferry Road on another convenience store gas station; and then 1.6 miles from there is the proposed convenience store. If you continue down Highway 81 four miles to S.R. 212, there are no additional gas stations. The community does not need another convenience store or gas station on Highway 81, especially where Mr. Howell is proposing.”
Mr. Mitchell said to Mr. Howell, “I have nothing against you, personally, sir, this is strictly business. This opens up a window of opportunity for greater traffic in this area for us pulling out of our subdivision and will expose and tempt children of a young age and teenagers, to cross Highway 81 walking to go to the convenience store to buy a Coke, candy or whatever, which puts our community and our children at further danger. Many of you may have been by there and you know that it’s a blind curve almost; you have to stick your front end out, if you are pulling off Mt. Bethel to see what is coming up from 81.”
Mr. Mitchell said the Georgia Alcohol and Beverage Code, Section 3.3.21, section (g) states that no person knowingly and intentionally may sell or offer to sell any distilled spirits in or within 100 yards of any church building or within 200 yards of any school building, education building, school grounds or college campus. He said, “I will grant to you this church is over 100 yards, but it is less than 200 yards, and I believe the spirit of the law, which is often referred to in court cases, is they don’t want alcohol beverages sold when in close proximity of a church.”
Mr. Mitchell said if this is approved, the residents will be back before the Board like the Vinings community because of lighting issues that will affect their subdivision and those that live behind them.
Mr. Mark Donnelly, Sandy Ridge Road, spoke in opposition to this request. He said he attends Mt. Bethel Church, and he is adamantly opposed to this rezoning due to the fact, “I am about convenienced out.” He said there are numerous convenience stores along Highway 81, all less than two miles from each other. He said Mr. Howell, himself, was in front of this Board in 2002 in opposition to the existing convenience store being built on Keys Ferry, because he said, ‘he didn’t need any more convenience stores out there.’ “I realize this is in competition to his store on New Hope Road. I have nothing against Mr. Howell; he’s a businessman, but this is not the place for another convenience store.”
Mr. Donnelly said there is poor site distance on the State road, and there are plans for realignment of Mt. Bethel Road and Wynn Road. He said he does not think “we need another Chick N Run on 81 Highway, which will end up being there other than a convenience store, because with this zoning of C-2, it is not just a service station, there are also restaurants.” Mr. Donnelly asked the board to use “good common sense” on this rezoning and go by the proposed Land Use Plan.
Mr. Nicholas Buettner, 1005 Gloria Grand Boulevard, addressed the Board representing Orchard Subdivision, in opposition to this rezoning request. He said a lot of his concerns with the rezoning are declining property values associated with the proposed construction. He said he is concerned about the health and environmental impact, danger to children, traffic patterns with the site, remaining land not used for the gas station, and the sale of alcohol, tobacco and many other items in close proximity to Mt. Bethel Church.
Mr. Buettner said home values in the area have declined from the County tax assessment by $8,000. He said he is concerned about how this particular construction will affect home values in the vicinity.
Mr. Buettner said the health risks alone are enough to scare a person to conduct research on petroleum products. He said it is proven from the Center for Disease Control, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, fumes from gasoline stations affect the nervous systems. He said the hydrocarbons are more readily absorbed through lungs than any other organ in the human body. He said the gases would not magically disappear and blow up in the wind and fly away. He said they are heavier than air, they linger near the ground, blowing downwind to residents and affecting their health.
Mr. Buettner said he has personally experienced a spinal cord tumor, was paralyzed, and it took him a year to walk again so he could stand before this Board. He said he could not risk having this risk factor at his house.
Mr. Buettner displayed a plat of the surrounding property, which includes a 13,000 square foot wetland area protected by the Army Corps of Engineers. He said the wetlands area is located 50 to 100 feet away from the proposed location. Mr. Buettner said the protected area would be affected by petroleum runoff from the gas station and from the vehicles. He said trash from customers leaving convenience store facilities is another concern.
Mr. Buettner stated another consideration is the traffic at the proposed location. He said he has lived near this location for two years and it is obvious the volume of traffic traveling at 50 miles per hour, plus the large amount of traffic that disregards the speed limit traveling at 65 to 70 miles per hour will create a severe risk and hazard for the community. Mr. Buettner said there is a bend in the road near this location, which is another hazard.
Mr. Buettner stated he has concerns about children sneaking across the road, totally disregarding their parents’ rules of never crossing the road, which could possibly cause a fatality at this location.
Mr. Buettner said he has concerns about what will happen with the remaining land not used for this development. “We have approximately three acres of land that will occupy the convenience store zoning that are signed for C-2 with no understanding or proclamation of how the remaining land will be used. We need to know what else will be constructed at this site and how it will affect this location.”
Mr. Buettner said he is also concerned about the sale of alcohol, tobacco and other items in close proximity to Mt. Bethel Church and the community. He asked the Board to support those who are opposed to this request.
Ms. Diana Hunt, 1096 Mt. Bethel Road, appeared before the Board representing the members of Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church and the Mt. Bethel community. She said she provided a petition signed by the Church in opposition of the proposed land use change and rezoning request before the Board tonight. She said as a church and community, the proposed change to the current and Future Land Use Plan from residential to any level of commercial, be it C-1 or C-2, will be detrimental to the residential character and integrity of the community.
Ms. Hunt said the subject property is located just beyond a sharp curve with very little site distance. She said a commercial node at this location would exacerbate an existing traffic and safety problem.
Ms. Hunt said Mt. Bethel Church is located “a stone’s throw” from the proposed convenience store location. She said the Church was established at his current location in 1833, and is probably one of the oldest churches in Henry County. She said the sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products is not in keeping with the Christian standards they want for their community.
Ms. Hunt said, “hear our plea; keep our neighborhood and community consistent with the Land Use Plan and do not establish a commercial node at this location.” She said it has been noted how many convenience stores already exist up and down S.R. 81. She said the area does not want to look like S.R. 42 where “you’ve got nail salons, hair salons, Chick N Run, everything you can imagine, dry cleaners.” She asked, on behalf of her church and community, to consider what they have invested in the community. She said, “the applicant wants to make money at this location; he does not live there, nor will he have to tolerate the undesirable side effects of this type of development.”
Mr. James Martin, who lives in the Orchard neighborhood, said he wants to put one thing in visual aspect: “Howell Gas Station Chevron by the Shane’s Rib Shack, that they currently operate now; if any of you have been inside it and looked, they say they are here to serve as a convenience, but if you go in there, they have a large section that is set aside that they call the ‘beer cave.’ For someone who has an occasional drink, a six pack or something at a gas station is fine, but we are talking cases of beer that are stacked to the ceiling in a walk-in cooler. That’s the kind of drinking we don’t need going on across from our neighborhood and around our community. That is, to me, the limits of a liquor store. They are just skirting the law by serving only beer, but it is a very huge facility for the sale of alcohol and beer, in particular.”
Mr. Craig Rozar, 1523 Lincoln Terrace, stated he is a business owner, and he understands where the applicant is coming from, but he has two small children. He said children are curious about going to stores and spending a dollar. He said no one in the neighborhood has a desire for a gas station to build at this location. He asked the Board not to approve the rezoning.
Chairman Harper asked for comments from individuals who are in favor of this rezoning request:
Ms. Julie Davis made the following comments in favor of this request: “I am a great-niece of Sara Ridgeway, who is the prior owner of the property located at 4579 Highway 81 East. I have been a resident of Henry County for my entire life. This land has been in our family since 1895. We are requesting that this property be rezoned C-2, because its existing zoning status is inadequate to meet the needs of this growing community and its market value. Mr. Howell approached the Zoning Board on March 24, 2005, but it was denied because of a small group of concerned.”
“I would like to address the history of the land, some of the legal issues and some of the concerns that were brought up during the Zoning Board meeting and also tonight. First, the land has been in our family, as I stated, since 1895, even before the Orchard Subdivision existed. Since 1942 through 1975 there was a general store located on the property, which is equivalent to today’s convenience store. This was run, first, by my great-grandfather, and then by Tom A. and Abe Barham, and then later by my great-uncle and aunt, James and Sara Ridgeway.”
“Second, according to the current zoning laws, there is a minimum length of 300 feet for an established business to sell alcohol close to a church. Our property is located 880 feet from Mt. Bethel Church, which is almost three times the amount. Also, the property cannot be seen from the church steps.”
“It was noted that the request was inconsistent with the Future Land Use Map when, in fact, according to an employee of the Henry Public Works, stated it is not uncommon for land use maps to be revised and amended to meet said use. I would also like to point out that it is consistent with the existing commercial road along State Route 81.”
“As for some of the issues addressed by the small group opposing the zoning, first, the petition from the Mt. Bethel Church, which was signed by 64 people, but one of those signed twice, which is 63. I would also like to point out that it was obvious that some people signed the same name twice, supposing as a spouse. This is illegal and unethical. Mt. Bethel Church has 225 members on its roll, 130 regular attendees, and yet less than 25 percent of those actually signed the petition. The Pastor’s name is not included on that list.”
“Ms. Hunt earlier stated that she represented the congregation of Mt. Bethel Church, which in fact, she only represents less than 25 percent of its members, which implies that 75 percent are unopposed.”
“There are some concerns about the sale of alcohol. The use of alcohol is a personal decision that everyone must make; however, according to the United Methodist Constitutional By-Laws, it does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol. It’s not a use of alcohol, but the abuse.”
“And also, which was stated earlier, parents worried about their children crossing the street. I am not a parent, but I will be in the future, and I’m sorry, but I want to know where my children are at all times. If they have a dollar in their pocket, I want them to come and hold my hand and we’ll cross the street together.”
“In closing, I understand there are a couple of concerns of the community, but we have abided by the law and it is clearly on our side. We ask that the zoning request be approved, using the existing laws as a basis for your judgment.”
Ms. Fran Davis addressed the Board in support of this application, as follows: “My name is Fran Davis. I, too, am a great-niece of my Aunt Sara. I’m basically here to speak on her behalf, because she is no longer with us. The land did belong to my family, and still belongs my family, and has been in our family for over 100 years. We are here before you asking for you to allow us to sell this property and to have it rezoned.”
“Actually before the Orchard Subdivision was constructed, no one came to my aunt and asked what she thought about the Orchard. In fact, my aunt was very good friends with the owners of the property before it was sold. She did not oppose the selling of the Orchard; she did not agree with it, she did not like it; she knew that it would, in fact, bring more traffic, more congestion down 81. Talking about the lighting issues, she has had lighting issues with her own home due to the construction of the Orchard. My aunt believed that everyone should be allowed to live their life the way they choose and to construct their life the way they want.”
“She would not be happy to know that some of the members of her own church (a member of Mt. Bethel Church) are opposing how her property is trying to be rezoned. It would disturb her. I grew up in Henry County. I have seen this County grow from pastures and woods, and Henry County has been one of the top ten fastest growing counties in the nation, so it’s inevitable for growth to continue. That is one reason my aunt did not oppose the development of the Orchard. However, growth is going to continue whether it’s a convenience store, whether it’s a nail salon, growth is inevitable in Henry County. Whether you allow it tonight to be rezoned, it is inevitable and one day will be rezoned whether it happens tonight.”
“I grew up on 81 within walking distance of a convenience store, but my Mother and Dad, I knew that if I walked to that convenience store by myself, I would get in trouble. I know times have changed, but that’s an issue that needs to be taken up with them at home. They talk about, ‘use your common sense;’ I cannot think of a legal reason why this property cannot be rezoned. My sister has mentioned to you about the yardage according to the alcohol ordinance. We are within the law, according to that, and I am not a lawyer or an attorney; I may be wrong, but I cannot think of any legal reason why the land should not be rezoned.”
“As far as the health issues with the gases, people are going to continue to drive cars, and people are going to continue to buy gasoline. Unfortunately, one of the side effects is pollution. Georgia is one of the top States in the Country for poor pollution; that is something they are working on. Unfortunately, we all drive cars, which use gas, so take into consideration if you are not going to buy the gas at a convenience store across the street, you’re going to buy it down the street. You are contributing by driving a car that uses gasoline.”
“Again, I just ask that you consider what my aunt would want since she is not here and, again, not only use your common sense, but use what we are within our legal bounds.”
Commissioner Holder stated: “It was mentioned here probably in the last meeting about how difficult zoning is and how tough it is on the Commissioners to make a decision. It certainly is, and in this particular case, where I have friends on both sides of this issue, people I have grown up with through the years, people that I have had professional relationships with; it makes it extremely tough. I do have some questions. Before I get to the questions, I want to make a comment, though. I believe four, maybe five, of the people speaking in opposition to this request reside in the Orchard Subdivision. Ladies and gentlemen, I was sitting here in this position when the Orchard Subdivision zoning came before this body. There were a lot of people who didn’t want you in the community, believe me, just like they don’t want any change in the community tonight. Somebody had to be willing to sell property for you to have a home in the Orchard Subdivision.”
“Another comment that was made by Mr. Buettner was your tax assessment declined. I would like to see a show of hands of the people whose tax assessment declined this year, because I didn’t have one that went down. (Several audience members said their assessments decreased $8,000.) It is hard for me to understand how they went down; that is just a question that I had.”
“I understand there is a hazard in the sale of petroleum products, but there is wherever you go. If there is a residential development around a station, and every one of us has to purchase gasoline for our vehicles. It’s going to impact somebody somewhere. It’s kind of like that new term that’s in the dictionary called NIMBY, not in my back yard. People want neighborhood commercial. Smart growth says that’s what needs to be, so you don’t drive as far. There’s not as much environmental impact, not as much impact on everything if you don’t, but not in my back yard when it involves my property, you can’t have it.”
“I am a native of this County and I remember when Mr. Ridgeway had this store. I don’t go back to 1942, but at the latter part of that I do remember. I would like to ask the applicant to step to the podium at this time, and I’d like to ask some questions. First of all, you have applied for C-2, General Commercial. I think everybody in the community knows, and I had a meeting at Mt. Bethel Church last Tuesday night, that there will be a new elementary school built in the Mt. Bethel community. Where, don’t know, I don’t think that has been decided. Several sites have been looked at, but nothing has been chosen. Would you, as a property owner, not as a property owner, and I want to make a point of that briefly, be willing to drop that from C-2 to OI, Office Institutional, where a daycare, nursery, could be put into that corner lot?”
Mr. Howell replied: “It wouldn’t be possible to build a convenience store there, so I would have to say no.”
Commissioner Holder asked Mr. Howell: “What would, as far as commercial zoning, what would be the least commercial zoning that you would accept?”
Mr. Chamlee replied: “C-1, which I think is in compliance with what the County would require for a convenience store.”
Commissioner Holder continued: “I want to go back to something that the applicant for this rezoning is a developer and it’s almost as if the developer is the enemy. But, who is the owner of that property? I believe Ms. Julie Davis stated it had been in the Austin family since 1895. It was mentioned here in a previous meeting about the ‘little people.’ If Mr. Howell and Mr. Chamlee are denied a zoning, it’s not going to bother them. They’ll go somewhere else. But what about the property owners that own this? Put yourself in the position if you owned that corner piece of property, would you feel the same way that you feel tonight? This is a tough one and I want to say this. I can count to six, and I know what, in my opinion, what the votes are here tonight. But, I want to remind you of something. If this Board of Commissioners denies this request tonight, that does not mean that you’re not going to have a convenience store at Mt. Bethel and Highway 81, because everybody has a right to appeal the decision of this Board of Commissioners to the Superior Court of Henry County. You heard earlier tonight in a presentation where one was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Georgia and we lost.”
Commissioner Holder made a motion to approve the resolution, as presented before the Board of Commissioners tonight, denying the C-2 zoning that the applicant has applied for. “But, I would like for the record to show that the applicant has agreed to drop the rezoning from C-2 to C-1.” Commissioner Adams seconded; the motion passed by a vote of 5-0, with Commissioners Holder, Mathis, Stamey, Adams and Holman in favor.
Tim Jones Properties, Inc. – RZ-05-10.
Ms. Cheri Matthews, Chief Planner, presented the rezoning request of Tim Jones Properties to rezone property from RA (Residential Agricultural) to R-2 (Single-Family Residential) for property identified by Parcel ID Number 036-020060000, located on the eastern side of North Mt. Carmel Road, north of Mount Carmel Road. The property abuts North Mt. Carmel Park, and consists of 82.23 +/- acres and the request is for a single-family residential subdivision consisting of 135 lots, yielding a net density of 1.89 +/- dwelling units per acre. The property is not consistent with the Future Land Use Map, which designates the area for low density residential up to 1.0 dwelling units per acre.
Ms. Matthews said the applicant has met all requirements for the development of a R-2 subdivision. She said the Planning staff recommended denial, as well as the Planning Commission.
Mr. Andy Welch, Attorney for Tim Jones Properties, addressed the Board on behalf of the applicant. He provided a letter addressed to the Board of Commissioners reserving his client’s Constitutional rights in this request.
Mr. Welch stated the request is to rezone the property RA, as it is currently zoned, to R-2, with 135 lots, with a net density of 1.89 or 1.87 units per acre, depending on the calculations. He provided photographs of the homes the applicant proposes to build on the property. He said the applicant is going to build a higher end subdivision in this location, which is right across N. Mt. Carmel Road from the Crystal Lakes Subdivision, which is a golf course community. Mr. Welch stated this project would compliment the community, with houses ranging in price from the low end of $260,000 on up, with an average of about $300,000 for the home.
Mr. Welch displayed photos the applicant has built in the Magnolias, which homes include a brick-front home, two-story, all sodded lot, with a privacy fence around the back. He said there are side-entry and front-entry garages. He said the proposal is for the front of the homes to be masonry, brick, stone or stucco, with the remaining three sides being hardiplank or cement fiber board. He displayed interior photos of the proposed homes, which include a great room, fireplace, two-story great room with a staircase, kitchen and living facilities. Mr. Welch provided photographs of the master bedroom suites and master bathroom.
Mr. Welch said staff indicated this proposal is not in the Future Land Use Map or in the Comprehensive Plan, which is a 1993 document. He said the Map has been updated to indicate the recent re-zonings that have occurred in the area.
Mr. Welch displayed a map showing the site of the subject property in relation to other properties. He said median density developments are being developed around the area. Mr. Welch said other properties along Mt. Carmel Road have been zoned to R-2, including Province Lake and Lake Erma, which is now Crystal Lake Subdivision, which has been zoned R-2 conditional. He said other applications are coming before the Board with re-zonings of R-2, which seems to be the request for this area. He stated Jonesboro Road has R-2 type subdivisions, with density less than two units per acre for the subdivisions.
Mr. Welch displayed a proposal of the most recent study the County has done to ascertain how the new Future Land Use Map should look. He said while it is not binding on the Board, it has not been adopted, it does show that through that process the entire area from I-75 all the way out to Hampton has been designated, including the subject property, for a density of two units per acre maximum. He said property above the subject property and above the County Park has been designated for four units per acre. He said he understands that will be coming before the Board for revisions over the next few months, so those plans will be revisited, but it does show the planning process of over a year spent redeveloping the new Future Land Use Map and new Comprehensive Plan suggests that two units per acre or less is appropriate in this area, and that is what the request is before the Board.
Mr. Welch said the lot sizes in the proposed development range from 18,000 square feet, which is the minimum under a R-2 subdivision, up to 40,500 square feet, with the average lot size of just over 21,000 square feet. He said this development has various lot sizes, and the average is over the minimum allowed in R-2 subdivision. He said, as staff reports, this is a “by the book” request; the layout is just per the R-2 subdivision ordinance requirements.
Mr. Welch said he is asking for approval of this rezoning, and he provided a list of conditions he thinks will help to ensure this is a high quality subdivision as has been presented to the Planning Commission and as presented here tonight. The list provided by Mr. Welch is as follows:
1. The Developer shall install underground utilities and street lamps.
2. The Developer shall install sidewalks a minimum of four feet (4’) in width on both sides of the street throughout the development.
3. The Developer shall install a sidewalk a minimum of five feet (5’) in width within the existing right-of-way of North Mt. Carmel Road where the subject property abuts said road.
4. Decorative street lamps shall be provided throughout the development.
5. There shall be a minimum of two (2) entrances off North Mt. Carmel Road into the development.
6. Detention ponds must be fenced and landscaped.
7. A landscape plan shall be submitted to and approved by the Henry County Planning and Zoning Department.
1. All houses shall be brick masonry front with the remaining sides constructed of brick, stone, stucco, cement fiber board, or any combination thereof. Vinyl, if used at all, will only be used for soffits, eaves, window casings and shutters.
2. The houses shall be built on-site (no modular or manufactured homes).
3. All yards within the development shall have privacy fenced rear yards.
4. Uniform mailboxes must be provided throughout the development.
5. The average lot size shall be 21,000 square feet.
6. Homes shall be a minimum of 2,400 square feet.
7. There shall be a minimum of two (2) two-inch caliper trees, a minimum of six feet (6’) in height planted in each front yard as approved by the Henry County Planning & Zoning Department pursuant to the landscape plan.
8. All residential lots shall be fully sodded.
1. The amenity area shall include a minimum of two (2) tennis courts, one (1) swimming pool, and one (1) clubhouse.
2. The clubhouse shall be residential in appearance and constructed of brick, stone, stucco, cement fiber board, or any combination thereof. Vinyl, if used at all, will only be used for soffits, eaves, window casings and shutters.
3. The amenity area shall be landscaped, as approved by the Henry County Planning & Zoning Department pursuant to the landscape plan.
4. Developer shall construct a pedestrian bridge and provide pedestrian easement for connectivity between the amenity area and the cul-de-sac lots to the north of and adjoining the amenity area.
Mr. Welch stated the conditions are being proposed as parts of the conditions of rezoning just to ensure the quality of the subdivision, as presented tonight, is such that it will be that way once it is developed.
Mr. Welch noted for the record he placed a letter to the Board of Commissioners preserving Constitutional rights in this matter, and he asked the Board to vote to approve the rezoning request with the 19 conditions.
Ms. Candy Rhinehart, 173 Farmer Drive, addressed the Board in opposition to this request. She said, “while I do appreciate Mr. Welch’s presentation of bringing in a high quality subdivision, I would like to address the number one concern that my neighbors and I have with regards to this rezoning request, and that is our concern that the impact of these additional houses, approximately 150, added on to the projected 600 houses of the Crystal Lake development. We are very concerned about the impact that this is going to have on an extremely dangerous intersection at North Mt. Carmel and Jonesboro Road. When we came before the Board and gave up the opportunity on Farmer Drive for a very nice paved road, we did so with the hope and the request that that $1 million plus, that would be saved, would go toward the development of that intersection, and we would certainly hope that that intersection would first be improved before we start adding to that danger. I would think that any developer in that area should be likewise very concerned. I might point out further that until that intersection is improved and the Farmer Drive is then closed off, many of these residents that are coming in, if you think about the Crystal Lake development with 600 houses, maybe 1,200 additional drivers minimum, and then we have another development, that’s another 300, so maybe 1,500 new drivers on roads and an intersection that are extremely inadequate. What’s going to happen is that a number of these frustrated drivers are going to be racing down Farmer Drive and, as many of you know, this is a winding dirt road, and it has an extremely dangerous hairpin that’s directly in front of my house, and we have already had a number of people rolling their cars on that hairpin turn. I would certainly hate to have to call 911 for a fatality. So we would simply like to request that until the roads are improved and, specifically, the intersection at North Mt. Carmel and Jonesboro Road is improved, that this zoning request simply be tabled.”
Ms. Misty McCall-Leach, 100 N. Mt. Carmel Road, said, “I live right next to where the golf course subdivision is going up. There is a curve. I have two children who are going to be attending school next year; one already does. My concern is the same as the lady who was up here before me. This road just simply cannot handle any more traffic than it’s already going to get. I beg of you to please take the $1 million plus and fix this road, fix this intersection, and something has to be done with the curve. We have one sign that says ‘bus stop ahead’ but on a daily basis, I stand there and make sure my daughter gets off the bus and my neighbor behind me does the same with her granddaughter. We literally, most of the time, try to walk out in the street first to make sure that if someone gets hit it’s going to be us instead of our children. If you add more houses to it, it’s just going to be worse. I applaud the development; it looks like a good quality development; that’s not the issue. The issue is not with the development; the issue is with the road. As it stands now, it cannot handle more, so I would ask, don’t allow the development. My property value went up $53,000, so my issue is not with property value, but it’s a safety issue, the same with when Farmer Drive was allowed to be cul-de-saced. I would, again, reiterate that that road should not be allowed to be cul-de-saced until the improvements at North Mt. Carmel are made. If we could get flashing lights and signals, something to help people know that there’s a bus stop there. We’re not moving. We may get taxed out eventually, but we are staying for right now. Again, that is what I would ask is to think ahead. This is a good development; this is what the people around us want. I know, I have asked, they want quality growth, but the road is just not ready for it.”
Mr. Jeff Zeigler, 365 Farmer Drive, asked if the Commissioners have been on North Mt. Carmel Road in the recent past. He said, “it is a skinny road; it does not have any kind of shoulder, and over 600 homes are going into Crystal Lake Plantation. You know, yee haw, that’s going to be great, there will be beautiful homes, high dollar, the whole bit. I paid $5,300 in taxes last year, and I’m still living on a dirt road. I can’t even get my road paved. Most people I know can’t believe that. They look at me and they are like ‘you’ve got to be kidding.’ So, common sense would tell you, let’s address some of these things before we put the cart ahead of the horse. Let’s do it smart, not just jump at the next greatest subdivision to come along.”
Mr. Newton Beasley, 130 North Mt. Carmel Road, who also has a residence at 2875 Jonesboro Road, said he is not in opposition to the development, but the road system concerns him. He said, “Henry County seems to be outgrowing the road system and there does not seem to be enough concern about it. There is a safety issue as far as my grandkid getting off the bus every day. My wife is there to meet her every day, but there is always cars coming around the curve slamming on brakes to keep from hitting the kids. That’s my main concern is the road. Start the road system tomorrow and then turn him loose and let him go. Everybody that goes up and down Jonesboro Road knows it’s full of ‘dead man’s curves.’ Henry County has outgrown it; it is pathetic and it gets worse every day.”
Mr. Welch stated the R-2 zoning ordinance allows for the rezoning of property and the development of property zoned R-2 along a major or minor arterial road. He said Mount Carmel is on the functional road classification map designated as a minor arterial road, if not a major arterial road. He said the road issue is a valid concern and there is always a question about the generation of traffic in any subdivision that is developed in the County. He said the number of lots proposed is 135, and there are two entrances in the subdivision, which both exit onto North Mt. Carmel Road, which is either a minor or major arterial road. Mr. Welch said these are roads that are designated to handle the increased traffic, and that was the conception of allowing for slightly higher densities on a specific road, such as a minor or major arterial road.
Mr. Welch said the other aspect of this is that from the map, North Mt. Carmel Road provides access, not only to Jonesboro Road by going north by Farmer Drive, but also south along Mount Carmel Road, all the way to Mill Road or to Chambers Road, where the County is in the process of putting in a traffic light now that will allow for left-hand turns, right-hand turns and easy access to ease the traffic flow there. He said there is a light at Jonesboro Road and Mill Road, another point at which traffic can flow. Mr. Welch said his point is that this location is not dumping all out on Jonesboro Road; there are no avenues of travel to get to I-75 if you are headed that way. He said you can also get to 19/41 and you can head south and get to Highway 20. Mr. Welch said there is a lot of reasonable access for traffic flow to move on this particular piece of property where it is located.
Mr. Welch said the first house would likely not be sold until the Fall of 2006, so there is a period of time, while it is being developed, which would hopefully be enough time for the light and intersection improvements at North Mt Carmel to occur. He said it will be a three-year build out once that is in place, so it will be 2009 before there is a significant amount of traffic flow generated from this particular subdivision, in which case that intersection will be improved and D.O.T. should start working on the road widening for Jonesboro Road.
Mr. Welch stated he understood the Board voted to cul-de-sac Farmer Road last year, so when that occurs, that will cut down on any cut-through traffic that either exists now or would exist in the future.
Commissioner Adams asked whether the property fronts onto Mount Carmel Road. Mr. Welch said it does not.
Commissioner Holder asked Mr. Welch if the applicant is in agreement with the conditions provided by him. Mr. Welch answered affirmatively.
Commissioner Stamey asked the applicant if he is willing to contribute anything toward the intersection improvements at Mount Carmel Road and North Mt. Carmel Road. Mr. Welch said, “the applicant is actually contributing through another investment group towards that intersection presently, and he has informed me if there is a shortfall in the preparation of that intersection, then that would be something that he would consider participating in, but he is already doing it through this other development.” Commissioner Stamey asked if he is willing to participate from the proposed development. Mr. Welch conferred with Mr. Tim Jones, after which he stated, “he would be willing to take up any shortfall on the red light. That’s not the intersection improvements itself, but would be for the red light. Other than that, no.” Commissioner Stamey continued, “are you offering an amount to participate in the red light?” Mr. Welch replied, “if there is a shortfall in the purchase and installation of the light itself, then Mr. Jones says he is willing to cover the shortfall in that and that cost would be determined, of course, through the engineering and through what light would be necessary for that intersection.”
Mr. Jones said he has been told by the County that “since they are not doing Farmer, they are going to pay for the intersection, and they went to the Crystal Lake group, which I’m a part of, and asked for help with the red light down Farmer Road, and then the question came back to me, ‘will you help put in a red light?’ and I said we already have it covered, but if they don’t, I will. It’s really the same; we agreed to take care of the red light. I’ve been told the monies for the intersection are already there.”
Commissioner Holder said he understands that is Jonesboro Road and North Mt. Carmel is the signal being discussed, but he also heard the question by Commissioner Stamey about a red light at Mount Carmel and North Mt. Carmel Road. Commissioner Stamey said that looks like the intersection that will have the impact from the proposed development. Mr. Jones said, “I’m not going to make any money down there if I committed to come in and do a whole interchange with other lanes and lights.” Mr. Welch said, “the road improvements to Chambers and Jonesboro Road alone were over $350,000 just for that intersection. That intersection has right-hand turns, left-hand turns in all directions, and it has a traffic light for signalizing all those lanes. If that is the question, then I think the answer is no. If the question is to re-do that intersection to have all those lanes and re-do the road work, as well as put in a light, then the answer is no.”
Commissioner Mathis made a motion to deny the rezoning request; Commissioner Stamey seconded.
Commissioner Holder asked Ms. Matthews what basis staff used in recommending denial of this request. Ms. Matthews stated, “the request is inconsistent with the Future Land Use Map.” Commissioner Holder asked, “that is it, period?” Ms. Matthews answered affirmatively.
Commissioner Holder said he understands staff has to interpret the ordinances as the Board has approved, and he is not criticizing staff. He asked how many other R-2 subdivisions similar in size and density exist within this area. Ms. Matthews said, “right off the top of my head, I know that Lake Erma, which is directly across the street from the development, was zoned for R-2, and it is in excess of the 1.0 dwelling units per acre and Marsha’s Vineyard, Phase One and Phase Two, that is zoned R-2. I am not sure of the net densities on those, but those are the immediate ones in the vicinity.” Commissioner Holder asked how far does “immediate” mean. Ms. Matthews said, “probably within a mile.”
Commissioner Mathis’ motion to deny passed by a vote of 4-1, with Commissioner Mathis, Stamey, Adams and Holman in favor; and Commissioner Holder opposed.
Paulette Bunn – RZ-05-06.
Ms. Matthews presented the request of Ms. Paulette Bunn to rezone property from RA (Residential Agricultural) to C-1 (Neighborhood Commercial) for properties identified by Parcel ID Number(s) 110-01016001 and 110-01016002, located at the northeastern intersection of State Route 42 and Harris Drive. The properties consist of 4.88 +/- acres, and the request is for a commercial subdivision.
Ms. Matthews stated the property would actually abut another piece of property, which will give a total of 10.17 +/- acres. She said the property is currently vacant. She said the property to the west is commercially zoned and the property to the north is zoned PD, which is the Colonies at Williamsburg Plantation. Ms. Matthews stated the Future Land Use Map designates the area for commercial services. She said the Planning staff recommended approval with five conditions and the Planning Commission recommended denial. Ms. Matthews noted the property is located in the Tussahaw Watershed Protection District, which requires a one acre minimum, with which the applicant is in compliance.
Mr. Wade Crumbley, Attorney, represented the applicant in this rezoning request. He sent a letter to the Board of Commissioners, dated May 12, 2005, concerning the applicant’s Constitutional rights.
Commissioner Stamey asked Ms. Matthews to address the Planning Commission’s denial of this request. Ms. Matthews stated the Planning Commission recommended denial; the Planning & Zoning staff recommended approval. Mr. Crumbley said he has written a letter to each Commissioner concerning the Planning Commission’s denial. Commissioner Holder said the resolution is misleading in stating the Planning Commission recommended denial, noting he believes the vote was a “no action.” Ms. Matthews stated she would refer that to the County Attorney. Mr. Jaugstetter stated, “I would say it was either no action taken or an approval, one or the other. I think the motion to recommend denial failed and there was no subsequent motion made.” Mr. Crumbley said, “you have two lawyers who agree about that.” Commissioner Holder said, “it sends a bad message to say it was denied by P&Z when, in fact, I don’t believe the votes were there to deny it.”
Commissioner Holman asked if the Planning Commission took no action, because it was a 3-3 vote, what the Board is acting on. Mr. Jaugstetter said, “I don’t think so. I think they intended for there to be an action taken and clearly if the Board of Commissioners wants a recommendation, absolute reliable recommendation, then by all means send it back to them, but I think you can interpret the failure of the denying. You had three people vote against a recommendation of denial, and I don’t know if you want to interpret that as a recommendation or not.” He noted the regular Chairman was absent and the Vice-Chairman voted twice. Commissioner Holder noted the Parliamentarian told the Vice-Chairman he could vote twice. Commissioner Holder noted the subject property is located in District I, and he requested the Board consider this request and not send it back to the Planning Board because it is not necessary. He said this is the discretionary Board that has the discretion to do what the Board feels is necessary. Chairman Harper said the Planning Board is a recommending body and the hearing requirements have been satisfied. Ms. Matthews thanked Mr. Jaugstetter for clarifying this for staff.
Commissioner Holman said, “I hate to piggyback on this, but the Planning & Zoning Board made a tabling motion or something on an ordinance that was sent to them, and this Board sent it back to the P&Z Board. In my opinion, we could have acted on it.”
Mr. Crumbley stated he represents Paulette Bunn, who is the applicant. He said it is actually a corporate entity she is the sole owner of, who is the applicant. He said the rezoning request concerns only the property that is shown in dark green on the drawing displayed during the hearing. He said the property shown in light green is already zoned C-1 commercial. He said all of the property and a good many more acres to the north of there were at one time owned by some of the members of the Gardner family, and it was divided among several members of the Gardner family. He said the part the applicant is asking to be zoned tonight actually was split into two tracts, one of which was a flag lot, and each of them was a little over two acres.
Mr. Crumbley said Ms. Bunn had already purchased the property on the highway in the front and then recently purchased the other, less than five acres, that are between it and the Williamsburg Plantation development. He said the property is zoned RA and the applicant is asking for C-1. He said as a practical matter, it cannot be used as zoned, noting it is left out of the subdivision and is between the subdivision and the highway and the other property zoned commercial. He said it is only a strip that is about 200 feet wide, so as zoned, as a practical matter, it cannot be used for anything.
Mr. Crumbley said the property is in the Land Use Plan designated for commercial and service uses. He said it only makes sense to add it to the commercial zoning that is already there in front of it. He said Ms. Bunn does not have a buyer lined up, she does not have a specific tenant in mind or a specific buyer who would make a particular use, but she wants to proceed with having the subject property zoned with the rest of the property. He said Ms. Bunn is trying to market the property and have the property zoned the appropriate classification would help facilitate the process.
Mr. Crumbley said he was not present at the Planning Commission meeting, but he has reviewed the minutes. He said he wrote a letter to the Commissioners about the meeting where a motion was made by Ms. Davis to recommend denial of the rezoning request, which was not seconded. He said it is not reflected in the Planning Commission minutes, but it is his understanding there was a pregnant pause of 30 seconds. He said finally the Vice-Chairman, who was acting as Chairman that night, seconded that motion. Mr. Crumbley said the Vice-Chairman is not entitled to vote; the person who is acting as Chairman under the rules is not entitled to vote unless there is a tie. He said the rules are not crystal clear as to whether the Chairman can second the motion or not, but clearly he is not entitled to vote. Mr. Crumbley said there was then a vote taken on the motion and the vote was 3-3 against the motion, even with the Chairman voting for the motion to recommend denial. He said the Chairman was not entitled to vote; there was no tie; those who were eligible to vote were 3-2 against the motion to recommend denial. Mr. Crumbley said the Board should treat this as though it had the blessings of a majority of the Planning Commission. He pointed out that one of the members, who apparently was in favor of this zoning, is the representative for the Locust Grove District.
Commissioner Holder said Mr. Hammock represents the City of Locust Grove on the Planning Commission. He noted his representative, Mr. Scott McCarter, is the Chairman and he was absent from the meeting due to illness in his family.
Mr. Crumbley said the only other concerns that were expressed about the zoning, other than the usual people who do not want any change in the neighborhood, had to do with the intersection at Harris Drive and S.R. 42. He said it is his understanding the General Assembly has appropriated $600,000 earmarked for intersection improvements at this intersection in the next budget cycle, so it is anticipated a great deal of work done by the State D.O.T. at this intersection in the immediate future. Mr. Crumbley said the problem with the intersection is that it comes into the highway at an odd angle and it would be safer if it came in at a 90 degree angle.
Mr. Crumbley said what is proposed for this subject property is not going to be a significant generator of traffic. He said residential development in the area is generating the traffic. He said some of those people passing by hopefully will stop at this location and shop, so there will be some turning movements there, but this development itself will not generate a significant amount of traffic. He said the main curb cut would be on the highway and not on Harris Drive.
Mr. Crumbley said Ms. Bunn is agreeable with all of the five conditions staff has recommended, as follows:
1. All buildings shall be constructed of brick, stone, stucco, glass or any combination thereof. Planning and Zoning staff shall have architectural review of the proposed buildings prior to the issuance of a building permit.
2. Primary signage shall be monument based sign and shall have consistent character and design details that reflect the architectural design of the project.
3. An exterior lighting plan shall require all lighting to be of moderate brightness and consist of downcast lighting.
4. Any dumpsters shall be constructed with a three-sided masonry wall, being consistent with the façade of the building.
5. Outdoor storage shall be prohibited.
Mr. Crumbley said the applicant is also willing to agree there will be no more than one curb cut on Harris Drive if anyone thinks that is a concern.
Mr. Crumbley read the following, which was written by a staff member as part of the report: “The Future Land Use Map designates much of the area along State Route 42 for potential industrial and commercial land use. The subject property, which is located within a commercial corridor, without direct frontage on State Route 42, is designated for commercial and service uses. The commercial designation of the subject property would be ideal in terms of creating a transition pattern between the existing residential uses and future industrial uses and to serve the neighborhood commercial needs of the future industrial workers and residents of the Williamsburg Plantation planned development.”
Mr. Jimmy Sanderson, 2114 Grant Avenue, McDonough, spoke in opposition to this request. He said, “it is ironic they say they only a few tracts of land that have already been zoned commercial when Ms. Paulette Bunn is already putting land for sale as zoned C-1 for all eleven acres.” He provided a photograph of the real estate sign located on the property. Mr. Sanderson said he does not oppose infrastructure in Henry County, but he does oppose infrastructure if the roads are not set up. He said at the last hearing the statement was made there is a small berm at the same elevation of the adjacent property. He provided photographs of the berm. Mr. Sanderson said the applicant indicated on a 50 foot buffer, which has already been platted and established per zoning conditions, that he would install a fence in lieu of this buffer. He said there are several discrepancies in what they have said and what they have approached the Board with. Mr. Sanderson said the photograph of the elevations reveals “that it is not as they say it seems. That property is higher than our berm. . . It is significantly higher elevation-wise, and they were talking about taking away a buffer that you cannot do per zoning conditions. It has already been zoned with a 50 foot buffer, and they said they would gladly get with the developer and increase the size of that buffer; help that buffer out. From what I understand, you cannot touch the buffer; it is what it is. I don’t want the developer of my community touching the buffer. We have fought for many things in this community, even to get streetlights, to get our pool up; they promised us a cabana. I don’t want him talking in respect to our community. It’s our community; we will be owners of the Homeowners Association when it’s 90 percent built out. Another ironic thing is they are building more homes right there in Williamsburg Plantatation. This is just one phase. They have a second phase that they are fixing to start, which is under construction as far as the roadways are concerned.”
Mr. Sanderson said, “the thing I’m most concerned about is that if we have a berm behind our house and they build up on top of the property, they are not going to have sufficient fencing; they’re not going to have sufficient buffers from us seeing the back of that facility. The fence, they said, would be a wood fence in lieu of the buffer, which you cannot touch the 50 foot buffer from what I understand. If it is a 50 foot buffer that was on residential, it means that their buffer has to be included on top of our buffer.”
Mr. Sanderson displayed photographs “of driveways in close proximity of Highway 42, which would cause several back-ups and more traffic issues. Simple fact is that it is 65 feet from the stop sign. So, if you were to turn off of 42 onto Harris Drive, you could get two cars there and that is it, and then you would have a traffic jam if the next person wanted to turn left, they couldn’t, and if this person was sitting on Harris Drive and wanted to go left and a car was in front of him and cars were coming this way, there is a potential definite traffic hazard and maybe even accidents could happen. Peachtree Homes is building more homes in this immediate area; they are currently building $300,000 to $500,000 homes on Iris Lake, which is right abutting to ours. An industrial park is being constructed directly off 42 just a mile down the road, so you have more traffic, truck congestion. There’s currently a gas station strip center and a commercial strip center less than a mile down the road towards Locust Grove. A lot of those parcels are empty, so why do we need another strip center when we can’t even occupy the ones that are just half a mile to a mile down the road? Traffic is tough enough even without the strip center. I think everyone knows Harris Drive and 42 is a tough angle and currently it is tough to get out of.”
Mr. Sanderson said the applicant said they would have acceleration and deceleration lanes per Georgia D.O.T. He said there cannot be an acceleration or deceleration lane when you are only 65 feet from the highway.
Mr. Sanderson said only a portion of the property is zoned C-1 when Ms. Bunn’s sign clearly says the whole tract is zoned. He noted 6.4 acres was zoned back in February, 2003, and over two years later, the applicant is applying for rezoning of the four acres. He said he understands if the property is not developed within a certain length of time, the zoning can be reverted.
Mr. Sanderson said, “we are not in the City of Locust Grove; we are in the City of McDonough, Georgia.” He said there “is no telling when the $600,000 in improvements will be commenced and how long of a time frame it will be.” He said if the Board approves this zoning tonight, “they will expedite their process and try to do as much as they can to sell the property to someone who can come in there and sell beer products and do whatever they have to do.” He said his property is immediately behind the subject property and he has a four-year-old son, and he is opposing this infrastructure even though Henry County is growing in leaps and bounds. He said if the roadways are not properly taken care of and considered, then the infrastructure really does not help the situation. Mr. Sanderson said he can travel two miles to Locust Grove to shop. Mr. Sanderson said he does not need shopping directly behind his house and Highway 42 does not need the congestion.
Mr. John Gosser, 2112 Grant Avenue, spoke in opposed to this rezoning request. He said on March 24th, in the Minutes for the Henry County Municipal Planning Commission, denial was recommended on this issue, which he understands is a matter of question at this moment. He said the denial was issued for many reasons, including confusion over the size of the required buffer between the properties. Mr. Gosser said there is currently a 50 foot buffer between the back of his property and the adjoining pasture. He said he is not sure exactly if another buffer has to be added onto the applicant’s request and that was one of the reasons for confusion when denial was recommended.
Mr. Gosser said the second reason this request was recommended for denial was because it was unknown what type of commercial activity would be housed on the proposed site. He said the applicant’s presenter at the Planning Board admitted there is no idea what might be going into the strip center.
Mr. Gosser said the third reason for denial was concerns over increased traffic at an already dangerous intersection. He said on April 21st this Board ordained “Henry County considers it paramount that land use regulation continue in the most orderly and predictable fashion with the least amount of disturbance to landowners and citizens of Henry County. Henry County has always had a strong interest in growth management, so as to promote the traditional policy power goals of health, safety, morals, aesthetics and the general welfare of the community, and in particular the lessening of congestion on County streets, security of the public from crime and other dangers, promotion of health and general welfare of its citizens, protection of the aesthetic qualities of the County, including access to air and light, and facilitation of the adequate provision of transportation and other public requirements.”
Mr. Gosser said, “I think we have come up with the idea that granting this request or approving it would create more than a lesser amount of disturbance to a large group of landowners and citizens of Henry County. We don’t need more dry cleaning areas, or nail salons or video stores, or Subway sandwich shops, and I know none of those names have been kicked around, but that is what does go into this type of facility. What we need are more churches; we need more day care centers; we need more schools.”
Mr. Gosser noted Commissioner Holder asked the applicant of another zoning request this evening if he would reconsider his request. Mr. Gosser asked the applicant if she would do the same, because we do not need more facilities of this type. He said, “my neighbors and I understand that change is inevitable. The property is zoned commercial; we know that this will come. For obvious reasons, we are against it, and that is a personal and a passionate plea. Should the Commissioners, however, decide to go against the recommended denial that is in order and approve this request, I would hope that we could go back to the words of Ms. Bunn’s representative at the Planning and Zoning Commission, Mr. Michael Elliott, who offered, ‘we will construct a berm and continue the berm and create some more plantings and in that the goal of screening the residential from the commercial will be achieved.’ I will go on further and quote Mr. Elliott, ‘I will tell you what I will do. I will agree to a 40 foot undisturbed buffer along the property for the Planning Commission if that will approve ya’ll.’ It sounds like there is evidence in record that we are looking at an additional 40 foot buffer offered by the applicant on top of the 50 foot buffer that currently exists, and I would ask that also be taken into recommendation.”
Mr. Crumbley said the applicant is not asking the Board to let them out of what the Zoning Ordinance requires in the way of a buffer. He said he does not know where all of that comes from; that is a controversy about nothing. He said the applicant expects to leave the buffer there that the Zoning Ordinance requires. He said there is a 50 foot buffer already in existence along the boundary line on the subdivision property, along the back of their lots, and there is a low berm there with some trees planted on top of it. He said, “we are not asking you to let us out of putting an additional buffer on Ms. Bunn’s property, so when you add the two together, and your Zoning Ordinance requires 40 feet or reduced to 20 with a fence; we expect to do one or the other. So, if you have got to have 40, there will be a 90 foot buffer there when you add the two together, and if they put a fence there, then there would be 70 feet and a fence. That’s a generous buffer.”
Mr. Crumbley said this property is in a rapidly developing commercial and industrial corridor. He said the railroad goes right through the middle of it; there is a major State highway there, and what is being proposed is a “fairly innocuous zoning for this property considering where it is.” Mr. Crumbley said it is located right at the railroad overpass, and there is a cement plant on the other side of the railroad.
Commissioner Mathis asked when the intersection improvements were scheduled. Chairman Harper said it is actually a Federal appropriation from Congressman Westmoreland, which most likely will occur, but is not set in stone, in the amount of $600,000 dedicated to this intersection, to be 100% Federally funded unless the bids come in higher. He said Lake Dow Road at Highway 81 is the other project Federally funded.
Commissioner Holder said in addition to the $600,000 Federal funds, this project is part of the original SPLOST II allocation in an approximate amount of $250,000, even though it is not committed. Commissioner Mathis said there is not a guarantee that the money will come to Henry County. Commissioner Holder said, “there is no guarantee the sun is going to come up in the morning, either, but as far as the letter that I have a copy of from Congressman Westmoreland, it has been approved, and it should.” Commissioner Mathis asked if the design has been prepared for the intersection. Commissioner Holder said the funding will be used partially for the design. He noted this intersection consists of S.R. 42 and U.S. 23 and will require State D.O.T. approval. Commissioner Mathis asked about the time frame. Mr. Terry McMickle, Public Works Division Director, stated the project will have to go through the State D.O.T. process and the County is about one to one and one-half years from when the project will start. Commissioner Holder said the money was committed in the next Fiscal Year, which will begin July 1st.
Commissioner Stamey said, “I am pretty sure that money is coming, because I’m the other half of the $1.2 million designated.” He asked Mr. Michael Elliott if “we can clarify a little clearer what can be done on that berm because that property is way below grade going into that subdivision, and they already have a 50 foot undisturbed buffer on the subdivision side. My personal opinion is I would like to see a berm put in there with possibly a tree package and something to protect these people, because otherwise they are going to inherit some of the other problems that the people spoke in the very first agenda item.” Commissioner Stamey said he believes it will require a higher berm to be beneficial.
Mr. Michael Elliott said, “the way the property sits today, and I don’t have a topographic map; I just have a zoning exhibit sitting here before you today, and the property is higher than the adjacent property, and it falls off lower toward State Route 42. In order to develop that property, I’ve already looked at it from an engineering standpoint to get it to grade and to balance your earthwork, and to get the stormwater off the people in Gardner’s Grove. What you’re going to do is cut down this area to the rear adjacent to them and create even a more vertical separation between the top of the proposed building on Ms. Bunn’s property. The logical thing would be to add to that existing berm that is already there.”
Mr. Elliott said there was a comment made there is a 50 foot undisturbed buffer. He said that is incorrect; the zoning conditions from December 19, 2000, on Williamsburg Plantation stated there would be a 50 foot buffer, and in the absence of vegetation, it would be enhanced with a berm and plantings, and that is what is there today. Mr. Elliott said, “we have contacted the adjacent developer, who is the declarant of the homeowners association for the Williamsburg Plantation, and they have agreed to allow us to come in and do that.”
Mr. Elliott said there was some discussion about there being a 90 foot buffer and a 70 foot buffer. He said the Buffer Ordinance states that the maximum width on a buffer can be 75 feet; however, in this area, with the only thing really being in the subject property’s buffer area aside from five strands of barbed wire and fence posts, “what we need to do is gain vertical and what we are proposing here tonight, to enhance the berm to bring it up, I’ll agree with the gentleman who has spoken here tonight. I’m not going to sit here and agree it is a contiguous berm. It would be logical to enhance that; the buffer is already there, and I think it is important to note, too, that in the zoning conditions from December 19, 2000, that periphery buffer around Williamsburg Plantation was to protect the adjacent property owners. I think we are here to do that, and I think that’s the most logical thing to do.”
Ms. Matthews said, “a point of clarification, based on the Minutes that everyone is referring to from December 19, 2000, the actual condition reads, ‘there shall be a 55 foot planted natural buffer along the southern and eastern property lines. There will be a privacy fence installed from Highway 23/42 right-of-way on the southern boundary.’”
Ms. Matthews stated, “keep in mind the property in question will consist of lots 5, 6, 7, and 8, so this property was not part of the original rezoning, so in actuality the 55 foot buffer would be the eastern property line.” She said, “what they will need to do is either modify a zoning condition, because this is going to be rezoned on one parcel and what you are asking is for a 55 foot buffer to run along the property in addition to the property which are lots 5, 6, 7 and 8, so that is where the 55 foot buffer comes in.”
Ms. Matthews continued, “if the property is rezoned, then the applicant must be held to a 40 foot buffer or a 20 foot buffer with a fence.”
Commissioner Stamey said he thought Williamsburg Plantation had a separate berm already. Ms. Matthews said, “what we will actually be asking for is a 50 foot berm that is already in existence from Williamsburg Plantation, and then Ms. Bunn’s property will be an additional 40 foot, so you are looking at 90 feet, or 20 with a fence.”
Commissioner Adams said, “the subdivision is low and the berm is largely because the subdivision is low.” He asked whether the berm will be built up all the way down the property line. Mr. Elliott said, “there is some existing vegetation about 150 along the back area, and what we intend to do is to keep this berm in a uniform height until it reaches the trees because the people on lots 74, 73, 72 already have a buffer there with the trees.”
Mr. Elliott stated, “the Buffer Ordinance regulations say the maximum buffer can be 75. The width would be important, if we were in a heavily wooded area with pines and oaks. We need vertical separation, because with bringing up the height of the berm, and then planting trees on top of it, you will gain so much more for the homeowners of Williamsburg Plantation.”
Mr. Crumbley said, “this commercial development on this property is not going to have any noticeable additive effect to the amount of traffic going through the area; there may be a good many people who stop there, and then go back out on the highway, so it will increase the number of turning movements, but the number of cars going through is not going to be changed in a way that will be noticeable. As far as the buffer is concerned, we will do whatever you want us to do; it is my understanding, that Mr. Hudgins has expressed a willingness to let my clients build up and improve the berm that he has built on his property. If you want us to do that, we’ll do that; if you want us to leave the 40 feet the Ordinance requires, in addition to the 50 feet that is already there, we’ll do that. We will do whatever will provide the most visual shielding for the people who live there.”
Commissioner Adams replied, “I am interested in 40 foot on your end and heavily landscaped, and you say you will continue the berm on his property.”
Mr. Crumbley said they will do whatever the Board and the Ordinance requires and whatever staff wants us to do.
Commissioner Holman stated, “let Mr. Crumbley understand that I agree with him, that the Planning and Zoning motion for denial failed 2-3-0, clear as mud.”
Mr. Sanderson read from the Minutes of the last meeting regarding Harris Common South, “the 6 foot privacy fence shall be installed along the northern and eastern boundaries of said property, which would back up to Williamsburg Subdivision and also Gardner’s Grove Subdivision. The privacy fence shall serve in lieu of the 55 foot buffer.”
Mr. Sanderson added, “this is a 50 foot undisturbed buffer that, per zoning conditions, is required behind our homes, and now in addition, they should have to add to that buffer. I know you are not going to block it every time, and certainly I would like to block it until they make improvements to Harris Drive and Highway 42. There is potential for a lot of casualties until improvements are made.”
Mr. Sanderson said Mr. Hudgins has not fulfilled his commitment of having a vegetative line across the 50 foot buffer. He said, “they have already come in and connected sewer, and it is believed they took some initial bushes that were down, and it could probably be proven that it would have been on our 50 foot undisturbed buffer that was not supposed to be touched. I feel they need to put their own berm in; if they add to our berm, then there is your 50 foot undisturbed buffer, and that is it. You are not getting 20 extra; it is clear they said they would apply to the Ordinance; they are not going to add that 40 foot buffer; we all know that. So, they give us the buffer, and they give us the vegetation, but the vegtation is sparse from the beginning and it is not like we have now. We have a bunch of bushes that are not developed, and it will take years to develop those bushes.”
Commissioner Holder stated, “I would like to address a couple of issues; in Mr. Sanderson’s presentation, he showed a driveway 65 feet from Highway 42. I would like to enlighten you as to why that driveway is there. I have no interest in this property, other than the fact that 20 years ago, I had cattle on that farm. I put that in; that is field driveway; that is not, obviously, where DOT or any of the Planning staff would allow a cut into Harris Drive. Also, when we talk about reverting property that has already been zoned, that is just not a matter of saying, ‘o.k., it is reverted; you didn’t comply.’ The same process to revert zoning has to be exactly what we are doing tonight – a public zoning hearing. Mr. Gosser talked about what was needed, and my question to you is, ‘who determines the need?’ I do not believe it is any one person who can determine the need for any community; it is a combined effort of many people. In February, 2003, when this light green parcel along Highway 42 was rezoned, I was sitting here. And to be quite honest with you, I thought the entire property was zoned at that time. In 2000, I put the conditions, and I was sitting here at that time too when Williamsburg came up for a rezoning. You saw in that the 50 foot buffer around the entire periphery for that development. Of all the zonings, that I have been involved in, that is probably the worst zoning, and I took the greatest beating over Williamsburg Subdivision. There are some people here tonight who can attest to that. With a neighborhood in an outrage and an outcry, there must have been 75 people here in opposition to that rezoning taking place. It was asked, ‘why are you doing this to this natural farm area?’ It is one of the worst beatings I have taken in a zoning in a long time.”
Commissioner Holder continued, “as far as the buffer, Mr. Crumbley, Mr. Elliott, Mr. Bunn and Ms. Bunn have all agreed, ‘we will comply with the Ordinance; if it is a 40 foot buffer that you want, that is what we will do. But ladies and gentlemen, ‘open your eyes’ and look at the photographs presented tonight. What does 40 feet mean in an open pasture? It just means you’ve got to look 40 feet further. What is being proposed tonight is enhancing a berm and a buffer that is currently there. Williamsburg is to grade; this is virgin land, and once the grade is made on this two-tone green acres, it will be brought down to a level very similar to Williamsburg, except for as it goes down, the berm will be there. But as it comes down, would it not enhance the buffer, and I think it should be planted and it should be enhanced. But just looking across 40 more feet is insignificant to me. And as you get to the hardwoods, a berm or a buffer is not required, because it is natural; it is a beautiful hardwood area. All of you should agree with that.”
Commissioner Holder then stated, “I move to approve this request with the five (5) conditions staff has recommended as follows:
1. All buildings shall be constructed of brick, stone, stucco, glass or any combination thereof. Planning and Zoning staff shall have architectural review of the proposed buildings prior to the issuance of the building permit.
2. Primary signage shall be a monument based sign and shall have consistent character and design details that reflect the architectural design of the project.
3. An exterior lighting plan shall require all lighting to be of moderate brightness and consists of downcast lighting.
4. Any dumpsters shall be constructed with a three-sided masonry wall, being consistent with the façade of the building.
5. Outdoor storage shall be prohibited.”
Commissioner Holder asked Ms. Matthews to come forward and said, “in condition #6, that you referred to earlier about the buffer, would you read that one for me?”
Ms. Matthews said that is from the previous rezoning.
Commissioner Holder said, “condition #6 would be that the 55 foot planted buffer, that is required between the front portion that was zoned in 2003, and the proposed 4.88 acres, that the 55 planted buffer be removed, because it will now be ‘commercial to commercial.’ Now, the buffer that was required between the said property zoned in 2003 and Gardner’s Grove Subdivision will have to remain in place. I would like to make condition #7 as a condition that says, ‘the enhancement of the buffer between the subject property and the Williamsburg Subdivision will be coordinated through the Planning and Zoning Department staff. The buffer requirement meaning, what the staff determines to be in the best interest as far as berm and plantings, and it will all be in compliance with the buffer requirements of our County.’ That is my motion.”
Chairman Harper asked twice if there was a second to the motion; there was no response. “Seeing none, the motion will die for lack of a second. Do I have an alternate motion?”
Commissioner Adams said he had an alternate motion. “All of the five (5) conditions listed and the 40 foot planted heavily landscaped buffer, in the addition to the existing 50 one, and also the extension of the berm all the way to the hardwoods, withdraw the berm between the two commercial tracts, but also for developers to contribute toward any signalization. Since it is going to be a couple of years for any road improvement to be done, another condition should be added for the developer to contribute $50,000 toward a signal light.” Commissioner Adams asked the applicant if he was willing to accept that proposal.
Mr. Crumbley replied, “we do not know if there is going to be a traffic light there; we know the intersection is going to be reconfigured, but I have no idea whether the traffic engineers will determine a light is appropriate at that location.”
Commissioner Adams asked, “if the GDOT would allow it?”
Mr. Crumbley said, “there is a lot of ‘what if’ involved in that. There has been a lot of money appropriated to improve the intersection, and we do not know if there is going to be a light there, and if there will be a need for additional monies.”
Commissioner Adams said $600,000 will not cover the design and the intersection and the signalization; some SPLOST money would be involved, “but why should we use SPLOST money when we can use that somewhere else? It has been a common practice for developers to contribute to intersection improvements and signalization.”
Ms. Bunn said it was not fair for the cost of that to be put on her entirely.
Commissioner Adams said, “with that, I withdraw my whole motion.”
Commissioner Stamey asked Mr. Crumbley if his client would be willing to make a contribution toward the intersection (Harris and Hwy. 42).
Mr. Crumbley asked for a minute to confer with his client.
Ms. Bunn said she is willing to pay her fair share, if there could be some formula devised for that.
Mr. Crumbley said, “you do not have an Impact Fee Ordinance in place that would include these kinds of improvements. What you are asking them to do is something you have no legal authority to impose on them, because you have no Impact Fee Ordinance in place. These kinds of costs by law have to be spread out fairly among those who create the need for it. To say we will pay $50,000 or $25,000, I do not know how we would do that tonight.”
Commissioner Holder asked the Board, “what was wrong or what is the feeling of this Board that I could not get a second on my motion?”
Commissioner Mathis said for her, she did not understand condition #7. Commissioner Stamey said that was his concern also.
Ms. Susan Craig, County Clerk, read condition #7 to the Board for clarification.
Commissioner Holder said, “it is a 40 foot buffer or a 20 foot with a six (6’) foot fence. What good is it going to do to the residents in Williamsburg to have a six (6’) foot fence below grade? It makes no sense. They are proposing to enhance the berm currently in place; but correct me if I am wrong, you are still willing to have the 40 foot buffer, as required by the Ordinance, on your property; is that not correct?”
Mr. Crumbley answered, “yes sir; we will comply with the zoning ordinance; we will either leave the 40 foot buffer or we’ll do the 20 foot with the fence, but we are willing to do better than that if something can be worked out to enhance the buffer that is already there to provide a better visual shield than what would be provided by just compliance with the zoning ordinance.”
Commissioner Holder said that is why he made condition #7 say that it would be coordinated through the Planning and Zoning staff and the developer. He said he would certainly add in condition #7 and reiterate that, “the developer does comply with the 40 foot buffer requirement or 20 foot with a fence, as coordinated and approved by the Planning and Zoning staff.”
Commissioner Adams asked, “can we tighten it up to either a 40 foot or………. I’m not for a fence.” Commissioner Holder said, “I am not either; I’ll say 40 feet and be done with it. I have never approved a fence since I have been here, because they rot in 15 years and the developers are not around to take care of it.”
Chairman Harper restated condition #7 for the record, “the developer shall comply with the 40 foot Buffer Ordinance, as approved and coordinated by staff.”
Commissioner Stamey seconded the motion.
Commissioner Adams said, “we do not need to be vague regarding the intersection and what your fair share is.”
Chairman Harper said that was not part of the motion.
Commissioner Holder said he understood where Commissioner Adams was coming from and he also understood ‘payback.’ “They are not asking for any more curb cuts or any more access to the property that we are zoning tonight than they were the property that is already zoned. It gets close to contract zoning when you are requiring somebody to pay for something that you do not have an ordinance to require them to do.”
Commissioner Adams said, “we have not had any problems lately doing that.”
Commissioner Mathis said she was still concerned with the amount of traffic at that intersection once the development goes in there. “Would you consider not issuing a CO on the businesses until the intersection is done to a maximum up to 18 months?”
Commissioner Holder said, “that’s almost a moratorium in place, and I would have to defer to the County Attorney.”
Mr. Jaugstetter said, “I think if the Board sees the rezoning will create a traffic problem and can only be fixed by the correction of that intersection, then I do not think it is inappropriate that that condition be imposed.”
Commissioner Holman asked, “have you struck the P&Z staff language, or are you just including staff, because I believe it really goes to Development Plan Review?”
Ms. Matthews said normally Development Plan Review does deal with it.
Commissioner Holder said he had no problem in making that change.
Regarding the CO’s, Commissioner Holder deferred to Mr. Crumbley. Commissioner Holder asked, “do you wish to stand the chance of being denied or would you put if off for 18 months to get a CO, or until the intersection is completed?”
Mr. Crumbley made a suggestion; “I think a condition would be acceptable; they would not ask for a curb cut on Harris Drive until the intersection improvements are finished or 18 months have passed. That is acceptable. If the State DOT engineers say, ‘you are o.k. to go in and out on the highway here,’ we should not have to wait 18 months or whoever Paulette sells the property to should not have to wait 18 months to get a Certificate of Occupancy to occupy a building.”
Commissioner Adams said he will not vote until he knows what kind of money is decided for intersection improvements that they are willing to pay….what is a fair share?
Chairman Harper clarified, “Development Plan Review shall do the coordination and approval in lieu of the Planning and Zoning, and adding a condition #8 for the curb cut.” Commissioner Holder said, “absolutely.”
Commissioner Stamey amended his second.
Commissioner Adams asked if the applicant would be interested in spending $25,000.
Ms. Bunn said, “my husband will do it.”
Commissioner Adams asked, “was that a yes or no?”
Ms. Bunn said, “yes.”
Chairman Harper said, “I now have an amendment to add condition #9, the acceptance of a $25,000 donation to the improvement of Harris Drive and Highway 42 intersection improvement.”
Commissioner Stamey amended his second. The vote was taken and the motion carried unanimously.
There were no public comments.
Request Approval of a Consultant to Prepare the Public Involvement Portion of the Comprehensive Transportation Plan.
Chairman Harper said this matter was tabled at yesterday’s meeting; three (3) of the cities at the meeting expressed an affirmative vote to hire ‘Dovetail Consulting/Ogilvy.’ He said the proposal was given to each Commissioner. “If you are ready to vote on it tonight, please let me know, or if you are not, we will table this to the next meeting.”
Commissioner Holman made the motion to approve the contract with Dovetail Consulting/Ogilvy; Commissioner Mathis seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
A Request to Locate a Subdivision Entrance Sign in the Right-Of-Way.
WHEREAS, Triad Development (property owner) and REM Sign System (sign contractor) has applied to locate a subdivision entrance sign in the right-of-way, for property located on GA Hwy. 81 East, in Land Lots 149 and 172 of the 7th District, consisting of 49.74 +/- acres; and
WHEREAS, the applicant has submitted information required for signs located in the right-of-way pursuant to Section 3-7-235(g) of the Henry County Sign Ordinance, and
WHEREAS, the Henry County Department of Transportation has reviewed the request and prepared a letter approving the location of the subdivision sign, which is attached as an exhibit that is part of the public record; and
WHEREAS, The Planning and Zoning Department has not received a letter from the property owner stating that Sunflower Meadows Homeowner’s Association will be responsible for maintenance and repair of the proposed subdivision sign in the right-of-way for the life of the sign; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Henry County Board of Commissioners approves the above request for the placement of the subdivision entrance sign at the location stated above.
Mr. Ray Gibson, Planning and Zoning Interim Director, stated Triad Development is looking for approval to locate a subdivision entrance sign in the right-of-way; the sign has already been installed, and they are now coming through the process to obtain approval to do so. He said it does meet all of the requirements, and it has the approval from the Henry County DOT.
Commissioner Holman asked, “will you make reference to the resolution in the fourth ‘Whereas,’ where it reads: ‘Whereas, the Planning and Zoning Department has not received a letter from the property owner stating that Sunflower Meadows Homeowner’s Association will be responsible for maintenance and repair of the proposed subdivision sign in the right-of-way for the life of the sign.’ Have we received it or not?”
Ms. Matthews said the ordinance requires the sign company or the property owner, who is erecting the sign, to provide the Planning staff with a letter saying they will be responsible for the maintenance of the sign. She said they have not received it, but she did speak with REM Signs, and they will go on this approval and will get the letter into the P&Z Office.
Commissioner Adams made the motion to approve subject to REM Signs delivering the letter saying the Homeowners Association will be responsible for the maintenance and repair; Commissioner Holman seconded. The motion carried 4-0-1 with Commissioners Holman, Holder, Adams and Mathis voting in favor, and Commissioner Stamey abstaining. The record will reflect the Chair did not vote in that matter.
Request Approval and Authorization to Extend the Current Commercial Lease Contract for Off-Site Storage for the Building Department Files.
WHEREAS, the Henry County Building Department presently has a lease and maintains its files in an off-site location at Park 42 Industrial Park, 115 Pine Grove Road, Locust Grove, Georgia; and
WHEREAS, this off-site location at Park 42 Industrial Park, 115 Pine Grove Road, Locust Grove, Georgia is still available for the Building Department to extend the current lease for another year this would continue to allow the files to be stored at the present location; and
WHEREAS, to extend the current lease at 115 Pine Grove Road, Locust Grove, Georgia for a cost of six hundred dollars ($600.00) per month for twelve (12) months;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AND IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED by the Board of Commissioners of Henry County that the Chairman is hereby authorized to execute and deliver, on behalf of Henry County, to extend the current Commercial Lease Contract by and between Henco Properties, Ltd. And Henry County, Georgia (a copy of the original lease and a lease renewal letter of which is hereto attached) for off-site storage of Building Department files; said storage being located at 115 Pine Grove Road, Locust Grove, Georgia, for a term not to exceed twelve (12) months at a cost not to exceed six hundred dollars ($600.00) per month.
Commissioner Adams made the motion to approve the request; Commissioner Holman seconded. The motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Mathis, Holman, Holder and Adams voting in favor. Commissioner Stamey was absent during the vote.
Resolution Regarding the Emergency Purchase of Security Fencing at the County Jail.
WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners is aware of a pressing issue that has arose at the County Jail relative to security fencing; and
WHEREAS, the Board desires to assist with the solution to this security issue; and
WHEREAS, the County has solicited three quotations on an emergency basis for security fencing upgrades at the County Jail; and
WHEREAS, the Board desires to expend funds to expedite construction of these improvements.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Commissioners that the Board awards the emergency purchase for security fencing upgrades to Joyner Fence in the total proposed amount of $40,697.10.
Commissioner Holman made the motion to approve the resolution; Commissioner Adams seconded. The motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Mathis, Holman, Holder, and Adams voting in favor. Commissioner Stamey was absent during the vote.
Appointment to the Library Board – District IV.
Commissioner Adams stated his appointment, Mr. Mike Reis, resigned; therefore he made the motion to appoint Ms. Anne Thompson of Stockbridge, Georgia, as the replacement; Commissioner Holman seconded. The motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Mathis, Holman, Holder, and Adams voting in favor. Commissioner Stamey was absent during the vote.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Commissioner Holman made the motion to approve the Minutes of the April 20, 2005 Called Meeting with ARC regarding Overlay Corridor; Commissioner Adams seconded. The motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Mathis, Holman, Holder, and Adams voting in favor. Commissioner Stamey was absent during the vote.
Commissioner Holman made the motion to approve the Minutes of the April 21, 2005 Called Meeting regarding the Zoning Moratorium; Commissioner Holder seconded. Commissioner Mathis stated, “on page 14 of 15, it says ‘for 120 days until, up to, and including October 21, 2005…..;’ Commissioner Mathis said it should have read, ‘November 21, 2005’ for the 120 days. Commissioner Holman amended his motion to reflect the change. Commissioner Holder amended his second. The motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Mathis, Holder, Adams, and Holman voting in favor. Commissioner Stamey was absent during the vote.
Commissioner Holman made the motion to approve the Minutes of the May 2nd and May 3rd, 2005 Board of Commissioners’ Regular Meetings; Commissioner Mathis seconded. The motion carried 5-0-0 with Commissioners Mathis, Holder, Stamey, Adams, and Holman voting in favor.
COUNTY MANAGER COMMENTS:
Mr. Rob Magnaghi said he had no comments.
COUNTY ATTORNEY COMMENTS:
Mr. Patrick Jaugstetter said he had two (2) condemnations. “There are two (2) acquisitions we need to make for the East Lake Road Extension; these are parcels close to Eagles Landing Parkway, where it intersects with Highway 42. On the east side, there is approximately 1/3 of an acre, and approximately ¼ of an acre. Efforts to negotiate to purchase these properties failed, and I need to proceed with condemnation.”
Commissioner Holman made the motion to approve a resolution to authorize acquisition of .576 acres of land and .407 acres of land of construction easement of Land Lot 2 of the 11th District, and authorize the Chairman to sign the declaration of the taking of the property; Commissioner Stamey seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Holman made the motion to approve a resolution to authorize acquisition of .334 +/- acres of land in Land Lot 2 of the 11th District, and authorize the Chairman to sign the declaration of the taking of the property; Commissioner Adams seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
5/24/05 Tuesday 9:00 a.m. Called Meeting for the Adoption of the
5/30/05 Monday Memorial Day Observed
6/06/05 Monday 9:00 a.m. Regular BOC Meeting
6/07/05 Tuesday 9:00 a.m. Regular BOC Meeting
6/20/05 Monday 9:00 a.m. Regular BOC Meeting
6/21/05 Tuesday 6:30 p.m. Regular BOC Meeting
No Executive Session was held.
Commissioner Adams made the motion at 9:37 p.m. to adjourn; Commissioner Holman seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
Jason T. Harper, Chairman
Susan B. Craig, County Clerk and
Peggy L. Malcolm, Deputy County Clerk