Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Small Truck Repair Facility Is Coming To Oconee County Because of Caterpillar, Developer Told Planning Commission

In Business Park

While no vendors have located in the property adjacent to the Caterpillar Plant on Atlanta Highway on the east side of Bogart, despite the expectation that they would do so, Mike Power told the Planning Commission on Monday night that a four-bay truck repair is coming to his business park because of Caterpillar.

Power’s development, called Mars Hill Business Park, is located on Mars Hill Road across from Malcom Bridge Road.

Look East, Mars Hill Road  On Right

That puts it south of SR 316 and east of U.S. 78, or diagonally across from the Orkin Tract, from which the Caterpillar plant property was carved in 2012.

The Planning Commission approved the truck repair project unanimously, sending it to the Board of Commissioners, which is scheduled to take action on the rezone request at its June 2 meeting.

Seeking Modification

Power did not identify the operator of the truck repair facility, but he called him in the video below a “good businessman” who understood the requirement that his truck repair facility has to blend in with the other businesses already in the park as well as those Power hopes to attract in the future.

OCO: Power On Caterpillar from Lee Becker on Vimeo

Power was asking the Planning Commission to lift a condition on the zoning ordinance for the lots to be used for the business that specifically prohibited a tractor and truck repair garage.

He also is seeking two hardship variances, one that would allow an automotive repair operation adjacent to a residential zoning district and the other to increase the maximum floor space allowed for an automotive repair operation from 8,000 square feet to 8,800 square feet.

The Planning Commission does not deal with variance requests. Those will be before the Board of Commissioners on June 2 as well.

Zoning History

The county zoned Mars Hill Business Park in 2001, with nine B-2 (highway business) and 16 O-B-P (office business park) lots.

The truck repair will be on three adjoining lots at the rear of the park that back up on the east-bound entrance ramp to SR 316 from U.S. 78.

Parts of two of the lots abut property now zoned for residential development.

The Planning Commission struck down all of the five listed restrictions that had been placed on the use of the B-2 lots as part of that 2001 rezone.

The Commission also included a condition calling for installation of landscape buffers along the property lines that adjoin the residential lots prior to any clearing or grading of the business lots.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Oconee County Charges Property Owners In Four Cities More For Services It Provides Than It Charges Property Owners Elsewhere In County

Law Allows Two Rates

When the Oconee County Board of Commissioners releases the county’s budget on May 26, it also will release two millage or property tax rates–one for property in the county’s four cities and another for property in the unincorporated parts of the county.

Those rates are likely to be different–-as they have been for at least the last six years--with property owners in Bishop, Bogart, North High Shoals and Watkinsville paying the county more in taxes for a comparable piece of property than do owners of property elsewhere in the county.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Publisher Announces Closing Of Oconee County Weekly Newspaper

Finances Cited

Oconee County lost another local news and information site on Friday with the closing of The Oconee Leader, the county’s largely free circulation weekly newspaper.

Publisher Rob Peecher announced the decision to close the newspaper in a front-page “note of thanks to our readers and advertisers” in Friday’s paper.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Oconee County Administrative Officer Rescinds Order That Restricted Media Access of Department Heads

At Meeting

Oconee County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko said on Wednesday that he has rescinded his order that department heads limit their comments to the media.

Benko said he lifted the restriction on April 15, the day that the county released to me a copy of the email message Benko sent to department heads on April 3 telling them not to make statements to “the press” without clearing those statements in advance with him.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Executive Director of Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission Has Submitted Her Resignation

Will Continue As Volunteer

Angela Helwig, executive director of the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission, has submitted her resignation to the county, saying the job requires more time than she is able to give to it.

Helwig, who also serves as receptionist in the Oconee County Board of Commissioners office, open records officer for the Industrial Development Authority, and recording secretary for the IDA and for the Citizens Advisory Committee for Land Use and Transportation Planning, among other assignments, said her resignation is effective June 30.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Oconee County Citizens Will Get Their First Chance To See Next Year’s Budget In Two Weeks

Tax Increase An Option

Work on the county’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is taking place out of the public view, but in two weeks, citizens will know how the Board of Commissioners has reconciled the nearly $2.8 million gap between requested expenditures and anticipated revenue.

The $2,747,549 funding shortfall was presented to the commissioners in their last public meeting on the budget–a work session on March 25 held in the Grand Jury Room at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Oconee County Issues First Building Permits For Falls Of Oconee Complex Opposite Athens Ridge

Shell Permits Only

The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office on Friday issued building permits for three of the five buildings to make up The Falls of Oconee speciality retail center on Old Macon Highway opposite the Athens Ridge student housing complex.

The permits are for the shells of the three buildings only and give no indication of how the buildings will be used.