The Oconee County Planning Commission took only 10 minutes tonight to agree that developer Frank Bishop should be allowed to increase the maximum square footage of his proposed but as yet unstarted Epps Bridge Centre on Epps Bridge parkway.
Bishop, through his representative, Philip Cranmer, told the commissioners tonight he needed the additional 42,185 square feet of space because of an “increased interest in retailers locating in this area." He said “we wanted to make sure we can accommodate those interested parties.”
Bishop has not submitted any construction drawings for the $76 million project and gave only vague indications of how the extra space would be spread around the 22-building complex, located west of Lowe’s.
The documents Bishop did submit list one tenant, Georgia Theatre Company, which, according to the documents, will occupy an 80,000 square foot building at the rear of the complex. The building will have 16 screens and seat 2,992, according to the submitted documents.
The Board of Commissioners approved a rezone for the 68-acre tract in October of 2008.
The state currently is building the Oconee Connector Extension, which will provide five of the six proposed entrances to the shopping center. The sixth is off Epps Bridge parkway itself.
The Planning Commission’s unanimous recommendation is scheduled to be on the agenda of the Board of Commissioners at its Jan. 4, 2011, meeting.
Planning Commission member George Rodrigues, who represents Watkinsville, asked Oconee County planner Brad Callender if there was going to be any change in the amount of paved parking area as a result of the increased size of the shopping center.
Callender said the increase would be about three percent.
Rodrigues had complained about the amount of impervious surface in the complex back when it was before the Planning Commission in 2008.
According to the documents submitted with the rezone modification request by Bishop’s Oconee 316 Associates, LLC, the Atlanta company developing the project, tree canopy on the site now covers 35 percent of the site.
Bishop plans to clear 100 percent of the land but replant tress so that 34 percent of the site will be covered by trees within five years of build-out of the center and 40 percent of the land will be covered “at tree maturity.”
According to the submitted documents, the project will take about six years to build out once construction begins.
Bishop also plans to put two streams on the site in pipes and to fill wetlands on the site. He has been given permission to do this by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is allowing him to mitigate these damages on a site Bishop purchased in Greene County.
Planning Commissioner member Bill Ramsey asked where the mitigation site was and if it was going to be “downstream from here.” Greene County is south of Oconee County.
In addition to the increase in total square footage for the project from the 444,056 approved in 2008 to the 486,241 requested, the Planning Commission also recommended that the BOC grant Bishop three additional exceptions to zoning regulations.
Bishop wants to increase the number of lots that will use a private access road, modify the minimum front and side yard setbacks for parking areas, and modify the setbacks between buildings.
The 42,185 increase in square footage will allow Bishop to add the equivalent space of 80 percent of the Kroger’s across Epps Bridge parkway from the planning shopping center.
Or, about the size of four Trader Joe’s, also located across Epps Bridge parkway from Bishop’s complex.