The Oconee County planning staff has recommended against approval of the requested rezone by Presbyterian Homes of Georgia for 96 acres on Rocky Branch Road and against the special use request to construct a continuing care retirement community on the site.
The staff report, completed on Nov. 30, states that the request to rezone the Autumn Glen subdivision across from Old Waverly for the PHG facility “appears to conflict with the development goals and strategies” the county has established for the area.
The residential density of the proposed PHG facility is much higher than bordering single-family residential neighborhoods, the staff report states.
|Neighbors of Proposed Facility|
“Approval of this development at the requested location could establish a precedent of placing higher residential densities in areas not intended or suitable for multi-family project development,” Planner Brad Callender wrote in the report.
Planning Commission Only Recommends
The PHG request comes before the Planning Commission at 7 p.m. tomorrow night. That meeting will take place in the courthouse in Watkinsville.
The Planning Commission only makes recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, which is scheduled to hold a hearing and then make a decision on the request at its Jan. 8 meeting.
A separate request by PHG for a variance to be allowed to construct buildings higher than permitted by county zoning ordinances also is scheduled to come before the BOC on Jan. 8. The Planning Commission does not pass judgment on variance requests, and that matter will not be before the Planning Commission tomorrow night.
Documents related to the rezone request are available on the county web site.
Included are 18 pages of documents from supporters of the rezone and 143 page of documents from opponents of the rezone.
PHG Revealed New Plans in August
PHG informed Oconee County officials in early August that it was reviving its plans for its Presbyterian Village project in Oconee County, but not at the original site on Bishop Farms Parkway near Butler’s Crossing.
Instead, PHG said it planned to use the mothballed Autumn Glen subdivision across from Old Waverly subdivision and just west of Rowan Oak residential complex for the Continuing Care Retirement Facility.
The property is owned by Autumn Glen LLC. Rod Wright is the registered agent for Autumn Glen.
PHG, based in Quitman in south Georgia, is at the center of a web of nine linked corporations that provide housing and care facilities for senior citizens in Georgia. Eight are non-profit corporations, but one is a for-profit corporation called Residential Rental Properties Inc., which tax records list as a wholly owned subsidiary of PHG.
The corporations have no formal connection to the Presbyterian Church.
Smith Planning Group
The Smith Planning Group, 1022 Twelve Oaks Place, near Butler's Crossing, is representing PHG in the rezone request.
The request is to change the existing zoning from R-1 Single-Family Residential District to R-3 Multi-Family Residential District.
Because the R-3 category allows for a Continuing Care Retirement Community only as a special use, Smith Planning Group also is asking for special use approval.
The property surrounding the site is either AR-1 (Agricultural-Residential One-Acre), R-2 MPD (Two-Family Residential Master Planned Development), or A-1 (Agricultural).
The tract just west of the proposed site is currently in agricultural use. Planner Callender notes that rezoning the property to R-3 would not provide a transition between any existing nonresidential centers and an existing residential area and could influence how the currently undeveloped land would be developed.
Both Sides Get To Speak
Both proponents and opponents of the rezone request will have a chance to speak tomorrow night.
Many of those writting letters in favor of the PHG facility express an interest in moving to the facility if it is built.
“We are residents of Oconee County and have reached the stage of life where the thought of being able to continue to live in the county that we love, while we age and require more help, is a very pleasing possibility,” a letter signed by four different individuals said.
“As a senior myself, I can’t help but notice that the people who oppose this rezone effort are in their thirties or forties,” Brent Hix of Bogart wrote.
Opponents focused on increased traffic and noise from the proposed facility and on the deviation from the existing land use. Many signed a petition making that argument.
“I am extremely worried about the increased traffic on Rocky Branch as well as at each of the intersections at Mars Hill and Malcom Bridge,” Rowan Oak resident Steve Budsberg wrote in an email message. “Currently both of these intersections are problematic.”
“Nothing wrong with their concept, just the wrong location,” Doug Elkins wrote in another email message.
The Planning Commission voted to delay the consideration of approval until June. This followed a request to delay consideration that was received late Monday afternoon.
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