While residents in subdivisions near the proposed materials recovery facility on Dials Mill Road have been most outspoken about the project, the decision the Board of Commissioners makes about the facility has the potential to impact indirectly residents of two other areas of the county.
One of the areas is south of Watkinsville, where the Board of Commissioners in 2005 turned down a request for a waste transfer station. That request is likely to come back if the BOC approves the Dials Mill Road project.
|On Site of MRF|
The other is on Rocky Branch Road, where Presbyterian Homes of Georgia has proposed to build a continuing care retirement community next to several subdivisions.
That project is on hold, but the approval by the BOC of the materials recovery facility (MRF) on Dials Mill Road despite neighborhood protests about the traffic would weaken the hand of Rocky Branch Road residents who are making the same complaint about the PHG project.
The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night is scheduled to hold a public hearing and make a decision on the request by Bernard A. Garrett to build the MRF at 1441 Dials Mill Road and a related request for a hardship variance allowing the facility to operate on the roadway.
The meeting is to start at 7 p.m. in the courthouse in Watkinsville.
Presbyterian Homes of Georgia
In December of last year, Frank McElroy, president and CEO of Presbyterian Homes of Georgia, asked to delay his request to rezone land on Rocky Branch Road for the continuing care retirement community.
|The Lakes at Rowan Oak|
The land, which had been zoned residential for Autumn Glen subdivision, was never used for that purpose.
McElroy proposed to change the zoning classification to allow for a retirement community consisting of cottages, villas, an apartment building, a health services center and a support building.
Residents of Old Waverly subdivision, the Rowan Oak residential complex and other nearby subdivisions raised a number of objections to the project, including increased noise and lighting. But much of the protest focused on increased traffic.
McElroy has remained out of public view since December when he said he would be back before the Planning Commission in June to move forward on the project.
Oconee Waste Transport
Courtney M. Elder Jr., president and CEO of Oconee Waste Transport, which competes with the Garrett Family’s Roll Off Systems, has been more visible.
Elder attended the Planning Commission meeting on April 15, where residents who favored the MRF project and those opposed spoke out.
A MRF is similar in some ways to the waste transfer station Elder sought in 2005 but was denied after citizen complaints that the project was out of keeping with the agricultural and residential area.
Elder returned to the BOC in 2010 with a modified request, this time for a rezone of the land for Office Business Park use.
|OWT Office South of Watkinsville|
Elder proposed to put his office on the property and store his trucks and canisters there. But he promised not to bring trash onto the site, as he would have done with a waste transfer facility.
Despite protests from the residents of the small subdivision off Green Ferry Road and the fact that the rezone was contrary to the county’s Future Development Map, the BOC rezoned the property for Elder.
OBP Rezone Could Help
Residents have complained that OWT has violated the operating hours specified in the rezone ordinance, waking them early in the morning with trucks moving about on the site.
In October, Magistrate Court Judge Eric W. Norris found Elder in violation of the county zoning ordinance, but the county has requested, and Norris has agreed, to reconsider and vacate the ruling.
Elder has unused land on his site, and the OBP rezone he received could help him if he comes back for the industrial use for a waste transfer facility.
The BOC traditionally has sought to buffer industrial or commercial sites from residential sites with OBP zones.
Protest Against Traffic
At the April 15 Planning Commission meeting, residents of the area voiced their biggest concern about traffic.
The Garretts not only are asking the county for a special use permit to build the MRF on agricultural land, they also are asking for a hardship variance to allow them to run an estimated 100 trucks a day on Dials Mill Road.
That variance request is necessary because Dials Mill Road is currently classified as a Minor Collector, while the county’s Unified Development Code specifies that Recycling and Materials Recovery Facilities must be accessed from a road classified as an arterial or major collector road.
The Planning Commission did not consider the variance request. But both the variance request and the special use permit for the MRF will be before the Board of Commissioners.
Two Large Subdivisions
Most of the complaints at the Planning Commission meeting came from residents of Dials Mill Plantation and Belfair subdivision.
Dials Mill Plantation is on 53 acres near the intersection of Dials Mill Road and SR 316 that were rezoned for the single-family subdivision in 1999. The subdivision has 51 lots.
Belfair lies between Pete Dickens Road and Dials Mill Road, north of U.S. 78.
The 170-acre subdivision was rezoned in 2002 for 146 homesites.
A third, older and smaller subdivision, Eaglewood, abuts Dials Mill Plantation. About 30 homesites are part of that subdivision.
The county approved zoning for another subdivision, Wildflower Meadows, in 2006, but nothing has been built on the site.
According to planning department records, revised overall preliminary plats were filed on Feb. 28 of this year, when the old plats had expired.
That subdivision consists of 273 acres.
Ellington Farms Development Partners LLC is listed as the owner, with Mark Jennings, 3651 Mars Hill Road, Suite 800B, listed as the agent.