Sunday, July 07, 2013

A Doctor’s Office, A Church And A Farm Are On Zoning Agenda For Oconee County Commissioners’ Meeting

Parking And Unpaved Roads Too

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to conduct public hearings on Tuesday night on zoning requests involving an office park near Butler’s Crossing, a neighborhood church near U.S. 78 in the west of the county, and a farm in the far south of the county.

If the BOC follows staff recommendations, it will allow for expansion of a doctor’s office, for conversion of a church from neighborhood scale to community scale, and for subdivision of a farm on a dirt road.

The doctor’s office is in Twelve Oaks Office Park on Hog Mountain Road east of Butler’s Crossing. The owner of the building wants to expand the footprint beyond what is allowed by current zoning ordinance.

Twelve Oaks Office Park

The church, Living Word Baptist, is on Ruth Jackson Road just before its intersection with U.S. 78. The church wants to greatly expand its facilities, adding new buildings, a baseball field, and new entrances on Ruth Jackson Road and on Clotfelter Road.

Lori Ray is asking the county to allow her to divide out five acres from a 49-acre-parcel owned by her aunt and uncle, John Durham Hayes and Debra Marie Hayes, so she can purchase the five-acre-parcel, leaving the remaining acreage with her aunt and uncle. The existing dwelling is on the five acres.

The BOC is scheduled to take up the zoning issues near the beginning of its meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Watkinsville.

Office Park Back Again

If the Commissioners approve the request by SDF Properties LLC to increase the size of the office building in Twelve Oaks Office Park, it will be the fourth time the county has modified the 1993 zoning ordinance for the property.

The building houses Oconee Pediatric Associates and Hudspeth Accounting, and the owner wants to add 1,203-square feet to the building footprint, exceeding the 2,800 square feet now allowed.

The addition would be for patient examination rooms and clinical space, according to the narrative submitted with the application by Smith Planning Group.

That narrative states that the building already exceeds the 2,800-square-foot allowed by 131 feet, and the total footprint for the new building would be 4,134 square feet. Total square footage for the building, including the existing second floor, would be 5,600 square feet.

Originally Eight Lots

The office park was to include a total of eight lots, with each building size limited to 3,500 square feet and each footprint limited to 1,800 square feet, according to the staff report written by Planner Brad Callender.

The 1993 rezoning ordinance setting those standards was modified in 1997 to allow for only five lots with total square footage of each of the buildings of 5,600.

A year later, the ordinance was modified again to limit each building footprint to 2,800 square feet.

In 2010, an exception was made for lot number three, allowing a building on that lot to have a maximum building footprint of 5,600 square feet. The developer wanted to build a facility for the United States Department of Agriculture local office, but the building was never built.

At present, two of the five lots remain unbuilt. The three buildings that exist conform to the existing building size restrictions, according to the staff report.

Parking Specified

The narrative submitted by Smith Planning Group, which is located in Twelve Oaks Office Park, indicates that the proposed building with the new addition will require 28 parking spaces.

At present, 146 spaces exist in the office park, the narrative states, or just more than 29 per building.

Drive Way To Summer Hill

A 1995 document submitted with the narrative shows that the majority of those spaces are designated for use when swim meets are held at the neighboring Summer Hill Recreation Club. Additional spaces are designated as pool parking generally.

Summer Hill Recreation Club is a commercial facility operating on land zoned as residential that is part of the adjoining Twelve Oaks subdivision.

A driveway to Summer Hill Recreation Club runs from the parking lot of the Twelve Oaks Office Park, although the 2010 zoning ordinance modification specifies that a landscape buffer “will completely screen” the office park from the residential area behind it.

Common Developers

According to county tax records, the land that is now the Twelve Oaks subdivision and the Twelve Oaks Office Park were owned by STS Developers in the past. STS stands for Sosbee, Thornton and Sosbee.

At present, one of the five lots in the office park is owned by John Darrell Sosbee, tax records show. A building is on that property.

The other four lots have different owners.

Legacy Business Park

SDF, which owns the lot and building housing the pediatric offices of Dr. David Sprayberry and Dr. Carrie Kelly, has a mailing address of 5332 High Shoals Road, according to county tax documents.

Thornton and the Sosbees also have owned the nearby land on Hog Mountain Road that was rezoned for Legacy Business Park, according to tax records, though the land is now owned only by Roy Lee Sosbee and John D. Sosbee.

That park was not completed, and the land is for sale.

Living Word Background

Living Word Baptist Church of Oconee County has been on its present location since 1957, according to the staff report for the rezone request. That report was written by Planner Callender.

In 2002, according to the report, the county granted the church a conditional use permit to expand the church’s facilities and parking areas. That permit covered only 12.6 acres on which the current facilities are located.

Living Word Baptist Church

The request for a special use permit to convert from a neighborhood scale church to a community scale church, as defined in the county’s Unified Development Code, would include an additional 22.2 acres and expand the facility from its current Ruth Jackson Road location through to Clotfelter Road.

The county staff is recommending that the church be required to construct turn lanes for the Ruth Jackson Road entrances and a center turn lane for the Clotfelter Road entrance.

Proposal Specifics

The church proposes to expand the sanctuary, add parking spaces, build a family life center, including a gymnasium, erect a youth outreach building, and construct a baseball field.

The purpose of the proposed expansion, according to the narrative submitted with the application, is “to meet the needs of a growing congregation.”

The church proposes to offer a week-day school for pre-school and elementary-aged children and to build a sanctuary to seat 550 persons.

Smith Planning Group also is representing the church in the rezone request.

Unpaved Road The Issue

The Hayes property, which Ray is asking the county to allow to be subdivided, is on Old Watson Springs Road, just north of the Oconee County border with Greene County.

Because the road is not paved, Ray needs a hardship variance to allow for the division of the property.

Ray states that she does not intend to add any buildings to the property or to change the land use.

She states in the narrative for the application that the county restriction presents “an unnecessary hardship” to her and that the subdivision of the land should be allowed.

Planning Commission Recommendations

The Oconee County Planning Commission does not make recommendations on hardship variances, but it did recommend that the BOC approve the Twelve Oaks Office Park and Living Word Church requests.

The Planning Commission recommendations, following public hearings at its meeting on June 17, were unanimous, though only six of the 12 Commission members were present.

Minutes of that meeting as well as documents related to the three zoning issues to be before the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday are on the county web site.

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