Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Oconee County Commissioners Rezone Land For Assisted Living Facility, Appoint Farmland Committee

Hotel A Possibility

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tonight rezoned 23 acres at the corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector, making way for a medical and office complex that will include an assisted living facility to be developed by Thrive Senior Living.

The rezone included two additional parcels at that intersection, one of which is being developed for a dermatological medical center. The other is being developed speculatively for a hotel.

The Board also voted, without discussion, to appoint its own five-member committee to screen applicants for the county’s farmland protection program, tossing aside a citizen committee that developed and has run the program since 1998.

Commission Chairman Melvin Davis said the new committee would be in a position to evaluate any farms that come forward, but the county turned down a near-certain $175,000 in federal funds to protect a farm in the current year, and federal funding for the program in the future is uncertain.

Assisted Living Developer

Jon Williams of Williams & Associates Land Planners told the commissioners that Thrive Senior Living will build a 85-bed assisted living facility in the southeast corner of the 23-acre parcel bordered by SR 316, the Oconee Connector, Virgil Langford Road, and the stub of Jennings Mill Road.

The $9 million facility will be private, will accept patients only with a doctor’s statement of need, and will have a community dining facility and a full service kitchen, Williams said.

Williams told the Commissioners Thrive “designs, builds and operates” assisted living facilities and “sometimes sells then and sometimes holds them.”

Thrive Senior Living has facilities in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida, according to its web site. That site lists the company’s home as 2802 Paces Ferry Road, Suite 200 Atlanta.

A representative of Thrive was at the meeting.

Williams told the Board that Thrive was the only tenant so far for the medical and business park, to be known as Resurgence Park. Nichols Land and Investment Company is the developer.

Nichols has its offices at 2500 Daniells Bridge Road and Williams has its offices at 2470 Daniells Bridge Road.

Pre-Agreed Choices Ratified

Commissioner Mark Saxon formally nominated five persons to serve on the selection committee for farmland in the county. The committee members had been agreed to in advance, but this was the first time the list was made public.

The Commissioners named Henry Hibbs as chairman of the committee. Others members are Mac Hayes, Sam Mitchell, Bob Isaac and Keith Odom.

Davis took the lead in rounding up people for the committee and tried to get the Commissioners to approve the slate last week. Commissioner Jim Luke said he needed more time.

Luke missed the meeting tonight.

Davis Reminder

Davis said the BOC was acting out of some urgency and that, in the future, it would accept applications from the public for this committee, as is the standard procedure the Commissioners follow for citizen committees.

Davis said the appointed committee “could go ahead and act on any applications that may be turned in in the next month or so.”

The citizen group Oconee Partnership for Farmland Protection has worked closely with the Athens Land Trust in the past to identify farms that meet the federal standards of the Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program.

The Board of Commissioners has then accepted the farms selected by the Partnership and the Land Trust and put the farm forward for federal funding. The Land Trust holds the easements on the land, keeping it from being developed.

Oconee County has spent about $500,000 on the program since 2003 and has protected 485 acres of farmland. Federal and state programs have contributed nearly $2.5 million.

The video below is of the full discussion of the farmland program at the meeting.

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