The Oconee County Board of Commissioners approved a series of modifications to the county’s Unified Development Code last night, but it decided the existing code language that excludes chickens and other fowl from all but agricultural acreage should remain in place.
B.R. White, director of the county’s Planning Department, told the Board that the possibility of changing the code to allow “poultry and other domesticated fowl” into subdivisions has been “very controversial.”
In fact, the possibility of the change motivated John Morrison, a realtor and member of the county’s Industrial Development Authority, to speak out, saying that the changes would adversely affect the sale of residential properties.
Russ Page, farmland advocate, responded by telling the commissioners simply to ignore what Morrison had said.
“I think we have spent way too much time on poultry and fowl,” Commissioner Margaret Hale said.
The vote to pass the code modifications minus the provision on poultry and fowl was approved unanimously.
Antique Acres Not Discussed
Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis told the Board that Barton and Melanie Cartey had asked that consideration of their rezone and variances requests for their wedding venue at 2531 Snows Mill Road be postponed. The Board agree to delay consideration until its meeting on December 3
The Carteys are seeking to rezone a 1.6-acre parcel on which two reception halls have been constructed and to be allowed to have a gravel rather paved parking lot and that they not be required to have a buffer around the business operation.
The Carteys call their property Antique Acres.
The commissioners did approve a special use permit for the Connecting Point Community Church of Winder so it can construct a 255-seat sanctuary and related facilities on a 10-acre wooded tract on Lenru Road.
The UDC revisions that were approved modify procedures for subdivision of property on an unpaved road, the definition of caretaker residences and religious sanctuaries, and the specifications regarding guest houses and garage apartments.
None of these was in any way controversial.
White said opponents and proponents had spoken out on the suggested change in the poultry provision.
“We probably have had more phone calls on this than we have had on any one item as far as any code proposals that we have had in probably six or seven years,” he said.
White told the commissioners he was bringing the change forward because of disputes in subdivisions about chickens and roosters. He told me in an email message today that county code enforcement officers had suggested that the county make the changes in code to address the issue.
Many subdivisions already prohibit chickens and other domesticated animals through their convenants, White said last night, and the proposal would not have changed anything for those subdivisions.
The provision would have allowed chickens on residential lots where covenants do not prevent them if those lots were larger than one acre in size. Roosters would have been allowed only on lots of three acres or larger.
The proposed code modification defined fowl “as chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas, peacocks and other such birds, excluding large birds such as ostriches, emus and rheas.”