Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pebble Creek Owners Dismiss Complaint Against Oconee County Over Zoning Decision

Wanted Smaller Houses

CAAT Holdings LLC has dismissed its suit against the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, dropping its assertion that the commissioners abused their power and acted arbitrarily when they denied a request for a change in the minimum size of dwellings in Pebble Creek subdivision south of Watkinsville.

County Attorney Daniel Haygood announced the resolution of the suit against the county at the end of the BOC meeting on Oct. 29.

Attorney James C. Warnes, representing CAAT Holdings, filed the dismissal in the Superior Court of Oconee County on Oct. 24.

The dismissal is without prejudice, meaning that CAAT Holdings can refile the complaint in the future.

March Filing

CAAT Holdings LLC had filed suit against the BOC on March 13 after the BOC voted on Feb. 12 not to allow CAAT Holdings, owners of Pebble Creek, to reduce the required size of homes in the dormant subdivision from 2,700 square feet to 1,800 square feet.

The Board did vote to allow CAAT Holdings LLC, 1351 Jennings Mill Road, to build homes on elevated slabs in the subdivision in addition to homes with basements or crawl space. The 2004 rezone had precluded construction on slabs.

Though the suit does not list owners of CAAT Holdings, Chad Keller and Alan Harrison identified themselves at the BOC meeting of Feb. 12 as the representatives of the company.

In the suit, the company claimed that the 2,700- square-foot-minimum home size listed as a condition for the rezone of the land for Pebble Creek subdivision in 2004 was “self-imposed by a previous owner.”

The company assumed ownership from the previous owner and told the Board of Commissioners the restriction was inappropriate in the current housing market.

Opponents Said Restrictions Needed

Several residents living near the subdivision on Greensboro Highway said the large home sizes that were imposed initially should be retained to protect their own property investments.

The suit claimed that other nearby properties allow for smaller home sizes and that the county’s Unified Development Code also allows for smaller home sizes.

The county’s refusal to allow CAAT Holdings to reduce the minimum size of homes in Pebble Creek Subdivision was “an unconstitutional deprivation of Plaintiff’s right to use of its property,” according to the suit.

The 143-acre tract is platted for 98 lots with another lot set aside for an amenity area.

County Response

The county responded to the CAAT Holdings complaint on April 13, asking the court to dismiss the suit.

The county said that the actions of the BOC “were a proper and legal exercise of legislative discretion and did not breach any rights” of CAAT Holdings.

The county’s reply to the complaint also said that CAAT Holdings had “failed to adequately note any constitutional objection to the action taken” by the county.

CAAT Holdings gave no indication in the request for a dismissal of the complaint why it was taking that action.

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