Monday, February 10, 2014

Swim And Race Event Request Removed From Oconee County Board Of Commissioners’ Agenda

Venue To Change

Summer Hill Recreation Club has withdrawn its request for Oconee County to grant it a permit to hold a Splash and Dash swim and race event on May 3 at its facility at the corner of Chestnut Hill Road and Daniells Bridge Road.

County Clerk Jane Greathouse late Friday afternoon removed the item from the agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting, which is to start at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Watkinsville.

County Planning and Code Enforcement Director B.R. White said that Summer Hill had asked to have its request for the permit withdrawn and said Summer Hill has asked instead that the county issue a permit for the same event on the same date for its facility in the Twelve Oaks subdivision.

Twelve Oaks Facility

That request has not yet been placed on the agenda of the Board of Commissioners.

(Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis announced at the meeting on the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax tonight at the Civic Center that the Commission meeting will be rescheduled for Thursday or Friday if weather dictates.)

(More than 80 people attended the event and made strong statements of support for farmland protection, the library projects and parks and recreation funding.)

Application Filed In December

Joanna Rennie, manager and program coordinator for the swim club, completed an application for a special event permit for the Splash and Dash with the Oconee County Planning Department and Code Enforcement Office on Dec. 11.

The application was to hold a swimming meet at the pool at 1020 Chestnut Hill Road to be followed by a race along Chestnut Hill, Anne Road and Beverly Drive. Anne Road and Beverly Drive are inside Welbrook Farms subdivision.

The event was to be from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on May 3, a Saturday, and would have involved an estimated 100 swimmers and runners, according to the application. The event was to be part of the USA Triathlon nationwide schedule.

The request for the permit was on the agenda at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Jan. 30 and had been scheduled to be voted on at the meeting on tomorrow night, prior to Greathouse’s removing it from the agenda.

County Officials Unaware Of Restriction

The application by Summer Hill made no mention of a condition placed on Summer Hill when it obtained a conditional use permit in 2001 to operate the commercial pool on the residential lot that is part of the Welbrook Farms subdivision.

I live in Welbrook Farms, and I told the Board of Commissioners at the Jan. 30 meeting that the restriction existed.

The Board decided not to take action on the request to give B.R. White, director of the Planning Department and Code Enforcement Office, a chance to investigate the conditions of the CUP.

White sent a message to the officers of the Welbrook Farms Home Owners Association on Feb. 3 with a copy of the county ordinance granting the CUP. White copied his message to County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko. He also sent a copy to me.

The fourth condition of the CUP states:

“Use of the facility shall be limited to members and their accompanied guests. No swim meets or other sporting events shall be permitted at the facility.”

County Attorney Opinion

County Attorney Daniel Haygood told me on in an email message on Feb. 4 that the Board of Commissioners could not legally set aside for the swimming event the restrictions of the Conditional Use Permit for the Summer Hill facility.

If Summer Hill wants to hold swim meets or other sporting events at the site, according to Haygood, it would have to go through formal zoning procedures to change the restrictions of the CUP before it could be granted the requested permit for the May 3 event.

The process could not be completed by May 3.

White said that Rennie had indicated that Summer Hill will now seek a permit to hold the event on May 3 at its location at 1030 Twelve Oaks Circle off Hog Mountain Road east of Butler’s Crossing.

Parking Reason For CUP Restriction

The restriction on Summer Hill was included in the zoning language by the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners in responses to concerns stated by residents of Welbrook Farms about parking for swim meets.

According to the narrative attached to the conditional use permit, Summer Hill has 78 parking spaces at its property.

The CUP also stipulated that the membership agreement for Summer Hill “shall include the provision” that members parking on public roads or right of way rather than the facility off-street lot “shall be subject to revocation of membership privileges.”

In the application for the permit for the Splash and Dash, Summer Hill stated that “Limited on site parking is available.”

Two Other Permits Approved

At the Sept. 30 meeting, the Commissioners did approve two special event permits.

The first was for the Feb. 1 run of 5 kilometers beginning and ending at the Westminster Christian Academy on New High Shoals Road just outside Watkinsville.

The second was the Feb. 8 run of 5 kilometers starting on Spartan Lane and ending at Athens Academy on U.S. 441 east of Watkinsville.

Commissioner Margaret Hale, who votes against these permits when they involve out and back components on the same road on the grounds they are too disruptive to drivers, voted for both of these events. Both used circular routes.

The Summer Hill request did involve use of Chestnut Hill Road and Anne Road in both directions, but the Commissioners did not discuss the proposal, so Hale did not have a chance to express an opinion about the proposed route.

Twin Oaks Place

The Summer Hill facility at Twelve Oaks subdivision is on a lot that connects Twelve Oaks Circle in the Twelve Oaks subdivision to the parking lot of Twelve Oaks Place, an office park.

The Summer Hill facility has only about 20 on-site parking spaces, but parking is available in the lot of Twelve Oaks Place.

That lot contains 146 spaces, according to a narrative for a rezone request within that business park filed with the Oconee County Planning Department in May of 2013.

Swim meets have been held at that facility in the past.

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