Sunday, March 15, 2015

Jimmy Daniell Road Rezone Likely To Be Removed From Oconee County Planning Commission Agenda For Tomorrow Night

PHG Main Remaining Item

The developer of a proposed complex of office warehouses on Jimmy Daniell Road on Friday requested that the project be withdrawn from the agenda of the Oconee County Planning Commission tomorrow night, simplifying what was to be a long and complex meeting.

Remaining on the agenda is a request by Presbyterian Homes of Georgia for a continuing care retirement center on 70 acres with frontage on U.S. 441 and Welbrook Road.

The PHG request is the third attempt by the nonprofit based in Quitman in the far south of the state to locate a continuing care facility in Oconee County.

The request has generated much opposition from residents in Lake Wellbrook subdivision, on Phinizy Court, and in Crystal Hills subdivision.

Much, but not all, of that opposition focuses on traffic problems as a result of the $120 million development, particularly on Welbrook Road.

Jimmy Daniell And Silver Leaf

Kenneth Beall of the land planning company Beall and Company requested on Friday that the Planning Commission table the request by Oconee Medical Properties LLC for the rezone of five acres on Jimmy Daniell Road north of Silver Leaf Road.

Beall said in a letter to the Oconee County Planning Department that he needs time to address concerns raised in the planning staff report about the proposed project.

The staff recommended against the rezone from agricultural use (A-1) to an Office-Business-Park zoning category on the grounds that the proposed warehouses were “not compatible with nearby residential properties.”

The project had generated a lot of opposition from residents the area, particularly those living in Silver Leaf subdivision.

Complex PHG Request

The Planning Commission tomorrow night also is scheduled to review a request by the Sudie Clark Hanger Missionary Care Ministry Inc. for a special use permit to build a religious retreat on 10 acres on Snows Mill Road near Lane Creek Road in the western part of the county.

The staff has recommended approval of the request.

The staff also has recommended approval of two linked requests by PHG for rezones related to the continuing care retirement community.

Both requests are for down zones, meaning the developer is asking that the properties be converted to uses less intensive than presently allowed on the properties.

The Planning Commission meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in courtroom 1 in the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Two Separate PHG Rezones

In addition to asking that the 70 acres on which the continuing care retirement community will be located be downzoned from business use to Office-Institutional-Professional use, PHG is asking that nine adjoining acres be downzoned from business use to residential use.

The 79 acres were rezoned for shopping centers and other business use in 1994.

The request is that the nine acres, which front on Wild Azalea Lane, revert to residential use that is compatible with the residential development in Crystal Hills subdivision.

PHG Entrance Top Of Hill
Opposite Lavista Road

The remaining 70 acres would be used for a Health Services Center, a Village Center with a dining area, fitness center, indoor pool, and other facilities, 113 single-family dwellings, 13 two-family dwellings, 100 apartments dwelling units, and pavilion and recreational areas.

PHG also is seeking a variance to allow for construction of a building that is exceeds allowed heights in the O-I-P classification, but the Planning Commission will not review that request.

Variance requests are only reviewed by the Board of Commissioners, which must give final approval to all rezone matters.

Traffic Issues

Opponents of the PHG rezone have filed 120 pages of opposing letters and petitions, many of them focusing on traffic problems.

The primary concern is that the already congested intersection of Welbrook Road and Hog Mountain Road just west of the Hog Mountain Road intersection with U.S. 441 will become unusable.

At a meeting on March 4 between opponents and representatives of PHG, residents expressed concern that those exiting the PHG complex on Welbrook Road will turn right and pass through Lake Wellbrook subdivision because of the congestion on Hog Mountain Road.

I attended that meeting as part of an agreement between PHG and the opponents. The meeting was held in the offices of Carl Nichols, 2500 Daniells Bridge Road. Nichols is representing the land owners and the developers.

Only Two Entrances/Exits

At present, the PHG facility would have an entrance on U.S. 441 opposite Lavista Road and another entrance on Welbrook Road.

Both entrances would be gated and the roadways would be private.

Hog Mountain Road
And Welbrook Road (Right)

The staff report says that “staff agrees with citizen concerns regarding the proposed entrance on Welbrook Road.”

As an alternative, staff proposed that a public street be built connecting Welbrook Road to US. 441.

At present, no traffic signal exists at U.S. 441 and Lavista Road, but the staff report states that a “traffic signal would likely be warranted if a public street is constructed, allowing safer access to the project” and redirecting traffic away from Welbrook Road.

Intersection Improvements

Jon Williams of Williams and Associates, representing PHG in the rezone request, sent an email message on Friday afternoon to members of the group that met on March 4 offering another option. Williams sent me a copy of that email.

Hog Mt. Road Improvements
Click To Enlarge

Williams proposed that PHG install a turning lane from Welbrook Road onto Hog Mountain Road “to address the traffic concerns at this intersection.”

The county and Georgia Department of Transportation already are planning to upgrade the Hog Mountain Road intersection with U.S. 441, according to county Public Works Director Emil Beshara.

Hog Mountain Road will be four lanes wide at the actual intersection with a new left-turn only lane onto U.S. 441.

Beshara told me in an email message on March 5 that he expects work to begin “in the next six weeks.”

“This work really doesn’t have much to do with Welbrook” Road, he said. “The lead-in taper begins right at Welbrook, and the asphalt widening begins right at the Welbrook radius.”


Beanne said...

The people opposing this must not realize that this is a downzone. They could/probably will end up with something much worse in regard to traffic, like shopping area for example. The people opposing this must also not see themselves as elderly one day,

Anonymous said...

This development will be first-class. PHG has made a huge effort to address citizen concerns. The question is- what would the nearby residents want- this retirement community or a strip shopping center- better yet- a strip club/adult store???? They must realize that this property is not "theirs" and is going to be developed. What do they really NOT want in their backyards???? Some are so "smart" that they are fools!!!!