The Oconee County Planning Commission agenda for tomorrow night got simpler on Friday when Oconee Medical Properties LLC withdrew its request for a rezone of five acres on Jimmy Daniell Road just north of the entrance to Silver Leaf subdivision.
Remaining on the agenda is the latest attempt by Presbyterian Homes of Georgia to obtain a rezone for a continuing care retirement community, this time on 70 acres with frontage on U.S. 441 and Wellbrook Road
In addition, Milton O. S. Garland Sr. is seeking to rezone 12.4 acres on McNutt Creek Road to create three single-family residential lots.
So far, most of the attention has been on the first of the two Presbyterian Home rezone requests, but the second one is significant as well.
Oconee Medical Properties
The notice of the request for a withdrawal of the rezone request by Oconee Medical Properties appeared on the Planning Commission web page late on Friday.
A letter included with the other planning documents on Friday afternoon from Kenneth Beall of the land planning company Beall and Company says that the “owners do not believe that the existing A-1 agricultural zoning classification is appropriate for the property.”
|Sign On April 19, 2015|
Despite that, according to the letter, the owners “do not want to become involved in a lengthy and contested rezone process at this point in time.”
The letter asked that the rezone request be withdrawn.
The Planning Commission will have to take formal action tomorrow night on the request, and a sign on the property on Sunday afternoon indicated the rezone hearing will take place tomorrow, suggesting that many residents will show up to express their views on the rezone request.
A1- to O-B-P
Oconee Medical Properties LLC, the land owners, was seeking to change the zone from A-1 to Office-Business-Park (O-B-P) to allow for construction of the six single-story warehouses.
The Planning Commission had tabled the request at its March 16 meeting after Beall requested that action in a letter to the county on March 13.
The Planning Department staff had recommended against the rezone on the grounds that the proposed warehouses were “not compatible with nearby residential properties.”
Beall said in a letter to the Oconee County Planning Department that he needed time to address the concerns raised in the planning staff report.
Move To Courtroom
The county has moved the Planning Commission meeting to Courtroom Number 1 on the third flour of the Courthouse in Watkinsville in anticipation of a large turnout.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. with the first of the Presbyterian Homes rezones, tabled at the meeting on March 16.
The Planning Commission will have to decide if it wants to reopen the public hearing or go directly to discussion and then a decision on the request to rezone the land for the retirement community.
The next item is scheduled be the secondary rezone request by Presbyterian Homes for 11 acres that will not be part of the retirement complex.
Both of the Presbyterian Homes requests are for downzones, meaning that they would convert property from a more intensive to a less intensive use.
And both would bring the current zoning into compliance with current policy of the county.
The two properties Presbyterian Homes is seeking to rezone are both zoned B-1 for business use, but they abut properties zoned residential.
Policy today is to buffer residential properties from business properties by an intermediate zoning category, such as the Office-Institutional-Professional category PHG is seeking for the 70-acre parcel.
The second rezone would convert 11 acres from B-1 to residential.
The 1994 rezones for the two properties involved in the Presbyterian Homes rezone request changed them to B-1 classification from A-2 Agricultural Residential District, before the county had a Unified Development Code.
At that time, Steve Maxey and Brady Bryant owned 50 acres with frontage on U.S. 441 and Wellbrook Road that they wanted to develop as a office park and shopping center.
The office park was to be at the rear of the property, abutting Phase V of Crystal Hills, at that time still under construction. The shopping center was to be at the front.
The rezone approved restricted the use of the land abutting Crystal Hills to offices.
36-Acre Shopping Center
Thomas M. Tillman Jr., who developed Crystal Hills subdivision, rezoned 35 acres at the corner of U.S. 441 and Wild Azalea Lane for what was to be a strip shopping center to be called Crystal Village Shopping Center.
The planning staff report, written by Wayne Provost, currently strategic and long range planner for the county but then planning director, said “negative impacts” of the zoning change are not anticipated
The property to the north and west was owned by Tillman and was part of the proposed Crystal Hills Section V.
The land was vacant at the time, according to the report.
Neither Provost’s report nor the zoning ordinance makes any mention of the need to buffer that residential property.
At present, the 11 acres that Presbyterian Homes is seeking to downzone from the Tillman tract from B-1 to AR-1 Agricultural Residential 1 Acre are surrounded by four lots.
One of those, owned by Robert Halbach of 1100 Colorado Bend, in the Silver Leaf subdivision, is undeveloped. It is valued at $270,135, according to Oconee County tax records.
This lot touches the 11 acres directly.
The other three lots are across Wild Azalea Lane from the 11 acres that were zoned for the strip mall.
Across Wild Alzalea
The first of these, at the corner of U.S. 441 and Wild Azalea Lane, is owned by Weems R. Pennington. This 4-acre tract and 5,552-square-foot home, built in 2005, is valued at $1.1 million.
The second property, just west of the Pennington property, is owned by William and Toby Tally. This 3.3-acre tract and 8,202-square-foot home is valued at $1.4 million. This home was built in 2004.
The third property, just went of the Tally property, is owned by Robert and Ellen Cunningham. This 3.1-acre parcel and 2,988-square-foot home is valued at $544,894. This home was built in 2001.
All four of these properties were sold to their current owners by a member of the Tillman family after the 1994 rezone.
Hearing Tomorrow Night
Jon Williams, representing Presbyterian Homes, asked that the rezone request for the 11 acres be tabled last month after the Planning Commission voted to table the rezone request for the 70 acres.
So no public hearing has been held yet on this request.
Williams has said that a condition of the contract under which Presbyterian Homes will purchase the two properties is that the 11 acres be downzoned to residential.
That change, were it to be approved, would negate the original rezone for the whole property, since the 1994 rezone had put forward a plan for use of the entire property.