The Oconee County Planning Commission voted 7-3 tonight to send forward to the Board of Commissioners with a positive recommendation the rezone request of the Presbyterian Homes of Georgia for 70 acres on U.S. 441 and Wellbrook Road.
The Commission also voted--this time unanimously--to recommend rezone of 10 acres fronting on Wild Azalea Lane and U.S. 441 in a related request by Presbyterian Homes, which is seeking to build a continuing care retirement community on the 70-acre tract.
More than 100 people turned out at the meeting, held in Courtroom No. 1 at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
Many were wearing stickers registering opposition to the Presbyterian Homes request for the rezone of the 70 acres, but, by agreement, only two came to the microphone to speak against the rezone.
Seven people spoke in favor.
The two rezones now go to the Board of Commissioners for action at its May 5 meeting.
20 Minutes To Speak
Commission Chairman Dan Arnold allowed each side just 20 minutes to speak after he reopened for discussion the request for the rezone of the 70 acres, tabled at the Planning Commission meeting last month.
Proponents argued the community needs the Presbyterian Home facility to satisfy the demands of an aging population.
Opponents argued, as in the past, that the location of the project is an inappropriate one because of the existing traffic both on U.S. 441, where the main entrance of the facility is proposed to be, and on Wellbrook Road, the site of the secondary entrance and exit.
They also argued that the tax-exempt status of Presbyterian Homes of Georgia would deprive the county of needed tax revenue.
Commission member Brad Tucker, who lives on Wild Azalea Lane in the Crystal Hill subdivision, said before the Commission vote he was concerned about the main entrance and exit on U.S. 441.
He said the Commission had to assume that the entrance and exit would not have a signal and that, without a signal, making a left-hand turn would be dangerous because of “the limited sight lines.” His comments are below.
OCO: Tucker On Rezone from Lee Becker on Vimeo
Tucker voted against the motion to recommend approval of the rezone and was joined in opposition by Commissioner Maria Caudill and Commissioner Bill Yarbrough.
Most of the citizens present filed out of the room following the vote on the request for the rezone of the 70 acres, and no one spoke against the request for the rezone of the 10 acres. (The tax records suggest the smaller property is between 9 and 11 acres.)
Without controversy, the Commission also approved a request by Milton O. S. Garland Sr. to rezone 12.4 acres on McNutt Creek Road to create three single-family residential lots.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Commission accepted the request of Oconee Medical Properties LLC to withdrew its request for a rezone of five acres on Jimmy Daniell Road just north of the entrance to Silver Leaf subdivision.
The full video of the meeting, from which the clip above was taken, is below.
PC 4 20 15 full from Lee Becker on Vimeo
Interesting vote correlation to the number who spoke for/against.
One wonders if opposition at the microphone had been allowed what would have happened.
I understand the speakers were "voluntary." Horse hockey.
Actually, the time limits were the same to speak for or against. However, the opposition apparently appointed two speakers, one who brought a slide presentation. Those two used all 20 minutes. The for side presented its official case briefly, made room for open public comment, and then saved 5 minutes at the end for rebuttal. So, the commission did a very fair job in balancing the time given to both sides.
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