Oconee County Strategic and Long-Range Planning Director Wayne Provost told Oconee County commissioners back in January that they could get an idea of what Mars Hill Road could look like in the future by looking at Epps Bridge Parkway today.
Provost said that the county promoted development along Epps Bridge Parkway between SR Loop10 and the county line at McNutt Creek by its investment in water, sewer and transportation infrastructure.
According to Provost, a certain level of development is almost inevitable, however, with the widening of the road to four lanes with turn lanes and a median.
Provost said creation of an overlay district was one tool that could be used to control some aspects of that development.
County consultant Bill Ross is to discuss his proposed overlay district in meetings with citizens from 3 to 7 p. m. tomorrow night at the Community Center in Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road.
Ross revealed an important part of those plans in a meeting with citizens last month.
He presented a series of maps that showed commercial land use dominating the new roadway from SR 316 to the U.S. 441 bypass of Watkinsville.
Only a small number of residential properties would be likely to continue to front on the new Mars Hill Road, if the Board of Commissioners adopts those land use maps.
Those residential properties would be at the front of existing subdivisions.
Provost made his comments on Jan. 23 on the second of two planning sessions the Board of Commissioners held at the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission in Athens-Clarke County.
He started his comments by saying the widening of Mars Hill Road will have a “profound impact on land use patterns and zoning pressures in the county,” as the video clip below shows.
Provost said the Epps Bridge Parkway was an example of what Mars Hill Road could look like in the future.
One of the undeveloped tracts along Mars Hill Road is large enough to accommodate a shopping center larger than Epps Bridge Centre that fronts on Epps Bridge Parkway.
One way the county could limit that growth is to limit sewer services, Provost said. The county provided water and sewer along Epps Bridge Parkway to stimulate growth, he noted.
Provost said some of the existing subdivisions likely would remain along Mars Hill Road, but even they will be impacted by the widening project.
“Nobody wants to live in a single family home or occupied house where one’s porch is 10 foot from the right of way line or 30 feet from the travel lane to that road,” Provost said.
So the owners will move out and the land use will change, he said.
Provost said the impact will not affect just the first lot. It will move back into the subdivision step by step, he said, as each lot is affected by the property next door to it. His comments are in the video below.
Focus On Construction
So far, citizens have focused most of their concerns on the construction itself and the inconvenience it is causing them.
Representatives of the county Public Works Department and the Georgia Department of Transportation will be at the meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. tomorrow to address those concerns.
Ross is not scheduled to make a formal presentation during his 3 to 7 p.m. slot, but rather he is to respond to citizen comments that come to him.
A six-page draft ordinance to implement the overlay plans, dated Sept. 14, now is on the county web site.
The ordinance defines eight “land use policy areas” that correspond to the maps Ross released at the last meeting and that are incorporated into the document. (Those maps are also on the county web site.)
For each of the “land use policy areas,” the draft ordinance defines property uses consistent with the classification.
The ordinance also lists development standards, such as inter-parcel access, parking lot screening and landscaping, and signage.
Planning Director Comments
Development standards were the cornerstone of comments B.R. White, director of the Oconee County Planning Department, made to the commissioners during the first day of the planning sessions in January.
White said an overlay district “could strengthen existing codes” for the geographically defined area.
Typically these new codes would deal with environmental issues, signage and architectural building standards, White said, as the video below shows.
White’s more limited approach to the overlay district goals has been overshadowed so far by the broader focus on commercial development envisioned in Ross’ plans.
The video below is of the discussion by Provost of the implications of the Mars Hill Road project on the community. The clips above have been taken from this longer clip.