The Oconee County Planning Commission voted 8 to 1 tonight (Monday) against a request by High Point Land Holdings LLC for special use of 35 acres on Colham Ferry Road for a residential day camp in an agricultural district.
Nine people from areas around the existing horse boarding and training facility spoke against the request, saying the addition of a residential day camp would create traffic and noise problems and is inconsistent with the Agricultural Preservation designation of the area on the county’s future development map.
“I think that the beauty of camp is that kids can get away from their ordinary routines and out of their comfort zones as well as be challenged and enjoy nature in a structured environment,” Alex Thaxton said.
Both Thaxtons said the plans for the day camp were not firm and that they did not believe their request would be a problem for their neighbors.
Alex and Greg Thaxton said the building representations they gave to the Planning Department were not what they had in mind and that many of their plans were not fully developed.
|Alex Thaxton Before Board|
Those plans show a multi-use pavilion, to be partially used as a farm management residence, eight cabins, a bath house, and an announcer booth and tack house.
Greg Thaxton said it may take years to realize the plans, that funding was not currently in place for them, and that the goal ultimately is to run the day camp as a nonprofit.
Alex Thaxton said she didn’t see any component of the plan as fixed.
Neighbors Greg Hockaday, brother Carl Hockaday, and Carl’s wife, Lisa Hockaday, were among those who spoke in opposition. They said they bought their two tracts, totaling 38 acres, because of their rural nature.
Carl Hockaday said he and his wife consulted the county’s future development map when they purchased the land from Mark and Lisa Dawson in 2015 and made the purchase because the land was designated for agricultural preservation.
Carl Hockaday said they concluded that “we already know based on what our leaders are giving us that this is going to remain pretty rural.”
Dawson, who operates a small dairy and vegetable farm with his wife on 64 acres they own adjoining that of the Hockadays, said he had seen dramatic change in the area in recent years and asked the Board “to consider what the next chapter will be” if the proposed development is allowed.
Motion and Vote
Commissioner William Steen made the motion not to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that the special use be allowed, and Karl Berg seconded.
The sole negative vote was cast by Charles Hunt. David Camp abstained.
The issue is scheduled to be taken up by the Board of Commissioners on Aug. 2.
Hunt confirmed after the meeting that he leases 15 acres at the corner of Saxon Road and Colham Ferry Road to High Point Farm, and that High Point Farms’ offices are on that leased property.
Hunt said he had held a 5 percent share in the 35 acres that High Point Farms wants to use for the day camp, but he said he no longer has any interest in that property.
Hunt and his wife live on 17 acres that abut the land leased to High Point Farm and that has a physical address of 1080 Sam Cooper Road.
The Planning Commission also unanimously approved a request by David Ivey to downzone 2.1 acres in Bishop from business use to residential use.
The full video of the meeting is below.