Sunday, October 01, 2017

Developer Asking Oconee County Commissioners For Variance To Recently Enacted Mars Hill Overlay District Building Height Restriction

***Full Median Cut On Connector***

Owners of the property on the southeast corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector are asking the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night to set aside a restriction approved just last year limiting building height in the Mars Hill Overlay District.

The property owners, 316 Holding Group, also are asking for a change in the zoning of the 4.5-acre parcel from one type or business use to another to allow for the possible development of a restaurant and hotel on the property.

The parcel will have a full median break when the widening of the Oconee Connector is complete, meaning that traffic from the property and an adjoining parcel will be able to make left turns and right turns into and out of the property.

The median cut now being constructed will be about two-third of the way between SR 316 and Daniells Bridge Road, meaning the left-turns out will be into a lane turning left onto Daniells Bridge Road.

The Board also is scheduled to announce appointments to a number of citizen committees, including the Industrial Development Authority.

Rezone Request

The 4.5-acre tract being considered for a rezone Tuesday night is owned by 316 Holding Group, in care of James J. McDonald Jr. of Athens.

The 4.5-acre tract currently is zoned for General Business, Planned Unit Development, but 316 Holding Group is seeking a Highway Business classification.

The rezone narrative says that the project will have multiple buildings with various floor areas totaling no more than 125,000 square feet of space.

Probable water demand is being calculated based on a 100-room hotel and a 200-seat restaurant.

The Planning Commission on Sept. 18 recommended approval of the rezone.

Variance Request

The Board of Commissioners in April of 2016 passed an overlay district from SR 316 to the U.S. 441 bypass setting additional restrictions on development along the Connector, Mars Hill Road and Experiment Station Road.

Included is the limitation that no building be more than 35 feet in height.

The developer wants to be able to construct buildings up to 55 feet in height.

The narrative for the variance request states that “It does not appear that the code anticipated a development of this type” at the SR 316 and Oconee Connector .

Since the county’s Unified Development Code allows for buildings of 55 feet in height in business zones not inside the Mars Hill Overlay District, the developer is arguing, “It makes sense in light of the surroundings and adjacent property that the 55' height be allowed.”

The Oconee County Planning and Code Enforcement Department staff has concluded that “this request to increase the maximum building height complies with the necessary conditions to grant a special exception variance.

Median Cut

The concept plan submitted with the rezone shows only a partial drawing of the entrance and exit from the property.

Median Cut For Hotel And Restaurant

At the conclusion of the Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 18, I asked Adam Layfield, staff engineer in the Oconee County Public Works Department, about the design for the widening of the Oconee Connector.

Layfield said that the Georgia Department of Transportation has control over the design of the roadway and its medians and is allowing for a full median cut–with left turns in and out–at the property.

The property owned by 316 Holding Group will share that entrance and exit with the 2-acre parcel that now houses the Barber Creek Fire Station.

The county rezoned that property between the QuikTrip and the proposed site for the hotel and restaurant in early August.

A median has been built at the QuikTrip, prohibiting left-turns out of that property onto the Oconee Connector.


Oconee County Commissioners Tuesday night will announce which of the four applicants it has chosen for two positions on the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority–clearly the most powerful committee a citizen can be appointed to in the county.

Rick Waller, Daniel Marks, Brooke Toole and Travis D. Williams were the four applicants, but only Marks appeared before the BOC at its agenda-setting meeting last week to answer any questions about the application.

The commissioners also will announce Tuesday their choices among the three applicants for two openings on the Board of Elections and Registration and whether it will appoint the two applicants to the two openings on the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Tourism.

Jay Hanley, Douglas Hammond and Margaret Holt appeared before the BOC at last week’s meeting.

Angel Jackson and Brandon Van Wyk were the two applicants for the Cultural Affairs Committee, and neither of them appeared before the BOC.

Consent Agenda

The Board on Tuesday will consider a lengthy consent agenda of items approved in principle at its meeting last week.

Included are a change order extending the time line for construction of the McNutt Creek Sewer Connector and an intergovernmental agreement with the Oconee County Board of Education for road improvements for the Dove Creek Elementary School, now under construction in the west of the county.

The consent agenda also includes bids for water and sewer projects totaling $1.8 million.

The Board also will consider a recommendation from the Farmland Preservation Committee to nominate the Randy Wilkes farm on Greensboro Highway for the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program-Agricultural Land Easement farmland protection program.

The Farmland Preservation Committee recommendation is not on the consent agenda for the BOC meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.


The video below is from the Sept. 26 meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

The interviews with the citizen committee applicants begins at 4:00 in the video.

Sarah Bell recorded the video.

OCO: BOC 9 26 2017 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.


Bill Mayberry said...

Of course they are asking for a "set aside," and it didn't take long either.
This ought to be interesting: The first challenge to plans actually having not a shred of authority without Board consideration.
The REAL issue here: Is a "plan" a "rule" or a "suggestion?"

Anonymous said...

If approved will property across from this property be allowed to have a cut thru? I think property is owned by Maxi Price.

Zippity said...

Does the county have the sewage capacity for this when it does not for residential? I suspect a rule is a rule until a developer wants a change and then it becomes a suggestion.

Lee Becker said...

Maxi Price had sought to have a median break as well. As far as I know, that has not been approved.

Lee Becker said...

The county is allocating sewer for commercial development but not for residential development, per policy approved by the Board of Commissioners.

Anonymous said...

Is there really concern about a hotel going next to a hotel. Is there really concern about a five story building going next to a five story building. Is there concern this is no a correct land use for this property?