The Oconee County Planning Commission, in an 8 to 2 vote last week, rebuffed a proposal from the county administration to modify the county development code to restrict the use of slab foundations in residential construction.
County Administrator Justin Kirouac told Planning Commission members that the proposed changes merely codify what the Board of Commissioners has been doing in rezone cases, but that didn’t influence the majority of the Planning Commission members, who recommended that the Board of Commissioners reject the code changes.
About 80 people turned out for the Planning Commission meeting, but only four of them spoke about the proposed changes, all voicing opposition largely mirroring those who spoke at March 19 meeting, when the Planning Commission tabled action on the proposed change in the development code.
In other action on Monday night, the Planning Commission, in a 9 to 1 vote, sent forward with its approval the draft of the county’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan.
The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night will take up both of these recommendations from the Planning Commission, but it isn’t expected to take final action on either of item.
County Administrator Kirouac proposed a revision to Article 3 of the county’s Unified Development Code that would limit the use of slab foundations—as opposed to basement and crawl-space foundations—in subdivisions platted after Jan. 1, 2018.
|Carole Ludwig Commenting On Comprehensive Plan|
Exemptions would be made for “Minor Subdivisions,” lots platted prior to Jan. 1, 2018, unless a condition of rezoning prohibited slab foundations, age-restricted Active Adult Communities, Continual Care Retirement Communities, and single-family homes certified A Livable Lifestyle.
A Minor Subdivision is defined in the Unified Development Code as a subdivision in which no infrastructure changes are made and includes a two-lot split, a five-lot split, and a large acre subdivision with a minimum lot size of 25 acres.
The key provision of the proposed change stipulates that “All new single-family detached homes in Major Subdivisions (as defined in this UDC) or phases of a Major Subdivision that have a Final Plat approved after Jan. 1, 2018, shall be constructed with either crawlspace or basement foundations.”
About 80 people turned out at the meeting on Monday, fewer than at the meeting on March 19, when closer to 100 were in attendance.
The county moved the Planning Commission meeting on Monday from the Commission Chamber to Courtroom 1 to accommodate the expected turnout.
Jarod York, past president of the Athens Area Home Builders Association, repeated his objections from the March meeting, saying that crawl space foundations create problems with water and often result in mold in the house.
York also said that modern, tighter construction exacerbates these problems because it draws more moisture from the crawl spaces into the house itself.
Opponents of the proposed changes in the county ordinance have said whether a home is on slab foundation or on crawl space has no impact on market price, but it is cheaper for the builder to use slab construction.
In response to questions from the Planning Commission about the reason for the county’s preference for crawl space or foundation construction, County Administrator said such construction was the “Oconee standard.”
About 25 people stayed for the discussion of the proposed 2018 Comprehensive Plan, and four people spoke in opposition.
Carole Ludwig, 1510 Old Farmington Road, outside Bishop, said she was representing Positively Oconee, a group of citizens who have spoken out against development in the south of the county.
Ludwig objected to the inclusion in the Comprehensive Plan of a Character Area called Country Crossroads.
The character area would allow for commercial development at intersections in the county, and Ludwig said the change “is, supposedly, to make life a little easier for these people who live in the rural area. They wouldn’t have to drive so far to get a loaf of bread.”
Ludwig said these people don’t want the city brought to them, have chosen to live in a rural area, and are not interested in “a shorter drive to buy a loaf of bread.”
The modification of the Unified Development Code is on the agenda for the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday night, but only for the purpose of setting the dates for another public hearing and for a final decision.
County Administrator Kirouac is proposing that the public hearing be on May 22 and final action be taken by the Board of Commissioners on June 5.
The agenda for the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday also includes a public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan.
Final action by the Board on the Comprehensive Plan is expected at the May 1 meeting.
The video below is of the entire Planning Commission meeting.
The revision of the Unified Development Code to restrict slab foundations was the first item on the agenda, and discussion begins at 0:50 in the video.
Discussion of the Comprehensive Plan begins at 37:38 in the video.