Sunday, July 08, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Reject Rezone Request For New Subdivision On Rocky Branch Road

***Slab Construction At Issue***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday night to turn down a rezone request for a 77-lot subdivision on Rocky Branch Road across from Old Waverly subdivision.

Commissioners gave no reason for the denial, but they took the action after the attorney presenting the case for the rezone would not agree to construct the homes on foundations with crawl spaces or basements.

In response to a question from Commissioner Mark Thomas, Gary Geddes, representing SR Homes, the Atlanta firm that would build the homes, said the intent is to use slab foundations rather than crawl space or basement foundations for at least some of the homes in the subdivision.

The Board of Commissioners at its June 5 meeting amended the county’s Unified Development Code to require that “All new single-family detached homes shall be constructed with either crawlspace or basement foundations.”

Josh Scoggins, with law firm Miles, Hanford and Tallant in Cumming, in Forsyth County, informed the Board before its vote that he is prepared to challenge a negative decision on constitutional grounds. Such a notice is common in zoning cases.

Proposal

A company called 1699 Land Company LLC from Lawrenceville proposed to develop the 105 acres on Rocky Branch Road now owned by Weaver Dove Land Group LLLP of Athens. James B. Weaver Jr. is the owner of Weaver Dove Land Group.

One Of Representative Photos Submitted By Applicant

The narrative for the rezone states that SR Companies LLC, using the same Lawrenceville address as 1699 Land Company, would be the actual builder.

The development, called Hudson’s Mill, would back up to Barber Creek and straddle a tributary to Barber Creek.

The subdivision would use county water, and houses would be on individual septic systems.

Lot size would vary but generally be less than an acre.

Planning Commission Vote

The Planning Commission, at its meeting on June 18, voted 6-1 to recommend that the Board of Commissioners deny the rezone request by 1699 Land Company.

Most of the discussion at the Planning Commission focused on the lot size, the design of the development, and the impact of the development on county schools.

The Board of Education had filed a comment on the rezone noting its potential impact on the school system.

“We have found this will have an impact on the attendance zone for Rocky Branch Elementary School, Malcom Bridge Middle School, and North Oconee High School using the data provided by Oconee County Planning Department,” the school system comment stated.

“There are currently 961 active lots within this attendance zone that have yet to be built upon,” the statement continued.

“With the addition of Hudson’s Mill there is potential for 1,038 permits equating to a possible 519 additional students. Rocky Branch Elementary is 306 under capacity. North Oconee High School is 101 under capacity. Malcom Bridge Middle School is currently over capacity by 80 students.”

Staff Report

The Oconee County Planning Department also recommended denial of the 1699 Land Company rezone request.

The staff report referenced the Board of Education’s concern about the impact on the schools, stating that “the introduction of an additional 77 single-family lots could further compound an unfavorable situation in which temporary modular units are currently being used to accommodate students for schools that are over capacity.”

The staff report also raised concerns about the impact of the proposed subdivision on traffic on Rocky Branch Road and on the wetlands that are part of the 105-acre-tract.

“(S)taff has concerns regarding the significant number of septic tanks and drain fields that are proposed in close proximity to Barber Creek and waters discharging into the same and the potential for further impairment of these waters,” the report stated.

The report concluded by saying that “staff believes that the subject site is not suitable for a development of the proposed density.”

Commission Focus

The issues raised in the staff report were not the focus of the conversation at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday night.

Attorney Scoggins for 1699 Land Company told the Commission in his presentation that he would not agree to a requirement that the minimum lot size be 1 acre and that he did not want to even discuss the change in the UDC ordinance requiring crawl space or basement foundations.

Joey Welch from SR Homes spoke against the UDC change at the June 5 BOC meeting, where Commission Chair Daniell gave a detailed defense of the ordinance change to specify foundations allowed for new homes.

The Board approved those changes unanimously.

When Scoggins finished his comments on Tuesday, Commissioner Thomas said “I’ve noticed that the representative photographs appear to be slab construction. Is that the intended construction?”

Geddes from SR Homes said the intent is to have “some slab lots and several basement lots.”

“That would be out intent. Yes sir,” he said.

Other Action

The Board approved unanimously a variance request by Harriet Deloris Gardner, 2944 Flat Rock Road, southeast of Watkinsville, to allow additional access to her 10-acre-tract along a private drive that does not meet Unified Development Code standards.

The Board also approved a contract with Pyrotechnico from New Castle, Pa., for $17,350 for fireworks for the July 4 display at Epps Bridge Centre.

(The contract last year was for $14,350, County Administrator Justin Kirouac told me in an email message on Thursday. But that included a rebate of $3,000 from the year earlier because of shells that did not work property, Kirouac said.)

The Board also modified the contract with the owners of Epps Bridge Centre approved on June 26 to accommodate concerns raised by the insurance companies for the shopping center owner.

“I recommend you do it, particularly if you want to have a fireworks display tomorrow night,” County Attorney Daniel Haygood told the Board.

Video

The video below is of the entire meeting of the Board of Commissioners on July 3.

Discussion of the rezone request by 1699 Land Company begins at 6:10 in the video.

OCO: BOC 7 3 18 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

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