Two business rezones with regional implications for the county will be before the Oconee County Board of Commissioners when it holds it regular meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) night.
The first and largest of the projects is a request by Butts County developer Bill Jones for a rezone of 32 acres at Mars Hill Road and U.S. 78 for a commercial development. The Board, at Jones’ request, postponed action on that rezone at its meeting on April 2.
The second is a request for a rezone of 1.4 acres on Epps Bridge Parkway at Pine Ridge Court from a two-family residential classification to a general business district.
The property owner is proposing to tear down three duplexes on the site and build a two-story financial center with commercial banking operations and associated office space.
The duplexes were built following a rezone in 1980 for the Pine Ridge Apartments subdivision.
Although the area across Epps Bridge Parkway is commercial, the property adjoining the 1.4 acres currently is zoned agriculture and residential, with the largest tract zoned for mobile homes.
The development, if approved, is likely to be a forerunner of commercial development on the eastern side of Epps Bridge Parkway near the county line.
U.S. 78 And Mars Hill Road
Butts County Developer Jones proposes to build a JP convenience store and gas station with 20 fueling positions and a Burger King at the intersection of Mars Hill Road and U.S. 78 where a BP station now stands.
He also submitted concept plans for a hotel and big box store–possibly a Publix grocery story–for the site.
Jones has said he wants to be able to put a car dealership, car wash and car lube store on the site as alternatives.
Jones currently owns Countryside Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Jackson and operates and leases convenience stores, fast food restaurants, supermarkets and retail space in Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas.
The Planning Commission voted 7 to 3 in March against the proposal.
Planning Commission members expressed concern that the shopping center was not compatible with the designated land use in the county’s Future Development Map. That map lists the property as part of a Technology Gateway area.
Epps Bridge Parkway
The Planning Commission on April 15 voted 8 to 0 to recommend approval of the rezone of the 1.4 acres on Epps Bridge Parkway at Pine Ridge Court.
|Proposed Financial Center On Lots In Red|
Looking North From Epps Bridge Parkway
Danny White of Athens, who owns the property, says in the project narrative that the project will consist of a single, two-story building, totaling no greater than 8,261 square feet in size.
Banking operations will be located on the first floor, according to the narrative. The second floor will contain general office, processing, and support staff for the banking operations.
The county’s Future Development map lists the property as part of a Regional Center, but that designation also includes lots now developed as part of Tanglebrook subdivision.
Attorney David Ellison, 1521 Welbrook Road, representing White at the Planning Commission meeting, said White’s goal was “to open up this last stretch of undeveloped land to commercial development.”
|Zoning Map Showing Proposed Financial Center|
Request To Change 3 Lots In Red To B-1
Four citizens spoke, and all of them raised concerns about traffic.
Kathy Hurley, 1041 Laurel Place, president of theTanglebrook Home Owners Association, said she assumes that the remainder of Pine Ridge Court and the mobile home park will be developed commercially as well and that some traffic solution will need to be found.
“Don’t mess with our property while you do it,” she said.
Tammy Shelton, 1063 Pine Ridge Court, said the area already is very congested.
“We are a very quiet neighborhood,” Shelton said. “We’re all going to end up being affected in the end.”
People Who Must Move
Julie Hunter, 1023 Pine Ridge Court, said she is the property manager for the five lots that are on Pine Ridge Court and are not owned by White and for the mobile home park.
“I just ask that you all take into consideration what would happen to the residents who reside in the three duplexes that are going to be demolished,” she said.
“It does not affect us positively. It does not affect our kids positively,” she said. “It brings more traffic, more calls for crime. More calls for just all types of things that could potentially impact our children and ourselves negatively...We’ve made this place home.”
Elizabeth Gayle White Nyseth, 1010 Pine Ridge Court, lives in one of the buildings that will be demolished.
“We are working families. We don’t have a lot of resources,” she said. “And it will be a hardship on those six families that do need to move.”
Nyseth said that Pine Ridge Court is a residential street and the county should not allow piecemeal commercial development of the street.
The video below is of the Planning Commission meeting on April 15.
I arrived at the meeting late because I attended the Board of Education meeting that same evening.
Sarah Bell recorded the video.
Discussion of the White rezone begins at 1:02 in the video.
The remainder of the meeting dealt with changes to the county’s Unified Development Code.
Some of those changes will be on the agenda of the Board of Commissioners tomorrow night as well.
The Commission meets at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.