Saturday, June 29, 2019

Oconee County Planning Commission Sides With Existing Home Owners Rather Than Builder In Adjoining Subdivision

***Hodges Mill Road Rezone Request***

Jeff Carter of Carter Engineering told the Oconee County Planning Commission that his client, Jud Shiver, has discovered problems with six of the lots he bought back in 2013 in Morningside subdivision off Hodges Mill Road.

The lots do not drain well, Carter said, and Shiver, operating as Scout Construction LLC, wants to disturb the 40-foot buffer on the six lots to create a drainage ditch to solve the problem.

Neighbors in Timarron subdivision next door on Hodges Mill Road told the Planning Commission they bought their houses knowing the county had established the buffers on the lots now owned by Shiver.

They said the loss of the tree and other vegetative cover would adversely affect the views from their back yards and the value of their properties.

They asked the Planning Commission to recommend against Shiver’s request, and eight of the nine members of the Commission agreed with them.

On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners will decide if it agrees with the Planning Commission or with the county’s planning staff, which said Shiver should be able to violate the buffer established by an earlier Board back in 2001.

The Board also will consider two other rezone requests, one for a major new commercial complex spread across four parcels and 19.3 acres on Virgil Langford Road east of the Oconee Connector.

The other is for expansion of the campus of Prince Avenue Baptist Church on U.S. 78 to include a fellowship hall and a maintenance building.

The Commission meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Morningside Subdivision

When the Board of Commissioners back in 2001 rezoned the acreage that is now Morningside subdivision, it stipulated as a condition of that rezone that a 40-foot wide undisturbed buffer be maintained along the entire perimeter of the subdivision.

Carter Before Planning Commission 6/17/2019

The existing buffer contains a stormwater ditch at the rear of the six lots closest to Hodges Mill Road on Morningside Drive.

Shiver is petitioning to remove the buffer requirement for those six lots to allow him to improve the flow of stormwater off the lots to the drainage ditch on Hodges Mill Road.

The rear of those six lots backs up to six lots on St. Albans Path and Timarron Trail in Timarron subdivision.

The county’s Unified Development Code does not require a landscape buffer between two single-family subdivisions, according to the county planning staff report.

The planning staff recommended approval of the Shiver’s request, stating that “The current modification request should not have any significant effect on adjoining property values.”

Statements Of Neighbors

At the Planning Commission meeting on June 17, neighbors took a different point of view.

Aerial View Morningside Subdivision Lots

Amber Trevors, 1070 St. Albans Path, president of the Timarron subdivision home owners association, was the first of seven who spoke.

“Many of us who own homes along this greenspace,” Amber Trevors told the Commission, “we have purchased our homes not just on the home but on the view as well.”

Trevors said the former owner and realtor told her when she purchased her home 12 years ago “we would never have to worry about looking right at someone else’s house because of this protective buffer.”

Most of those who spoke live on St. Albans Path and have property that abuts the six lots owned by Shiver in Morningside subdivision.

The speakers asked for maintenance of the buffer but also raised concerns about the increased flow of water from the drainage ditch Shiver proposes to build on Hodges Mill Road, saying flooding already is a problem.

Scout Construction

Morningside subdivision was final platted in June of 2007, according to the planning staff report.

In the narrative for the request for the modification of the 2001 rezone, Carter Engineering, 3651 Mars Hill Road in the west of the county, says that the subdivision was undeveloped for several years and that Shiver built a majority of the existing homes in the subdivision.

Scout Construction, based out of Shiver’s home on 3371 Barnett Shoals Road in the eastern tip of Oconee County, purchased the six one-acre lots covered by the rezone modification request in October of 2013 from RES-GA HDI LLC, according to county tax records.

RES-GA HDI LLC, which had a Lawrenceville address, terminated its registration in 2018.

Scout obtained building permits for those six lots and two other undeveloped lots in June and July of this year, according to county records.

According to county tax records, Scout owns a total of 60 parcels in the county.

The vote of the Planning Commission was 8 against the rezone and 1 in favor. Brad Tucker cast the dissenting vote.

Virgil Langford Road Rezone

Tim Burgess and Gavin Griffeth are asking the Board of Commissioners to rezone 19.3 acres north of Virgil Langford Road and East of the Oconee Connector currently zoned mostly A-1 (Agriculture) to B-2 (Highway Business) for development of a commercial subdivision.

Concept Plan Research Quarter (Click To Enlarge)

The pair has developed much of the land along and north of Virgil Langford Road between SR 316 and the Oconee Connector into what now is a major medical complex, which includes the Piedmont Athens Regional Oconee Health Campus.

Burgess, through Burgess Family Enterprises LLC of Monroe, and Griffeth, through Griffeth Investments LLC of Colbert, purchased the four parcels that make up the 19.3 acres in March of this year for $5.2 million from Emily Janice and Alan T. Burrell, according to county tax records.

At present, the land is divided by remnants of Jennings Mill Parkway.

The proposal is to relocate parts of the existing road and build new roads, including a signalized intersection with the Oconee Connector opposite the exit ramp from SR Loop 10.

Research Quarter

The concept plan for the new project shows a commercial subdivision with 13 lots, but the rezone narrative notes that some lots may be combined, resulting in fewer lots in the final development.

Total square footage will be 173,601. Build-out will be in three years, according to the narrative.

Burgess and Griffeth are calling the new project Research Quarter. The development is valued at $43.4 million.

The staff recommended approval of the rezone, and the Planning Commission voted 8-1 to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that it approve the rezone.

George Rodrigues was the single negative vote.

Prince Avenue Baptist Church Rezone

Prince Avenue Baptist Church Inc. is asking the county for a special use to allow it to add a fellowship hall and maintenance building to its 60.75-acre-campus, located between U.S. 78 and Ruth Jackson Road in the west of the county.

Aerial View Prince Avenue Baptist Church

The church, with the official address of 2201 Ruth Jackson Road, received a conditional use permit in 1998 for development of what was then a 40-acre campus on land zoned for agricultural use.

The church has since acquired additional contiguous acreage along U.S. 78 west of the existing campus to bring the total size of the current campus to 60.75 acres.

The request before the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday is to extend the conditional use to the added acreage.

The plan is to construct a 16,000-square-foot fellowship hall in the open area west of and across from the existing sanctuary and educational building and an 8,000-square-foot maintenance building in the wooded area near the existing radio station building on the south of the campus.

The planning staff recommended approval of the request, and the Planning Commission at its meeting on June 17 also recommended that the Board of Commissioners approve.

The vote at the Planning Commission was unanimous.


The video below is of the entire meeting of the Planning Commission on June 17.

Discussion of the proposed Research Quarter on Virgil Langford Road begins at 0:47 in the video.

Discussion of the Prince Avenue Baptist Church rezone is at 17:15 in the video.

Discussion of the Morningside subdivision rezone begins at 24:12 in the video.

The remainder of the meeting involved discussion of changes to two articles of the Unified Development Code.


Anonymous said...

Laughable request by Jud Shivers and Jeff Carter.

-"When the Board of Commissioners back in 2001 rezoned the acreage that is now Morningside subdivision, it stipulated as a condition of that rezone that a 40-foot wide undisturbed buffer be maintained along the entire perimeter of the subdivision."

-Jud Shiver bought the six lots in 2013.

-Now, six years later, in 2019, he wants disturb the buffer that was stipulated by the County Commissioners in 2001.

-Thankfully eight of the nine Planning Commissioners voted a big fat no to Jud Shivers.

-The Board of Commissioners needs to do the same.

It never ceases to amaze me how developers in Oconee want to bend the rules for their specific project. Unfortunately the County Board Of Commissioners has all too often allowed spot zoning. They need to do their job and stand tall on this. The County Commissioners in 2001 stipulated a buffer (was Bubber a commish back then?). The County Commissioners today need to abide by what the Commissioners promised back then.

Anonymous said...

Keep on laughing - except the joke is on the people of Oconee. BOC postpones the rezone and Chuck Horton lifts comments and considerations from Planning Commissioners. It appears the only brains working are from the citizens.

Worthless representation that we keep paying for.

Anonymous said...

Watch the video. A few Planning Commissioners reviewed and understood the problems of the Morningside rezone.

Most of the time the BOC disregards, fails to act, or simply allows inconsistent rezones.

Anonymous said...

I am Amber and I would just like to mention that the planning board was very compassionate to everything that I said. They acknowledged, validated and discussed my points as if it were for their own property protection. I am grateful for them, how well they listened and their concern.
I didn’t felt as heard during the meeting with the commissioners. My other points weren’t acknowledge and they seemed to just discuss drainage and that buffers were now not a requirement. But I’m glad they at least found the drainage questionable and didn’t vote to approve it because they wanted to assess the property line. They moved the decision to the following meeting on 8/6/19 but Morningside has withdrawn their request.