Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Board Of Commissioners To Consider Request For Modification Of Planned Entrance To JP And Burger King On Mars Hill Road

***Variance Requests Also On Agenda***

Oconee County Commissioners Tuesday night will decide if William Jones is allowed to have an entrance to his planned JP convenience store, gas station, and Burger King off Mars Hill Road just before it intersects with U.S. 78.

They also will decide if John Hadden’s Damn Good Dawg Farms on Cliff Dawson Road should be granted a special use variance to decrease the buffer of his blueberry farm operation from surrounding properties, including those zoned residential.

They also will decide if Stonebridge Partners LLC should be granted a variance to waive buffers between office use and commercial use and single family residential use on nearly 40 acres on Stonebridge Parkway east of Butler’s Crossing.

These three decisions and other zoning requests are on an agenda dominated by decisions made by the county’s Planning Commission at its June meeting.

The Board also will give final approval to a series of items put on its consent agenda at its meeting last week, including an amendment to the Intergovernmental Agreements between the county and Bishop, North High Shoals and Watkinsville allowing the county to take responsibility for all aspects of elections in the three cities.

Jones Request

When the Board of Commissioners in May of last year approved a rezone for the 32 acres at the northwest corner of Mars Hill Road and U.S. 78, it stipulated that a proposed entrance off Mars Hill Road near the intersection not be allowed.

Caudill 6/15/2020

Jones is back before the Board of Commissioners asking them to reconsider the restriction.

He proposed that the existing full access driveway to the fueling station and shops be converted to a right-in, right-out driveway.

Representatives of Jones told the Planning Commission at its June 15 meeting that they wanted the same type of entrance that has been allowed for RaceTrac across U.S. 78 from the site.

The county’s planning staff recommended against the change, and the Planning Commission at the June 15 meeting also opposed the change.

Some of the members of the Planning Commission, including Chair Maria Caudill, were in the Board of Commission Chamber at the Courthouse, while others were connected via Zoom.


John Hadden is asking the Board of Commissioners to waive a portion of the required buffer along his property at 1110 Cliff Dawson Road.

The intent is to bring his existing agritourism operation into compliance with the agritourism ordinance adopted by the county in May of 2019.

The county’s planning staff said the application meets all of the necessary conditions for granting of the special exception variance.

The Planning Commission does not review variance requests.

The Board of Commissioners turned down a request in 2017 that the property be used as a reception hall.


The Board of Commissioners rezoned the nearly 40-acre tract on Stonebridge Parkway from Office-Institutional-Professional and Business uses to residential use in 2017, with the plan that the project be compatible with the residential development across Stonebridge Parkway.

When the developers submitted plans for the project, problems arose with two lots that did not meeting Environmental Health Department requirements.

The residential development will use conventional septic systems.

Rather than combine them, as the Health Department suggested, the developer is requesting that the buffer requirement be modified so that more of the acreage can be counted toward the minimum lot standard.

The county Planning staff said the request meets the standards for granting of a special exception variance.

Board of Commissioners June 30 Meeting

At last week’s meeting the Board of Commissioners gave final approval to the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, which took effect the next day.

County Administrator Justin Kirouac reported that the county will consider selling bonds against revenue from the 2021 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum planned for the November ballot to advance fund broadband and construction of a new administrative building and library.

The Board also approved a $1,500 one-time equity adjustment for the 74 county employees who worked every day that county offices were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The county has a total of 257 full-time employees, most of whom did not work but were paid during the closure.

Oconee County Director of Elections and Registration Fran Leathers presented the Board with the modified Intergovernmental Agreements for the three cities.

The county already handles elections in those jurisdictions, and the new agreements will extend that service to qualifying of candidates as well.

The qualifying fees will be used to cover costs of the elections, Leathers told the Board.

Bogart, which is partially in Clarke County, handles its own elections and qualifying.


The first video below is of the Board of Commissioners meeting of June 30.

The second video is of the Planning Commission meeting of June 15.

Sarah Bell recorded both of the videos.

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