Monday, April 17, 2023

Will Dollar General Be Coming To Manders Crossing? Developer Tells Oconee County Planning Commission He Doesn’t Know The Answer

***Planning Commission Recommends Rezone Approval***

The 10,600 square foot building proposed for the vacant lot at Manders Crossing on Cliff Dawson Road and Mars Hill Road could house retail stores.

The three separate units shown on the site plan also could be medical offices.

The building could have three tenants, as shown, or two tenants, or one.

And a single tenant could be a Dollar General store.

That’s what Charles Mixon, who proposes to purchase and develop the lot, told the Oconee County Planning Commission on Monday night following the public hearing on a rezone request by Mixon for the property.

Greg Ashley, owner of the existing Manders Crossing Shopping Center, had told the Commission during that hearing that he had heard that a Dollar General was a possible tenant and “that would not be something I was in favor of.”

The Planning Commission ultimately accepted Mixon’s answer and voted 6 to 0 to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that it grant the rezone request by Mixon.

The Planning Commission also voted unanimously to approve rezone requests for 18 acres adjoining the University of North Georgia campus, 105 acres on Cole Springs Road, and 10 acres inside a 415-acre now dormant residential development off Choyce Johnson Road.

All four rezones are scheduled to be before the Board of Commissioners at its 6 p.m. meeting on May 2 at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Proposed Use Of Lot At Manders Crossing

The vacant 1.4 acre parcel at the corner of Cliff Dawson Road and Mars Hill Road already is zoned B-1 (General Business District), and Mixon’s the Brothers Company LLC of Atlanta is seeking to revise the square footage of the original rezone.

Mixon Before Commission 4/17/2023

The plan approved for the site in 2000 was for a 9,600 square foot building.

The submitted site plan shows a 10,600 square foot building divided into three units called the Retail Shops At Cliff Dawson.

The narrative submitted with the rezone states that the building will be full-height brick on the front and sides, and the roof, as per the Mars Hill Overlay requirements, will be a hip style with of minimum pitch of 6 to 1.

That statement about the roof became the first point of controversy in the meeting on Monday.

Planning Commission Member Matt Elder pointed to the representative drawings submitted by Brothers with the narrative and said “That ain’t no hip, that a gable. So what kind of a roof you going to have?”

Mixon, his attorney, Rob Leverett, and an unidentified designer who was part of the team, did not provide a clear answer.

Guy Herring, Oconee County Director of Planning and Code Enforcement, said the drawings, rather than the text, would “prevail.”

Speaker In Opposition

Ashley, of Atlanta, owner of Manders Crossing Shopping Center, was the sole person to speak at the public hearing, other than Mixon and his representatives.

Ashley said he learned of the rezone through a local resident.

“He called me and asked me what I thought of it being adjacent to my property and he mentioned that it was going to be a Dollar General store,” Ashley said.

“I don’t know if that’s true. It’s not in the pleadings or the application,” Ashley said.

“I don’t know if it is a good plan or not,” Ashley said of Mixon’s proposal. “I know that I believe if a Dollar General were to be the use--I don’t know if that is before the Board right now--but that would not be something I was in favor of.”

“A nice retail center with multiple bays and a diversity of retail tenants,” Ashley continued. “I certainly believe in that, as that’s what I’ve invested in.”

Elder Followed Up

After the hearing, and after telling Mixon that the architectural drawings were in conflict with the narrative on the type of roof, Elder turned to the question of tenants.

“On your drawings in here it shows dividing this space up into three different spaces,” Elder asked. “Have you guys already got a tenant that is a Dollar General Store that would not be divided up into three spaces?”

“My brother and I, Brothers company, which is the specific applicant, we’ve been in business for 40 years apiece,” Mixon responded. “We’ve developed quite a bit of these, either strip centers, free standing centers, existing centers.”

“The reason we designed it the way we did is to have the flexibility to lease to three tenants, two tenants, or one tenant,” Mixon responded. “You see the three 3,500 foot base on that design?”

“Does that answer your question?” Mixon asked. “That would be the intent, the reason behind the three bays. To give us the flexibility on our markets.”

Elder Persists

“Kind of the question was, you know, the other property owner wanted to know, was this going to be a Dollar General?' Elder said. "Is it going to be a Dollar General?”

Ashley 4/17/2023

“We don’t know yet,” Mixon responded. “We don’t know if is going to be retail. Whether it’s going to be medical.”

“We’ve dealt with hundreds of tenants over my career,” Mixon said. “That’s one reason we’ve developed the site plan and the building the way it is, to have the flexibility to lease to one tenant, two tenants, three tenants.”

At that point, Commission Chair Chuck Hunt intervened.

“That’s as far as we can take it,” he said. “I don’t think we are entitled to more.”

“They can change, and they change over time too,” Herring said. “But I think it is a valid question since the public brought it up.”

The Commission recommended two conditions be added to the rezone before recommending it to the Board of Commissioners for approval.

First, the members wanted the retention wall to match the exterior of the building, and they wanted the rear and side walls of the building to be broken up “with keystone brick windows.”

Bishop Farm Parkway

Robert W. Bishop, representing KBB LLC, told the Planning Commission that the request for the rezone of the 17.8 acres on Bishop Farms Parkway was “for estate purposes.”

KBB LLC is owned by “three different family member groups,” Bishop said. Robert W. Bishop is the son of G. Robert (Bob) Bishop, who is president of KBB LLC.

Robert W. Bishop, as the zoning applicant, is seeking to carve out two lots, one 3.8 acres in size and the other 4.0 acres in size, and zone them AR-3 (Agricultural Residential 3 Acre District).

The remaining 10 acres, closest to the University of North Georgia campus, is to remain zoned AG.

The rezone request does not present any specific plans for use of the three parcels.

Triple C. Family Limited Partnership

Land Planner Ken Beall, representing Triple C Family Limited Partnership, told the Planning Commission that his request was similar to that of Robert W. Bishop.

Archie B. Crenshaw, President and General Partner of Triple C. Services, Inc., has 11 grandchildren, Beall said, and this action is the first to set aside land for the first four of them.

The request is to rezone 10.0 acres from an 104.8 acre tract on Cole Springs Road, opposite the entrance to Lane Creek Drive and Creek Golf Club.

The 10 acres to be separated are on the northwestern part of the tract.

Triple C Family Limited Partnership controls 730 acres, Beall said, and the next step is to separate out two more lots from a different 410 acre parcel.

North Haven Subdivision

Herring introduced the rezone request for North Haven subdivision by saying the project is now going through permitting and the request is for an update of plans for the amenity area.

Proulx 4/17/2023

Benjamin Proulx from Smith Planning Group said on Monday that the amenity area will include a pool, pool cabana, restrooms, pickleball courts, playground, parking area, lawn, and walking trail.

The subdivision will be gated, Proulx said, so access will be limited by that factor. Roads will be private, he said.

The amenity area does include an old cemetery, he said, and provisions will be made for those visiting the cemetery.


The video below was recorded from the Zoom live streaming of the Planning Commission meeting.

Ashley made his comments to the Commission at 6:55.

Elder requested a response from Mixon at 20:07 in the video.

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