Opponents of the new plans for the Oconee Crossing Shopping Center are hoping that their presence, their arguments, and their red T-shirts on Tuesday will persuade at least two members of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to change their minds.
Commissioner Chuck Horton is seeking another opportunity to voice his opposition to the plans by the Oconee County School Board to increase the fees it charges the Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department for use of school sports facilities.
Brothers Charles and William Mixon of Atlanta will get another opportunity to discuss their plans for the 10,600 square foot building they propose to build in Manders Crossing Shopping Center at the corner of Cliff Dawson Road and Mars Hill Road.
Charles Mixon told the Planning Commission a Dollar General was a possibility, but a restriction of the county’s planning laws would not allow the Mixon Brothers LLC to lease the entire 10,600 square foot building to a single retail tenant.
These three items are part of a full agenda confronting the Board of Commissioners Tuesday night.
Also on the agenda are three other rezone requests and the first report on the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget.
That budget review likely will include some indication of the millage rate for county property taxes for the new year.
The rezone request of Donald Hammett for 43 acres that wrap around the Stripling’s General Store at the corner of Hog Mountain Road and U.S. 78 is the first item after the approval of the agenda at the Tuesday meeting.
|Power Of Red T-shirts|
It is likely most of those present will be attending for that hearing. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
The opponents of the newly released site plan for the Oconee Crossing Shopping Center will be asking some of the commissioners to change their votes from March 7 when the Commission approved the settlement of a lawsuit Hammett filed against the county.
As part of the settlement, Hammett agreed to present to the Board a new site plan for the development that moved the grocery story further from the Oconee Crossing subdivision and increased the buffer between the commercial and residential development.
Commissioner Chuck Horton voted against the settlement, so, if Horton remains in opposition, the opponents need two more votes against the settlement.
Organizers have urged opponents to don the red T-shirts they wore in the hearing leading up to the Oct. 4 vote by the Board of Commissioners to reject the initial rezone request of Hammett.
Commissioners Amrey Harden and Mark Saxon joined Horton in opposing that rezone, but both Harden and Saxon voted in favor of the settlement on March 7.
Commissioner Mark Thomas opposed the denial of the rezone and voted in favor of the settlement, and Commission Chair John Daniell, who votes only in the case of a tie, has yet to vote on the Hammett request or settlement.
School Board Request
At the agenda-setting meeting last week, Commissioner Horton asked that the request by the Board of Education for a new Joint Use Agreement for school and county sports facilities be placed on the Tuesday agenda for further discussion.
Lisa Davol, Parks and Recreation Director for the county, told the Board the county already is paying about $30,000 to the school system for use of its sports facilities at the current rate of 60 percent of a stated nonprofit fee.
That will go up if the agreement is approved. The school system is proposing to increase the rate of the nonprofit fee to 75 percent in July, 90 percent in July of next year, and 100 percent in July of 2026. The fee itself is not set in the agreement and can increase.
The county has not charged Oconee County Schools for use of county facilities, and Board Chair John Daniell said the county does not charge the schools during the three years of the proposed agreement.
Horton made clear his opposition to the agreement, but he said he wanted to say more “at the formal meeting when its voted.”
“I won’t say that I won’t support it,” Horton continued. “But really, we don’t have a choice.”
The item is near the end of the meeting, after the rezone hearings and budget presentation.
At the Planning Commission meeting on April 17, Greg Ashley, owner of the existing Manders Crossing Shopping Center, said he had heard that a Dollar General was a possible tenant of the proposed addition to the center and “that would not be something I was in favor of.”
Planning Commission Member Matt Elder followed up on Ashley’s comments, noting to Charles Mixon that the drawings submitted with the proposal showed that building divided into three equal parts.
“Have you guys already got a tenant that is a Dollar General Store that would not be divided up into three spaces?” Elder asked.
Mixon said he didn’t know who the tenant would be, and it could be a single tenant for the entire building. That is the common configuration for a Dollar General or its variety store competitors, such as Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.
Mixon Brothers LLC is asking the county to allow it to increase the size of the building on the lot from 9,600 square feet to 10,600 square feet but to keep the zoning category B-1 (General Business District).
Mixon said the increased size is necessary to get the return on investment needed from the property.
The Oconee County Unified Development Code specifies that, in a B-1 Zone, “No individual lease space or aggregate of multiple lease spaces which are occupied by a single business or single use shall exceed 10,000 square feet.”
According to the code, an office of a single tenant or user may occupy the entire building.
The Board of Commissioners will hold hearings on Tuesday on three other rezone requests.
Robert W. Bishop, representing KBB LLC, is requesting the rezone of 17.8 acres on Bishop Farms Parkway “for estate purposes.”
The property abuts the campus of the University of North Georgia.
Triple C Family Limited Partnership, controlled by Archie B. Crenshaw, President and General Partner of Triple C. Services, Inc., is seeking to rezone 10.0 acres from an 104.8 acre tract on Cole Springs Road.
The goal of the rezone is to set aside land for four of his grandchildren.
The commissioners also will be asked to rezone 10 acres inside a 415-acre now dormant residential development off Choyce Johnson Road being called North Haven subdivision.
The Planning Commission recommended approval of these three rezone requests as well as of the increase in building size requested by Mixon Brothers LLC.
Oconee County Budget Director Melissa Braswell is scheduled to present the outlines of the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget, which the Board must adopt before the end of the current budget year on June 30.
She will present estimated revenue and expenditures by each of the county’s departments.
She also will summarize the revenue and expenditures from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and the just begun Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
The county will not set the actual millage rate until later in the year, but it is likely Board Chair Daniell will give some expectation of the rate at the meeting.
Last year, the Board rolled back the millage rate to offset inflation, resulting in no tax increase for county services.
The Board of Education did not roll back its millage rate to offset inflation, so county property owners experienced an increase in their taxes last year.
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