Friday, July 28, 2023

Oconee Commissioners Being Asked To Approve Requests For Two Gymnasiums

***Planning Commission Recommended Approval***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday will hear requests from two petitioners, each seeking permission to build a gymnasium.

Core Blend Training LLC wants to change the conditions of an earlier rezone for 2.1 acres on Jamestown Road off Hog Mountain Road west of Butler’s Crossing to allow for an office building and a gymnasium.

The previous rezone had been for a retail strip center.

Prince Avenue Baptist Church and School on Ruth Jackson Road wants to change conditions on a prior special use to construct a gymnasium and associated parking on land currently zoned for agriculture.

The previous concept plan did not show the gymnasium.

The county planning staff has recommended approval of both requests, and the Planning Commission voted unanimously on July 17 to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that it approve the requests when it meets in regular session on Tuesday.

The Commission also will hear a variance request that did not go before the Planning Commission, confirm the millage rate for Oconee County Schools, and approve the issuance of Walton County Water and Sewer Authority Revenue bonds for Hard Labor Creek Reservoir.

NOTE: The Georgia Department of Public Health did not issue its COVID Status Report on July 26 “due to upgrades to the system." The next report will be on Aug. 2. 

Core Blend Training

Frank Pittman, representing current property owner Core Blend Training, told the Planning Commission at its hearing on the rezone request on July 17 that Core Blend, 1260 Greensboro Road in the Watkinsville Industrial Park, bought the property on Jamestown Road in 2020.

Pictures Submitted For Core Blend Training
Rezone Request

The property had been rezoned B-1 (General Business District) in 2005 for construction of an 18,470 square foot retail development and associated parking lot.

Pittman referred to it as a “strip center.”

“As we all know,” he said, “retail really hasn’t done very well on that corridor.”

Pittman said Core Blend bought the property “wanting to build a gym.”

Core Blend now is selling the property to CloverLeaf Construction of Athens, “who wants to build their office there,” Pittman said said. “So that’s where the office comes in.”

“The gym may or may not happen,” Pittman said. “I think they would like to get the current owners, who is Core Blend. They wanted to move out there, and COVID kind of slowed things down. They may stay where they are at.”

The concept plan is for two 12,000 square foot, single-story buildings.

Representative Architecture

No one other that Pittman spoke in favor of the request when it came before the Planning Commission, and no one spoke in opposition.

“Do we get to pick from one of these buildings?” Commission Member Matt Elder asked Pittman, referring to the 12 buildings shown in the representative drawings he submitted to the county..

“Which one do you like?” Pittman asked. “I can share that. You can make a recommendation.”

“I think they wanted kind of that farmhouse look as an office,” he said. “They build a lot of stuff with that look.”

“They want both buildings to kind of have a similar feel.”

“So when the say the word gym, and it goes to the Commissioners and gets all approved?” Elder asked.

“It’s a gym,” Planning and Code Enforcement Director Guy Herring said.

“Can’t be anything else?” Elder asked.

“Not retail. Not offices,” Herring responded.

Prince Avenue

The Prince Avenue Baptist Church and School request of the Planning Commission was even simpler.

The 74.4 acre tract on which the church and school sits is zoned AG (Agriculture), and a special use for the church and school already has been approved by the county.

The previous special use allowed expansion of the church and school campus limited to 16,000 square feet for a fellowship hall and 8,000 square feet for a maintenance building

Prince Avenue is seeking a change in conditions to allow additional construction of a 30,000 square foot competition gymnasium and associated parking as a further expansion of the campus.

“It is a gymnasium that we’re trying to construct there,” Jeff Carter with Carter Engineering Consultants told the Commission.

“There is a gymnasium now,” he said. “It’s just that the issue is there’s just so many kids that they’re having to bus to other gymnasiums and scraping together places to practice and all that kind of stuff.”

The proposed gymnasium will be on the end of the tract to the southwest of the existing school.

No one other than Carter spoke in favor of the request, and no one spoke in opposition.

The Commission approved the request without discussion.

Other Agenda Items

The Board on Tuesday also will hear a request for a special exception variance from Ryan Hammock to allow a second driveway to his 6.1 acre property at 1400 Dove Creek Road in the northwest of the county.

The variance is needed because the property has inadequate road frontage for the second driveway as specified in the county’s Unified Development Code.

Hammock is a member of the Oconee County Board of Education, which, coincidentally, is requesting confirmation of the millage rate for Oconee County Schools on Tuesday evening.

The Board is holding a final hearing on is proposed 15.0 mill rate at 5:30 p.m. on Monday and is expected to adopt that rate at a called meeting at 6 p.m.

The Board also will be voting on a supplement to its previous agreements with the Walton County Water and Sewer Authority to approve a Bond Purchase Agreement relating to construction of a water treatment plant and transmission lines at the reservoir in southeastern Walton County.

Oconee and Walton counties are partners in that project.


The video below of the Planning Commission meeting is on the county’s YouTube channel.

The meeting starts at 6:49 in the video.

The presentation of the rezone request by Core Blend Training begins at 8:57 in the video.

The presentation for Prince Avenue Baptist School starts at 15:19.

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