Monday, September 18, 2023

Oconee County Commissioners Approve Rezone And Variance Requests In Brief Meeting

***All Recognize Diaper Need Awareness Week***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last week gave quick approval to two rezones and two zoning variances in a meeting that lasted less than 30 minutes.

The Board approved a request by Anderson-Wells II LLC that the part of a 29.4 acre parcel on Aiken Road within the unincorporated part of the county be rezoned from agricultural use to Office Business Park use.

The City of Bogart already has rezoned a part of the remainder of the property inside its city limits for Industrial Use.

Anderson-Wells already is storing emergency housing trailers on the site, and the action by the county and Bogart brings the use into compliance with zoning laws.

The Board also approved a two-building complex on Atlanta Highway just outside the Bogart city limits. Hale’s Heating and Cooling will occupy one of the buildings, and the other will be available for rental space.

The Board approved a variance request to allow construction of a private street that does not meet the county’s code for subdivision standards on nearly 122 acres on McRee’s Gin Road and to reduce minimum setbacks for a building on a 1 acre lot on Maddison Avenue.

Both properties are southeast of Watkinsville.

In the public comment section of the meeting, Victoria Cruz did not ask the Board to take any action but she said wanted to be on the record as saying that “a lot of people are concerned about the state of our elections.”

Zoning Decisions

Guy Herring, Director of Planning and Code Enforcement for the county, told the Commissioners that Bogart had approved the request for that part of the 29.4 acres owned by Anderson-Wells inside the city and added one additional condition for a buffer protecting an adjoining residential property.

Cruz Before Commissioners Daniell And Harden 9/12/2023

He said the goal of the action before the Board was to change the zoning to bring it into compliance with the “ongoing uses of the property.”

Trey Hale, owner of Hale’s Heating and Cooling, told the Board that he needs to expand his business from its Watkinsville location to the property on the Atlanta Highway.

He said he plans for his business to occupy one of the buildings and to have the other available for rental to other businesses.

Representatives of James Allgood told the Commissioners that there was no intent to subdivide the nearly 122 acres on McRee’s Gin Road beyond the three planned parcels and that the roadway would only serve those properties.

Will Brewer simply asked the Commissioners for “consideration” of his request for the variance for the shed he has already located too close to the property line at his residence at 2321 Maddison Ave.

In the narrative for the request, Brewer explained how he had moved the building from its planned location because of his sewer drain field and that it is now about five feet from the property line, rather than the required 15 feet.

No one spoke against any of the zoning or variance requests, and the Board voted unanimously for all four requests. That vote only included Commissioners Amrey Harden and Mark Thomas, as Commissioners Chuck Horton and Mark Saxon were not present at the meeting.

Other Action

At the beginning of the meeting, Commission Thomas read a proclamation recognizing the week of September 18 to 24, 2023, as Diaper Need Awareness Week in Oconee County.

The Board also approved its consent agenda items, including one that amended the current budget to allow hotel sales tax capital funds to be used for improvements to the new Welcome Center.

The Board also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tourism and Visitors Bureau for use of the William Daniell House, 1070 Founders Boulevard, off Daniells Bridge Road, as a Welcome Center.

The Board also approved the first step of abandoning that section of Hillsboro Road that is within North High Shoals.

The city of North High Shoals has indicated it is interested in taking responsibility for the roadway inside the city limits.

Cruz’ Comments

Cruz told the commissioners she wanted to read to them the comments of an unidentified commissioner from another county who was petitioning her Board for paper ballots.

“I ran for office because the American I grew up in is disappearing before my very eyes,” Cruz read.

“Do you remember when our families ate dinner together at the same table?” Cruz read. “Do you remember when we prayed in school? Do you remember when we called Christmas, Christmas? When we said the pledge of allegiance, or stood for the national anthem? When our Olympic athletes were proud to represent the red, white and blue?”

“When we stood with law enforcement instead of defunding them?” Cruz continued. “When boys did not compete in girls sports? When Martin Luther King had a dream that a person would be judge on the content of their character, not the color of their skin?”

“When there was no such thing as drag queen story hour?” Cruz read.

“It is like I woke up one day in a nation I did not recognize,” she quoted the commissioner as saying.

“Hand counting ballots today is so much more than the sum of the election results,” Cruz continued, quoting the commissioner. “It may very well be the difference between freedom and incarceration.”

After Cruz spoke for more than three minutes, Commission Chair John Daniell politely asked her to bring her comments to an end.

Cruz read a few more sentences and stopped.


The video below is on the county YouTube Channel.

The county had technical difficult with the recording, and I uploaded my recording of the meeting and made it available to the county.

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