Two of the last remaining undeveloped parcels along the southeast side of Hog Mountain Road east of Butler’s Crossing will be converted to commercial use if the Board of Commissioners approves two separate rezone requests at its meeting on Tuesday.
UAL Holdings LLC is seeking to rezone a 2.7 acre parcel that currently has a residence on it at 1911 Hog Mountain Road to B-2 (Highway Business District) so it can build a four-building office complex.
The same group is seeking to rezone an adjoining 1.6 acre parcel from agricultural use to B-2 so it can build six mini-warehouses and self storage units. A barn sits on the property at present.
UAL Holdings also is asking for a special use to allow it to construct the warehouses and storage units.
The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday also will take up a special use request for construction of a three-building mini storage facility on land already zoned B-2 on Mars Hill Road just east of U.S. 78.
The Board also will hear two requests for modification of existing zoning, one involving an 8.4 acre parcel near the new county Administrative Building and the other for two lots on Talus Street off U.S. 78 west of Pete Dickens Road.
The Oconee County Planning Commission unanimously recommended the rezones and granting of the special uses at its meeting on Sept. 18.
The Board also will hear three variance requests, which are decided upon by the Board of Commissioners without prior review by the Planning Commission.
Planning Commission Decision
The Planning Commission gave quick approval to the rezones, modifications requests, and special use requests at its meeting on Sept. 18.
|Beth and Lawton Jones Before Planning Commission|
Other than the petitioners and planning staff, only two people spoke at the meeting.
Beth and Lawton Jones, whose property adjoins the two lots on Talus Street, said they were concerned about the buffer with their residence.
Jeff Carter of Carter Engineering, representing property owner Brian Elrod, told the board when the two lots were rezoned OIP (Office Institutional Professional) in 2002, the plan was to put one 10,000 square foot building on each lot.
“It is much, much more desirable in this current climate to build smaller buildings as opposed to one big building,” he said “So this request has really nothing to do with zoning or special use or anything like that. All the owner wants to do is build smaller buildings.”
The proposal is for 11 buildings totaling not more than 20,000 square feet.
“It's a beautiful design,” Beth Jones said, “but there's not very much evergreen plants” in the buffer between the office buildings and the neighboring residential lots.
“Our concern would be winter months,” she said. “When all the leaves fall off. There would be no barrier. We would just see the back of these big buildings very close to our property.”
Oconee County Director of Planning and Code Enforcement Guy Herring told the Commission that the required barrier must include evergreen and deciduous tree, with evergreens dominant.
The Commission accepted the mixed buffer as required by county ordinance.
The proposal put forward by UAL holdings for the two properties on Hog Mountain Road includes access to the four-building office complex from a shared driveway with the adjoining property owned by Kiddieland Inc., which operates a daycare center on the site.
A second driveway east of Bouldercrest Circle will provide access to the mini warehouse and self-storage part of the project, and the two developments will be connected internally.
Herring told the Planning Commission that the staff recommendation is that a condition of the approval for the office complex rezone be improvement to the “existing driveway through which access is proposed on the adjacent parcel to meet current development standards.”
Herring also recommended that the zoning be B1 for business rather than B2 for highway business.
Frank Pittman of Pittman and Greer Engineering, representing UAL Holdings, said his clients, whom he called “local Oconee County businessmen,” accepted the B1 zoning and the access requirements. The application is in the name of Jason Lawson.
Pittman said the plan is to “utilize the existing driveway on the adjacent parcel of the daycare, and an agreement's already been made with them to upgrade that and to use that as shared access.”
The Board of Commissioners also will be asked to grant UAL a Special Exception Variance to reduce the required 50 foot buffer along the rear of the property on which the storage facility is to be built to 25 feet.
The property to the rear of the proposed development is zoned residential.
Another Self Storage Request
Johnny Baker is asking the Board of Commissioners to grant him a special use for the 1.5 acre tract at the end of 1051 Baker Drive, on Mars Hill Road southeast of the intersection of that road with U.S. 78.
The property already is zoned B-2 (Highway Business District), but the special use is required for construction of the three buildings with maximum storage space of 15,000 square feet.
Planning and Code Enforcement Director Herring said a condition of the granting of the special use should be that all four sides of the storage buildings have either stone or brick facades.
Jeff Carter, representing Baker, said “there's really no way to see the back or the sides of these units, and so all we're asking is to revise that recommendation that just says the front of the structures have to be brick or stone and we’re fine.”
The Commission recommended that the staff recommendation be followed.
Office Building Modification
The Board on Tuesday also will hear request to modify plans for an office complex on 8.4 acres adjoining the county’s new Administrative Building north of Watkinsville.
|Pittman Before Planning Commission|
The request from property owner Rhino Mini Storage LLC is to allow for a change in configuration of the office component of the project that includes an increase in the maximum allowed office area from 20,000 square feet to 23,400 square feet.
In June of 2022 the Board of Commissioners approved a concept plan for the property that included one assisted living facility of 73,842 square feet and one office building of 20,000 square feet.
The plan before the Commissioners on Tuesday is to replace the single building with three smaller ones and to increase the total allowed spare footage by the 3,400 square feet.
Pittman, representing the property owner, said “some things have changed with offices around Oconee County. There's going to be a lot of empty office over on Daniells Bridge Road coming up at the end of this year when Zaxby's moves to Atlanta.
“So the owners want to try to do some smaller buildings instead of one big building,” he said. “They think that they don't have to throw so much money at one time into building office space.”
Two More Variance Requests
Sarah and Elias Hernandez, 1149 Kirkland Road, are asking the Board of Commissioners to grant them a variance for the requirements of the county’s Unified Development Code to permit them to reduce the side building setback on their property from 25 feet to 10 feet.
In the application, the Hernandezes say they are “requesting permission to extend our current driveway and add a detached garage that would be approximately 10 feet from the property line.”
“The reason for this request is because of the location of our septic drain field,” they write. “We have a septic tank and drain field located behind our house that we are having to work around.”
Ben Brandenburg, 1100 Loch Lomond Circle, near Butler’s Crossing, also is asking for a special exception variance to reduce the side building setback from 25 feet to 10 feet for an addition to the residence.
Brandenburg is proposing to build a 760 square foot addition to his residence that will allow for full ADA accessibility “to allow for healthcare for the property owner,” according to the planning staff review of the request.
In a letter dated Sept. 28, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division granted Brandenburg authorization to encroach within the 25-foot buffer adjacent to state waters.
In his application, Brandenburg had said temporary disturbance of the buffer is necessary for construction access. The construction is to “support continued residential use” of the property, according to the application documents.”
The property is on a lake designated as part of the Lampkin Branch of Calls Creek.
The video below of the Sept. 18 Planning Commission meeting is on the county’s YouTube channel.
The meeting starts at 8:03 in the video.
Discussion of the UAL Holdings rezone requests begins at 11:26.
Discussion of the Talus Drive rezone is at 31:26.
Discussion of the Baker request is at 42:31.