Saturday, June 22, 2024

Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends Approval Of Large Commercial Center On U.S. 441 North Of Watkinsville

***Also Recommends Mars Hill Road Office Site***

The Oconee County Planning Commission on Monday recommended that the Board of Commissioners approve a request by an Atlanta developer for a 16-lot commercial subdivision on the west side of U.S. 441 between BankSouth and a planned QuikTrip north of Watkinsville.

The concept plan submitted with the application shows fast food restaurants with drive thrus, a family restaurant, an automotive oil change facility, a two-story tennis court facility, a sports club, a pet boarding facility, and a day care center.

Also shown is a medical/dental office, a bank, a retail furniture store, an auto parts store, and general merchandise outlets.

Sole access would be from an entrance on U.S. 441 at the light at Macon Highway just west of the roundabout and entrance to the county’s new Administrative Building.

The Planning Commission on Monday also recommended approval of a second request by Lifemark Development LLC to convert a six-acre residential lot at the corner of Julian Dive and Mars Hill Road to OIP (Office-Institutional-Professional) zoning for an office development.

The Board of Commissioners turned down a similar request by Lifemark in June of 2023 because of the surrounding residential zoning.

The 2023 proposal included a warehouse as well as office space. The warehouse has been removed from the current request.

Two Hearings

The only speakers at the public hearings held by the Planning Commission on the two rezone requests on Monday were Billy Harvin and Seixas “Chad” Milner on behalf of the two projects before the commission.

Aerial View Of Zuckerman Site From Rezone Submission
(Click To Enlarge)

No citizens came forward to speak either in favor of or in opposition to the two requests.

Commission Members Jeff Burks, Nathan Byrd, Jim Jenkins, and Ann Evans voted in favor of the commercial center on U.S. 441. Nick Hobbs voted against that project.

All five voted in favor of the request for the rezone on Mars Hill Road.

Both rezone requests will be before the Board of Commissioners at its meeting on July 9. 

The county's planning staff also has recommended approval of the two rezone requests.

Commercial Subdivision On U.S. 441

Barak Zukerman, owner of Cideco Development of Atlanta, is asking the county to rezone 23.5 acres that front on U.S. 441 from AR (Agricultural Residential) to B-2 (Highway Business) to develop a proposed 174,500 square feet of commercial buildings.

The land currently is owned by Kerry Barwick and Ken D. Hill of Midland and is part of an odd-shaped parcel of 44.8 acres that borders the University of Georgia Durham Horticulture Farm and a tract of the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research Center.

Bill Harvin, representing Zuckerman of Cideco Development, told the Commission on Monday that “We're excited to work with the county and the community on this project..We want to do a nice project here.”

Cideco, according to its web site, is a privately held commercial real estate company, specializing in retail and self-storage development/redevelopment, acquisitions, and management.

The web site lists two projects in Athens, Trail Creek Village and City Centre Athens. The company is based in Atlanta.

Neighboring Tracts

In July of 2023 the Board of Commissioners approved a rezone for 6.3 acres south of the commercial center proposed by Zuckerman for a QuikTrip.

Of those 6.3 acres, 2.0 acres were taken from the 44.8 acres owned by Kelly Barwick and Ken Hill, and 4.3 acres were taken from a 22.4 acre parcel owned by Jacobs Properties LLC of Tuckasegee, N.C.

Much opposition was voiced by citizens on the other side of U.S. 441 during the hearings on that rezone request.

According to Oconee County Tax records, the land transaction involving both of those parcels has not taken place.

Jacobs and Barwick and Hill are still listed as owners of the two parcels, and the acreage rezoned for the QuikTrip is not shown as a separate parcel.

The concept plan that Zuckerman submitted for the commercial center also shows an entrance to the north of the proposed development, but that land is owned by Manor Holdings LLC of Athens.

Mars Hill Road Request

Seixas “Chad” Milner III, President and CEO of The Milner Agency, told the Commission on Monday that he has lived in Oconee County for 20 years and wants to move his office from Lawrenceville to the Mars Hill Road site.

Representative Drawing For Office Building
Submitted By Milner

The six-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Julian Drive and Mars Hill Road is owned by Lifemark Development LLC, which is based at the home of Milner, according to county records.

In 2023, Milner had asked that the property be rezoned from R-1 (Single Family Residential) to OBP (Office Business Park) for a commercial office and business development that included a warehouse.

Milner told the Commission on Monday night that he had found another location for the warehouse.

The 16.5 acres north of the six acres owned by Milner through Lifemark is zoned OIP (Office Institutional Professional) and is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The parcel to the west, across Julian Drive, is split AG (Agricultural) and R-1 (Single Family Residential). The AG parcel is occupied by Athens Church of Christ.

The property on the south side, across Mars Hill Road, is residential.


The video below is on Oconee County’s YouTube Channel.

The meeting starts at 5:24 in the video.

The Zuckerman rezone is at 8:08 in the video.

The Lifemark Development rezone begins at 16:24.

1 comment:

Carrie LeeAnn Mitchell said...

So, the Oconee County government cannot see its way to put in a municipal swimming pool, but they allow Atlanta developers to come out here and propose a two story tennis court? Rich…..cannot wait for the pickleball high rise. Keep up the good work!