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It's Back To Square One For 'PUD' Developer
Neither City Nor Developer Knew 'Kensington Park' Failed To Meet Commerce Planned Unit Development Guidelines
A developer planning an 83-acre "planned unit development" off the Mount Olive Road will have to start from scratch, thanks to general ignorance about the PUD provision of the city's zoning ordinance.
The Commerce City Council voted unanimously Monday night to send Broughton Cochran's "Kensington Park" proposal back to the Commerce Planning Commission for review.
The planning commission had recommended that the city council approve Cochran's plan to rezone the property from Agricultural Residential to PUD, but at the time, no one had fully read the PUD requirements in the Commerce zoning ordinance. What city officials found out late Monday afternoon ­ and Cochran learned at the council meeting ­ was that the plans for Kensington Park came nowhere near close to meeting the city's PUD requirements.
For starters, the city's PUD zoning does not provide for multiple uses of the property ­ Cochran proposed single-family site-built houses, townhouses and even a small commercial area.
In addition, the PUD classification overlays the regular zoning, in this case A-R, and the developer must meet all of the criteria of A-R, which includes lot sizes of at least one acre. Townhouses and commercial development are not allowed, according to City Manager Clarence Bryant.
And finally, the city PUD zoning requires that the planning commission approve a "development plan" at the same time it gives a zoning recommendation, which the Commerce Planning Commission did not do.
"I didn't know that," said a surprised Cochran.
"I didn't either, until this afternoon," said Bryant. Nor, apparently, did the planning commission or city code enforcement officer David Lanphear as the proposal went before the planning commission in late June.
Area residents on Ridgeway Road and Mount Olive Road reiterated the concerns about the project that they had brought before the planning commission, including traffic flow, housing density, the commercial tract and responsibility for maintaining the lake and woods on the site that would be co-owned by all property owners in the development.
"My personal observation is that a small portion, 10 to 20 percent, are not going to clean up that area on a consistent basis," said spokesman Jim Scott, who worried that the area "could be a rodent-infested situation."
Though rejecting the PUD plan, the city council and the citizens urged Cochran to modify the development and build it.
Councilman Bob Sosebee suggested that Cochran meet with the citizens and the planning commission to work out something all parties could accept. Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. suggested Cochran seek R-1 zoning.
"We certainly need this kind of development in Commerce," the mayor said, then backtracked, "Maybe not this exact plan. Put all that in R-1 and you don't have a problem."
In other zoning-related matters, the council voted unanimously to deny a request from Tom Cronk to rezone land at the end of State Street from R-3 to R-2 for a subdivision. That vote, however, was taken not because the council didn't like the proposed change, but because Cronk had abandoned the development over engineering problems, according to Sosebee. Denying the request, which had been recommended for approval by the planning commission, merely cleared the request from the city's process.
The council also voted to accept the recommendations of the planning commission to deny a request from Heather R. Toney to rezone a lot on Park Street at Troy Street from R-2 to R-5 for the placement of a mobile home, to deny a request from Henry Dills to rezone a lot on Neal Street from R-1 to R-5 for a mobile home, approved a change in the city's zoning map for the Ila Road and denied a request from Andy Thomas to rezone land on the Ila Road from R-1 to M-2 (manufacturing). The latter parcel had been rezoned C-2 by the approval of the Ila Road changes.

TWS contributes to bridge fund
Tumbling Water Society members J.B. Benson (L) and Henry Slocum (R) present commissioner Pat Bell with a check for more than $9,000 as the TWS' contribution to the covered bridge project fund.


Nicholson Passes Budget;
Road Money Is Tripled
NICHOLSON -- With almost $90,000 carried over from the last fiscal year, the Nicholson City Council passed a budget Monday night that more than triples the budget for road maintenance.
The $243,126 budget represents an increase of 18 percent, but no tax increase because Nicholson levies no taxes. The increase is due to the $89,830 rolled over from the 1998-99 budget plus expectations of slightly more money from the local option sales tax and franchise taxes.
The major change in the line items for the city for the next 12 months is road maintenance, where the budget calls for spending $35,000, more than triple the $8,000 budgeted for last year. According to City Clerk Dana Wilbanks, the city plans to resurface both Woodpecker Lane and Quail Ridge Drive.
In other business, Mayor Steve Wilbanks reported on discussions he had with the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center about its work on a city zoning ordinance.
Wilbanks said the RDC was to send a cost estimate to the city by the end of the week. Once the city signs off on the cost, work will begin. The RDC has previously done work on zoning for the city, but the plans never came to fruition.


All-Star Time
Commerce will host the Georgia Parks and Recreation 16-under district all-star tournament through the weekend. Weather problems postponed play until Tuesday night. In addition, Heather Tiller, above, and her teammates on the 14-under girls' all-star team played in Dawsonville last week.

Tap Fee Up
The cost of getting a water meter from the Jackson County water system just went up, and it's going up even more in three months.

Mac Barber Sues
Former Commerce Mayor and public service commissioner J. Mac Barber has filed suit against the Atlanta newspapers over a 1998 story.

Fire At LP
The Louisiana Pacific oriented strand board plant in Center is out of production. Company officials are trying to assess the cause of and damage from the Saturday night blaze, which started in the press pit.

No Nude Dining
Employees of the Cracker Barrel and the Banks County Sheriff's Department drew the line at nude dining. A man entered the restaurant, stripped off his clothing and lay down in front of the massive fireplace. He wasn't offered a menu.
More on these stories can be found in this week's printed edition of The Commerce News

Maysville Begins Annexation Of 50-Unit Housing Development
The Maysville City Council is ready to begin the process for a annexing a new residential development.
In a meeting Monday, the council discussed starting annexation and zoning procedures to bring approximately 60 acres on Ridgeway Road into the city at the request of developers Elora and Beth Stargel. The property is now owned by Robert Holland.
The Stargels have been in negotiations with Mayor Richard Presley as to who will pay the cost to provide water to the development, which will include approximately 50 site-built homes, a swimming pool and clubhouse. Presley told the council that the Stargels have agreed to pay half the cost to put in an eight-inch water line from the Oak Ridge Subdivision to the property, a distance of 3,200 feet.
The developers have also agreed to pay the $350 tap on fees up front, Presley said. He estimates the cost to the city to be approximately $20,000, but reminded the council that a majority of that money will be recouped immediately through the tap fees.
If approved, the city's part of the project would be paid with the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), Presley continued.
The annexation is possible because the Maysville city limits touch the property line on the back side from Sears Drive, Presley said. The council talked about contacting eight property owners about annexing their property all the way down Ridgeway Road to the development.
City attorney Gary Freeman advised the council that would be possible with 100 percent agreement by the property owners, but said it would be complicated. The council would most likely have to zone the property as it is now ­ agricultural rural residential.
"Right now, agriculture district requires 1.3 acres per dwelling and allows hog farms and landfills," Freeman said. "The real question is do you want to annex agriculture like it is now? This could get controversial."
At that point, the council agreed to just annex the property in question at the present time.
In other business, the city council:
·rescinded a resolution to put a gate around the water tanks and voted to take the ladders off the tanks 20 feet from the ground.
·discussed a letter from Billy Pruitt, who was denied building permits to construct dwellings on Maywood Court because the lots are not located on a dedicated street. Pruitt contends that it is a city street.
·approved a resolution to appoint Sue Mealor to the Jackson County Library Task Force.
·discussed water pressure problems on the Maysville-Homer Road. Jackson County issued a building permit to a business that will require a sprinkler system with the assumption the city had the pressure needed but it does not. The council is looking at the possibility of looping a line with Jackson County to boost the pressure.


The Commerce News - Commerce, Georgia
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