The Homer City Council is continuing to work out details for planned residential development at the Chimney Oaks Golf Course. During an October 13 meeting, the council received an update from city attorney David Syfan following discussions with representatives from the proposed development.
Developers for the Chimney Oaks planned community are requesting the council consider allowing a reduction in the setback requirements, zoning text amendments to allow for the possibility of up to 200 townhome units and approval by the council to own and operate a private water system for the development. The proposed plan includes designs for restroom accommodations, a storm shelter and a learning academy, in addition to residential units.
“What I had suggested to them is that they amend their original Planned Community Development (PCD) plan basically to give us some notice about what they are actually planning to do, said Syfan. “I basically indicated to them, within reason, that the council wouldn’t have a problem with any proposed uses, but we would need to see their intention in writing and get it agreed to by way of a PCD amendment.”
Syfan said the developers indicated acceptance of what he was proposing.
“One thing they were wanting us to look at is to speed up the approval process,” said Syfan.
An example given by Syfan was a request for a minimal reduction of setbacks on certain lots. Syfan said this could be accomplished by the council authorizing a designated agent for the city to approve the reduction without the developer having to through the planning commission and council review.
Syfan has reviewed the proposed plan submitted by the developer and has recommended changes warranted by what is required by city PCD regulations.
Syfan suggested the developer be required to submit a plan that is in compliance with city PCD zoning district regulations and then go through the normal zoning process to give the proposed plan approval. Following approval, the city will be prepared to issue permits based on the amended plan.
“Hopefully, then all the contention that we have had in the past years will go away,” said Syfan.
Syfan said he is hopeful that an agreement can be reached soon to amend the previously approved plan and the developer will submit a rezoning application and the city can begin to issue building permits. The rezoning application would then be heard at the next planning commission meeting and the council will be prepared to act on the request at the November meeting.
In the end, Syfan noted it’s not the job of the city council to make the development economically viable, but rather to make sure it is a quality development for the rest of the town.
Following discussions regarding plans for the development, the council moved to closed session to discuss pending litigation.
City officials have requested assistance from the Georgia Rural Water Association (GRWA) in evaluating the water rates and current and future needs of the system. GRWA is recommending the city consider using an equivalency method to bill water customers. “This has been a topic that we’ve been discussing for quite some time about the water rates,” said Councilman James Dumas. “Currently, the cost of providing water isn’t equally shared.”
Dumas went on to say that other entities that are using the equivalency formula have found the process to be beneficial. “All customers are paying basically the same rate and buying the water they are using instead of being billed based on the size of the meter in use,” said Dumas.
“We are definitely way off the low end with water rates,” said Mayor Doug Cheek. “They are incredibly low compared to other cities.”
Dumas said the rate study reflects Homer water rates are substantially lower than what is needed to service the system debt. Dumas said there is a need to build up the system operation and maintenance fund for future repairs and improvements. The council agreed to give the water rate recommendations further consideration before making any changes.
In other business at the meeting:
•the council agreed to move forward with plans to drill a second test well at the Evans Street location.
•the council approved purchasing a door for the shop from Overhead Doors at a cost of $4,680.
•the council discussed the codification of records. No decision made on this matter.
•a closed session was held to discuss litigation. No action taken from closed session.