The Bryan County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday rejected a rezoning application for a new subdivision on Highway 144, across from the Highway 144 Spur, after a lengthy discussion that appeared to be more about the philosophy of planning and zoning than about the actual request.
The 55-acre site, owned by Lamar Smith Homes, is currently zoned for residential use, but the developer requested it be rezoned to a Planned Unit Development. In exchange for being able to add five lots to the subdivision — for a total of 115 — Smith agreed to build an 8-foot-wide sidewalk parallel to Highway 144 along the entire frontage of the project.
Planning Director Eric Greenway said the sidewalk would tie in with one that the Georgia Department of Transportation plans to install when Highway 144 is widened and would be across the road from the access point to the Green Creek Trail.
Commissioner Steve Myers made a motion to deny the request, which was seconded by Commissioner Rick Gardner. Commissioner Dallas Daniel joined them in voting down the request 3-2. Commissioners Noah Covington and Wade Price voted against Myers’ motion.
“The developer has met all the requirements of our ordinances,” Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said before the vote. “How do we turn him down?”
Myers said he did not support the change because the minimum distance between houses would be 10 feet and a majority of the lots would be 70 feet wide.
Gardner said he believes a PUD should be reserved for developers who want to add amenities to a subdivision and or a commercial aspect.
“Now they’re just using it to stack and pack, and there’s no value added,” he said.
Greenway said PUDs are supposed to be used in unique circumstances in exchange for something that benefits the community.
“This developer wants some flexibility on the lot widths in exchange for providing the pedestrian walkway which will give people access to the trail,” he said. “It’s a good deal for Bryan County to tie developments together in a way that offers an alternative way of travel. It also gives a greater buffer for the subdivision off of 144.”
The Planning and Zoning Board approved the request with the staff recommendation that the sidewalk — 1,300-feet long — be added. Smith is traveling out of the country and was not available for comment.