Planning and zoning actions took center stage at the March 12 Bryan County Commission meeting in Pembroke with Jody and Judy Price asking that a 7.86 parcel on Wilma Edwards Road be rezoned from A-5 to B-2.
The request, Price said, came because of a growing need for commercial businesses in an area that is steadily increasing in population and commercially underserved.
Most people who spoke at the public hearing were in favor of the Price rezoning, although one speaker said it was the wrong place for a business development.
The problem with the request, according to planning director Amanda Clement, was that the request was not in line with the zoning ordinance.
B-2 rezoning, Clement said, is required by ordinance to include a detailed site or development plan, something this request did not.
Price said he was submitting the B-2 rezoning request, but didn't have any specific idea what future businesses might locate there. He said a business had been operating there for more than 18 years and a recent complaint from a nearby resident prompted his request to seek a more intense zoning classification.
The problem for the commissioners, particularly Commissioner Steve Myers was that while commercial development in the area might be a good thing, the request did not meet the ordinance and if the rezoning request was denied by the commissioners, the applicant couldn't ask for any reconsideration for a year.
Myers and Clement suggested it might be more appropriate to consider a less intense commercial zone, B-1, which doesn't require any site or development plans be submitted with the initial application. Then, in the future, if he were approached by a business not named in a B-1 zone, he could reapply for a B-2 zoning with a specific use and plan in mind and the commissioners would reconsider his request.
After some additional discussion, Price agreed and the commissioners voted unanimously to rezone the parcel to B-1. Commissioner Wade Price recused himself from the vote and Commissioner Brad Brookshire was not in attendance due to a previous family commitment.
A request for a borrow pit off Fort McAllister Road was pulled from the agenda by the applicant at the last moment and he asked for the commissioners to consider it at their June meeting. The 22-acre pit was part of a larger parcel off Fort McAllister Road near Kinsale Subdivision. Several people were there for the cancelled public hearing and left their email addresses to be notified when the issue would be heard again.
Denise Buckner lobbied the commission to rezone 3.29 acres off Clark Drive in north Bryan County from A-5 to R-30.
Clement said the request was being made to allow for a future subdivision. The staff's recommendation, as was the planning commission's, was for approval, the planning director. No one spoke for or against the issue at the public hearing.
After discussion, the commissioners approved the request.
The last planning and zoning action came in the form of a commission approval of a preliminary plat for a 10-lot subdivision off Toni Branch Road.
The parcel is approximately 47 acres and currently zoned AR-1. All 10 lots will have ingress and egress off Toni Branch Road.
Commissioner Myers said with all 10 lots having access off, and potentially backing onto, Toni Branch Road, it could create traffic problems. Myers was told it would be likely there would be sufficient space to on the property and it would not be necessary to back out onto Toni Branch Road.
Other commission business included:
* Residents on Wolf Pen Road complained about the state of the road, calling it "impassable" at times. It is a private road and the commissioners agreed to look into ways, including a special tax district, to help resolve the problem.
* Agreeing that Coastal EMC would handle the conduit installation at the new Belfast Keller/Belfast River roundabout, saving county taxpayers $64,044.50 in construction costs.
* Approving a contract for $65,053 contract with the University of Georgia Extension Service to cover salaries and miscellaneous costs to run the county extension office.
* Reappointed Thomas Haynes and Bob Floyd to a six-year term on the Bryan County Board of Assessors.
* Awarded a $1,296,011.50 contract to Preferred Materials, Inc. for the building of the Belfast River and Belfast Keller roads roundabout.
* Approved the purchase of three new fire pumpers at a cost of $1,163,515.
* Approved a resolution in opposition to Georgia House Bill 302 ad Senate Bill 172, which would prevent local governments from setting design standards within their county or city.
* Approved a resolution to appoint an LVAP Advisory Committee to determine which organizations receive victim assistance funds received by the county.