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P&Z says no to rezoning
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d Zoning Board went against the recommendation of its own department, voting 3-2 to recommend denying a request by Johnny Murphy to rezone 394 acres off Hwy. 144 and Spur 144.

Murphy requested the land be rezoned from Agricultural to a Planned Development Unit, or PUD.

The proposal went before the board on Thursday, Oct. 4.

"The recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Department is approval of the requested rezoning, with the guidelines that the developer stays in contact with the GDOT concerning road improvements and that he considers using pervious surfaces, low impact strategies and green growth guidelines," Planning and Zoning Administrator Christine Stringer said.

Board members Michael Daves and Ronald Carswell voted to approve the PUD rezoning, but Chairman Ted Atkins, Noble Boykin, Jr. and Karen Hewitt voted no.

"As far as the development – and Johnny Murphy does an excellent development – my reasons predominantly had to do with commercial property. It’s not in line with what our county has been doing. It should just not be commercial property down there," Hewitt said.

Bryan Land and Timber representative Jason Edenfield gave an overview of the proposal. He said commercial development ideas have included boat storage, office spaces and a possible convenience store.

Commercial uses allowed in a PUD include office uses, indoor amusement, retail sales/services, eating and drinking establishments, outdoor recreation, and off street parking. Proposals beyond those require county approval.

"I’d like to point out that what we planned in that drawing is just so superior to those power lines they’re running down 144 right now – which are destroying the look of the community. Those power lines are permanent forever," said Murphy, who didn't attend the meeting. "We’ve got some beautiful buffers and landscaping planned out."

Murphy said the goal of Bryan Land and Timber is to help the area, not hurt it. But residents spoke against the rezoning.

Spur 144 resident James Estes had one concern in particular – the proposed commercial property directly in front of him and his wife Barbara’s home.

Estes pointed out there are roughly 33 acres of proposed commercial development down Spur 144 to the one-mile-marker, which he called "overkill."

Diane Strickland felt commercial areas should be consolidated. "I know that Johnny Murphy has done wonderful things…but I think that it could be a win-win situation if we had a vision on how we’re going to accommodate requests for commercial spots in the future," she said.

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