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LCDA granted 'unprecedented' power

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POSTED: February 17, 2007 5:06 a.m.
Although not quite the carte blanche its members first requested, the Liberty County Development Authority has been granted unprecedented power over the part of the Tradeport East Business Park rezoned by the county commission in a split vote last month.
LCDA had asked the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission in October to rezone 805 acres, part of the Laurel View tract, to I-1 (industrial) from A-1 (agriculture).
Part of that earlier petition, which was tabled at the last minute at the request of the authority, would have exempted the authority from seeking any further permission from the planning commission.
In the version approved last month, LCDA still asked to get out of planning commission control, but did provide more information.
The rezoned 805 acres can be used for production, assembly, warehouse, research and development, medical, corporate headquarters, business office, daycare, showrooms, commercial, business office, municipal buildings and retail uses.
The development authority said it has restrictive covenants controlling the use of its property that are stricter than county zoning standards. But covenants for the whole area apparently have not been completed.
Commissioner Marion Stevens, in whose district the project lies, asked for a 30-day delay to study the petition, but none of his fellow commissioners supported him.
Commissioner Pat Bowen, who also represents a small section of East Liberty, then moved to approve the rezoning, although he abstained from voting. Stevens voted no.
The covenants upon which the LCPC and the county commissioners relied for the rezoning are also reportedly being rewritten at the request of IDI, an industrial developer that is buying 300 acres of the area often referred to as the megapark. IDI is buying the land in phases.
The petition, approved by a 4-1 and one abstention vote, also rules out certain activities in the rezoned area.
Along with residential uses, no quarries, racetracks, kennels, junkyards, landfills or waste disposal areas, trailer or mobile home parks, taxidermy businesses, drive-in theaters or bulk fuel storage will be allowed.
While wiping out all previous land-use restrictions such as minimum lot size and width, and all setbacks, the rezoning does specify that future users will comply with performance standards for smoke, odor, toxic gases, glare, heat, sewage and vibration.
Also ruled out are poultry, livestock, swine, fur-bearing animal rearing or breeding, and storing or processing wrecked or junk vehicles.
A letter from LCDA Chairman Allen Brown accompanying the rezoning petition reiterates the authority's intent to be exempt from zoning regulations: "Specifically, the authority again requests that it be excused from any further submission or review for purposes of complying . . ."
In his letter, Brown refers to the standards established by the authority, although those standards are not yet drafted nor adopted by the authority at this time. He also asks for an "automatic request" procedure in which, if any variance or special exception is ever needed, "the same is hereby specifically requested" by Brown's Dec. 13 letter.
Although the rezoned land is owned by Laurel View Properties LLC, the rezoning has been handled by the attorney, staff and consultants of the development authority and a delegation of authority members appeared at the county commission meeting in support of the petition.

 

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