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Planners OK tree variance, rezoning

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POSTED: January 24, 2014 10:22 a.m.
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This satellite photo shows five tracts of property that the hospital authority has asked to have rezoned from office institutional to general commercial.

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The Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission approved developer Claude Dryden’s request for a variance regarding street-tree requirements during a regular planning commission meeting Tuesday evening.
Walthourville city officials referred the request to waive the tree-count requirement back to the planning commission for consideration, after approving the plat for the subdivision.
Dryden and engineer Trent Long asked the LCPC to allow them to count the trees left along a tree stand as required tree points, rather than plant more street trees in phase one of the Hampton Ridge subdivision in Walthourville.
Long commented that the houses in phase one have 25-foot setbacks, and the yards would “look fine” with trees scattered through the neighborhood. To comply with the street-tree requirement, the developer would have to plant about 160 trees, the engineer said.
Long and Dryden said many of the homeowners coming into the subdivision hail from outside the local area and don’t want the trees in their yards. Also, the soil is sandy, which would make it difficult for homeowners to keep the street trees healthy, they argued.
LCPC Executive Director Jeff Ricketson explained the Walthourville City Council approved the subdivision last fall, with the requirement that Dryden plant the street trees.
Ricketson said the developer decided to leave a portion of the property wooded, rather than construct a secondary entrance to Dunlevie Road. The subdivision is bordered by Dunlevie and E.B. Cooper.
The developer decided against the entrance because a cemetery is near there, the LCPC executive director said. Since more trees were left on the site than were required, Dryden asked to be given credit for those trees and have the tree-count requirement waived, according to Ricketson.  
The LCPC’s recommendation to waive the street-tree requirement went before the Walthourville City Council on Thursday after this edition went to press.
Recommendations made by the LCPC later are considered for approval by county- or city-government leaders depending on where the applicants’ sites are located.
The LCPC approved a petition from the city of Hinesville to rezone a combined area of 15.9 acres from office institutional to general commercial for the Liberty County hospital authority.
Gabriele Hartage, LCPC zoning administrator, said the rezoning would meet the comprehensive plan and fits in with businesses that surround the five adjoining properties. Hartage said there would be no adverse impact on the area’s roads, the property is not in a flood zone and there are no historical sites in the area to be affected.
Ricketson said the hospital authority wanted to rezone the properties as part of its multi-year effort to upgrade its facilities. Changing the zoning would better enable the authority to carry out Liberty Regional Medical Center’s current and future building plans, he said.
The LCPC also approved with special conditions a final plat for applicant LeConte Properties regarding the first phase of a commercial subdivision along Highway 84.
The developer must complete all required improvements before the final plat goes before the city of Walthourville for approval, Hartage said. The developer must submit a water-and-sanitary-sewer maintenance bond in the form of a letter of credit in the amount of $10,728.60 to the LCPC, she said. In addition, the property-owner association covenant must be recorded with the final plat for phase 1, and the developer must provide a fence around the detention pond to comply with the Walthourville ordinance or post a performance letter of credit for fencing and installation prior to recording the final plat, according to Hartage.
Ricketson concluded the meeting by briefing planning commissioners on city and county leaders’ final decisions based on recommendations made during an LCPC meeting last month.

 

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