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Commission tackles rezoning
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While emphasizing equal treatment for all residents, the Liberty County Board of Commissioners took action on several requests for rezoning actions presented during its regularly meeting earlier this month. All board members were present. Below are the highlights from the meeting:
• The board voted unanimously to approve Hinesville resident Ramon Martinez’ request to rezone more than 2.97 acres from agricultural to two-family residential. He plans to develop a subdivision on Scattered Oaks Road.
• Amid concerns a “yes” vote would set an unfavorable precedent, the board approved a local attorney’s request to rezone 10 acres from two-family residential to neighborhood commercial for the purpose of building several commercial buildings.
Hinesville attorney and businessman Joel Osteen appeared before the board in October with a request to rezone his property to residential to make way for a proposed subdivision. Osteen said the plan was no longer financially advantageous and requested the property be rezoned again to commercial.
He noted the plan is to build a commercial center for use by service-related businesses. No retail business would be allowed and the property is located a short distance before Great Southern Exterminating Service on Highway 196 east in Fleming.
Osteen requested the road remain private, unpaved and be privately maintained by the businesses occupying the buildings. Members of the board were concerned more requests would follow if it allowed an unpaved road in the commercial area.
"We might as well not have planning and zoning if we're going back to the old time way," said District 1 Commissioner Marion Stevens. "We're not asking for a variance of any shape, form or fashion. We're not asking to set a precedence or circumvent," Osteen said. "Not every business needs a paved road. It'll be a company that goes out and does services off site."
Osteen said he did not anticipate large trucks in the area and the unpaved road would support traffic. Board members were adamant that "everyone be treated exactly the same" in its decision and procedures.
"My concern is to make sure we do what's right for all property owners and investors. If we allow you, then the next time we'll have to allow it," Chairman John McIver said. "I'm concerned about systematically circumventing our ordinances. I'm concerned about consistent quality growth. You will have to maintain the road, the county will not maintain it."
Stevens motioned to recommend approving the action that required the roads be paved. His motion died for lack of a second.
The board voted to approve Osteen's request to rezone the property to commercial with a requirement for the road to be privately maintained. There is no requirement for a deceleration lane or for paving.
Stevens voted against the action citing the precedent.
• The board unanimously voted to approve the preliminary plat for Yellow Bluff Phase III. The Retreat at Yellow Bluff will consist of 42 lots with single-family homes and boatominiums (private marina).

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