The Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission tabled two petitions at its May 17 meeting because of confusion over Hinesville city ordinances.
Alden James applied for a special-permit use for a small sales area for used cars at the Pit-Stop/Shell gas station at Airport and Devereaux roads. James asked to display a maximum of 10 vehicles at one time on the property.
LCPC zoning manager Gabriele Hartage said there is not enough parking available for 10 vehicles. She said the convenience store needs those parking spaces for customers to comply with a city ordinance. The LCPC staff recommended approval of the permit with possibly up to five spots. Hartage suggested there is space to park up to five vehicles near the entrance/exit to Devereaux Road.
There was a lengthy discussion over the required number of parking spaces for the gas station and the spaces requested for the special permit.
Hinesville city ordinance requires the convenience store to have 15 parking spots, not including those at the gas pump, Hartage said. When first assessing the petition, Hartage counted 12 parking spots. James said the owner recently repainted the parking lines, and there are now more than 12 spaces.
LCPC Assistant Vice Chairwoman Lynn Pace asked how the store was in compliance if it does not have enough parking. Commissioner Andrew Williams suggested that the store has grandfather status and may have originally been required to have 10 spaces.
“So the question would be, if we were considering doing this on this property that was already grandfathered in, does it mean, now that it’s in the city, he must comply with whatever the ordinance is now?” Williams asked.
The grandfather status would remain if the property is left as is, Hartage said, but when a new use — such as selling cars — is added, the property’s status changes.
LCPC Chairman Jack Shuman said that according to the ordinance, the store needs 15 spaces that it currently does not have. He asked why the LCPC staff recommended it for approval.
The petition was tabled until the board receives more information on whether the gas station/convenience store has grandfather status, what the ordinance was at that time, if the business is in compliance and how many parking spaces are needed.
Doggy day care
Another special-permit use was filed for property next to the gas station on Devereaux Road.
Thomas Barbour, the chief financial officer for NAC-Nutrition Animal Center, filed a petition to allow for a puppy day care and dog training center. The business would be open every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with pickup no later than 9 p.m. Fewer than 20 dogs and 20 puppies would be at the facility at any given time.
Barbour said the state Department of Agriculture allows up to 20 dogs and 20 puppies in this kind of facility. There is an outside enclosed area designated for waste, which will be cleaned three times a day, and an 8-foot high barbed-wire fence.
A definition for “kennel” could not be found in the Hinesville ordinance. The LCPC staff referred to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which defines kennel as, “A shelter for a dog or cat, an establishment for the breeding or boarding of dogs or cats, a pack of dogs.”
Applying this to the proposed dog day care, the ordinance does not allow for dog kennels to be within 300 feet of any house or building where people reside or work. The business is less than 300 feet from the gas station and mobile home park next to it.
The LCPC staff recommended disapproval primarily because of the distance requirement, which has been in the ordinance since 1978, Ricketson said.
“There are other businesses in town that are nowhere near the 300 feet,” Shuman said. “They’re doing the same thing, and they weren’t there before 1978.”
Commissioners brought up other pet businesses that were less than 300 feet away from their neighbors. Ricketson said that because there will be kennels outside, the 300-foot requirement was applied as opposed to other businesses, which have their kennels inside.
Barbour said the dogs would be taken out at certain times of the day and puppies would be in a controlled environment inside. The business would board dogs overnight only if a pet owner has an emergency and could not pick up the pet, and then only on a case-by-case basis, Barbour said.
There was talk again about “kennel” not being defined in the city ordinance.
“Is this something we can get a clear definition on in light of the fact that there are other places that are not in compliance?” Byler asked.
Ricketson thinks the original intention of the distance requirement was to keep residential neighbors from putting kennels in their backyards, which would disturb other neighbors. He pointed out that it is now applied to commercial properties.
Williams said, “The infrastructure and growth and urbanization that’s going on in the city and county, it’s hard to apply (an ordinance established in 1978) to now.”
The petition was tabled until the commissioners receive more information on the ordinance.
A farm next door
Dryden Enterprises Inc. filed a petition to rezone 22.33 acres from AR-1, agricultural residential, to PUD, planned unit development, to be developed as an additional phase to Griffin Park subdivision off of Live Oak Church Road.
Neighbor Sarah Tirpak expressed concerns about properties that will border hers. Tirpak owns and operates a farm, which has been her longtime dream. She said she lives on a quiet corner, and three sides of her property back up to trees and wildlife. Her property serves as a foster home for dogs, and she has a horse, chickens and roosters. Tirpak plans to expand in the future.
“I am concerned about my privacy and more importantly how this will affect my farm and the animals on it,” Tirpak said. “This scarcity of neighbors and isolation I have enjoyed will be gone. My new neighbors will be forced to deal with sounds and smells that come with a farm.
Essentially, I will be a small country farm that backs up to the city.”
She added that the farm is currently not a nuisance to neighbors, but is worried about people feeding her animals and potentially getting bitten.
Her property is fenced in and mostly cleared.
Marcus Sack of P.C. Simonton and Associates Inc., said efforts were made to reduce the impact of the subdivision on her property but a buffer is not currently planned for the area. He added that homeowners will usually install their own privacy fence.
Planning Commissioner Phil Odom felt that it was necessary to protect Tirpak’s property.
Installing a fence will cost $10,000 to $15,000, Sacks said, which would be split between the five or six homeowners next to Tirpak’s property.
Lucas Dryden said the company will consider putting up a privacy fence and will inform potential homebuyers about the farm.
The petition to rezone the property with a special condition for a privacy fence to be installed was recommended for approval. The matter will go to the Hinesville City Council on Thursday.
The LCPC also recommended approval to annex the 22.33 acres into the city of Hinesville.
In other business, Melissa Jones, LCPC planner II, presented a draft of the Liberty County Consolidated Comprehensive Plan 2040.
Commissioners reviewed information and site plans for Live Oak Villas, a 60-unit apartment complex on 17 acres in Midway, off Oglethorpe Highway near Butler Road.