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Rezoning requests get green light from planning commission
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At-home occupations and fair business opportunities dominated the discussion when the Liberty County Planning Commission reviewed and approved site plans and rezoning petitions at its regular meeting Aug. 21.

Zoning Administrator Gabby Hartage presented an amendment to the Home Occupation Ordinance, which pertains to at-home occupations. According to Hartage, there wasn’t much to revise, except for a few minor sentences.

“All residential districts are allowed to apply for a business license as a home occupation,” Hartage said. “As long as no customers come to the house and there’s no outward appearance that there is a business.” Specifically, the ordinance allows only online and phone-based businesses.

Currently, areas zoned MH (manufactured home park district) or MH-2 (single-family manufactured home dwelling district) cannot apply for a business license. There is a previous by-right use in place for all residential districts except MH and MH-2. To provide fair business opportunities, Hartage said, LCPC revised the ordinance by adding a by-right use for MH and MH-2.

A stipulation for business license applications includes the submittal of a certified letter by an attorney, Hartage continued, that says the business does not violate the housing division’s covenants.

“We’re trying to provide a little equity for those in manufactured homes and parks, because they should have the same opportunity,” LCPC Executive Director Jeff Ricketson said.

LCPC unanimously approved the revisions to the ordinance.

A rezoning application submitted by Ren, Inc. to rezone 1.36 acres from C-2 (General Commercial District) to C-3 (Highway Commercial District) received approval from the commissioners.

A City of Hinesville ordinance requires a minimum C-3 zoning to sell merchandise outdoors. The request is to utilize a stand to sell bicycles, owner Steven Troha said.

John Baker of Happy Acres LLC, filed a variance for a side yard setback. Baker wants to put a carport on the right side of his home, with columns to match the theme of the porch, he said.

According to the request, Baker is asking to encroach into the required 10-feet side-yard setback by 5.7-feet, making the columns of the carport 4.3-feet from the property line. Baker said his neighbor has no issues with the carport being closer to her property line. A provided letter from the neighbor corroborated his claim.

Hartage recommended disapproval based on previous pre-determined special conditions for granting variances, however, the LCPC commissioners granted approval.

“We look at every one of them as an exception,” commissioner Andrew Williams said. “Each one is a case by case basis, and this doesn’t seem to present any unnecessary hardship.”

The variance was approved 6 to 1, with the special condition that the vegetative barrier needs to stay in place on the property line, the commissioners said.

A rezoning petition and conditional use permit was submitted by Mickey Howe to rezone his property from AR-1 (Agricultural Residential District) to B-2 (General Commercial District). He also submitted a request for a conditional use permit to operate a semi-truck and auto equipment repair facility off of Barrington Ferry Rd, planner Alan Seifert said.

In the zoning analysis presented by Seifert, there were some drawbacks that could present problems with the rezoning. There could be an adverse effect on the value and usability of nearby properties, since the majority are zoned residential. The rezoning also poses an undue burden on transportation and public safety, Seifert continued. There was also a previous historical landmark that could create problems.

“The Old Post Road marker is the oldest monument in Liberty County,” Assistant Vice-Chair Lynn Pace said. Howe said he planned to preserve the marker in question if it’s located on his property.

Despite the drawbacks, Seifert recommended approval of the rezoning request. LCPC passed it unanimously.

The LCPC commissioners approved the conditional use permit with special conditions. Howe must obtain a Georgia Department of Transportation permit required for commercial driveways; and per the Liberty County zoning ordinance, there must be asphalt or concrete surfaces for all vehicular parking and access drives. He must also effectively screen and landscape parking areas adjacent to residential properties, Seifert said.

Engineering Director Abe Nadji presented three preliminary plats for local subdivisions, including: phase two of Independence Settlement, requested by Dryden Enterprises; phase three of Pineridge Subdivision, requested by RTS Homes; and Tranquil South, requested by T.R. Long Engineering. Each received approval with special conditions.

Prior to consideration by the City of Hinesville, Dryden Enterprises must acquire and submit all required permits for Independence Settlement to the LCPC office, Nadji said.

RTS Homes must erect a special five foot utility easement to be shown outside of the right-of-ways in the Pineridge Subdivision, he said, and prior to placing on the city’s agenda, receive prior approval from LCPC.

T.R. Long Engineering must get EPD approval for sanitary sewer systems, a commitment letter from the power company to service the project, and a utility service commitment letter from the City of Hinesville, prior to Tranquil South’s preliminary plat going before the City of Flemington Mayor and Council, Nadji said. All conditions were met, and the plat will be reviewed Sept. 11 at Flemington’s City Council meeting.
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