County contemplates development in rural areas

The county is pumping the brakes on a possible Planned Unit Development (PUD) that could allow for small businesses on residential property to allow more time for residents to grasp what they say could be a good tool for growth management.

The PUD would allow for a single-family residence and mixed-use development on the premises. The idea was sparked in part because of the number of small businesses related to the movie industry popping up since the building of Pinewood Studios.

Among a host of requirements, including the owner, no more than five people can be employed on-site by the business. All business-related structures would have be in the rear yard and fully enclosed. All vehicles must also be parked in the rear yard. The minimum development size would be 75 contiguous acres with a minimum lot size of 15 acres.

Numerous area residents asked the commissioners to think twice about what a change could mean to the rural atmosphere of Tyrone.

If the PUD was approved, individual businesses would still have to be approved by the county. The first test subject would be a plot on 70-plus acres on Sandy Creek Road in Tyrone. The new business park would see some heavy duty truck traffic, warehousing, shipping and receiving of goods.

“I don’t know if it’s been said clear enough, we’re approving a new zoning classification. We’re not approving a business here,” said Commissioner Charles Oddo, calling it an opportunity to control growth by deciding what businesses fit best with the county. “This is a zoning classification to be used throughout the county, then the business would have to come to us for approval.”

State Rep. Derrick Jackson, a resident of Tyrone, asked the commissioners to consider what they had heard from the public.

“Take all of these remarks to heart when you start to refine what that PUD should look like and what type of businesses you would like to attract,” said Jackson. “Tyrone is a small town, and that’s why we moved there. That’s why we stay there.”

Commissioners maintained that, with proper understanding of the PUD, residents would instead see that the PUD would do more to preserve the rural feel than other options in play. A plot of 70-plus acres could hold 30 homes or more under residential zoning, causing a much heavier traffic flow.

“I do understand y’all’s concerns, and I have a lot of concerns myself,” said Commissioner Randy Ognio who pointed out that congestion would not be what they fear. “One of the things that is not is a commercial lot. It probably could have 30 to 40 homes on it (otherwise).”

Commissioner Charles Rousseau urged residents to get a copy of the packet to familiarize themselves with what a PUD would bring. He was confident it would ease most of their concerns.

“I encourage residents to get a copy of this packet so you can know exactly what it is,” he said. “Get a copy of this, and you will see how your Planning Commission people, who are your neighbors, really walked through all of the things that you just mentioned tonight to get to the draft.”

Rousseau assured that the county wants to do what is right for the residents, and that this is a necessary step.

“What we’re attempting to do is create an ordinance where one does not exist, to set some parameters in place that will protect the integrity as well as the quality of life that each of you spoke about,” added Rousseau. “We’re trying to create language for a use someone wants where none exists.”

The Board voted to send the PUD plan back to the Planning Commission, where the public is invited to attend their April 20 meeting to share their concerns and learn more about the plan.

“We need to step back and do some more community outreach and dialogue,” said Rousseau. “I really truly think once people really see this thing and look at it, they will agree, for the most part, that some thought went into this. It’s something we need to look at more intimately and decide if we want to pursue it.”

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Christopher Dunn has been the sports editor for Fayette Newspapers since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Game Day magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.


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