CRISP COUNTY ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
January 15, 2008
The Crisp County Zoning Board of Appeals met at a regular meeting on the 15th day of January 2008 a.m. in the Crisp County Courthouse.
The following members were present: Emmett Walker, J.C. Clark, Frank Lott, Mark Brubaker and new member Wendy Peavy. Also present, Connie Sangster, Secretary & Planning Director & Jimmy Mumphery, County Building Inspector.
VOTE: Motion made by J.C. Clark, seconded by Mark Brubaker to approve the Minutes of the August 21, 2007 meeting. Carried unanimously.
1st Order of Business
Floor was open for nomination.
Motion was made by Mark Brubaker, seconded by J.C. Clark to elect Connie Sangster as Secretary. Vote carried unanimously 4-0.
Mr. Walker stepped down as chairman and floor was open for nomination.
Motion was made by J.C. Clark, seconded by Frank Lott to elect Emmett Walker as Chairman. Vote carried unanimously 4-0.
Elect Vice Chairman
Floor was open for nomination.
Motion was made by J.C. Clark, seconded by Frank Lott to elect Mark Brubaker as Vice Chairman. Voted carried unanimously 4-0.
Requests from Rural Community Improvement Corporation (with the property owners authorization to: 1) Reduce the required 10,000 sq. ft. lot size to 7500 sq. ft. 2) Reduce the required 80' lot width to 50', 3) Reduce the required 30' front yard setback to 20'on lots that front 26th Ave. W.; 4) Reduce the required 30' front yard setback to 9' on lots that front 12th Street S., and 13th Street S. 5) Reduce the required 12' sideyard setback to 9' on all lots. Subject property zoned RD (Duplex Residential) and being located on both sides of 26th Ave. West between Joe Wright Drive and 13th Street (these variance requests excludes the southern portion of Block J South of 26th Ave).
Chairman Emmett Walker called the hearing to order. Mr. Walker read aloud the criteria in which variance requests are handled. Mr. Tom McFarland spoke on behalf of Rural Community Improvement Corporation, Inc. Mr. McFarland told the members that the Corporation has entered into an agreement with Mr. Felton to purchase the property contingent upon the requested zoning variance that would match the variances that was approved exactly one year ago for the property they had purchased from Mr. James Nance on 25th Ave. Mr. McFarland stated that together these two properties comprise the entire portion of what was the Martin Luther King Jr. Mobile Home Park. Mr. McFarland stated they had proceeded with the property on 25th and were approached by Mr. Felton and they desire to protect their properties by having a similar development on the scheme there and that is why they are asking for these variances for the construction of single family residences along 26th and that this will be done over a lengthy period of time because they are not rushing to move people out of their existing homes. He stated that Mr. Felton had already removed some of the vacant deteriorating structures and there is at least one more that will need to come down, but they wish to proceed with this project upon this boards approval. Mr. Walker asked if they had made any changes to the plan that was approved a year ago on 25th. Mr. McFarland replied that it was discovered that the northern portion of 12th St north of 25th had remained in the Mitchell estate and had never been turned over and made into a roadway. In the meantime, Mr. T.F. Mitchell died and they negotiated with his estate to resolve the ownership of that property and ended up purchasing that small portion on 25th where12th street comes north and the pavement dead ends at 25th and the area north of 25th is where the big dumpsters used to be when the property was operated as the mobile home park. Mr. McFarland stated that area had been cleared off and the plans are to place a single family dwelling on that lot. Mr. McFarland stated that this property they are seeking the variance for today is on 26th south of the property that they requested variances on last year and instead of 4 parcels this is only 3 along 26th. There are a couple of single family homes as well as a church on the corner of 12th and 26th and the rest of that street is the rest of the mobile homes that Mr. Felton has been managing the rentals of his lots to the owners of and they are seeking to engage in a similar project to the one they are doing on 25th. At this time, Mr. Walker asked if there were any more questions. Mr. Brubaker asked if this development had been run by all the appropriate agencies such as public works, fire department, Crisp Power and is there room for access to take care of problems that might come up. Mr. McFarland replied yes and they are improving the alleys and in fact have removed almost 30 tons of debris and garbage from the alleyways between 25th and 26th as well as the north side of 25th Ave. Mr. McFarland stated they have talked with the power commission and this property is served by the city's water and sewer service. Mr. McFarland stated that at some point they are anticipating incorporating the property into the City since it is right at the City limits and the City Fire Station is just a block and a half away, but there will be plenty of access. Frank Lott asked if the presented guidelines were the same as they did on the other lots. Mr. McFarland replied yes. Mr. McFarland stated that they currently have one house under construction on 25th. He also stated that Crisp Area Habitat has approached them and wants a lot that they can start a house on in March, which they are currently discussing the lot at the corner of 12th and 25th. He stated there might be 2 buildable lots on the property they are contemplating purchasing from Mr. Felton on 26th due to removing the dilapidated mobile home, but they are really buying that at this time to protect what they are doing on 25th. Mr. McFarland stated that Mr. Felton had run a very excellent rental operation over there so they are not in a hurry to tell someone they have to move out, but as properties open up they will be developing them into single family houses just as they are doing on 25th. At this time, Mr. Walker asked if there was anyone else who would like to speak in favor or against this project. Mr. Nelson Barrett stated that he lives on 26th Ave. and his concern is going from a 80' lot to a 50' lot in an area that is already too close and by cutting down the lot size it seems like everyone will be on top of each other and also moving the setbacks in, there will be no space in between and that is what is concern is. Mr. McFarland stated that the current minimum width and area required by the County is 80' and 10,000 sq. ft. which is typically in a rural setting where there is concerns about where water and septic is going to be placed. Mr. McFarland stated that the 50' matches the lots that are in the City and the current lots occupied by the mobile homes are 30' wide, so they are actually expanding. Mr. McFarland stated that one of the reasons they are asking for the setbacks to be altered on the side is that that can change where the house is placed on the lot and it does not have to take up the entire lot but it does mean that the maximum width of the house can be 32. Mr. McFarland stated that one of the reasons they are looking to use a 50' wide lot is affordability. Mr. McFarland stated that just the raw land price is almost equivalent to $10,000.00 a lot and all that goes toward the price of the house to be constructed on there, so between the cost of materials and the cost of the land they may end up pricing a person out of a house who could otherwise have a house, so they need to keep the lot price down and if they go up to a 80' lot you are talking about increasing the price of the lot to $14,000.00 and that is a burden on the affordability on the type houses that are offered there. He stated that he understands the concern of things seeming squashed up, but what they do want is to provide a neighborhood feeling where people will be able to watch their children play in their yard and have shared concerns as a neighborhood and hope that the style homes they have planned for the area will help inspire that. Mr. Barrett stated that he thought it was going to be mobile homes and not houses. Mr. McFarland replied no, they did not want any more mobile homes there. J.C. Clark asked if the covenants would affect the people that currently reside there. Mr. McFarland replied it would only affect the development of the lots. At this time Mr. Walker asked if there were any further questions or comments. There were none. Mr. Walker stated that this concluded the public hearing portion of the meeting and now they would go into discussion and vote.
After discussion, the chairman asked for a motion.
VOTE: A motion was made by Mark Brubaker, seconded by Frank Lott to approve the variance requests as presented. Carried unanimously.
Request from Henry C. Whelchel, Jr. to reduce the required 100' lot width to 30' for the purpose of creating a buildable lot in Cedar Point Subdivision. Property zoned RS2 (Single Family Residential) and located adjacent to 192 Cedar Point Circle.
Chairman Emmett Walker called the hearing to order. Mr. Cliff Harpe spoke on Mr. Whelchel's behalf. Mr. Harpe referred to the plat of survey dated January 18, 1989, prepared Sept. 16, 1988 and consists of lots 14-19 with the exception of lot 20. Mr. Harpe stated that he was not involved during the development of this subdivision, but would refer to Mr. Whelchel to the specifics; he also stated that the earlier approval time, the subdivision was approved for the original Cedar Point which is shown on the north side of the plat as 1, 2, 3 etc. and there is an area between lots 1 and 14 shown as a 30' access easement and to the west of lot 14 /15, you will see an area of land that ties back into that 30' spot which is a peninsula in front of those lots along Lake Blackshear. Mr. Harpe stated that Mr. Whelchel had considered the development of this lot for some time, and at this time he stated that he would have Mr. Whelchel explain the specifics. Mr. Whelchel stated that Cedar Point was started in the '70's with protective covenants and was the first subdivision on Lake Blackshear. He stated that at that time there were not any rules to go by and by using Marbury Engineering from Albany to lay out the subdivision it would be 1) an enhancement to Crisp County and (2 set up so as to protect those that came in as residents. He stated Phase One included the Cedar Creek side to his lot and those were sold out, homes were built, he was then approached about additional lots, at that time he proceeded with the rules and regulations at that time to add the additional lots and made sure he was in conformance. He stated that these lots in Phase 2 with the 30' easement down to the peninsula were approved, but the 30' easement did not include the peninsula. He stated that the health department had run a percolation test and because the lot was low he was going to have to bring dirt in and build it up and changed to a degree that he wasn't ready to make it a building lot. He stated that this was in 1988 and through the years it was just mentioned that the 30' easement was for the purpose of gaining access to the peninsula in the event that anything were ever done with it. Mr. Whelchel stated that they had neighbors that had built beautiful homes facing over that peninsula but they were assured there was nothing in writing or legally done to say that nothing could ever be done or built on that peninsula. He stated that obviously anything built on the peninsula could affect their view to a degree. He stated that it was 2 acres and a standard size 2500 square foot house placed down on a portion of the peninsula to a degree would degrade the panoramic view the neighbors would have to a very small degree, maybe 10% or thereabouts. He stated that he and his wife have gotten to the age where they are having to consider making a type of change with their life style of having a big home and they have had people come and approach them on buying their house and the peninsula or one or the other and this access would allow the peninsula to become a building lot if approved. He stated that in 1988 it was approved as an access but the rules have changed and Ms. Sangster pointed out to them they would have to have this hearing to see if this was feasible or not. He stated that everything he has done at Cedar Point has been to enhance the premises and its worth is pretty well known as a prominent place to live and today is in no way to reject or reverse the plan to continue to improve Cedar Point. He stated that the 30' was established with the County and was assured this would be ample to connect to the peninsula at some point and that is where we are today. He stated the people that are interested in buying him out more or less, want to know if the peninsula can be used as a building site, and at the moment he has cleared it with the health department that the site can be used as a building site with the conditions that mounds or whatever is required for the septic system is done. He then stated that the 30' has to connect the peninsula to the main road and there is no room to go on either side because the Harper's have purchased the lot on one side and he owns the lot on the other side and the 30' is all that was left to get to the peninsula. Mr. Whelchel stated that when he did Phase 2 he should have made the peninsula a buildable lot and would not be sitting here today. He stated that he certainly understands the concerns of
his neighbors and does not want to degrade their property but on the other hand he has 2 acres of land that would make a very nice lot for a home if dirt was moved around to meet the health requirements. Mr. Harpe referred to the plat he had prepared for the members that shows an illustration of a 4500 square foot dwelling (50x90) on a single floor and it would be among the largest construction in Crisp County and if approved as a building lot the person would be paying a good bit of money for the lot and would be building a large dwelling. He stated that by making it a buildable lot it becomes part of the tax base for Crisp County whereas today it is treated as additional backyard to Mr. Whelchel's house, which is accurate that it doesn't have any separate value as a separate lot. Mr. Harpe stated that as far as the 30' access that previous times within the County, County authorities have approved this type access to a property south of this slough, which does not bind this commission, but he is pointing out the fact that this is not a totally unheard of concept. And as far as traffic impact, that would be minimal and as far as environmental impact, Mr. Whelchel stated that he has a generalized approval for a septic tank. Mr. Whelchel acknowledges that there is no way of getting around the impact of the view from lots in the immediate vicinity and this board has to decide how significant the burden is on Mr. Whelchel if this property is not allowed to be treated as a building site and it is basically taking away from him valuable property that could be worth $3 to $500 thousand dollars and making it worth something that is not worth more than a few thousand dollars. Mr. Walker asked Mr. Whelchel if he had told the tax people that this was not a buildable lot. Mr. Harpe replied that Mr. Whelchel had asserted to the tax people that as long as it was not permitted that he not be treated as if it was taxed as a separate lot. Mr. Walker asked when this was done. Mr. Whelchel replied in 2007. Ms. Sangster stated that according to the tax records it would be treated as a non-buildable lot in 2008. Mr. Whelchel stated that he asked for some relief until the time the lot was made into a buildable lot. Mr. Walker stated that if a lot is not buildable in the latter part of 2007, why is it buildable now. Mr. Harpe replied that the lot is not considered buildable unless this board approves it. Mr. Harpe stated that the taxes have gradually gone up in value. Mr. Whelchel stated that the '94 flood caused some of the topsoil to be washed off and the peninsula is now 2-3 feet above normal pool. Mr. Whelchel stated that he would have to bring in additional dirt and possibly build a seawall around a portion to keep it from eroding. Mr. Whelchel stated that this meeting was whether or not the variance will be granted by this board to make it a buildable lot and if not approved he possibly may incorporate it into a part of his yard and then if denied the 30', he has an alternate once it is built up, as a guest house, then it becomes a one property owner. He stated that he hadn't planned to get into that today, but asked Ms. Sangster what is required for a guesthouse. Ms. Sangster stated that a guest house would have to be located 20' to the rear and can only be used as temporary and not permanent and could not be parceled and sold off from the main house and cannot be but 1/2 the size of the main house. Mr. Whelchel asked if the peninsula would satisfy the rear requirements. Ms. Sangster replied no, the peninsula is located to the side of the main dwelling. Mr. Whelchel stated that without access to the peninsula what options are left to the peninsula. Ms. Sangster replied that she did not want to get into the guesthouse scenario and that the purpose of this meeting was for a variance of the lot width and not a guesthouse. Mr. Walker stated that he had been out to the property and there are about 4-5 lots that the view would be affected and he knows there is nothing in writing but the value part if built upon - 2 stories tall - 11' above normal level, and asked Mr. Whelchel if he had considered what it is going to do to the value of those lots and when you sold the lots did you tell the people you would never do anything to this strip of land. Mr. Whelchel stated they asked him about it and he stated that at the moment he did not plan to do anything, but that did not mean it can't be done in the future and he was not willing to put in writing that nothing could be built on that peninsula. He stated he was trying to control it so it would not be botched up, but now if he is asked to set a price on his house that includes the peninsula, he is trying to find out what can and can't be done. Mr. Whelchel stated that he is not trying to shove it down his neighbor's throat, because that view to them and to him to maintain the values involved is more important than a few thousand dollars. Mr. Walker asked Ms. Sangster in order for this board to approve a variance on land does it have to be buildable then. Ms. Sangster replied that if this board allows the variance he would still have to abide by the stipulations of the health department, and if approved then his taxes would increase because it would be considered a buildable lot. At this time Mr. Walker asked if there were any more questions from the board or the public.
Ralph Harper - owns lot 14, adjacent to the 30' easement and has owned the property for 2 years and when they bought the property, the peninsula was a concern and they asked Mr. Whelchel and were told most likely there would never be anything built there and that the 30' easement was for him to get to the peninsula with his tractor to keep the property maintained. Mr. Harper stated they bought the property at prime waterfront property prices and there concern is the value of their property going down and if something is built up high they would be looking at the back door and would cut the aesthetic value of their property and would not be able to see more than 20% of the lake and also the septic tank mound and traffic going back and forth to the property.
Suzanne Harper - Bought lot in good faith and realtor told them the peninsula would not perk so it would not be buildable lot. She stated that they did not want something blocking their view and did not want to see traffic (trucks) going down easement. She stated that you never know who might build there and they might build upon the entire peninsula. Ms. Harper stated that their taxes have doubled on that lot from when they bought it 2 years ago. She stated that they probably would not have bought the lot if they had known this might come up. She stated this has nothing to do with their neighbors, they like the Whelchels'. She asked the board to please not approve this variance.
Mike Buford - Owns lot #15. He stated that the Whelchel's have been good friends of theirs since they have been there (10 years). They are concerned about their view of the lake and feel they would be impacted if variance were allowed. He stated the community is very peaceful and safe and feels like if approved this would be very detrimental to everyone who lives out there.
Angie Ellis - Owns lot #16. Referred to letter (attached) that each board member received and asked that they please do not vote for this variance.
Karen Berg - Owns 2 lots next to the Ellis'. If approved their view would be obstructed by any structure built on the peninsula. Ms. Berg stated they chose to invest in this lake front property and does not want to see a structure blocking their view. She stated it was their understanding that nothing would be built on that property and feels that all property owners would suffer a devaluation of their property if this were allowed.
Jennifer Buford - Whelchel's have been very good neighbors, but if allowed to be built on the peninsula their view would be obstructed and if they ever wanted to sell their house, she feels they would not be able to get their money out of it. Feels if approved it would create a hardship for everyone in the neighborhood.
Paige Samples - Owns property in the area and agrees with neighbors that their view would be tremendously obstructed. She stated the property had been developed so well up to this point and wants it to continue to be done tastefully.
Mary Joyce Parker - Stated they are not directly affected by the view from the house, but her concern is what is being done to the lake itself and would this set a precedence to build up property in the lake to be built upon, and would like to point out to the board is this something that we want to set up for the future.
At this time Mr. Walker asked if there were other comments. There were none. Mr. Walker stated that this concluded the public hearing portion of the meeting and now they would go into discussion and vote.
After discussion, the chairman asked for a motion.
VOTE: A motion was made by Frank Lott, seconded by Mark Brubaker to deny the request for a variance to reduce the required 100' lot width to 30' for the purpose of creating a buildable lot in Cedar Point Subdivision adjacent to 192 Cedar Point Circle.
Request from Pam Volz for the approval of a Family Care Dwelling as a Special Exception Variance in the RR (Rural Residential) zone district. The property is located adjacent to 527 Antioch Road.
Chairman Emmett Walker called the hearing to order. Pam & Jim Volz was present and spoke on their own behalf. Ms. Volz stated that they live on Antioch Road and they would like permission to build a small home for her parents. Ms. Volz stated that live approximately 3-4 miles from her now and they both have failing health and they need to be closer so she can help look after them. Ms. Volz presented a note from Dr. Duvall stating they needed assistance with their living situation. Ms. Volz also presented a copy of a septic tank permit issued from the Health Department, which is conditional upon this boards decision. Mr. Walker stated that he had been to the property and asked if the location is the area where the dirt is built up. Mr. Volz replied yes and they had recently removed one of the old barns on the property. Mr. Walker stated the county had amended the code to include a category for this type of development that is strictly for family care. Mr. Lott stated that the area is very remote and should not have any effect on neighbors. Mr. Brubaker asked if there had been any comments for or against the request. Ms. Sangster stated that Regions Bank handles the property across the road owned by Dorothy Gower and they just called to find out more about the request. At this time Mr. Walker asked if there were other comments. There were none. Mr. Walker stated that this concluded the public hearing portion of the meeting and now they would go into discussion and vote.
After discussion, the chairman asked for a motion.
VOTE: A motion was made by J.C. Clark, seconded by Mark Brubaker to approve the request to locate a Family Care Dwelling as a Special Exception Variance in the RR (Rural Residential) zone district.