CRISP COUNTY ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
June 17, 2008
The Crisp County Zoning Board of Appeals met at a regular meeting on the 17th day of June 2008 at 9:00 a.m. in the Crisp County Courthouse.
The following members were present: Emmett Walker, J.C. Clark, Frank Lott, and Wendy Peavy. Absent was member Mark Brubaker. Also present, Connie Sangster, Secretary & Planning Director & Jimmy Mumphery, County Building Inspector.
Also present were the following visitors: Gerald Mixon, Gene Crapse, Pat Wilder and Mary Beal.
VOTE: Motion made by J.C. Clark, seconded by Frank Lott to approve the Minutes of the March 18, 2008 meeting. Carried unanimously.
Request from Trustees of Evergreen Cemetery for a variance to locate a structure (mobile home) on a parcel of property that does not have public street frontage. Property zoned RR (Rural Residential) and located adjacent to 352 Evergreen Church Road.
Chairman Emmett Walker called the hearing to order. Mr. Walker read aloud the criteria in which a variance request is handled. Pastor Pat Wilder was present and spoke on behalf of the request. Ms. Wilder stated that the request is to place a doublewide on the property for ministry for this community and she needs someone to help her. She stated that it would be a part of the church function and is part of the church's property. She stated that the program they are trying to work with is the one where the kids are being thrown out of school for all types of behavior problems. She stated that she had just come back from California and is trying to get educated on how she can better help these children and it takes a lot of people for that many children and they can only do about 30 at a time as far as teaching them and try and change their lives, and that is the whole purpose of trying to put a doublewide there. Mr. Walker asked how many people would be living there. Ms. Wilder replied that a "couple" would be residing in the home and they would be the ones that are going to help her teach this program. Mr. Clark asked how could someone get to that structure and if an ambulance or firetruck could get to it. Ms. Wilder stated that you could go across the churchyard - it was all connected and the property was wide open and not a problem to access. Mr. Clark asked if the road was paved. Ms. Wilder stated no that it was gravel and they have been unable to get it paved. She stated that the church has been there for 114 years and have not been able to get it paved. She stated that she could not get the people that owned the property to give them the r-o-w for the State to pay for having it done. She stated that when Senator Bowen was in office and Mr. Dowdy, that they both assured her they were going to get that road paved before they left office - but that did not happen and it was graveled just to the church at the county line. Ms. Peavy asked if the couple that would be helping would reside there full time. Ms. Wilder replied yes. Mr. Walker asked what happens if the project the church is undertaking falls through and you have to disregard it. Ms. Wilder stated they had other ministries there that would continue that she needed help with regardless of what this project does. Mr. Walker asked if this request was completely a project for the church, and there was no other reason for this doublewide. Ms. Wilder replied absolutely. Mr. Walker asked if this ministry did go through would this doublewide be rented to anybody. Ms. Wilder replied no, that it would always be used for church ministry, just like she lives in the parsonage and would be used strictly for church ministry. Mr. Lott asked if the 1acre shown on the plat was an addition purchased at a later date from the church property. Ms. Wilder replied yes. She stated that her dad bought the property. She stated they could place the doublewide on the property however they needed to. Mr. Clark asked how they were going to be able to minister to 30 people in a 3-bedroom doublewide. Ms. Wilder stated that they would only be living there and that that is her compensation to them. She stated that they have a social hall plus the church where the ministering will be done. Ms. Sangster asked Ms. Wilder if they were required to have any kind of state license to have these children there and is the use more like a school instead of a church. Ms. Wilder replied absolutely not and this is just a ministry of the church where they are trying to reach out into the community. She stated they used to go into Sunset Homes before they started tearing it down and minister to the children on Sunday mornings, so this is just another outreach program for their church and not a school. Mr. Mumphery asked if this would be going on weekly or just on Sunday mornings. Ms. Wilder replied that this is an outreach up and above their normal Sunday worship. Mary Beal also spoke on behalf of the program, Ms. Beal works with a non-profit organization called Crisp/Dooly Companionship. She stated that they started out looking at the problems with the behaviors in the school and that some of the problems that they have found Pastor Pat has been helping them to administer spiritually to these kids in terms of some of the compassionship. She stated there were a number of issues going on that affect the schools and Pastor Pat has been there to support them. Ms. Beal stated that there were over 500 students in Crisp County that had been suspended this past school year and over 1000 in-school suspensions with over 6000 days out of school and they are trying to work with the school board to improve things such as graduation and drop-out rates. She stated that the program is a 20-week program, 2 hours a week for these students and it helps them to build self-esteem. Ms. Wilder stated that the doublewide is only for bringing in more people to help them with the program because she is already so busy in what she does she needs other people to assist her with this program and many other program. Mr. Walker asked if they worked somewhere else besides the 2-hour week program. Ms. Beal replied yes and they are looking at another place dedicated to the students for the school year over next to Mt. Zion Baptist Church, they are negotiating for a place to meet on a daily basis to keep the kids from walking the streets and staying home at the time of suspension, and they will go to a program and get the academics and community service they will need. Mr. Walker asked if this doublewide is only for a place to live. Ms. Beal replied it would be used by the people that will help with the program. At this time, Mr. Walker asked if there was anyone else present to speak on the request. Mr. Gerald Mixon spoke on behalf of the successors of the Grantor. Mr. Mixon stated that the church approached his Dad several years ago about conveying the additional acre for the purpose of expanding the church cemetery and the deed makes reference to that being a conveyance which states to be used as a cemetery or in conjunction with the adjoining church, Mr. Mixon stated that in the intervene period, the deed was executed in 1994 and there has been no need for cemetery use of this additional acreage for the church and it was purchased from the family farm. Mr. Mixon stated that he hated to appear that he was coming across in opposition to a Christian outreach ministry that is certainly not the family's intention and the property is located in a remote location and their fear is that it will wind up in a conversion of what has been farm land into a residential use for permanent purposes, he stated that access would be difficult and their real concern is that long term it will be residential instead of a church function and there will be no means for taking it out of that specific use and creating long term burden on the county as to fire protection and emergency response. He stated that the deed includes the option for the grantors to have first option to acquire the property and if there is anyway the applicants are willing to transfer that property back to the farm and they would be happy to put it back on the tax rolls, but he has the fear it will wind up being a residence instead of an actual church use. Mr. Mixon stated again that they are not opposing the ministry but has the fear that will not be the ultimate use of the property. Mr. Clark asked if that was the only stipulation in the deed - that it was bought for a cemetery plot. Mr. Mixon read from the deed "to be used as a cemetery or used in connection with the adjoining church". Mr. Mixon stated that when the deed was drawn up they wanted to include a little leeway in case there was some other on site function that the property could be put to related to church activity, but at this point they don't see that that residential use is going to be an on site purpose of the church itself. Mr. Walker stated that the portions included in the deed are something for the courts and that this board does not get involved in and that is why they ask the questions they do. Mr. Mixon stated that he understood that but short of going to that they wanted to let this be shown on the record, and somewhere down the road relating to a question that was asked before "if this ministry does not continue or any subsequent use of the property in question there would be no means of going back and reverting, in other words, the residence being removed from the property." At this time, Mr. Walker asked if there were any more questions. 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.
Mr. Walker asked Ms. Wilder if the doublewide would be used in any way for the church. Ms. Wilder replied no, only as a residence.
After discussion, the chairman asked for a motion.
VOTE: A motion was made by Frank Lott, seconded by Wendy Peavy to approve the variance request as presented. Carried 3-1. Mr. Clark voted no.