Rezoning receives mixed views

Brunswick News (GA), 2014-07-10


July 10 --A request to rezone five lots on Lord Avenue near the Pier Village is headed to the Glynn County Commission for consideration, though no one knows what is planned for the properties.

The request the commission will consider is to change the zoning of the five lots from village residential to village mixed use zoning.

The Glynn County Islands Planning Commission unanimously approved the request at its meeting last month.

According to the county zoning ordinance, there are a number of permitted uses in the village for mixed use zoning. They include shops and small grocery stores, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts, government or professional offices and parking.

Restaurants and bars are permitted only if first approved by the planning commission.

County planner Eric Landon said with the approved new zoning, any future development of the property would require approval of a site plan and village preservation application.

The property's owners told the planning commission that as it stands, the plan is to build office space with residential space on top. Much of the properties nearby are already zoned village mixed use.

"It certainly catches the existing zoning around it," Bill Edenfield , agent for the property's owner, Atlas Georgia IX, told the planning commission at its June 17 meeting. "It could be mixed use development, with a combination of residential and retail office uses. We really don't have an idea about what we're doing. We thought we'd be prudent, being sure we could do it before we spent a whole lot of money going in that direction."

Neighboring property owners, however, were not convinced. Tate Simpson , who lives nearby on Lord Avenue , said he already has problems with inebriated people coming into his backyard from the village. Additional bars or restaurants would not be a good fit for the street, Simpson said at the time.

Another neighboring property owner, Haven Paxton , said he owns property adjacent to the one in question, and he requested buffers between his property and the development.

"(Atlas Georgia IX) has come in here, and bought all these houses that were being rented," said Gary Stowers , owner of a nearby rental property. "Since then, they have come in here and bulldozed those houses down, and I understand they're cutting the trees down. This ain't right. They don't have a plan. They need a plan before y'all vote on it."

The planning commission in February gave property owners approval to demolish the structures previously located in the Lord Avenue parcels. Edenfield said the most accurate estimate for the property's future is "multifamily use with office and retail uses below, and residential above." Glynn County Community Development Director David Hainley reported a mixed use would fit the county's comprehensive plan for the area.

Vassa Cate , one of the partners in Atlas Georgia IX, responded that very little of the five parcels will be used commercially. He said there are no plans for bars or restaurants.

"We don't plan to have any commercial use, except for a little bit on Ocean Boulevard , which has been there since the Marshall Building was built," Cate said. "All the commercial would be considered office space. We'd like to clean up Lord Avenue and make it one-way.

"As for the houses that were torn down, they were not very habitable at all, and I think what we're doing is a big improvement. From a planning standpoint, residential is probably the best use for this property."

Planning Commissioner Paul Sanders agreed the demolition of the old houses is an improvement on the property.

The county commission advertised a public hearing on the request at its next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. July 17 at the Historic Courthouse , 701 G St. , Brunswick .

-- Reporter Kelly Quimby writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at kquimby@thebrunswicknews.com , or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

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