Coweta OKs Powers' Crossroads expansion

The 60-acre area in east Coweta County that has been the home to the longstanding Powers' Crossroads Festival in east Coweta County was cleared on April 17 to become the site of even more events, large and small.

The Coweta County Commission on a 3-2 vote approved the request to rezone the 60.35-acre property at Ga. Highway 34 and Thomas Powers Road from Rural Conservation (RC) and Old Commercial (C) to RC-SUP (Rural Conservation-Special Use Permit) and C-SUP (Commercial-Special Use Permit). The approval means the site will become the home for up to eight major events per year and several minor events each month.

Voting in favor of the rezoning were commissioners Al Smith, Paul Poole and Tim Lassetter. Commissioners Rodney Brooks and Bob Blackburn were opposed.

The eight major events per year include functions such as music concerts, food festivals, arts and crafts festivals, charity dinners and events, rally events, monster truck events, historic re-enactments and local or regional fairs.

These events are expected to draw 5,000-10,000 people per day with a timeline of 1-5 consecutive days per event. Hours of operation would be 8 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sundays. Set-up for the events is permitted on Thursdays and tear-down on Mondays.

The sale and possession of alcohol is permitted only at major events and only on the east side of the Thomas Powers Road.

Major events will also require parking attendants to direct traffic and off-duty deputies to provide traffic control and to oversee event activities.

Minor events with up to 500 participants include venues such as antique car shows, family reunions, school reunions, weddings and receptions, corporate parties/picnics, camping opportunities, horse/dog shows, yard sales/flea markets and holiday activities.

Permitted to be held several times per month, the events would draw 1,000-5,000 people per day for one or two days per event. The hours of operation would be 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sundays. Set-up and tear-down activities are permitted on the same days as those for major events.

Minor events with up to 200 participants can occur on week days or weekends. The events permitted for these events include team building events, camping, church picnics, summer camps and orienteering, survival and related classes.

The sale of alcohol is not allowed during minor events.

Minor events will require parking attendants to direct traffic and off-duty deputies to provide traffic control and to oversee event activities.

County planning staff said the applicant has denoted the 2,000 parking spaces to the west of Thomas Powers Road where parking has been established over the years for the Labor Day weekend event.

A portion of the festival property is located in Heard County. Heard County Commission Chairman June Jackson in a letter to the Coweta County Commission noted the sale of alcohol would have a negative affect in the portion of the property located in Heard County.

The 18 conditions recommended by the county planning department and approved by commissioners include:

1) The Fire Department will have unobstructed access on all service drives marked with red arrows on the site plan.

2) During events such as and not limited to tree climbing groups, etc. where emergency standby is required it will be the responsibility of the event organizers to pay off duty firefighters to standby for such events. The Coweta County Fire Marshal’s Office shall be consulted to determine if such events will require emergency standby.

3) All events having attendance of over 100 and alcohol is being sold shall submit a plan to the State Fire Marshal’s Office for approval along with the types of events planned.

4) At any event in which a tent is erected and there is an occupant load of over 100 with alcohol or an occupant load of over 300 without alcohol being sold or served, the State Fire Marshal’s Office will need to approve and inspect the tent.

5) As stated in the applicant’s narrative description, events shall be coordinated with the sheriff’s office & Georgia State Patrol and include off-duty sheriff’s deputies and state troopers for traffic control, patrolling parking areas and to oversee all event activities.

6) No permanent markings shall be made on Thomas Powers Road for pedestrian crossing(s). Temporary and patrolled pedestrian crossings shall be used to ensure pedestrian safety during events (that is, use of traffic cones to mark where pedestrians are to cross the roadway).

7) If over 5,000 square feet of permanent impervious surface is added or there is more than one acre of disturbed area, then the applicant shall address the current Coweta County Stormwater Management Ordinances and apply for a land disturbance permit (LDP).

8) Should a land disturbance permit (LDP) be required, then the applicant shall meet the requirements of the Coweta County Wetlands Protection and Floodplain Ordinances.

9) The area on the Conceptual Site Plan noting the 50-foot buffer shall adhere to Article 25 Buffer and Screening Requirements of the Coweta County Zoning & Development Ordinance. A buffer plan shall be submitted in accordance with Article 25 for approval. In addition, the established wooded areas along the southern and eastern property lines as depicted on the Conceptual Site Plan shall remain undisturbed, except where supplemental planting is required.

10) Alcohol sales shall be permitted only when provided through a licensed caterer under the regulations of the Coweta County Alcohol Ordinance.

11) Food service and restroom facilities, both temporary and permanent, shall meet the requirements of the Coweta County Environmental Health Department.

12) Lighting shall be established in such a manner that adjacent properties are not adversely affected and that no direct light is cast upon adjacent properties or roadways.

13) No use permitted shall exceed a noise level of 45 dBa, essentially the noise level of a residence, as measured at the property line.

14) Adequate refuse collection containers shall be provided.

15) Per proffered explanation of major and minor events and related times and events, the Special Use Permit shall be limited to that specific scheduling.

16) The Special Use Permit shall exclude any Motor Sports Racing Events.

17) Access to SR 34 West shall meet all applicable standards as required by the Georgia D.O.T.

18) Major and minor events requirements must be followed.

Commenting on his vote against the measure, Brooks said the sale of alcohol at events “opens the door,” adding that he wanted to motion to approve to include the number of deputies that will be hired for the major events where alcohol will be sold.

Blackburn on his vote in opposition said he had received significant input from citizens believing that the long-time family-oriented venue risks becoming one that is adult-oriented. Balckburn said he also had concerns about nighttime alcohol sales.

The mainstay of the property, the Powers' Crossroads Festival, began its annual operation in 1971.