Tyrone Planning Commission hears zoning discrepancy

There was some confusion and concern at the Thursday meeting of the Tyrone Planning Commission over the zoning designation of a 55.8-acre portion of property along the west side of Ga. Highway 74 adjacent to the southeastern portion of the Southampton subdivision. After a public hearing and discussion on the issue, the property’s current designation as A-R (Agricultural-Residential) was deemed to have been an error in color-coding made sometime in previous years on the town’s zoning map. Commissioners voted to recommend that the zoning map be corrected to reflect the M-2 (Heavy Mechanical) zoning consistent with the remainder of the 479-acre tract annexed in 1992.

The bottom line on the issue is that on Feb. 26, 1992 the town annexed 479.14 acres along the west side of Hwy. 74 belonging to Hobgood GP, Inc. Existing at that time and included in the overall annexation was an asphalt plant on the west side of the 55.8-acre portion situated between the east side of Southampton, the west side of Hwy. 74 and the south side of Peggy Lane. Also at that time and to the northwest was the rock quarry, situated on another portion of the annexed Hobgood property and immediately to the north of what would become Southampton.

Meeting minutes recorded that the town council in 1992 accepted the entire 479-acre annexation, stating that it would accept the property with its M-2 zoning from Fayette County. The council in 1992 further noted that it would impose its own zoning on the property during the next planning process, ostensibly to occur in the timeframe of the mid-1990s. But that the action was never taken.

The error and the issue went without notice until representatives of the Hobgood family several months ago approached the town about a potential future development on the portion of the 55-acre property along Hwy. 74 that is not under a 30-year lease, as is the case with the asphalt plant immediately to the west. That discussion led to the realization that the town’s official zoning map shows the 55-acre property color-coded green (for A-R) while the Future Land Use Map in the 20-year Comprehensive Plan from 2007 shows it as purple (for M-2).

Aside from that discrepancy, the review of town records showed that the property never underwent the public process to officially establish the zoning for the 479-acre property or any portion of it. Nor did the Hobgood family ever request any change in zoning from the county’s M-2 category, either when the property was annexed or subsequent to that time.

A check with town hall confirmed that all meeting minutes from the planning commission and town council are accounted for.

Town attorney Dennis Davenport at the meeting Thursday said the town investigated the situation over a period of 45-60 days after meeting with Hobgood representatives and could find no explanation for the error.

Davenport said the town found no record of how the 55-acre portion of the property came to be color-coded green (signifying A-R zoning) on the zoning map instead of being coded purple (designating M-2), as was the case with the remainder of the 479-acre property.

“So we believe we have an error on the (zoning) map, so we need to go through the public process (to correct the error),” Davenport said. “The owner brought it to the attention of the town and the town researched it.”

Davenport also explained that the entire 479-acre tract was annexed together and that the entire acreage had to be annexed under one zoning category.
The discussion by Davenport and planning commissioners was preceded at the public hearing by the comments of several Southampton residents.

Tony Meriwether, James Bell and others surfaced numerous questions and concerns relating to any possible negative impact a change of A-R to M-2 might bring in the future.

“A-R is on the map for a reason but we don’t know what the reason is and the town doesn’t know,” Meriwether said. “In our minds it’s still not resolved.”
Several residents suggested that the town should keep better records of zoning matters. Planning commissioners agreed, noting that the events that occurred were situated in a timeframe that spans the past two decades.

After further discussion by the commission, a motion to recommend that the zoning map be corrected to change the 55-acre portion of the property to M-2 passed on a 4-0 vote.

The town council will take up the issue at the July 1 meeting.

Town manager Richard Newburn after the meeting said that copies of the Feb. 26, 1992 town council meeting where the annexation occurred will be available for any resident that wants a copy.

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