New residential zoning in Senoia a no-go at this point

For Senoia’s Heritage Pointe subdivision resident Don Rehman, it was all about creating what he maintained was a needed residential zoning category specifically for subdivisions, Residential Housing Subdivision (RHS).

But the Senoia City Council left the matter unaddressed at the Nov. 1 meeting even though some on the council appeared to agree in principle with the proposal.

The proposal for the RHS zoning category was the subject of a public hearing prior to the council’s regular meeting. The meeting came on the heels of one by the Senoia Planning Commission where the request to amend the zoning ordinance was recommended for further review when the city looks at the 20-year Comprehensive Plan in 2014.

Rehman essentially wanted to eliminate some of the uses currently allowed in the R-40 zoning districts. Those included schools, churches, bed & breakfast homes, cemeteries and boarding houses.

The uses proposed to be continued included single-family homes, personal use farming and horticulture, home occupations, golf courses and club houses, child care homes, parks and recreation facilities, government buildings, accessory uses, sewage treatment and utilities facilities.

Rehman in his remarks generally linked declining property values to the zoning category, suggesting that some of the current uses would potentially present a barrier to people wanting to move into the city’s 11 subdivisions cited in the proposal.

Noting his concern, Rehman said his home had lost 19.62 percent of its fair market value. Rehman in his comments on the loss did not mention the effects of the ongoing recession that has seen home values decrease substantially across the region and across the nation.

“Don’t put off until 2014 to do what needs to be done today,” Rehman said in reference to the Planning Commission’s recommendation to address the proposal when the Comprehensive Plan is reviewed in 2014.

City Administrator Richard Ferry generally agreed with the elimination of the uses proposed by Rehman, adding that addressing the issue in the 2014 Comprehensive Plan process would provide a public venue for addressing the relevant issues pertaining to the various residential zoning districts.

Councilman Jeff Fisher also appeared to agree with Rehman in part, though he took exception to the removal of churches and schools from the zoning category.

“To rid ourselves of them is disingenuous to the public environment,” Fisher told Rehman. “It’s not what I moved here for. Your subdivision and mine have covenants that prohibit some of the things you want to amend.”

Mayor Robert Belisle also seemed to fundamentally agree with the proposal, at least in terms of the recommendation by the Planning Commission.

“I think (the commission) summed it up best for 2014 when the entire city will have input,” Belisle said, also offering his take on the elimination of uses such as churches and schools. “All the other subdivision are platted and have no available land for schools or churches. The reality is that no problem exists without the availability of large tracts of land. I don’t perceive any imminent danger.”

The proposal was briefly addressed at the council’s regular session. The matter was closed when Belisle asked for a motion on the issue and none was forthcoming.

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