Summer camp gets zoning OK from Fayette County Commission
Camp Southern Ground will help special needs children here in Fayette County
With a standing-room only crowd watching, a children’s camp proposed for unincorporated Fayette County won a unanimous rezoning approval from the county commission Thursday night.
Camp Southern Ground, championed by Fayette resident and award-winning musician Zac Brown, will be located on a 494-acre tract in unincorporated Fayette County off Ebenezer Church Road a short distance from Peachtree City.
Several neighbors complained the camp would bring a significant increase in traffic. There were also several worried about the proposed community septic system for the site.
But those concerns were outnumbered by supporters of the camp who also addressed the commission. Many of those who urged approval for the camp have special needs children who will be able to enjoy the experience.
Camp officials were praised for working with neighbors to address certain design issues, including the relocation of a parking lot area away from a nearby residence.
Though the majority left happy with the rezoning being granted, there were a handful of citizens who left displeased.
One opponent noted that she was upset with the lingering unanswered questions about what will happen at the camp the seven months of the year when it is not operating.
According to camp officials, offseason events will include day visitors from area schools, religious and civic groups along with camp-specific fund-raising activities.
The tract will leave 400 acres of land undisturbed, and the open space will be managed by Southern Conservation Trust.
Brown briefly addressed the commission to insure them the goal is to “exceed all expectations in all areas.”
Of the 106 acres that is to be developed for the camp, 37 will be designated for an equestrian facility for the camp.
Camp officials are still determining whether or not to use well water or to connect to the county’s water system. Several residents urged the latter, as did County Commissioner Steve Brown.
Other questions about the camp came from a resident who worried what it would become 10, 15 or 20 years down the road.
Camp attorney Brad Parrott noted that the community septic system will be regulated by both the state and the county, which will inspect it periodically to make sure it works properly.
The commission rezoned the land from agriculture-residential, which requires single-family homes with minimum lot sizes of five acres, to a zoning designed for a “planned retreat or lodge.”
The retreat/lodge zoning allows for uses including assembly/meeting facilities, both indoor and outdoor; dining facilities; lodges, dormitories, cabins and/or tent campsites for temporary occupancy and recreational facilities. The zoning also allows for housing to be constructed for caretakers and/or staff of the camp.
No building will be allowed to be taller than 35 feet under the zoning requested by the camp.
The camp expects to serve about 250 children, who would be dropped off Sunday afternoons and picked up Friday afternoons staggered over a three-hour period both days.
The camp’s website notes that it will serve children with neurobehavioral and learning difficulties and also those with “diverse backgrounds and socio-economic levels.”