The one case at ZBOA last month, a duplex on Eager Road in Valdosta, was quite contentious, because of its potential intended use.
The first speaker against, Deb Cox, wanted to know if it would be used as a halfway house for felons. The applicant, Lawton White, said, “stated he rented some properties to Greenleaf for folks who were attending Alcoholics Anonymous, and while this was not one of those properties, two people who are licensed for such treatment wanted to rent a property for similar type folks.”
Ms. Cox came with many facts and figures, not surprising, since she also happens to be the Lowndes County Supervisor of Elections. Much discussion ensued.
However, “Mrs. Quarterman stated that ZBOA’s concern was land use, not who lives in them. Mrs. Quarterman stated that if it had not become nonconforming, it would not be on the agenda. Mrs. Quarterman asked if there was a condition placed on the approval, if the Board decided to approve, that stated no halfway houses were to occupy the property, would that alleviate any concerns? Ms. Cox stated it would not, that the duplex still lowers property values. Ms. Cox stated they had more property owners moving in rather than renters, and she was happy with that.”
There was much more opposition from more people, and further discussion among Commissioners and Staff, such as, “Chairman McCall asked how staff would know it was a halfway house. Mr. Martin stated that licensing and periodic site visits could indicate a change in the use of the property. Mr. Martin stated that the residents were not sent there from a facility, but were voluntarily there. Mrs. Quarterman stated her understanding was that this property was not appropriate for a transitional care facility or halfway house. Mr. Martin stated the zoning was not appropriate for either. Mr. Brantley stated he did not understand why they could not place a limit on the number of people in the big house. Mr. Martin stated that anything was legal till challenged, and that the duplex was the only thing being addressed at this point. Mr. Martin stated he felt that putting conditions on the duplex might be reasonable. Mr. Martin stated, to clear up confusion, there is no request for rezoning or to utilize the property for a halfway house, and that the only request was for a PELUC to re-establish the duplex.”
The final outcome was: “Mrs. Quarterman made a motion to approve as presented with two conditions–that the duplex building may not be enlarged or expanded and shall not be occupied by more than two residents each (for four residents total), and the existing vegetative buffer in the rear yard along the northern and eastern property lines shall remain undisturbed. Vice-Chairman Strickland seconded the motion. The motion was called and carried with a vote of 5 to 0.”
Here’s a LAKE video playlist:
Videos: One Valdosta case on Eager Road
Regular Session, Valdosta-Lowndes County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBOA),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 2020-01-07.
Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!