The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission (GLPC) has only two cases for Monday, both Lowndes County Cases.
County staff recommend approval of both rezonings, one in the middle of subdivisions on Mt. Zion Church Road, and the other in the middle of agriculture and forestry land on Quarterman Road.
For REZ-2023-04 on Quarterman Road, county staff strain really hard to dilute agriculture and forestry by including a nearby subdivision in their first calculation. Quarterman Road is almost all E-A zoning with large fields and forests with some minimum 5-acre lots. A few R-21 lots on the northwest end of the road were grandfathered in back in the 1980s along with the R-21 half-acre-lot house-packed subdivision. County staff inappropriately lump together Quarterman Road and the very different subdivision.
County staff’s second calculation chooses only one part of Quarterman Road and includes only lots with a single-family dwelling, excluding almost all of the agriculture and forestry land that is characteristic of Quarterman Road. Such fables are inappropriate for county planning.
See below for details. But the main point is simple: county staff cannot justify the Quarterman Road rezoning if they look at what is actually on the road, and the whole road.
Staff omitted a relevant calculation: that residential sprawl costs the taxpayers more than it can return in tax revenue.
County staff’s mis-calculations cannot hide the plain fact: agriculture and forestry are characteristic of Quarterman Road, and that is how it should remain.
Planning Commissioners and County Commissioners should see through these straw men staff have thrown up, and deny this inappropriate rezoning.
Here is a petition you can sign against that Quarterman Road rezoning:
And here are more reasons to sign it.
Here is the agenda.
The rest of the board packet, received in response to a LAKE open records request, is on the LAKE website.
Greater Lowndes Planning Commission
~ Lowndes County ~ City of Valdosta ~ City of Dasher ~
~ City of Hahira ~ City of Lake Park ~ City of Remerton ~
Monday, August 21, 2023 5:30 P.M. Work Session
Monday, August 28, 2023 5:30 P.M. Regular Session
Lowndes County South Health District Administrative Office
325 West Savannah Avenue, Valdosta, Georgia
- Call to Order, Pledge and Invocation
- Approval of the Meeting Minutes: July 31, 2023
Lowndes County Cases:
FINAL ACTION by the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, 327 N. Ashley Street,
Valdosta, Georgia, Lowndes County Judicial and Administrative Complex Commission
Chambers, 2nd Floor, Tuesday, September 12th, 2023 5:30 p.m.
Point of Contact: JD Dillard, County Planner, (229) 671-2430
- REZ-2023-04 Chase, 6119 Quarterman Rd., 0022 102, ~17.8 acres,
Current Zoning: E-A (Estate Agricultural)
Proposed Zoning: R-A (Residential Agricultural
- REZ-2023-10 Copeland, 3728 Mt. Zion Church Rd., 0147 057, ~3.8 acres,
Current Zoning: E-A (Estate Agricultural)
Proposed Zoning: R-21 (Medium Density Residential)
First, look at this map of Quarterman Road. It is obvious that large properties characterize the road.
There is also a subdivision next to the road’s west side, but that is not part of Quarterman Road.
Now let’s look at the fables county staff made up to try to ignore those obvious characteristics.
Staff’s Zoning Location Map does not let you see the above context.
About what you cannot see in their maps, county staff claim that: “For reference, there are 131 properties that have access to Quarterman Road, with an average lot size of 12.10 acres.”
What is this “access to”? Everyone in the county, the country, and the world, has “access to” Quarterman Road, just by driving there. So what does county staff mean?
There are only 44 “properties” that front Quarterman Road. And that’s by counting everything with a border line as a separate “property”, even though some of them actually have the same owner. You can count them yourself in the above Tax Assessors map.
Follow the link to the Tax Assessors map, and you can add them up to 1967.18 acres. That’s 44.7 acres per lot. That number is so low only because of about a dozen 5-acre lots, a few 1-acre lots, and a couple of half-acre lots in the subdivision and on the corner, diluting the much larger tracts.
The county staff says there are 87 lots in the subdivision. Let’s assume that is accurate.
44 + 87 is 131. Which is presumably where they get their 131. (Nevermind three subdivision lots are counted twice.)
Sure, if you include the subdivision with its half-acre lots, the average lot size goes way down.
But it is inappropriate to do that, since that subdivision only exists because it was grandfathered in before county-wide zoning.
So “has access to” is just an excuse to include the subdivision lots in staff’s figures.
Yet the subdivision has R-21 zoning and is obviously a different beast.
There are also a few R-21 lots on the northwest end of Quarterman Road at Hambrick Road, which were also grandfathered in along with the subdivision back in the 1980s.
I would provide evidence of that 1980s R-21 rezoning, but despite a decade of asking, county staff have not been able to produce the minutes of whichever meeting of the County Commission approved that deal. So I can only go by what neighbors have told me. You can see that the R-21 lots are unlike the rest of Quarterman Road.
County staff are grasping at half-acre straws by including those R-21 lots in their bogus calculations.
Back in 2007 when there was an attempt to rezone for a second subdivision next to that one (REZ-2007-21), people in the existing subdivision were among those most against it. The Planning Commission recommended denying that one, and the County Commission did deny it. The same should happen for this inappropriate attempt to insert too-small house lots into an agricultural and forestry area.
Then county staff add an even more inappropriate calculation: “Along the southern boundaries of Quarterman Road, there are 19 properties, including the subject property, that contain at least one, single-family dwelling, with an average lot size of 11.66 acres.”
Requiring “that contain at least one, single-family dwelling” conveniently discards Ricky and Sherry Brunston’s 100 acres, Iann Walker’s 192.21 acres (if they didn’t notice her house down by the Withlacoochee River), Ferrell Scruggs’ 604.8 acres, Stalvey Farms West’s 111.02 acres, and Cathy Quarterman Life Estate’s 204.59 acres. Thus county staff try to avoid the main point that most of the land on Quarterman Road is in agriculture or forestry.
According to the Lowndes County Unified Land Development Code (ULDC), “2.01.02 A. E-A, Estate Agricultural District (5 acre). This district is intended to provide for agricultural activities, including those related to crops, livestock, and timber, protected from the effects of suburban residential development.”
In contrast, “2.01.02 B. R-A, Residential Agricultural District (2.5 acre). This district is intended to preserve the mixed agricultural and residential character of land while providing a transition between rural and agricultural land and suburban and urban land.”
There is no suburban nor urban land adjoining the subject property. Residents of Quarterman Road do not want the road to turn suburban or urban. The county government should not want that, either.
Inserting smaller house lots in an Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation Character Area is inappropriate and should be denied.
County staff omit an actual relevant calculation, which is how much sprawl costs the taxpayers. Yet back in 2007 Lowndes County paid a consultant professor from the University of Georgia to write that up.
The Local Government Fiscal Impacts of Land Use in Lowndes County:
Revenue and Expenditure Streams by Land Use Category,
Jeffrey H. Dorfman, Ph.D., Dorfman Consulting, December 2007.
These bar charts are specific to Lowndes County:
$0.74 for residential means for each $1.00 the county spends, residential only returns $0.74 in taxes. The specific dollar figures may have changed since 2007, but the proportions are probably much the same.
House lots bring in much less tax revenue per tax dollars spent than agriculture or forestry, because fields and forests don’t need school busses and they don’t often call the fire department or the Sheriff. Residential even costs the county money by calling the fire department when I’m doing prescribed burns of my pine forest, with a burn permit, firebreaks, and people keeping the fire in.
As Dr. Dorfman summarized in a different presentation,
Local governments must ensure balanced growth, as
sprawling residential growth is a certain ticket to fiscal ruin*
* Or at least big tax increases.
The county should deny this rezoning to avoid costing taxpayers more.
Below is the main text of the GLPC agenda sheet for REZ-2023-04.
ACTION REQUESTED ON: REZ-2023-04, 6119 Quarterman Rd, ~18ac., E-A to R-A, Well/Septic
HISTORY, FACTS AND ISSUES:
This request represents a change in zoning on approximately 18 acres at 6119 Quarterman Road from E-A (Estate Agricultural) zoning to R-A (Residential Agricultural) zoning, in order for the property to be subdivided.
The subject property is in the Rural Service Area and an Agricultural/Forestry Character Area, with act to and from the property off Quarterman Road, a County maintained local road. While the general area is depicted as Agricultural/Forestry on the Future Land Use Map, the existing land use pattern, especially along the southern boundaries of Quarterman Road, aligns more with a Rural Residential description. Both character areas encourage maintaining the rural character by limiting new development and promoting rural clusters or conservation subdivision strategies, with high degrees of building separation. Per Comprehensive Plan guidance, R-A zoning is listed as a recommended zoning within both character areas.
For reference, there are 131 properties that have access to Quarterman Road, with an average lot size of 12.10 acres.
- 86% of these lots are below the 12.10-acre average
- There are 87 lots in the Quarterman Crossing Subdivision, zoned R-21, with an average lot size 0.68 acres.
Along the southern boundaries of Quarterman Road, there are 19 properties, including the subject property, that contain at least one, single-family dwelling, with an average lot size of 11.66 acres.
- 68% of these lots are below the 11.66-acre average
- There are 11 lots between 4.79 acres and 7.98 acres
The TRC considered the request and had no other objectionable comments, and staff finds the request consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. If approved, staff recommends the following condition:
- All lots must have a minimum lot width of 210’.
OPTIONS: 1. Approve 2. Approve with Conditions 3. Table 4. Deny
RECOMMENDATION: Option 2
DIVISION: Planning Staff: JD Dillard
Recommendation by the Commission:
Actually, the county staff’s comments are most objectionable.
The Planning Commission and the County Commission should reject staff’s inappropriate calculations and deny REZ-2023-04 on Quarterman Road.
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