A controversial case made its way from the Planning Commission for a
rezoning recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a buffer variance
all before it reached the Lowndes County Commission for a decision
on the rezoning.
Valdosta-Lowndes County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBOA)
had one Lowndes County case at its
5 June 2012 meeting,
a buffer variance request,
Related aspects of this same property had already been heard by
the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission (GLPC) on 21 May 2012
as the controversial rezoning case REZ-2012-09 Copeland.
ZBOA member Nancy Hobby recused herself from VAR-2012-07.
ZBOA discussed it at great length and eventually
decided to table it.
ZBOA, unlike GLPC, does actually make binding decisions,
but chose not to do so at this meeting for this case.
Presenting the Case
Carmella Braswell, Lowndes County Zoning Administrator,
presented the case,
saying the property owner, John A. Copeland,
wanted a buffer variance for his property at 3258 Loch Laurel Road.
The applicant and four neighbors spoke for the buffer variance,
but one neighbor spoke against, and others had hired locally famous
lawyer Bill Nijem to speak against.
Carmella Braswell noted
that GLPC had moved
its meeting ahead a week,
but staff had managed to meet statutory requirements.
ZBOA wanted to know what they were buffering against.
Answer seemed to be one single-family residence and a pasture.
Ms. Braswell said staff had considered buffering according to
the zoning statutes, and there were for example churches nearby,
plus the existing buffering was mostly on other landowners’
property, and the applicant would be required to plant his own
vegetative buffer, plus staff recommended a six foot privacy fence.
Dave Kirk noted the abuse of the property had been occuring since 1967.
Ms. Braswell said that was unbenownst to county zoning.
Also there was no current business license on the property,
not since 2007.
Gretchen Quarterman asked how long the residents to the north had been there:
before or after 2007.
Ms. Braswell said well before 2007, and they were present at the meeting.
(See Gail Hiers below.)
Vince Schneider warned county homeowners that it could happen to them, too:
the establishment of the Foxborough Avenue McDonalds, the county has
irreversibly established a most terrible precedence. You too can wake
up one morning to find a Fast food store being built in your front
Like many of us, he wondered what the county government is thinking:
I cannot comprehend how the county can possibly
benefit from allowing such an establishment to be built in a quite
county residential neighborhood. Is it because it provides unskilled
low paying jobs? Will this McDonalds look good on a resume? It was my
understanding that Valdosta and Lowndes County wanted to attract a more
skilled, professional work force. The real estate on Foxborough Avenue
the county permitted McDonalds to build on would have been, and is prime
real estate for just such a professional enterprise….
Residential home owners of Lowndes County take notice —Vince Schneider @ LCC 14 June 2011
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 14 June 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.
After Vince Schneider finished reading his letter,
Chairman Ashley Paulk handed him a paper, which was apparently
a communication from County Engineer Mike Fletcher.
Appended is the text of the letter Vince Schneider read to the Commission.
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