A controversial case made its way from the Planning Commission for a rezoning recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a buffer variance decision, 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, VAR-2012-07. 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.)