Tag Archives: commercial

Buffer variance? VAR-2012-07 Copeland @ ZBOA 2011-06-05

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.)

Speaking For

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Residential home owners of Lowndes County take notice —Vince Schneider @ LCC 14 June 2011

Vince Schneider warned county homeowners that it could happen to them, too:
To permit 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 yard.
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….
Good questions.

Here’s the video:


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. Continue reading

Sprawl to ruin, or dense with green space for quality of life

Jeffrey H. Dorfman, Professor, Dept. of Agricultural & Applied Economics, The University of Georgia:
Local governments must ensure balanced growth, as sprawling residential growth is a certain ticket to fiscal ruin*
* Or at least big tax increases.
See The Economics of Growth, Sprawl and Land Use Decisions.
  • Green spaces increase property values of surrounding land
  • Green and open spaces can provide environmental amenities for free
  • If green spaces contribute to quality of life, you attract people and jobs to community
Note and jobs, not just people: jobs so the people can work and afford the houses they live in.

But this doesn’t mean exurban subdivisions with big yards: Continue reading