By Kathryn Schiliro
Georgia Military College (GMC) is slated to move into the former Morgan County Citizen building, 235 S. Main Street, Madison, contingent upon county Planning Commission’s nod and Madison City Council’s approval of their request for conditional use.
The property is currently zoned Professional Limited Commercial, or P2, which could allow for educational facilities, including private schools, provided conditional use is OK’d. Further, the structure is located in the city’s Historic Preservation Overlay.
The proposal, submitted by Michael Conrads, presented to the commission at their work session last Friday, June 21, states that the building will be used by GMC as classroom space, as the college has outgrown its current location at Madison South Executive Park. This location will stay open, according to the staff report. Both GMC locations will be open Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. The South Main location could house a maximum of more than 160 students, but will average about 80 at any given time, and 10 employees.
The staff report states that approval of this conditional use wouldn’t be detrimental to the area, and changes to the facade include city-approved signage and landscaping; in fact, it would “increase the customer base for businesses in the area.” The sole issue in question seems to be that of parking.
The property as it is has 10 parking spaces, but the conditional use requires 52. Conrads and GMC have approached both the city and Madison First United Methodist Church about using the deck near the county administration building and the church-owned lot behind the 235 S. Main location, respectively, and have come to an agreement with them about utilization of parking space. GMC has also approached neighboring Cornerstone Church and Madison Baptist about potential use of their parking spaces; they’ve also asked the city about use of parking behind the hardware/livery stable building, formerly Madison Hardware.
In other news, Madison-based Milford Construction’s John Milford has submitted an application to the commission on behalf of Lake Oconee Baptist Church, 2411 Reids Ferry Road, Buckhead, for a conditional use permit in order to construct a 1,000-square-foot addition to the church’s Fellowship Hall. The proposed use for the additional space is storage, but it may be used for classrooms in the future, according to the Morgan County Staff Report, which went on to state that staff had no concerns about the potential approval of this application;
And Candace Carlson, on behalf of property owners William and Renee Pritchard, has asked for a variance to reduce the rear yard setback from 40 feet to 20 feet in order to construct a swimming pool and patio at their to-be-constructed residence at 1000 Apalachee Way, Buckhead.
The Georgia Power right-of-way (ROW) from the lake is 40 feet, and the county requires another 40 feet from Georgia Power’s ROW, a “buffer for the flood zone,” Morgan County Planning Director Chuck Jarrell said, and the case for all Lakeshore zoning districts, and this lot is zoned Low Density Lakeshore Residential (LR1). According to the Morgan County Staff Report, the property is 1.05 acres and “wedge shaped.” Staff, in their report, argues that the Pritchards chose to buy the property knowing its acreage and configuration, and they are choosing to construct a house of a certain size and layout on the lot “that may, or may not, be amenable to the lot configuration.” Additionally, Carlson states, according to the report, that the requested variance “is the minimum that will allow for a viable economic use of the land,” an opinion staff finds “debatable.” Staff recommends more information be heard by the commission on this matter.
The county Planning Commission will take up all of these issues at their 7 p.m. meeting this Thursday, June 27 at the county administration building.