Commissioners table setback variance request for Buckhead pool, patio

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By Stephanie Johns

Staff Writer

Members of the Morgan County Commission unanimously voted to table a setback variance request from Candace Carlson and her clients, William and Renee Pritchard.

The Pritchards want to build a home, a garage, and a pool on a lake lot located off of Apalachee Woods Trail in Buckhead.

To do so based on the conceptual plans they currently have would require they put the kidney-shaped pool, patio, and pool paving in the rear setback of the property.

Their preferred layout would require them to reduce the 40-foot rear yard Georgia Power right-of-way setback to a 20-foot setback.

Senior Planner Tara Cooner said she was concerned that approval by the commission might set a precedent.

She noted that of the other houses built there now, all save one meet the setback requirements.

As noted in documents provided by the Morgan County Planning and Development Office, setbacks for the adjoining properties range from 20 feet to 63 feet from the same right of way.

Commissioner Philip Clack said he felt the Pritchards had created their own hardship by purchasing a lot without researching the property.

The Pritchards said they had their builder visit the property and were told it was buildable.

During the June 27 meeting of the Morgan County Planning Commission, William said that the underbrush on the property at that time was so thick as to make it difficult to notice the exact topography.

It was only after they had the underbrush cleared that they realized the challenges the topography would present, he said.

Commissioner Andy Ainslie asked how they know what they’re dealing with without a final design.

“We don’t,” responded Cooner.

Carlson explained that the pie-shaped lot has a buildable area of approximately 0.41 acres and that they didn’t want to spend a lot of time designing something they won’t be allowed to build.

No one from the public commented at the commission meeting.

Several neighbors have written letters in support of the Pritchards’ request and two showed up at the June 27 meeting of the Morgan County Planning Commission.

During that meeting, planning commissioners voted six to two in favor of the Pritchards’ request.

At this meeting, though, county commissioners voted to table the request until their August meeting.

“We want them to work more with planning and zoning to push back more,” he said. “This is their first option. I want to see a second option.”

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