By Tia Lynn Ivey
A newly proposed event facility on Athens Highway hit a snag in the approval process last week with the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voting to table the project until next month’s regular meeting.
Last Tuesday, the BOC voted to table a definitive vote on Edward McDuffie’s request for conditional use approval to operate an Event Facility at 2761 Athens Highway until next month’s meeting. McDuffie stated that he would hope to have one or two events a month on his 58.55 acres that can accommodate up to 350 people.
“We are seeking a permit to operate the facility, hosting up to 350 people per event,” wrote McDuffle to the Planning Commission for his application. “We feel that our venue is a beautiful and desirable location, with adequate facilities, parking and access. We are committed to cooperating with Morgan County in every way to comply with and use the Event Facilities Ordinance as a guide for operating McDuffie Farm.”
Several community members expressed concerns over possible impacts on traffic and accidents at Tuesday morning’s meeting. Other concerns from neighbors included the possibility of shooting-related events. McDuffie responded that he does not intend to have any shooting events on his property.
Despite the Morgan County Planning Commission voting to recommend approval for the new event facility, the BOC members opted to take more time to consider concerns raised by surrounding neighbors.
The planning commission weighed the same concerns at a regular meeting on March 28. Surrounding neighbors attended the planning commission, too, to voice their reservations about the new event facility. Rick Burn spoke about the potential disturbance to surrounding residence due to noise from an event facility. Wilbur Bohlen also was concerned about noise pollution as well as the danger posed by cars entering and exiting the property from Highway 441. Mindy Burns told the Planning Commission that she has heard gunshots coming from the property and was concerned about what kind of events would be held at the new event facility.
She also expressed concerns about traffic coming in and out of the property from VFW Lane, which is a narrow roadway. Jennifer Moody also expressed concerns over gunshots coming from the property. Mack Bohlen expressed concerns over traffic congestion. However, The Planning Commission voted to recommend approval with the following conditions: VFW Lane to be used as emergency access/exit only, applicant must submit lighting plan to be approved by Director of Planning and Development, and applicant must install Georgia Department of Transportation-approved guardrails on both sides of the property’s dam.
The BOC will revisit McDuffie’s request at the next regular meeting on Tuesday, May 7 at 10 a.m. in the County Administration building located at 150 East Washington Street in Madison.
The BOC approved all other requests that were presented by the Planning Commission at Tuesday’s meeting. These requests included conditional use construction of a church on 3.08 acres on Old Buckhead Road; an addition of a pavilion on 1.42 acres at 4620 Sandy Creek Road for Sandy Creek Baptist Church; placement of a single-wide manufactured home on 1 acre at 1691 Cedar Grove Road with the condition that garbage at the back of the property is removed prior to people beginning residence there – the home will replace a structure previously destroyed in a fire; and rezoning of seven parcels of land from Light Industrial (I1) to Agricultural Residential (AR) on Morris Road.
The county sought to rezone those seven parcels to correct a mistake that adversely affects the property owners of that land.
“The zoning map erroneously showed the property as zoned AR when it was really zoned I1, which does not allow residential structures,” explained Tara Cooner, Morgan County Planner. “So by rezoning the properties to AR, it corrects the issue of building houses in a zoning district where they are not allowed. From a zoning administration standpoint, it is important to note that the adjacent land is zoned AR, so this rezoning request would not create a spot-zoning situation…As for rezoning the parcels, the property owners performed due diligence prior to purchasing and were told that the land was zoned AR and was, therefore, suitable for housing. One house has been constructed and a permit has been issued for another.”