By Tia Lynn Ivey
A controversial proposal currently being considered would nearly double the size of the Town of Buckhead and create a new zoning district that would allow for massive residential and commercial developments.
On Tuesday evening, the Morgan County Planning Commission considered three separate, but related, proposals from five land owners, seeking to annex .68 square miles into the Town of Buckhead, pass a new text amendment to create a new Interstate Mixed Use zoning district, and to rezone the annexed land in that new zoning category to allow for a plethora of commercial and residential developments.
Buckhead is currently 0.8 square miles with a population of about 175 people.
The Planning Commission meeting took place after the Morgan County Citizen’s press deadline on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Full details of the meetings outcome will be featured in next week’s issue of the Morgan County Citizen. A brief overview will be posted on website and Facebook page on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
The Planning Commission votes to recommend approval or denial, but the ultimate decision to approve or deny these requests will be left up to Buckhead’s Town Council on Oct. 19. However, Morgan County Planning staff has recommended denial for the text amendment and rezoning portions of the proposal.
“We are recommending it be denied,” said Tara Cooner, a county planner. In the county’s staff report, county planners outlined their objections to the proposed text amendment for a new zoning district.
“Staff feels the presented language does not require adequate information for rezoning parcels to an IMU zoning designation and does not sufficiently protect residential development from potential adverse consequences of proximity to commercial uses. Numerous clarifications should be made before the Town of Buckhead can clearly determine if such a development will be in its best interests. Staff recommends denial of the presented text amendment application. The applicant has already been allowed to submit a revised ordinance once, so Staff does not feel that withdrawal and revision should be an option given again.,” said the report.
The annexation request, which county staff does not oppose, aims to annex 487 acres into Buckhead. If approved, the new land and development opportunities could catapult the Town of Buckhead into a prosperous future, but critics worry such explosive growth could jeopardize Buckhead’s small town rural way of life.
Five property owners, working with a developer and Buckhead, are requesting seven parcels of land near Seven Islands Road on the Northside of I-20 to be annexed into the Town of Buckhead and rezoned to accommodate future residential and commercial developments. The proposed new zoning district would allow for dozens of various commercial uses, as well as single-family and multi-family residential units.
“This annexation would double the size of Buckhead. It has the potential to change the entire dynamic of the town,” said Cooner last year, when the plan was first proposed. “However, there is also tremendous potential to bring in a lot more tax dollars for the Town of Buckhead. The Buckhead Council will have to weigh that out and decide what’s best for the town.”
Currently five of the land parcels are zoned Agricultural Residential (AR) and two of the land parcels are zone County Agricultural (CA).
The Morgan County Citizen will follow up on this developing story. The Town of Buckhead Council will make the final decision on whether or not to approve the requests for land annexation, the new zoning district, and if the land to be annexed will qualify to be rezoned for commercial and residential uses.