Coweta zoning board denies U-Haul truck variance

A variance request to allow U-Haul trucks to be parked in front of a proposed U-Haul dealership on Highway 34 East was unanimously recommended for denial Thursday by the Coweta Board of Zoning Appeals.

The applicant, Amerco Real Estate, was seeking an exception from the county’s rule prohibiting outdoor storage in the “quality development corridor,” or QDC, district.

The company wants to be able to park one of each of the seven sizes of rental trucks in front of the proposed facility, which will be located near the Thomas Crossroads intersection of Hwy. 34 and State Highway 154, adjacent to the former site of Crossroads Mobile Home Park.

The county planning department had recommended denial of the application.

According to the planning department report, if the variance were granted, U-Haul will “be receiving special privileges that the other business along the corridor” wouldn’t get.

There have been previous requests for similar variances, said Angela White, zoning administrator. “It has been the tradition of consideration of this ordinance to make sure that it is upheld,” she said.

Granting the variance could set a precedent, as well, White said.

Tom Crymes, speaking for the applicants, said planning for the project has been going on for more than a year-and-a half. The original design had all the truck parking up front. “We informed them that was not going to work in our lovely neighborhood,” Crymes said.

The building has been redesigned and most of the trucks will be screened. “But they want to be able to park several of their vehicles up front so that people will be able to know they sell not only boxes and mini-warehouses, but also rental trucks,” Crymes said.

He said there won’t be a sign on the building indicating truck rental.

“You wouldn’t necessarily know they are renting trucks because all the trucks will be in the back,” he said.

The company wants “to be a good neighbor. They realize what Coweta has put in place and they want to be able to follow the rules,” Crymes said, but “they want to be able to display their product.”

“They want to come to town and build a Class A storage facility, and put it right out there for everyone to see,” Crymes said.

Board of Zoning Appeals member Billy Cranford asked why truck rental couldn’t just be indicated on the sign.

It could, said Crymes. “That may be their intent,” he said. “They just want to be able to display their product.”

Crymes said the nearby Tractor Supply store takes some items out of the screened area and puts them out front during the day, then puts them back at night.

“Tractor Supply is not supposed to be bringing them out,” said Planning Director Robert Tolleson. “All of their products are supposed to stay behind that brick wall with the fencing and the mesh.”

Board member George Harper asked about Nickell Equipment Rental, which has items out front.

Nickell is grandfathered in. “They came in pre-1990,” Tolleson said.

Crymes asked about Brown’s Pools. A variance was granted to allow the outdoor pool display, which is located behind a decorative fence. The Board of Zoning Appeals did not recommend the variance, said Tolleson, but the Coweta Board of Commissioners approved it.

Tractor Supply requested a variance, as well, but it was denied. “They had to put the brick wall, decorative fencing, and the mesh,” Tolleson said.

“I recommend that we go with the denial,” said board member Craig Jackson. “I think there are adequate ways to make that work, and so that is my motion.”

The final decision on the issue will be made by the county commissioners at their April 17 meeting, 6 p.m. in the Coweta County Administration Building in downtown Newnan.

There was also a request for a buffer reduction variance for the U-Haul, which was approved.

In other meeting business:

• The board voted unanimously to recommend approval of a conditional use permit for a dog training facility on 38 acres on Bear Creek Road, with conditions. The board also recommend approval of variance requests for gravel drives on the property.

Dog trainer Brian Szczech said his facility, Gold Plated Gun Dogs, is currently in Bartow County, near Cartersville, but he and his wife hope to move to Moreland.

“I’ve been training retrievers for about 30 years,” said Szczech. Dogs usually arrive in February or March and are trained until October or November.

Szczech does seminars all over the country for companies such as Mossy Oak and Sport Dog, he said.

Most of the dogs he trains are flown in from other states, he said.

“It is not a redneck operation by any means. Everything is clean and tidy,” he said.

Several Cowetans who know Szczech through his involvement in fox hunting spoke in favor of the permit.

Neighbor Shannon Denney said he was not opposed to the plan. He just wanted more information. After asking some questions, he said he and his wife were in favor of the permit.

White read an e-mail from another neighbor who is opposed to the application. The neighbor said that he and his wife feel the application would introduce a commercial use not compatible with traditional residential uses.

“I don’t think it is zoned residential,” said neighbor and supporter Hal Berry. “It is zoned rural. There is a big difference.”

The zoning is rural conservation which allows residential and agricultural use.

• The board voted to recommend approval of an application for a permanent produce stand at the new Frazier’s Texaco in Madras.

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