Coweta County Commission
Apartments, retirement community denied
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Rezonings for two residential projects proposed for properties along Hollz Parkway, off Hwy. 34 East, were denied Tuesday by the Coweta County Board of Commissioners.
EP Properties/Hollz Village Apartments was requesting the rezoning of 24 acres from M-Industrial to R-2, Multi-Family Residential District, for a "class A" apartment complex with 224 units. The proposal was for property located directly behind the park-and-ride lot for the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority's Xpress bus system.
Across Hollz Parkway and adjacent to the Chatsworth neighborhood, JHP Family investments proposed a "continuing care retirement community" on 30 acres. The property is currently zoned Rural Conservation and the request was to rezone it to R-2, Multi-Family Residential District.
The community would include senior single-family homes along the border with Chatsworth, senior “villas,” and an assisted living facility and hospice care. A conditional use permit would be required for the assisted living center. That permit request was not heard because the rezoning was denied.
Coweta's Planning and Zoning Department had recommended approval of both requests, and there was no public opposition voiced at Tuesday's public hearing. The Coweta Board of Zoning Appeals had recommended approval of the permit for the assisted living center.
Land planner Dennis Drewyer represented the applicants for both projects. The two projects, as well as adjacent development, were reviewed as a "development of regional impact." An amended DRI was submitted and approved with the addition of the residential components.
Drewyer said he lives nearby and the apartment complex would be high quality and "something we can all be proud of in the end." Coweta needs "high-end, multi-family housing," he said. The apartment complex is the highest and best use, he said.
The property was originally part of the Creekside Industrial Park, and was purchased from Coweta County by Pope and Land. With the purchase, Pope and Land received an allocation of 50 gallons per day of sewer capacity per acre. The proposal is to use the allocation for the 24 acres as well as several acres of wetlands, the property sold for the park-and- ride lot, and some of the property still zoned industrial.
Tom Barranco of Pope and Land said they feel they still have plenty of capacity left for industrial projects.
The sewer issue seemed to be the major sticking point. Commissioner Rodney Brooks questioned the estimate of 160 gallons per day per unit. Brooks said his house uses about 220.
Today's high-end homes have "many devices and products" that keep numbers lower than they used to be, Drewyer said.
Coweta County has had an ordinance in place for several years that forbids the use of public sewer for residential projects.
But Drewyer dealt with that issue, saying, "We purchased the sewer on this project before the ordinance was passed.”
Robert Pace of EP Investment said their typical tenants are between 35 and 45, and are renters by choice, not necessity.
Brooks made the motion to deny the request, mentioning the sewer allocation for the actual acreage. "I think all of us know what concerns we have have about the water and sewerage, having a $100 million debt," Brooks said. He didn't explain what he meant by that comment.
The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Al Smith opposed.
The retirement community would include a lot of green space, said Drewyer, and they are planning six to eight units per acre, not the 12 that would be allowed.
Drewyer said they are looking at three different companies that might develop the community.
Kelly Peterson, representing the Chatsworth Homeowners Association, said the community is in agreement with the plans, including several recommended conditions. They do want to make sure the homes are restricted to those 55 and over. Chatsworth resident Jerry Thrice said he had some concerns but they were not objections. He already has a lot of water running across his property and doesn't want more, and he is also concerned about increased traffic.
Drewyer said the property drains in the other direction, but they will be glad to go to the property and make sure there are no drainage issues.
Commission Chairman Bob Blackburn made the motion to deny the rezoning, with no comment. The vote was 4-1 with Tim Lassetter opposed.
Joe Powell, of JHP Family Investments, said Wednesday he thinks the commissioners should give reasons "why they vote like they do."
"I didn't see a single reason that they could have come up with to deny our project except they wanted to deny it," he said. "It seems like the perfect thing to go there."