Vote on retirement communities delayed
by W. Winston Skinner
Action on three proposed rezonings for “senior living” communities was delayed Tuesday by the Coweta County Board of Commissioners over concerns about enforcement of the age restrictions for residents.
Public hearings were held Tuesday night on the three proposals for rezoning to the county’s new Residential Retirement Community and Care District. The new zoning district is intended to permit the development of retirement communities for independent living. The ordinance requires that at least 80 percent of the residences have at least one resident who is 55 or older and prohibits those under 18 from living in the communities, except under specific circumstances.
There must be deed restrictions to maintain the 80 percent requirement, and the requirement is intended to be enforced by the homeowner’s association.
Enforcement was also an issue when the new ordinance was enacted in November.
Commissioner Rodney Brooks asked about the enforcement during the public hearing on the first of the three requests. JHP Family Investments LLLP is asking to rezone 49 acres off Hollz Parkway and Hwy. 34 east for Powell Senior Village, which would include 380 independent living units and an assisted living facility in the “village center” and 87 units in the Village Annex.
Last summer, the commissioners denied a similar proposal on the property.
“Is there a way to enforce that particular ordinance?” Brooks asked.
Attorney Melissa Griffis, representing the applicants, said that there is the deed restriction and the homeowners association that is “responsible for maintaining and keeping up with that requirement.”
The county could do audits, said County Attorney Nathan Lee, and there could be citations for zoning violations.
“That is something we need to think of,” Brooks said.
“I am sure the applicant would be willing to have some kind of annual reporting,” Griffis said.
No one spoke at the public hearing either in support of or opposition to the rezoning request.
“I’d like to maybe just look at a couple of questions the commissioners had before we make a motion on this,” Brooks said.
Brooks was told that the public hearing had to be kept open for the commissioners to base their decision on any information obtained in the future.
There may be an issue with enforcement. However, “it doesn’t seem to me like it would amend your already adopted ordinance,” Griffis said.
The other two proposals are for 78 single-family units on 27 acres at Arbor Springs, and 42 single-family units to be located on 24 acres at Lake Redwine.
Barbara Nelan, president of the Arbor Springs Homeowners Association, expressed some concerns. She wants to be sure that the new retirement community has its own homeowners association, and that the residents would not use the existing Arbor Springs amenities. “Not because we are not friendly, but because we are overtaxed in terms of our amenities,” she said.
She’d also like to see a bigger buffer.
The renderings for the proposed homes at Arbor Springs show two-story homes between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet.
Though the Lake Redwine homes could be as small as 1,200 square feet, “we’re going to do double or better,” said land planner Dennis Drewyer, speaking for the applicant, Happy Valley Development Group. He said he would be willing to proffer a condition that the homes would be 1,800 square feet or more. Some would be two-story homes but “most seniors are going to want to live on one floor,” Drewyer said.
The public hearings on all three rezonings were continued to the May 6 commission meeting.
The decisions on a conditional use permit for the Hollz Parkway property and a variance for the Arbor Springs property were also delayed until the rezoning decisions are made.