The Loganville City Council denied rezoning requests during a regular meeting Feb. 11, for a proposed subdivision of 10 single-family homes off Hodges and Covington streets.
Council members, who met online, peppered the applicant with questions about the proposed development and then thoroughly discussed concerns they had with the project before voting it down.
The first rezoning request was to rezone 3.02 acres from R44 to R22 CSO on Hodges Street. The applicant also asked for a variance to reduce the lot width from 100 feet to 75 feet. Likewise, the second rezoning request was to rezone 3.84 acres from R44 to R22 CSO on Covington Street. The second variance request likewise asked to reduce that lot width from 100 feet to 75 feet.
Applicant and Winder attorney Stanton Porter came before the council with the requests. Porter was representing his client, Ann Jones of Loganville, who owns the property.
The proposed subdivision would have green space behind the homes for future homeowners to use as a pocket park, according to Porter. This natural space must remain mostly undisturbed according to the city’s zoning ordinance, the Winder attorney told council members. He said future subdivision residents would form an HOA and that one of the covenants could require the homes be owner occupied. Porter clarified that the homeowners could manage the HOA or hire a management company, once the association was formed.
“It’s a very nice house that’s being built,” Porter said, adding that the homes would have brick or stone on much of the exterior and landscaping on “all sides.”
Council Member Danny Ford asked Planning and Development Director Tim Prater what the Planning Commission recommended on the rezoning and variance requests. Prater said both the commission and department staff recommended approval of the rezoning, but denial of the variances.
Loganville Mayor Rey Martinez asked if the subdivision would include street lamps and sidewalks, and if the pocket park could be fenced for homeowners’ privacy. Porter said sidewalks were part of the zoning requirement and that the builder would likely agree to making streetlights and fencing part of the development.
Porter also explained that approval of the two variances was likely necessary to move forward with the planned project. Otherwise, only 7 homes – not 10 – could be built on the property and that would not be financially viable for the owner or builder, he said.
Council Member Bill DuVall voiced his concern about the traffic impact the proposed neighborhood could have facing Hodges and Covington Streets. DuVall asked if there was another way to fit 10 homes on the land without reducing frontage on two lots. He asked if a subdivision road could be placed at the rear of the homes. Porter said a subdivision access road would take too much from the planned green space and therefore not meet the zoning requirement for open space.
Council Member Lisa Newberry, who chairs the city’s planning and development committee, asked the applicant and the builder if the council approved the rezoning requests but denied the variances if that would kill the project. They affirmed that the current contract would probably not go forward with only 7 homes.
Council Member Anne Huntsinger asked city attorney Robyn Webb if the council would be setting a legal precedent for future applicants if it approved the requested variances. Webb replied that yes, it would be difficult to deny a similar variance request in future.
Webb advised council members that the applicant, his client and the builder, had considered all possibilities including that the council could deny the requests and were prepared for the outcome. She clarified that the council had to vote for the rezoning before they voted on the variances.
Prater informed council members that if the applicant were to withdraw their application, they would have to start over with the application process, he said.
The council also debated tabling the matter.
Prior to taking a vote, the council heard comments from the public.
Covington Street resident Melanie Long claimed that 10 more houses along her “short” street, in addition to three recently built new homes on Covington Street, would increase the density of the street by 57 percent. Long commented that she was not against growth, but was against creating more density in a residential area.
Another resident told council members that the proposed 10-home development was not the right fit for the property.
Council members voted unanimously to deny both rezoning requests and therefore did not have to vote on the variance requests.
In other city business, the council approved a traffic study to be conducted by KCI Technologies. The majority of the cost for the study, 80 percent, would be paid for with an Atlanta Regional Commission grant, DuVall said. The city would pick up the remaining 20 percent, he said. The total fee for the study is $277,000.