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May 6, 2007

UPDATE ON LARGEST REZONE AND UPCOMING MEETINGS

On 4/26/07 neighbors and concerned citizens turned out to listen and ask questions at the Planning & Zoning hearing on the Bedford Falls Development rezoning of 898 acres. The courtroom was full.

The developers presented their proposal, with Christophe Drumain, the planner and designer (we think) giving the presentation. Several complained later about not being able to understand much of what was said; Mr. Drumain is from France and had an accent not familiar to many of us “Southerners.” However, the presentation showed us something that most of us have never seen—a new “ruralism” development project.

It was explained that the N.E. Georgia Regional Development Commission (RDC) would have to complete a DRI-- DEVELOPMENT OF REGIONAL IMPACT—review before the P&Z could vote on this project. This DRI form is to be completed by the county government to provide basic project information that will allow the RDC to determine if the project appears to meet or exceed applicable DRI thresholds. Surrounding counties give their input (and approval or disapproval) and determine how a development of this size would affect them and their infrastructure.

The rezone request is for RR—Rural Residential, which requires 3-acre lots; however, with the “Conservation Subdivision” design, the lots do not have to be 3 acres. In fact, the citizens were told the lots would range from 1.5 acres up to 8 acres, depending on the lay of the land. Grouping of cottages also appeared to be on less than 1.5 acre lots.

Mr. Blincoe as well as two other “owners/principals” attended the meeting. They said they were experienced developers and had done this type of project in past. The Ford Plantation in the Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah) area is one of those projects. Go to the following link and just watch the pictures as they come up.

http://www.fordplantation.com/content/504.htm

The Ford Plantation development offers hunting, fishing, nature trails, golf, a deep-water marina, equestrian, spa, and sports facilities as well as a world-class restaurant.

The proposed development, tentatively named “Monticello Farms”, would have hunting, fishing, lakes, an equestrian area, and clubhouse. A Homeowners Association would maintain everything about this development; it would be a gated community. The purpose is having a development with the “Preservation of Land” and its character. There would be large houses on more acreage as well as cottages around the lake. The houses in other areas would be “on the edges behind the trees” and not visible from the road.

According to the developers, the project would mostly have Retirees with no children that want to get “back to their roots.” They would bring money to community without much impact on the infrastructure. Concerning traffic, schools, etc., those attending were told that those that lived in the project would only be there about 30% of the time. Over 50 and/or Retirement Communities are the “hot” item right now. A recent article in the AJC listed many that are now being built in this area—Griffin, Lake Oconee, and near Chateau Elan.

See entire article at this link:

http://www.ajc.com/business/content/printedition/2007/05/02/bizboomer0502a.html
Selling a dream: For older baby boomer homeowners tired of chores, active-adult communities offer new ways to live, learn

Other items touched on in the presentation:

  • Won’t cut trees – need wildlife –
  • Preserve all we need to and use other land to best potential
  • Targeting people with out children – grandparents – 2nd homes, etc.
  • “Green building” – “Green Certified”
  • Storm water management – sewer on site
  • Clean & pristine environment

At approximately 8:10PM people presented Questions:

  • How many houses – under 250
  • Who is responsible for maintaining land & common areas – Homeowners assoc --“staff” paid by Homeowners Assoc.
  • What about the roads --Roads not to be deeded to county
  • What about wells? How will affect existing wells of those that live there? --Can develop water sources – wetland systems – treatment plant with lakes on property
  • Need more information on # units, size units, protective covenants to make decision--Answer: “County will say how many units” – “would like to be part of new zoning county is on – conservation subdivision projects”

The designer interjected that “Open space will never be sold. NEVER! Will keep as it is now.”

  • What will the price be? --No price range established. Looking at lot costs now. But under more questioning said $90,000 to $300,000 per lot--it also depends on the amenities--how many and what they are. No golf courses.

TWG would like to suggest the name of Palalto Properties rather than Monticello Farms. This is in the Palalto area of our county, which is rich in its own history. During WWII,

Palalto had its own post office. It is also where some escaped German Prisoners were apprehended. We hope the developers will consider this name, which has significance in the area the development is proposed.

Toward the end of the meeting some people lost their cool. The Developers presented a good, well thought out plan. People should think about this plan. Think of questions that answer real concerns. What will the impact be? Will it be better than 180 “cookie cutter” houses that could be built now--each house on its own 5 acres with its own well and septic tank? Which will affect residents in area more—the proposed project or unregulated development on 5 acre lots? What is best for Jasper County overall? All these questions need to be answered. Emotions have to be put aside and intelligent questions need to be formulated so we can all decide what is the goal of the developers and what will be the true impact on our county, our property taxes, police and fire, etc. Having no more growth in the area where “we” live would be great, but if there is growth, what kind is best? If you have questions, write them down and ask them at the next meeting.

Even though many people think the next meeting for the “Bedford Farms Development” rezone will be this coming Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 7:00PM, that meeting will be more of an informational meeting about Conservation Subdivisions.

The next Monticello Farms meeting is to be announced at that time and will also have to be run in the legal ads again when it is time for the P&Z to hold another public hearing.

According to the advertisement in the paper: On May 10th, Chris Anderson, P&Z Director, will be hosting a viewing of the Randall Arendt video, a shortened version of his live presentation back in February 2007. The subject of this meeting is “Conservation Subdivision Design and how it might apply to Jasper County.”

“Monticello Farms” does want to emulate the concept of conservation design, but this presentation is not about their proposal.

If you have further questions you may call Chris Anderson at 706-468-4905.

TWG
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