The Fayette Citizen-News Page

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Commission OKs special highway building rules


In a 3-2 vote, county commissioners last week approved new special architectural guidelines for all of Fayette's state highway corridors.

Commissioner A.G. VanLandingham said the guidelines, called "overlays," don't spell out clearly enough exactly what's required of developers, and Commissioner Peter Pfeifer argued that business people should have been consulted before the rules were written.

But commissioners Greg Dunn, Linda Wells and Herb Frady voted to make one minor change and approve the overlays, saying the extra rules are needed to protect residential neighborhoods along the highways from obtrusive commercial and office development.

"The basic purpose of this whole idea is to protect the residential zones," said Dunn.

Special standards already were in effect for Ga. highways 85 north, 54 west, 314 north and 74 north. Commissioners approved the county Planning Commission's recommendation that special rules be expanded to the remaining highway corridors.

"I have a real problem with this," said Planning Commission member Al Gilbert before casting the lone vote against the recommendation from that panel. "I think government sometimes steps beyond a role it should be involved in. The people we're hurting are the small business people in our community."

Following some recent controversial rezoning decisions on Hwy. 85 south, the Planning Commission began to discuss the idea of imposing special standards there.

Out of that discussion came the idea of applying special standards for all state highways.

Gilbert said he is mainly concerned with small businesses along Hwy. 85, who would have to rebuild in accordance with the new standards in the case of a fire or other disaster.

"Some of those people have been there a lot longer than some of us," he said.

Pfeifer said Gilbert was right, that business people should have input into such decisions. "I would like to send it out to business groups for comment when we do something like this," he said.

But Commissioner Linda Wells said the overlay rules on Ga. Highway 54 west, the first ones imposed in the county, have been successful at giving office developments along the highway a more residential look so they fit in with the surrounding homes.

"I want to keep ... something that's already working very well for us," she said in answer to VanLandingham's insistence that some passages needed more editing.

The new rules for Hwy. 74 south mirror those for 54 west, while rules for other areas are somewhat different. In more commercially developed areas, the aim is not to achieve as much of a residential appearance, said zoning administrator Kathy Zeitler.

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