The Fayette Citizen-News Page
Wednesday, October 6, 1999
Cowan brews Tyrone zoning debate

169 home plan tabled for more talks

Staff Writer

After more than 90 minutes of a sometimes heated discussion, the Tyrone Planning Commission decided to table a rezoning request from Joel Cowan Jr. for a new 169-home subdivision in the town.

The scene last Thursday night was reminiscent of the “old days” of Tyrone politics — a packed town hall and the town's government resigned for a long night.

“Hopefully, we'll get out of here before midnight,” quipped acting chairman Lyn Redwood.

The issue that drew the residents out in force was Cowan's request to build Lake Windsong subdivision on property bordering the Windsong and Magnolia Farms subdivisions.

Cowan owns 282 acres and wants nearly 200 of the acres rezoned from R-70 and AR, which calls for two- and three-acre lots, to R-48, which allows one-acre lots. The remaining 80 acres are already zoned R-48.

Cowan's father Joel was one of the original developers of Peachtree City and is the current head of the powerful new Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. The younger Cowan wants to create an upscale subdivision that features homes priced in the mid-$200s-$300,000 built around an existing lake.

The subdivision would feature such amenities as a clubhouse, tennis courts, a pool overlooking the lake and possible high-speed Internet connection.

Cowan emphasized that 23 percent of the acreage would be left as open space, and he said he would make sure that many of the older trees on the property would be saved. If the rezonings are approved, he expects to start building homes by next spring.

After hearing Cowan's presentation, numerous residents made pilgrimages to the podium urging the planning commission to deny his request. The biggest problems many of the residents saw was traffic and overburdening existing services.

“The traffic will triple in our area. It's too high a density. This subdivision would be built on the backs of Magnolia Farms and Windsong (subdivisions),” said Scott Davis.

Many of the residents were outraged that the only paved entrance into the subdivision would be down Ashland Trail. The proposed subdivision is virtually two subdivisions because the lake cuts the property nearly in half. The entrance to the subdivision on the southern side of the lake would either be on Crestwood Road or Dogwood Trail, which are currently unpaved.

Another problems residents had with the proposal was 169 more septic tanks added to the city. But Cowan's engineer Mukut Gupta assured the residents that Cowan would meet and probably exceed county health department standards for the development.

In an unusual move, chairman Redwood called for a recess halfway through the meeting to allow the residents to look at the map of the proposed subdivision and quiz Cowan some more about the development.

Neighbors and concerned residents buzzed around the town hall and planning commission members held court as residents voiced opposition to the plan.

Perhaps the biggest concern of the residents was routing all the traffic of the new subdivision through existing subdivisions.

“We already can't let our kids ride bikes through the subdivision now,” said Doug Ellis, who lives on Magnolia Drive.

When the meeting reconvened, town manager Barry Amos said his recommendation would be against the rezoning because of the increased traffic flow and the lack of entrances to the subdivision.

After hearing staff's recommendation, commissioner Dan Flaherty said the town needed to stick to the land use plan and deny the zoning, but Redwood wanted another step in the discussion before a decision was reached.

She suggested a workshop that would involve Cowan, the planning commission, the mayor and council and the residents to try and reach a compromised solution on the development.

If Cowan did not seek any rezoning, he could effectively build 157 homes, she added.

But Flaherty disputed her count and said the existing zoning would only allow for 110 homes to be built.

Flaherty's efforts to deny the zoning were rebuffed as the planning commission voted to table the matter until Oct. 28. The workshop is set for Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at town hall, and all residents are invited to participate.

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