Clus­ter plans spark de­bate

A developer is seek­ing a zon­ing change for a 10-house gated com­mu­nity on Cal­lier Springs Road.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Diane Wag­ner Staff Writer DWag­ner@RN-T.com

Op­po­si­tion is ex­pected to be out in force Tues­day when the Floyd County Com­mis­sion con­sid­ers a re­zon­ing for a clus­ter home com­mu­nity on Cal­lier Springs at Moun­tain View Road.

But ei­ther way the board rules, the neigh­bor­ing prop­erty own­ers are likely to leave dis­sat­is­fied.

“A sub­stan­tial amount of money has been spent en­gi­neer­ing this prop­erty al­ready. The day af­ter the com­mis­sion meet­ing, (the de­vel­op­ers are) go­ing to break ground,” said Chuck Hardin, pres­i­dent and co-founder of South­ern En­gi­neer­ing Inc.

Hardin rep­re­sented the owner, H. Howard Alexan­der Jr. of Howard Realty, at a Rome-Floyd County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion hear­ing that drew about a dozen nearby res­i­dents to protest the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Prop­erty val­ues, wa­ter pres­sure and noise were points of con­cern, but the main is­sue was the ad­di­tional traf­fic on the nar­row, wind­ing thor­ough­fare.

“We have ac­ci­dents at that cor­ner reg­u­larly … usu­ally sin­gle ve­hi­cles,” said Mery McCorkle. “When we have ice and snow that sec­tion is im­pass­able; when we have heavy rain it is treach­er­ous.”

The tract in ques­tion is 2.6 va­cant acres in a curve where the two roads meet, across from the Cal­lier Springs Coun­try Club. It’s zoned for high-den­sity tra­di­tional res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment and is al­ready sub­di­vided into 10 lots.

Hardin said plans are for a gated com­mu­nity of 10 or 11 brick houses with garages, about 1,500 square feet each. With a spe­cial use per­mit for clus­ter homes, al­lowed only in mul­ti­fam­ily zones, they could align them along an in­ter­nal road with a sin­gle en­trance on the smaller Moun­tain View Road.

“Right now we can build 10 houses with 10 drive­ways on Cal­lier Springs Road,” Hardin said. “This is safer.”

They’re also plan­ning to ex­tend larger wa­ter and sewer lines to the devel­op­ment, which could mean bet­ter ser­vice for ex­ist­ing prop­erty own­ers. But the pro­posal re­mained con­tro­ver­sial enough for Plan­ning Com­mis­sion Chair­man Tom Ben­nett to give each side ad­di­tional time to talk.

“You can imag­ine it’s all go­ing to be rental prop­er­ties,” said Rachael Thomp­son, who de­cried the po­ten­tial loss of woods and wildlife.

Plan­ning com­mis­sion mem­bers sought so­lu­tions. They ques­tioned if the en­trance could be moved to Cal­lier Springs. The curve would make it more dan­ger­ous, Hardin said. They asked if the mul­ti­fam­ily zon­ing could be tied to the clus­ter homes, to pre­vent a change to apart­ments or du­plexes. No.

“The zon­ing goes with the land,” mem­ber Lo­gan Boss said. “I’m un­com­fort­able about al­low­ing a re­zon­ing that could have a dele­te­ri­ous ef­fect if the project we’re ap­prov­ing falls through.”

In the end, the cit­i­zen board voted against rec­om­mend­ing the re­zon­ing with just Terry Jones sup­port­ing the pro­posal.

“It’s not a ques­tion of deny­ing the homes. They have the right to do that,” Jones said. “All we’re dis­cussing is the best de­sign.”

Lost in the fi­nal de­bate was a quiet com­ment from As­sis­tant County Man­ager Gary Burkhal­ter, who sits in on the monthly meet­ings.

“They may not be able to get per­mits for all 10 drives, if there’s a sight-dis­tance is­sue,” he noted.

The County Com­mis­sion will hold a pub­lic hear­ing be­fore it makes a de­ci­sion dur­ing its 6 p.m. meet­ing at the County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, 12 E. Fourth Ave.

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