The Ola, Kelleytown, and Red Oak communities will soon grow with new residents after the Henry County Board of Commissioners approved three rezoning requests for new subdivisions in front of a large audience on Tuesday evening. Residents spoke at length about concerns over traffic, schools, and property values during each public hearing, and many in attendance vocally expressed their disapproval as each case was approved.
All three rezoning requests were supported by the county’s future land use map. The new map was adopted in October after a yearlong update and establishes Henry County’s policies for future development. Had the commissioners denied any of the requests, the applicant would have likely taken their case to court and won on appeal.
Georgia’s legal precedent does not consider existing traffic congestion nor school capacity as reasons to deny a request. Furthermore, the state does not allow impact fees to be spent on new school construction, providing no immediate options to address the effect new development has on schools. Henry County Schools will next consider a renewal of the education SPLOST Program in 2021, where the construction of several new schools is expected to be placed before the voters.
A new subdivision along North Ola Road saw perhaps the largest crowd in attendance. North Ola Henry 163, LLC received approval to build 134 new homes on 115 acres located south of The Farm Road. The subdivision was approved for the R-2 on sewer zoning district, to include half-acre lots (22,000 square feet). Commissioner Barham added several conditions to the development:
- All homes shall be a minimum of 2,400 heated square feet.
- All homes shall include a side-entry two-car garage.
- All homes shall utilize brick, stone, or stucco, or a combination including two or more of the following: brick, stone, stucco, or cement fiberboard; on all four sides.
- All internal roadways shall include a four foot sidewalk and street trees (two per lot) along both sides of the road.
- The applicant shall include a fifty foot natural or enhanced buffer along all property boundaries.
- The applicant shall deed fifty acres located north of the development to permanent conservation easement or green space.
The conditions should mitigate concerns about property values for the surrounding residents and could become ideal standards for R-2 on sewer subdivisions. The zoning district was added in 2017 and is the preferred zoning for future low-density residential development throughout Henry County.
A similar request for the R-2 on sewer zoning district was approved along Crumbley Road and Selfridge Road. The Reservoir Group was granted approval to build 101 residential lots on 86 acres. The zoning conditions for this property included minimum home sizes at 2,500 square feet and a twenty-five foot buffer around the property.
Several residents spoke about the need for an intersection improvement at state route 155 and Crumbley Road. The location is under consideration in the upcoming SPLOST V program and residents are encouraged to attend the district IV committee meeting on Thursday, February 28, at 6:30 pm at Timber Ridge Elementary to speak about the need for the project. The intersection was previously included in SPLOST III, but traffic volumes were not high enough at the time for Georgia DOT to approve the project. A new updated traffic study is needed before asking GDOT to reconsider the improvement.
The largest request of the evening, and the one that saw the most residents vocally express their frustrations with its approval, was located along Flippen Road at I-75. The 168 acre “Broder Farm” property was approved for 390 residential units, to include 130 townhomes and 260 single-family residences. The site has a net density of 5.94 residential units per acre, supported by the property’s medium-density designation on the FLUM. The county’s medium-density label supports between two and six units per acre.
Community amenities include a junior size swimming pool, playground, covered pavilion, dog park, soccer / multipurpose field, and walking trails. The amenities are clustered at the front and rear of the property.
84.37 acres (50%) will be dedicated to open space, to include 25.42 acres of buildable land. The site contains 53 acres of floodplain because of two creeks converging on the property.
Residents commented on the potential need to widen Flippen Road because of its use as an alternate route whenever I-75 is congested, specifically in the evening rush hour. The comprehensive transportation plan, last updated in 2016, recommended the widening project within the unconstrained portion of the plan, meaning no funds are expected to be available for the project before the year 2040.
A rezoning request to build a new RaceTrac service station at the intersection of Jonesboro Road and Willow Lane in McDonough had previously been advertised for the commissioners meeting. The applicant withdrew their rezoning application and the request will no longer be considered.