Chairman Thompson Breaks Tie Vote on Contentious Rezone for Subdivision

Chairman Roy Thompson broke a tie vote among commissioners Tuesday evening in a decision on a rezone request for a residential subdivision.

Youngblood Road
Star Equity Development, LLC, has submitted an application to rezone approximately 32.35 acres from R-25 (Residential 25,000 sq. ft.) to R-15 (Residential 15,000 sq. ft.) to allow for the development of a single-family residential neighborhood. The property is located at Youngblood Road, Parcel No. 107 000033 000

dditional homes in a subdivision on smaller lots. Staff said it was eight additional homes but the acting agent for the project told commissioners it would be ten additional homes for a total of 57.

Staff recommended approval of the rezone request with special conditions while Planning & Zoning denied the request in a 6-0 vote.

According to county officials, the property was rezoned years ago to R-25. After going through various processes, to include plat maps, it was determined that the property needs a community septic system because too much top soil has been moved from the property. According to the departmental review, the soils are not suitable for individual septic tanks, thus, the need for the EPD septic system in order for the development to occur. The developer was seeking the rezone request to increase the number of lots – and system users – to offset costs of installing the system.

The project has been sitting incomplete since ‘2019 or 2020,’ according to staff, with some roads laid out and minimal preparation work completed.

The plan as proposed would mean the development would pump sewage to another community septic system up the road, which is owned by Lindsey Martin of MSO Water Systems.

Negative impacts listed on the department review included:

  • School impact – A minimum of 17 new students in the Southeast Bulloch High School Feeder district, which is already at or near capacity.
  • Law enforcement – Bulloch County has 33 sworn officers for road patrols. The Level of Service would be 49.
  • EMS/Fire – Response times for fire and EMS are adequate but the development may create a staffing deficiency upon build out if current staffing is not increased. In addition, the development may provide cause for the County to provide additional equipment.
  • Recreation – creates a deficiency of public park space

P&Z denied the request in a 6-0 vote but staff recommended approval with two conditions include:

  1. The principal uses approved for this property will be a R-15 single-family district as represented by this application with exception to any bonus density allowed by ordinance.
  2. All structures must be site-built traditional construction according to state minimum building codes. No manufactured or industrialized structures shall be permitted.

Diane Kingerey spoke against the development as R-15 zoning as did Dustin Guilfoyle. Kingery lives in the neighborhood across the road from the development. She expressed concerns about this being the only R-15 property in the area. “If this gets zoned R-15, then we’ve got a piece of property owned by Mr. Robert Bell that I’m afraid will try to develop and they’ll want to request an R-15 and I don’t see that that’s good for the value of my home.” She asked commissioners to follow the lead of Planning & Zoning.

“I also, I’m a little bit concerned that we’re more concerned with the money that a developer’s going to lose over the loss of value of my home. Just because my home isn’t worth over a million dollars (referring to the investment in the system by the developer) doesn’t mean that shouldn’t be a consideration,” she said. “I’m sorry if he’s lost some money, but I’m probably going to lose money.”

Guilfoyle asked commissioners to deny the request until people can examine how the community septic system would work.

Fred McCoy spoke against the development, citing the need to move the septic product a mile away. “The ground just won’t support it,” he said. “It’s all in the middle of upscale subdivisions, above average homes and when they will speak to you and tell you that it’s all been engineered and they’ve all had the engineers do it, we will all vote to have their sewage pumped to the engineer’s home and dispose of it there. We don’t need additional housing down there, they can’t accommodate what they’ve got.”

Lindsey Martin, owner of a private water company that manages a property up the road, said he was present to answer questions of commissioners, saying EPD already approved and permitted the project and it is only 1,800 feet to move the sewage. He said the testing requirements are also the same as the city of Statesboro or City of Savannah.

Commissioner Timmy Rushing asked if it was already approved by EPD and if it mattered if it was zoned R-15 or R-25. “It don’t matter – it’s going there?” Martin replied ‘yes, it’s already been approved.’ He said the water is already in for the development as well.

Commissioner Toby Conner asked if the developer could keep the property at R-25 to be consistent with the zoning in the area. Martin said there’s 30-40 duplexes across the road. “Those can’t be R-25, they’ve got to be R-15, but nobody mentioned that,” he said. He said the developer is at ‘almost a million dollars’ which is why he’s seeking R-15. “He’s just curbing the blow a little bit.”

Commissioner Jappy Stringer asked staff if there were any other R-15 developments in the area, to which Planning & Development Director James Pope said there was not. The duplexes mentioned by Martin, he said, are R-2.

Justin Randall also addressed commissioners about consistency in zoning. He said the conversation was distracted by the sewage field, which will be put in place whether it’s R-15 or R-25. “My question as a homeowner in the area is this creeping in of moving from R-40 and R-25 to R-15…Now we are changing the demographic and the whole feel. I’d like to see this stay with lots similar to what’s there now.”

Ultimately, Commissioners Simmons made a motion to approve the request from R-25 to R-15 with the conditions. The motion was seconded by Mosely. Rushing, Mosley, and Simmons voted in favor of the request with Stringer, Conner, and Deal opposing.

Thompson was the tiebreaker and he voted in favor, calling it a “no win situation.” He said specifically that he felt he needed to honor staff’s recommendation for approval.

Related documents.

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.'

Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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