Anderson County Planning Commission denies variances for subdivision

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Hears report on North East County Area Plan (NECAP)

By Stan Welch – The Anderson County Planning Commission denied several requests for variances related to a major housing development on Shackleburg Road, effectively stopping the project, until or unless the developer makes some changes to the proposal.
The project, Shackleburg Farms, would be built in two phases, on approximately forty acres, and would result in a total of one hundred nineteen single residence homes. County planning staff reported that the development would generate an additional 1190 day trips on area roads, or ten trips per household.
Paul Harrison, representing developer Mark III, explained that the variances requested, which included smaller lot sizes for a few lots, as well as slightly smaller setbacks for the lots, were necessary to achieve the kind of density that the Anderson County wastewater department was seeking in order to extend sewer lines to the area.
The main sticking point, however, was the developer’s failure to provide two full access entrance roads into the development. Harrison stated that the developer would be glad to provide a second access for emergency use, but argued that the second full access road would not allow for the required sight lines.
County staffers contested that claim, saying that county roads and bridges personnel disagreed with Harrison’s claim.
The planning commission also seemed to indicate that the dedication of some property to use as green spaces might soften their opposition to the project, which Harrison conceded was designed to provide housing for workers at the TTI Ryobi campus nearby, as well as to address the projected growth in the area in the next few years.
Vice Chair of the commission Jane Jones reminded Harrison that the county’s ordinances do not allow for variances in order to maximize the profits of a given project; the inference was clear that the commission viewed the requests in that light. The vote to deny recommendation of the variances was unanimous.
County Planning Director Michael Forman gave a presentation on the North East County Area Plan, or NECAP; an addendum to the county comprehensive plan. Forman said the additional study of the Powdersville and surrounding areas was necessitated by the extraordinary growth rate in that part of the county.
“This area is growing at three times the rate of the rest of the county. In 2010, the census counted 26,000 people in this part of the county. By 2040, that number will double. There are thirty five thousand acres, more or less, in this area. Approximately twenty four thousand acres is undeveloped, with approximately sixteen thousand acres considered developable.”
Forman pointed out an anomaly in the NECAP area. :It is a rule of thumb in the planning disciplines that development follows the construction of sewer lines. That is not the case here. Developers seem more than willing to develop without it. The vast majority of this area has no sewer.”
Forman did not mention this, but another county official, speaking casually to this reporter earlier in the day, stated that approximately thirty five million dollars in sewer infrastructure was needed in the area.
Forman also mentioned several possible land management tools that might be put into play in the area. He stressed that the decision of which tool or tools to use would be made by the Council, after several readings and a public hearing. Among those tools was incorporation, followed by zoning and sewer access.
He pointed out that another town hall meeting is scheduled for Thursday night, October 12 at the Powdersville Middle School at 6:30 p.m. “We will go into this in much greater detail then. I encourage anyone who is interested to attend.”