At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, the board voted to remand a rezoning case on Knox Bridge Highway back to the Cherokee County Planning Commission.
In January, the planning commission recommended denial in a 4-3 vote for the rezoning of just under 74 acres of land at 7351 Knox Bridge Highway from agricultural to residential requiring lots of 20,000 square feet for the purpose of developing a single-family residential conservation design community. In the time since this recommendation, however, the developer has been working on the design and would like the planning commission to reconsider the application.
“I did speak to the applicant earlier this week and they would like for us to remand this back to the planning commission so they have an opportunity to address some concerns that were brought forth by their last hearing,” District 1 Commissioner Steve West said.
Commission Chairman Harry Johnston agreed, adding, “Speaking just for myself, I’m not comfortable with outright denial of this request. The land use plan supported some level of development there beyond just the lowest level for AG as it’s currently zoned, and it is right between an R-20 and an R-40 subdivision.”
West then put forth a motion to remand the case back to the planning commission, which was seconded by District 2 Commissioner Richard Weatherby and approved in a unanimous vote.
The commissioners also approved the issuing of a special use permit for a woodworking shop at 5505 Bells Ferry Road, with the conditions that the permit would be attached to the applicant and that effective dust collection and fume control be used in the facility. The final zoning case involved a request to rezone 3.45 acres at Jack Page Lane, Jack Page Drive and Kraft Trail from agricultural to residential requiring lots of 60,000 square feet so two houses could be built on the site. The planning commission recommended denial of the rezoning, but were in favor of the idea of establishing a legacy lot on the property. However, the applicant had requested a withdrawal on the case, which was approved in a 5-0 vote.
During the meeting, Johnston took a moment and briefly reviewed some of the discussions that took place at the planning retreat the board held at the end of January.
“It was revealed we’ve got some hard decisions to make, some work to do in order to achieve the financial goals we’ve set for ourselves this year, which is to keep taxes flat, or lower than flat, and at the same time, reduce our reliance on reserves,” he said. “We discussed the possibility of a ... sales tax that would be used to reduce property taxes.”
With the 2024 election cycle looking like a good time to put either of these sales taxes on the ballot, Johnston said the key is determining whether or not the citizens of Cherokee County would be willing to support one or the other in exchange for reductions in property taxes. With road maintenance being a key concern, new fire stations and equipment being needed over the next several years, as well as replacing older vehicles with the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, the expansion project for the courthouse and wanting to follow through with the Southwest Cherokee Parks and Trails area plan feedback to develop park space, the approval of a new SPLOST cycle was discussed for the 2022 election so there would be no worries of it being interrupted.
The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners also took action on the following:
Those in attendance were reminded that the county had an online survey active through the end of the month, giving residents the chance to weigh in on housing challenges the county is f♦ acing and what they might like to see in terms of residential opportunities moving forward.
♦ A motion to withdraw a scheduled public hearing to consider a request from SM Partners to amend some of the neighborhood zones on the Bells Ferry Regulating Plan was approved, along with having the county initiate an effort on this matter.
♦ A motion to approve appointing former commission chair Buzz Ahrens to the Cherokee County Board of Health passed.
♦ A service agreement with Kennedy Engineering and Associates Group in the amount of $94,500 for engineering design services for the Hickory Road sidewalk project was approved.
♦ The board approved a memorandum of understanding with the City of Holly Springs related to the Hickory Road sidewalk project, with Holly Springs agreeing to pay for a portion of the project taking place within the city limits.
♦ A county Radio Communications Department to be part of the Public Services Agency, including a full-time specialist position and a new full-time deputy marshal was approved, along with a budget transfer to result in no impact to the overall county budget.
♦ Two E-One fire engines were purchased from FireLine, Inc. for $1 million from SPLOST funds was approved.
♦ Two Chevrolet Tahoes for use by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office were approved for purchase at a total of $80,200.
♦ The purchase of antennas and battery backups for the 800 MHz project to be used at the courthouse was approved in the amount of $46,585, but by using a budget transfer, there would be no impact to the overall budget.
♦ The board approved a process for contractors to be qualified in order to perform International Fire Code and Emergency Responder Radio Coverage testing in the county.