0

Commissioners table variance request to build McDonald's

The Newton County Board of Commissioners tabled the decision Tuesday on a variance request for this property on Ga. Highway 11 at Interstate 20 where development of a McDonald’s restaurant is proposed. According to preliminary plans, the McDonald’s would occupy the vacant space that was formerly a cafe. (Staff Photo: Alice Queen)

The Newton County Board of Commissioners tabled the decision Tuesday on a variance request for this property on Ga. Highway 11 at Interstate 20 where development of a McDonald’s restaurant is proposed. According to preliminary plans, the McDonald’s would occupy the vacant space that was formerly a cafe. (Staff Photo: Alice Queen)

COVINGTON — Those in favor of a new McDonald’s being built on the BP Station property off Interstate 20 at exit 98 will have to wait until April to find out whether it will become a reality.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners tabled the decision during its public meeting Tuesday to approve or deny a variance request from Kevin Price, property owner of Liberty Marts LLC, for an increased amount of allowed impervious surface.

Price requested commissioners allow for a 75 percent impervious surface in order to upgrade his property by adding the fast-food chain to the gas station.

Commissioner John Douglas, however, said he wanted Price to reduce the impervious surface in order to comply with the zoning ordinance in place.

The county adopted the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual in 2003 and established a zoning ordinance that states the maximum amount of impervious surface allowed is 50 percent, in efforts to protect the watersheds.

“We have wonderful quality of life in the east side of the county, and we’re blessed to have four different watersheds in the first district,” Douglas said. “It’s important that we maintain the quality of life there. We have plans in place to spur growth, but we need to make sure the growth is how we want it. The county ordinance says 50 percent impervious surface; they’re asking for 75. That’s far too great of an increase.”

Price built his property, located in the Little River Watershed, in 2000 with 75 percent impervious surface before the ordinance was established. When he submitted the redevelopment drawings to the zoning department, he was advised by staff to include porous concrete to meet regulations.

Zoning Administrator Judy Johnson said at Tuesday’s meeting that Price met the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual guidelines by providing a water quality system but did not meet the zoning ordinance’s requirements for 50 percent maximum impervious surface.

Johnson noted Price’s variance request passed the Board of Zoning and Appeals (BZA) by a 3-2 vote on Jan. 23 with conditions. The condition was to install a planted buffer and landscape plan to be approved by the county arborist.

Planning Commissioner Troy Bledsoe appealed the BZA decision to approve the variance request at Tuesday’s meeting.

“This watershed protection is a very positive factor in the planning process. This Board of Commissioners has continued that effort in advising and upgrading the zoning ordinance and adoption of the 2050 plan,” Bledsoe said. “I applaud that Mr. Price wants to put a McDonald’s in, I just ask he do it in compliance to the ordinance.”

Price said the addition of the McDonald’s to Ga. Highway 11 would add 60 new jobs to area and generate about $5 million in sales per year.

While the fast-food restaurant could increase economic development, Douglas moved to table Price’s request for 60 days in order to see if new agreements in reducing the impervious surface could be established. Commissioners approved the motion unanimously.