The Union Recorder

October 23, 2013

City discusses group residence option

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — An ordinance amending the city's Land Development Code allowing group residence as a special use in certain blocks of the single-family residential (SFR1) Historic District returned to the Milledgeville City Council's table during Tuesday's work session.

Previously, the ordinance amendment allowing group resident requests within a proposed four complete and three partial historic district blocks went back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for more work.

Zoning Administrator Mervin Graham and City Attorney Jimmy Jordan explained the minor changes that made the designated group special request area easier to indentify.

“Really all we did was address the language, so it would be clear,” Jordan said. “There seems to be confusion among residents, and I think even Council has questions.”

The new ordinance section details that group residence special use permits within the Historic District SFR1 overlay would be designated in described blocks and partial blocks.

The four complete and contiguous blocks bounded by North Jackson, West Hancock, West Montgomery and North Clark Streets would pass the Greek House test per say if the owner passed all the additional zoning requirements and building inspections.

In addition to the four complete blocks, specific parcels fronting and contiguous to the northern right-of-way of West Montgomery between North Columbia and North Liberty Streets and those parcels fronting and contiguous to the southern right-of-way of West Hancock between South Jackson and South Columbia Streets would be kosher for group residence special use requests under this ordinance amendment.

This document must return to Planning and Zoning for their input and then back to Council for a final vote.

The present ordinance says the applicant can apply for a group residence anywhere inside the SFR1 historic district.

The ordinance amendment requires no historic district rezoning.

“If all that is approved, this will be the designated area for special use group residence in the SFR1 area,” Jordan said. “This would now be a part of the Historic District overlay map, so someone could look and see what areas we will allow for a special use to be considered. We've lessened the area.”

The city wants to accommodate fraternities and sororities, while also protecting historic district residents. Several Greek houses already exist in the described area.

Councilman Phillip Joiner, District 4, asked if the detailed area would burden the applicant requesting for a special use due to geographic parking restrictions for example.

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) would still have to OK parking alterations. 

“Not every lot is going to qualify for that, but we had to designate a certain area within that district to where they could apply for it,” Mayor Richard Bentley said. “

Councilwoman Denese Shinholster, District 3, said the individual home or property owner must determine if they could accommodate the group city group residence requirements.

On behalf of the Milledgeville Historic Preservation Commission, Col. (Ret.) John Alton said there might be a parking limitation but sees no other issues with the ordinance as presented.

Alton did question the Mayor and Alderman how code enforcement would verify the group residence “maximum number of persons to occupy” portion.

“It's dependent upon folks in some cases keeping our zoning department informed that there is a complaint if someone suspects there is more than five people living in a residence,” Jordan said. “Enforcement can be difficult when you are trying to determine how many permanent residences there are. The burden is on the city to present that proof.”

Jordan said recent coordination with the police department and code enforcement is finding other ways to prove violations.

Alton praised the Council's attempts to identify specific Greek residence areas as “a step in the right direction and a very good cooperative effort between the college and the community.”

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