Supervisors await finalized plans for new subdivision after request to amend road ordinance

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


A man, who wants to plan a new subdivision in Henry County north of the country club, went around and around with the Board of Supervisors Tuesday about amending a road ordinance that otherwise requires him to seal coat the planned loop road through his property.

Brian Jones met with Supervisors during their meeting March 6, requesting that they come to another arrangement regarding the road ordinance that would allow him to go above six lots across 45 acres of property without requiring him to have the roads paved.

?I?m not sure the point of the ordinance is to have a subdivision that is a higher quality of road than what the county is willing to maintain that it enters onto,? Jones said, adding that in an estimate he received, the cost difference between gravel roads and seal coat is $40,000.

Supervisors and County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss are concerned that if they agree to allow a gravel road and Jones does divide the land into 10 plots that it would be more traffic than the road could handle.

While Hotchkiss agreed that the increased housing options would be good for the county, they have to account for the cost of upkeep on those potential gravel roads in the future.

?I?ll be a little gun shy,? Hotchkiss said. ?The more houses I have on a gravel road equate to the more issues on the road because there?s more people driving on it.?

Hotchkiss said that when they plan roads around housing developments, they consider 10 to 20 trips a day per household. For 10 lots, that?s at least 100 trips a day, and on a gravel road, that impacts how well it holds up, Hotchkiss said.

With Jones also considering purchasing more land adjacent to the 45 acres he already has, Supervisor Marc Lindeen questioned how many potential lots could be developed.

Jones didn?t have a ballpark answer, but said it depended on how successful the lots sold and how high the demand is. ?This could be a decade-long project,? Jones said. ?I would hope we could sell a couple (lots) a year.?

County Planning and Zoning Director Joe Buffington said that he could see the project broken up into phases ? first with the 10 lots chip sealed and then possibly sealcoated within three to five years depending on whether Jones is in compliance with the ordinance.

Jones continued to argue his point, saying that sealcoating the roads would be cost prohibitive for people in the county. ?If the area of Mt. Pleasant continues to show interest in these things, why wouldn?t we continue to provide that housing need?? Jones said.

?My first phase of the project is going to look like this,? Jones continued, pointing to the mock-up he had provided to Supervisors. ?I?ve been asked to speculate what the rest of this may be.?

Jones explained that if Supervisors approve amending the road ordinance for his subdivision, he could purchase an additional two lots, which would give him flexibility to continue developing west.

Lindeen countered, saying that Jones was trying to make the Supervisors speculate on his behalf. ?Give us the steps that you will do,? he said. ?Give us options of what?s happening. You?re trying to make us speculate for you.?

?We can?t make approvals on hypotheticals,? Buffington agreed.

Supervisor Greg Moeller also jumped in, saying, ?We need a solid plan for what (property) you own and how you want to develop it at this time. We don?t mean to put you off, but we can?t make a decision without a supposition.?

Buffington said that in order to take it to the Planning and Zoning Commission, Jones will have to submit a concrete plan. ?The ordinance should be your guide where you?re going to end up this year or in five years,? Buffington said. ?That should be your goal to meet the ordinance.?

Jones said he will submit his preliminary plans and mock-up what phase two might look like. The Planning and Zoning Commission will review the plans before making a recommendation to Supervisors.

In other news, Supervisors had the first reading of the General Assistance Ordinance Amendment on county-paid burials, which will now be cremation only.

Supervisors said they had not received any comments regarding the amendment, but Lindeen added that he had fielded some questions.

County-paid cremations will be for indigent people who have established legal settlement in Henry County for at least one year. No more than $1,000 will be paid for by Henry County for direct cremation and the county will not provide for partial burial costs if the arrangements exceed the established limit.