The Bradley County Regional Planning Commission approved rezoning and considered subdivision changes during a meeting Tuesday.
A request was approved for two lots at 850 Lower River Road from Forestry/Agricultural/Residential (FAR) and Rural Residential (R-1) to High Density Residential (R-2). The zoning change was requested so townhouses can be built on the site.
“The plan for the development is basically to do a mix of single-family dwellings and townhomes. … They are wanting to do high end townhomes,” attorney Travis Henry, representing the property owner, said.
The planning commission also considered removing letters of credit as a bonding instrument for proposed bonds and replacing it with insured bonds. Commission member Mel Griffith asked that a vote on the issue be delayed. Delaying the vote was approved.
The request to change the type of bonding instrument used was made by Debra Jenkins, who reviews the roads before they are accepted onto the county road list. County planner Bently Thomas said there had been issues in the past with the letter of credit not being honored by the bank.
When a developer is building a subdivision, the county requires the company to get a letter of credit for the amount of money it would cost to build the road. If the developer fails to build the road, the county pulls the letter of credit, receives the money from the bank and builds the road itself, according to Thomas.
Jenkins said a recent issue arose in which the developer had not built the road properly and went bankrupt before the letter of credit could be pulled. She said the “letter of credit became no good” when the company went bankrupt. Letters of credit are generally good for one year, and can be renewed.
“I have trouble taking tools away from the developers, builders and industry,” chairman Tom Crye said. “I personally don’t like taking tools away from the people who are making this economy hum.”
Developer and planning commission member Lake Mantooth said switching to insured bonds would add an additional cost to developers. He said getting an insured bond costs more than a letter of credit, and developers are limited in how large the bonds are for which they can apply.
“A letter of credit is a loan,” board member Lisa Webb said.
She said an irrevocable letter of credit “would have a few more teeth to it.”
“I don’t know that there is a fix-all for any situation,” Webb said.
Jenkins said she did not want to make things difficult for developers, she was simply trying to find a way to keep the county from having to use taxpayer money for roads that developers did not complete.
Crye said the county attorney needs to be involved in any changes.
A setback variance was also requested for Bradford Place Lot 7 on Bellingham Drive. The project had required a 10-foot setback but had been built with an 8-foot setback. Setback regulations dictate how far away a structure has to be from property lines. Thomas said he had discussed with the building inspector if granting a variance would create a problem for neighbors. The building inspector said it would not.