RUSH Ministries now has the authority to add more recreational amenities on their property thanks to a special exception approved by the Upson County Planning Commission on September 14. The organization was granted the exception with eight conditions for the roughly 302 acres which was formerly the old Hickory Ridge Golf Course on the north side of town. RUSH Founder Marc Pritchett told the commission the added facilities will allow them to more ways to reach out to the community.
“We think this will give us the opportunity to give the community some outlets, to give the young people some outlets, with outdoor facilities,” said Pritchett. “Perhaps offer some ball fields because at the present time none of the travel ball teams have a place to play. They can’t play at the Rec Department or at the Silvertown Ball Park.”
RUSH presented the commission with a five-year plan prior to the meeting that showed different facilities they would like to add to the property. Pritchett told the commission, the construction of many of those on the list, such as cabins, depends greatly on the organization being able to obtain funding through grants. However, he feels the plan is to the best of their knowledge of what could be accomplished in the next few years. Of the list, there was only one type of amenity the commission did not feel was appropriate for the area and that was a clay shooting range. Chairman Freddie Harp stated he was against having a shooting range on the property due to the noise it would cause for the area. Commissioner Andrew Pippin stated he would agree that a shooting range should not be allowed, as did the rest of the commissioners, therefore it was dropped from the list.
The list denoting what amenities are approved to be placed on the property was outlined by the planning commission in their eight conditions for the special exception as condition A. Condition A allows: playgrounds, restrooms, parking areas, soccer fields, zip line, cafeteria building, ropes courses, swimming pools, cabins, paintball, volleyball, basketball, blob and jumping platform, baseball/softball/kickball fields, pavilions, waterslides, Frisbee area/course, rock walls, football fields, archery, and similar uses and facilities. Planning and Zoning Director Doug Currier noted this list is a basic guide for future administrative approval of facilities which are similar in type and economic impact as those on the list, but are not specifically listed. Therefore, any recreational facility or use that varies greatly from this list will have to be applied for as amendments to the special exception.
Condition B states that no motorized recreational activities are permitted onsite and include ATV racing or trails, mud bogging, motocross, auto or truck racing, tractor pulls or the like. It does allow for very small engine recreational activities such as model rocketry and model airplanes.
Condition C requires that all structures constructed on the property must be a minimum of 35 feet from all adjacent property zoned for residential uses, including A-R; fifty feet from environmentally sensitive-zoned property and ten feet from any other property.
Condition D states the number of permitted residential homes may not exceed the amount permitted in the A-R zoning district in which the property lies. Also, cabins are not allowed to be used as permanent residences, meaning no one can reside there for more than 120 days in a calendar year. Recreational vehicles such as campers are not permitted unless a specific plan for such use is developed and approved as an amendment to the Special Exception.
Condition E requires all permanent structures be mapped on the master site plan, which has to be updated regularly when new permanent structures are added. Copies of the updated master plan must also be submitted to the Planning Commission for its approval and filing.
Condition F states All regulatory permits will be obtained as required by federal, state and/or local law, including, but not limited to building permits, land disturbance permits, fireworks permits, zip line construction, etc.
Condition G states non-compliance with any or all of these requirements may result in revocation of the Special Exception by the Planning Commission on a portion, or all, of the subject site.
After some discussion by the commissioners, Condition H was added to address the number of cabins that would be permitted. Originally, the five-year plan allotted for 14 cabins, however Commissioner Pippin stated he would feel comfortable increasing that number to a maximum of 25 that could be built under the special exception; any more than that would have to come before the board for additional approval. The rest of the commissioners agreed. Therefore, Condition H states there may not be more than 25 recreational cabins on site.
A motion to pass the special exception with the aforementioned eight conditions was made and was approved by a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Joel Pitts voted against the motion, but did not state a reason as to why during the meeting.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1