Upson County will soon have a new recycling center, Rivera Parts Supplier, Inc., now that the Board of Commissioners have approved the rezoning of 2009 Highway 74 East from C-2 and R-5 (commercial general and single-family residential) to M-2 (manufacturing-general). According to Chairman Rusty Blackston, the property, which is currently owned by Medardo Rivera, has previously been used as a recycling center and by opening will clean up the area, offer employment and add to Upson County’s tax base. Prior to the approval last Tuesday night, the board heard from concerned citizen Gary Self, who was upset the commissioners were not standing behind the Upson County Planning Commission’s recommendation of denial for the rezoning due to it being negative spot zoning in the middle of a residential area with no other adjacent industrial properties.
“Why do we have zoning laws if we are going to change them every time somebody asks,” questioned Self. “I don’t think we should change it just to suit them.”
Self suggested the old industrial park would be a more appropriate location for this type of business due to the zoning. He also noted the land is shown as three separate tracts on the tax assessor’s website and it would appear that each tract would have to be treated separately. He continued stating unless it is resurveyed into one, he would assume the zoning setbacks that are to be issued to meet the requirements for the M-2 zoning for that area. Planning and Zoning Director Doug Currier previously stated the property would have to abide by the 100 feet setback from the property line on all sides due to there being no manufacturing zoning in the area.
When the board first entertained the idea of rezoning last month, they heard from Mr. Rick Berry on behalf of Mr. Medardo. He told the board the company, Rivera Parts Supplier Inc., plans to put an at least six-foot-high privacy fence all around the property and landscape the front that can be seen from the road. Their goal is to have the fence high enough that it deters people from trying to enter the facility when it is not open. The business deals with ferrous and non-ferrous metals and does not store much on the premises, as Berry noted selling the material is how they make their money. He stated the current location was chosen because the business will get a good amount of traffic in that area.
After listening to the comments, Commissioner Ralph Ellington told the rest of the board he had contacted about 10 residents in the area for their opinions and he had gotten mixed responses. Commissioner Lorenzo Wilder stated he had heard from several people who said they would like to see something happen to make that portion of the neighborhood look better. After a motion was made by Commissioner Frank Spraggins, the board passed the rezoning 5-0.
Next month, the board of commissioners will have a similar decision to make when they review the request to rezone property located at 2269 Rest Haven Road from C-2 (commercial- general) to M-2 (manufacturing general) for the purpose of a recycling center. The property is owned by Donald Bohannon, but is leased to Mr. Willie Webb, who currently runs The Rock Repair from that location.
During a public hearing held before the Upson County Planning Commission, Joel Edmondson stated he wanted to go on the record being opposed to the rezoning based on environmental concerns. He noted he is worried that the streams nearby could be contaminated from things such as battery acid, gasoline and oil that would accompany a recycling center. He is also concerned about the increase in large vehicle traffic may tear up the road.
Mr. Webb told the planning commission that for the last three to four months there have been large trucks coming down the road and no damage has been done. He also noted everything that would be recycled would be dealing with EPA regulations and would not be at risk of causing contamination. Mr. Webb stated he had 30 plus years experience running an auto salvage yard when asked if he had any experience and noted this establishment would recycle things such as cans, batteries and junk metal.
According to the staff report done by Planning and Zoning Director Doug Currier, II, this application is recommended denial for the same reasons as the aforementioned property on Highway 74 East. Currier noted rezoning this area would be negative spot zoning since there is no adjacent M-2 zoned property. He also stated the property, four acres total, is relatively small and would not allow for much construction to meet the 100 feet setbacks that would be required.
After the planning commission had reviewed the information, planning commission member Freddie Harp made a motion to deny the request to rezone the property and it passed 4-0. The final decision will now go to the Board of Commissioners on March 11.
Ashley Biles can be reached at 706-647-5414 or on twitter @AshleyBiles1.