A rezoning request for a grocery store in Lincoln Park was denied by the Board of Commissioners during last week’s meeting, even though it had been recommended for approval by both the Joint Planning Commission and the Upson County Planning Commission. District One Commissioner Lorenzo Wilder made the motion to deny, stating the request was not in line with spot zoning or the overall plan for Lincoln Park; several of the commissioners also had concerns about inadequate parking for the property.
The current zoning of the location is R-5 single family residential and the petitioners were requesting it be changed to C-1 Neighborhood Commercial, for a 1,900 square foot building located on Zorn Street. The petitioners Ulysses Pickard, Curtis Pickard and Willie Tigner told the board they wanted to turn the property back into a neighborhood grocery store, like the one that was run in that location by their mother for several decades. Curtis Pickard told the board that he grew up in Lincoln Park and while it is not one of the most favorable areas, communities grow based on the investments put into them.
“We thought this would be a good way to give back to the community and a way to form bonds with people like our mother,” he said.
Upson County Director of Planning and Zoning Doug Currier stated that the .23 acre lot did not meet the requirements for either zoning district, but that it was more closely related to the zoning of Neighborhood Commercial. He noted there were several other businesses like this in Lincoln Park located about a half a mile away, but there would be no alcohol at this location as Mt. Calvary Church is located only 50 feet away. Currier also stated with this type of zoning, if the business failed because of competition it could be turned into something such as a day care, laundry, florist or barber shop. He stated that both the Joint Planning Commission and the Upson County Planning Commission recommended the approval of the rezoning.
No one spoke in opposition to the request during the public hearing; however, after the motion from Commissioner Wilder, the board voted unanimously to deny the request.
Earlier in the evening, Bill Maher expressed his displeasure with the board and their intentions of setting the 2013 millage rate at 16.5 mills. Maher noted there is nothing but excuses given when officials talk about why there is no new industry or businesses in town, such as lack of education or lack of access to public highways. He also stated he is very disappointed in the past administration of the Industrial Development Authority and that if the lack of money was the issue all along, then why didn’t the board ask for that to start with. He concluded his statements by telling the board he would like to obtain information about how the community can start a petition for a term limit to be established in county government.
Chairman Blackston told Maher that the board did not want to set the preliminary millage rate at 16.5, but that it was something that they had to do in order to survive. He also noted that he was sorry Maher felt the way he did about the Industrial Development Authority, but that the board was not going to cast any stones on the past administrations.
“What we’ve been doing is not working, so we are going to try something different. We are asking for the people to invest into the county and help us support the IDA to get industry here,” said Blackston. “I don’t want to leave this office and have people say, ‘well he was part of that same old regime.’ What we’ve done is not working so we are going to try something different.”
In other business, the board unanimously approved an additional TAN (Tax Anticipation Note) for Upson County up to $1 million. The board has the option of drawing all of the money or just a portion of it and putting it back at any time. Blackston elaborated that Upson County had hit hard times over the past year with an increase in insurance rates, decrease in property values and a decrease in reserves and that the board was doing this just as a cushion in case it was needed.