The Newnan Times-Herald


No annexation needed for "Big" Poplar development

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Aug. 16, 2018 - 11:39 PM

When D.R. Horton applied to annex 223 acres along Poplar Road in the city of Newnan, the home-building company thought that the land was zoned Rural Conservation, the county’s standard, low-density residential zoning.

But, as it turns out, that is not the case. Most of the land, 200.44 acres, was zoned in 1971 to “New Community” as part of the massive Shenandoah project. Under “New Community” zoning, as many as five homes can be built per acre.

In the application for annexation, the applicants stated plans to build 596 residential units, as well as 75,000 square feet of office space. If the property had been zoned Rural Conservation, the only way to get that kind of density would have been to be annexed into the city.

But with the NC zoning, a similar density is a possibility, and the applicants have decided to try developing the project in the county instead.

The Coweta County Board of Commissioners were set to vote on the issue at the Aug. 21 meeting. However, on Thursday, D.R. Horton representatives requested a delay until September, according to Angela White, assistant director of Coweta County Community Development.

Several thousand acres, including what is now the Shenandoah and Creekside Industrial Parks, White Oak and SummerGrove, were part of the original NC zoning. In 2008, the county eliminated NC as a new zoning district, but that didn’t affect property that is already zoned NC.

In that original zoning, the Poplar Road property was shown as “reserve” and “social community.” Social community covers active recreation such as golf courses, tennis courts and playgrounds.

When the development application comes before the commissioners, it will be a request to change “reserve” to residential, according to White. That will be the only vote the commissioners will take on the matter, barring any new requests such as variances or rezoning.

If the change is approved, the development, known as “Poplar Road Crossings” in the annexation application, will go through Coweta’s standard development procedures and review.

If the change is not approved, the applicants plan to continue pursuing annexation into the city of Newnan.

“The annexation is kind of on hold right now until we work through with the county on the NC zoning,” said attorney Melissa Griffis, who is working with D.R. Horton.

The proposal for development in the county is a bit different than the annexation proposal. It’s a bit smaller – 200 acres instead of 223. The annexation proposal included three areas – the largest tract on the north side of Poplar Road, and two smaller ones on the south side. One tract is encircled by Yeager and Sam roads. The third, to the east of Yeager Road, is zoned RC and is not part of the newest proposal.

The annexation proposal had 6.45 acres proposed for office and institutional zoning. Most of that acreage is in the area that is not part of the newest proposal, but Griffis said there is still a plan for the remaining office/institutional area, just over two acres.

The total number of homes that would be built under the NC zoning on the property is still to be determined. A conceptual plan was submitted showing approximately three units per acre, according to White, but that plan did not have the correct stream buffers indicated. County staff did a cursory review and sent the plan back to the applicants, White said.

An updated plan hadn’t been submitted as of Thursday afternoon.

Most of the property surrounding the proposed development is low-density residential. Under NC zoning, there is no required buffer at the border of the property.

The property is owned by Big Poplar LLC and Duke Blackburn. Coweta County Commissioner Bob Blackburn holds an interest in the property and has recused himself from discussions related to it during commission meetings.