Land-use plans clash on the border

By Diane Wagner

Plans for a new subdivision spanning the Henry/Clayton county line highlight the differences between the two counties' visions for future development in the area, and the potential problems when one county controls only half the total design.

Stockbridge-based BEC Property Holdings is proposing an 81-lot subdivision on a 95-acre tract west of the intersection of Jonesboro Road and Babb's Mill Road.

The portion in Henry County runs along rural acreage with partially paved roads and is slated on the future land use plan for residential development with lots of an acre or more. The Clayton County section, behind the existing Hunters Creek subdivision on Jonesboro Road, is already zoned for half-acre lots.

BEC is seeking a rezoning in Henry County to allow three-quarter-acre lots. Its representative Carl Vasallo said discussions with Henry County planners led him to modify the plans to eliminate access onto the narrow Carl Parker Road at the rear of the tract.

That means all vehicles will be funneled through the entrance of Hunters Creek, in Clayton County.

"It's a unique situation, and there may be public safety issues that have to be worked out," Henry County Planning and Zoning Director Dale Hall said. "But if access is removed from Henry County, it doesn't trip our concerns."

The Clayton County land development department has not yet received plans for review, a spokeswoman said, but the county does not have an ordinance governing the number of entrances a subdivision must have.

A representative from Clayton's planning and zoning department could not be reached for comment Friday, so it is unclear whether Hunter's Creek residents are aware of the proposed activity.

But two dozen homeowners on the Henry County side were up in arms at a Thursday hearing, claiming the development will severely impact their quality of life.

"This is not the vision we had for our subdivision 17 years ago," Woodland Estates resident Kenneth Lackey said. "The property across the road has also been sold and they will be coming (for a similar rezoning) soon. This will set a precedent."

Vasallo said the Henry County portion would have larger lots and plans call for retaining much of the old-growth forest dotting the landscape. He also noted that the zoning change would only mean that he could build three more houses on the 46-acre tract in question.

The Henry County Municipal Planning Commission recommended denial of the rezoning, but the final decision will come from the Henry County Board of Commissioners at a hearing yet to be scheduled.

Clayton County officials will have final say over the 36-lot section on the 49 acres in that county.