The Board of Commissioners discussed the opportunity for a new retail development in Thomson.

There was a public hearing on a variance request for a buffer requirement for a retail development that is being proposed on Cobbham Road and a variance request for a flag lot at 671 Hobbs Mill Road in Dearing.

According to Chase Beggs, planning and zoning director, the applicant is proposing a 30-foot buffer for the buffer requirement, reducing it from 100 feet at the Cobbham site. The board discussed what measures need to be taken to ensure the residents of Elias Station would have their privacy since that subdivision is located right behind this development.

Beggs said the Planning Board made the recommendation to approve this request. According to Beggs, the planning board had some conditions. Brick, stone, or cement board were some of the materials they want the buildings to be made out of for this development. The planning board also mentioned a landscape plan should be submitted with site plans.

“There was conversation at the planning board meeting about what is a good buffer,” Beggs said. “Sometimes that’s kind of hard to define, so I took the buffer requirement from the solar land use ordinance, which requires an eight foot privacy fence, and a double row of offset evergreens installed at a height of five feet.”

The board discussed the variance request for a flag lot at 671 Hobbs Mill Road. According to Beggs, the Black family requested a variance for a flag lot because their daughter is moving out of the Augusta area and they wanted to give her an acre on the back side of their property. Beggs said that some of their neighbors signed a petition saying they did not care if this was approved.

“But her daughter would like to build on the back portion,” Beggs said. “Which is right now I think an open field.”

According to Charlie Newton, commission chairman, the reasoning for the no flag lots a while back was because developers came in and bought up roughly 5-10 acres of land with a small amount of road frontage, and they would stack the lots in.

“We have in the past, as a board, allowed family members to have variances for single wide mobile homes, and for I assume flag lots, and other things that weren’t exactly kosher with our zoning ordinance,” Newton said. “Most of the time it’s been for an elderly parent that needed to be looked after by their children.”

After the public hearing the board moved into their meeting. The board talked about the consideration to accept the variance request for Cobbham Road. The board voted to uphold the planning board’s decision on the variance request, with slightly different conditions of an eight foot privacy fence and whether or not to replant will be determined later, unless the vegetation there is sufficient.

The board discussed the consideration to accept the recommendation for the variance request at 671 Hobbs Mill. The board voted to reverse the decision of the planning board. Commissioner Fred Favors was opposed to the reversal, but said he didn’t have a problem with the reversal because it’s family but this could open up a can of worms. The board added that it’s contingent that the public health standard is met.