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Monroe County commissioners appear ready to approve a residential rezoning for a builder wanting to put 18 homes on Strickland Loop, but they may include enough restrictions to squelch the development.

Commissioners agreed last Tuesday, Sept. 7 to have county attorney Ben Vaughn draw up a resolution approving residential zoning for agriculture land on Strickland Loop for builder Brian Wesley of Meredith Homes in McDonough. But the possible approval would include requirements that Wesley build homes of at least 1,800 square feet, have a engineering plan and only cut four driveways into the property. That last stipulation would end Wesley’s plan to put 18 homes on 1-acre lots fronting Strickland Loop and Sutton Road.

The move came after commissioners debated for an hour the future of residential growth in Monroe County. Commissioners have already put a 90-day moratorium on new subdivisions while they consider changes to the subdivision and curb-cutting rules. The moves come amidst concerns that the county is allowing too many lower-end homes that could turn Monroe County into Henry County.

“My fear with this kind of thing is that no matter how nice the homes are it ends up being a bunch of foreclosures,” said District 4 commissioner George Emami.

Emami said he’s concerned that Wesley plans to build all 18 homes on existing road frontage rather than cutting new roads and building infrastructure like other subdivisions.

District 3 commissioner John Ambrose agreed, saying he thinks subdivisions should have an entrance, new roads and infrastructure.

“When you put 18 homes on an existing road, you’re not putting anything into it,” said Ambrose, noting it creates traffic problems with 18 new driveways on a main road.

But District 1 commissioner Lamarcus Davis said more regulations make it harder for people to find affordable housing.

But Emami replied that the county needs a vision so it doesn’t add shoddy development.

“It’s not about trying to cut someone off,” said Emami, “it’s about what type of vision we have for this county long-term. This county will go to pot if we don’t develop a plan.”

Emami shared a video of rainwater running off onto neighboring property from new homes on Weldon Road as an example. 

“This is our fault for just allowing anyone who wants to do whatever the hell they want,” said Emami. “Someone has to put their foot down and say ‘I’m not gonna allow this crap anymore’.”

Emami said he disappointed that the zoning board recommended approval for the Strickland Loop development. Emami said Manor at Montpelier is a good example of the type of subdivision that doesn’t harm the community. He noted you can drive down Montpelier Road and still enjoy a pleasant drive and barely tell there’s 200 homes there. 

But Wesley noted he can’t afford to borrow $2 million to install that kind of infrastructure.

Commissioners originally motioned to reject the rezoning. But later they decided to let Vaughn draw up restrictions if they approve the residential rezoning at their next meeting.