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Officials debate solution to deferrals
Members of the Glynn County Mainland Planning Commission who have been frustrated by repeated postponements by some applicants seeking action on requests might have found a solution.

Two requests on the commission's agenda have been deferred several times.

A request by Golden Isles Gymnastics on Scranton Road to alter the property's vegetative buffer has been put off since Oct. 1, 2013.

The lawyer for the applicant, William Ligon, said the delays have been the result of working out an arrangement between the property owner and its neighbors. The repeated requests for deferral were the result of negotiating a solution, he said by email Tuesday, not for delaying action.

A proposed low-density development off Ga. 99 in western Glynn County has been delayed since Nov. 5.

At the commission's meeting this month, Commissioner Buddy Hutchinson suggested that the commission needed a policy on repeat deferrals which often result in members of the public attending to talk about a request and then having nothing happen.

Glynn County Community Development Director David Hainley said at combined meeting of the Mainland and Islands Planning Commission on Tuesday that the county planning office has no policy on repeated deferrals, but he said the county incurs expenses each time an item is delayed.

Glynn County is responsible for advertising its public hearings and posting a sign on properties up for site plan approval. He added there isn't a method for informing the public about deferrals, many of which occur on the day of a scheduled meeting.

If a planning commission opts not to defer an applicant's request and takes no action on it, after 60 days, the petition goes to the Glynn County Commission with a recommendation, by default, to approve it.

"There haven't been a lot of instances where we've had continuing deferrals," said Islands Planning Commissioner Robert Ussery. "I would suggest that when it's deferred at the request of the applicant, then they should pay a fee for the deferral."

Commissioners instructed Hainley to begin charging a $250 fee for each deferral requested by an applicant. Each applicant would be allowed two deferrals before the request is voided and the process starts over.

Here are three more things to know about the joint planning commission work session:

Islands Planning Commissioner Stan Humphries called for more continuing education. Humphries said there have been instances in which he has felt out of his element having to make a decision on complex planning and zoning issues. He suggested holding more work sessions in which planning commissioners could review applications and development issues, discuss planning and zoning matters and plan for future development.

Ordinance amendments are to be reviewed by the county attorney. After years of work on the county's zoning ordinance and more time sitting untouched on the county attorney's desk, some changes to the document are forthcoming.

A requested change to the lot size for "resort residential zoning" prompted discussion. It came as a request from St. Simons Island resident Hal Sigman, who wanted the county to reduce minimum square footage requirements for properties zoned resort residential from 6,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet. The Islands Planning Commission voted down the proposal in late 2013.

The Mainland Planning Commission tabled the topic until a work session could be held. Ussery argued that the request allows property owners more options for projects. But Islands Planning Commission Chairman John Dow argued that the suggestion violates the county's ordinances and could create inconsistencies in residential neighborhoods.

* Reporter Kelly Quimby writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

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