Several months of discussion concerning a special zoning district in a section of the Laney-Walker neighborhood concluded Tuesday with a unanimous vote of approval by the Augusta Commission for the overlay district.
The overlay district goes into effect immediately to place special provisions on land use but retain the underlying base zoning. George Patty, the executive director of the planning department, told the commission that the overlay protects possible future business development along Wrightsboro Road from certain uses, including liquor stores and auto repair shops.
The overlay affects an area known as “W4,” which covers only properties in the 1400 block of Wrightsboro Road and portions of Augusta Avenue; R.A. Dent Boulevard; and Kingston, Brown, Holley and McCauley streets. The city’s plans for the area include a mixed-use development.
Opposition to the overlay application began in October, when residents weren’t properly notified of the zoning request. Numerous meetings to explain the overlay appeared to appease residents’ fears that it applied strict regulations to the entire Laney-Walker neighborhood.
But some property rights activists continued their objections to procedural violations. APD Urban Planning and Management, the city’s consulting firm for the Laney-Walker revitalization project, agreed to revise the application. The legal ad and mailing notifications were reissued before the Planning Commission reviewed the item for a second time.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Augusta Commission member Matt Aitken, whose District 1 includes the overlay area, made a quick motion to approve the agenda item. Aitken had previously been criticized for being uninvolved with the process.
William Fennoy, the incoming president of the Laney-Walker Neighborhood Association, said he was relieved the process ended with residents receiving much-needed answers to questions about the overlay.
“I’m just glad that the concerns were addressed. The people who live in that neighborhood will be completely pleased with the overlay,” he said.