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Chattahoochee River Club gets approval for space for horse caretaker

A living space for a horse caretaker in Chattahoochee River Club has been approved, though commissioners did not seem to be happy about it.

On Thursday, commissioners voted unanimously to approve a conditional-use permit for Mommies Properties, LLC for 850 square feet of an existing structure at 3450 Bentwood Drive to be used for the residence, though it will not receive a certificate of occupancy until all county regulations are met.

“We do have a situation where it appears that we have an applicant that has basically thumbed their nose at all of our regulations and all of our code requirements and application requirements for work being performed on the property,” said District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson, who represents the area and made the motion. “That being said, it is my understanding that that is not a basis for outright denial.”

Planning and Community Development Director Tom Brown said there was currently a stop-work order on the property due to Metro River Protection Act corridor issues. He said he would need to look into the property’s file but felt the stop-work order would not apply to renovations.

Engineering Director Jon Cunard said the property had also previously received a stop-work order from his office but he was “not really sure what the status is.” He said the order would be ongoing until fines were paid and the site conformed to the standards.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said when the county officials went out to certify occupancy “they can find other issues that may be untethered to the actual permit itself.”

Though no public hearing was held at Tuesday’s meeting, John Richards, who said he was a representative with Chattahoochee River Club’s homeowner’s association, spoke during a public comments portion of the meeting.

He said a paddock on the property had been rebuilt within the last two months and he believed a stop-work order had been violated.

The applicant requested the residence be approved for 2,500 square feet of an existing 12,346-square-foot structure.

Chairman Todd Levent said he had spoken with horse owners and trainers who agreed it was better to have someone at the facility overnight but said he had some concerns about the proposed size.

“I don’t know that 2,500 is the right number,” he said. “It seems a little bit large.”

Semanson said she would prefer the owner “get right with the county” when it came to the issues but wanted to move ahead with the project.

She said the zoning was more than 30 years old.

“It would have never been zoned as a (commercial business district) property within a residential subdivision if it were not for the extreme limitations on uses,” Semanson said. “It was built as an equestrian facility in an equestrian-themed neighborhood. It’s clear what the intent was, and that should not change over time.”

Semanson said for the majority of its existence a trailer was “an adequate amount of space” for a residence on the property.

“I looked at the average sizes of housing facilities that are required for somebody that would be performing the duties of essentially a night watchman or an on-site operator,” she said.

She said based on figures from the U.S. Inventory of Apartments from 2016, a studio apartment is about 504 square feet, a one-bedroom apartment is 752 square feet and apartments overall are 934 square feet.