Development agreement is part of annexation

Jennifer Shrader Staff writer

October 9, 2013

When LaGrange City Council votes on an annexation and zoning request in two weeks, it also will vote on a development agreement for the 450-acre property.

The site, at Whitesville Road and Interstate 85, is planned for residential, commercial and general industrial zoning. City Manager Tom Hall said the developer, Ron Orr, is actively recruiting industry to the property, along with retail shops.

Since the property is a gateway to LaGrange, however, the city wanted a development agreement in place to ensure adequate buffers, landscaping and other aesthetic details of the property.

Leigh Threadgill, LaGrange’s senior planner, said the development’s location leads directly to downtown.

“This is a game changer for LaGrange,” she said.

The property owners and Orr already have agreed to the development agreement, one of the more detailed in the city’s history. The development agreement acts as a contract along with the zoning and annexation, spelling out what must be done. The agreement follows the property, not the developer, so that when or if it changes hands, the rules still apply.

The agreement includes:

• Removal of two billboards on the property.

• A rule that Dumpsters must be screened and located where they will not be an eyesore.

• Curbs, sidewalks and handicap access must be included on new streets.

• Any business dealing with automobiles must have an area screened off for auto storage and any bays must be located at an angle away from the street.

• Lighting may not spill over to nearby residential areas and LED lights that use less energy are encouraged.

• Landscaping requires a 30-foot buffer between commercial and residential development and 10 feet between general industrial and commercial.

• A “landscape strip” must be included on developments that front the street.

• Anywhere a building faces the street there must be quality building facades.

• Loading and unloading zones must be in the rear of buildings.

Council was pleased to hear the developer already had agreed to the requirements.

“What we’re doing now with new developments looks so much better,” said Councilman Willie Edmondson.