Ruling on two land use permits

Published 8:30 am Saturday, May 11, 2024

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The Troup County Commission ruled on two land use permits for a green cemetery and an agri-tourism property. The board unanimously voted to allow an additional 20 acres of land to be added to the Whispering Hills Natural Green Cemetery and Memorial Nature Preserve on Mood Bridge Rd.

The cemetery needed the commission to pass a special use permit for the family-owned land to be used for green burials. The original 20 acres were approved in 2019 when the cemetery was opened. According to minutes from the Zoning board meeting on April 11, Howard said the additional acreage is to preserve the farmland and rural nature of the area.

In a letter submitted to the commission the managing partner of the cemetery, Ralph Howard, wrote about the cemetery’s plans.

“We plan to set up an area for visitors to relax and enjoy the peace, quiet and beauty of the natural environment,” Howard said.

A green cemetery…

It’s a very unique thing for the county…it’s zoned as a green cemetery so we can’t have anyone that is embalmed, no metal coffins, there are no cement vaults. So it is [all] natural biodegradable materials,” Howard explained.

Howard also submitted an application for an agri-tourism permit on an adjoining piece of property also located on Moody Rd. The commission ruled on that application on Tuesday as well. The land, which at one time was a horse farm, according to Howard, will be used for special events and activities.

Howard said the idea of a horse farm came from his sister Jean, both of whom grew up on the land.

“Her idea was to develop a horse pasturing and stabling business…her business was initially successful but when the 2008 recession began that business model proved to be unsustainable,” wrote Howard.

Howard added that keeping the land natural and as close to the farm he grew up on as possible, was the focus of the businesses.

From age four, in 1946, I grew up on this land five miles North of LaGrange…Over time the city of LaGrange expanded north. Small and large farm operations steadily disappeared as 100s of houses were being built,” Howard said. “[Jean] and I both wanted to preserve the rural nature of the land we loved.”

The intended uses for the land are wildlife viewing and photographing, horseback riding, wagon rides, and school tours, as well as having a space for special events.

“It’s a nice piece of property and it is underutilized, and I think this will open the door to a lot of people having a lot of fun out there,” Howard said.