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Oconee Commission Approves Move for Mercedes-Benz of Athens

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners voted to rezone property for an Athens Mercedes-Benz dealership that wants to move, based in part on an economic development document that wasn’t made available to the public.

Three weeks after the Oconee County Planning Commission voted against a proposed rezone on Highway 316 for auto dealerships, county Economic Development Director J.R. Charles sent members of the Board of Commissioners an “Economic Impact Analysis” that said the project would benefit the county.

Charles also sent the report to Jon Williams, president of Williams and Associates, who was representing those asking for the rezone, saying “Thought you would like to have it in your back pocket if you have to speak at the Commission meeting.”

Charles also copied the message to the members of the county’s Industrial Development Authority, one of whom spoke on behalf of the rezone at the Board of Commissioners meeting on June 14.

The document was not placed in the rezone file at the Oconee County Planning Department or put on the county’s web site, which would have made it available for analysis by those who were opposed to the rezone and spoke against it at the BOC hearing on June 14.

The Board of Commissioners, in a 2-1 vote, approved the rezone request for the nearly 30 acres on SR 316 at Virgil Langford Road, reversing the 5-3 vote by the Planning Commission against the rezone.

For more, visit Oconee County Observations.