The AtCC Historic Preservation Commission's review of preliminary designs for a proposed Sigma Chi fraternity house was contested by Cobbham residents during Wednesday night's meeting.
During the meeting, Commission members reviewed the latest plans for the fraternity house, which would stand two stories tall and include more than a dozen bedrooms. The fraternity house, which if constructed would fill the vacant lot at 340 North Milledge Avenue, would replace the fraternity's existing house lat 590 South Lumpkin Street.
Sigma Chi representatives said they are seeking to relocate because the is considering an expansion of the Terry College of Business.
"We found ourselves in a situation where the University of Georgia has a Terry College expansion proposed for that property on South Lumpkin street," said Brad Kohl, an agent of Milledge Avenue Development Group, which is representing Sigma Chi. "After reflection we thought it was better to relocate and recognize their efforts to develop."
Zoning permits for the property have not yet been filed. Sigma Chi representatives said they wanted to receive feedback on potential plans from the Commission and the surrounding neighborhood before submitting paperwork to the planning commission.
During the meeting, Cobbham residents voiced opposition to the Commission's review of Sigma Chi's plan, saying zoning permits should be acquired before design reviews are done. The opposition is part of
"It’s been about six months now that we’ve formed a committee to oppose the construction," said Clint McCrory, a retired UGA math professor and Cobbham resident. "It’s the first time that we’ve seen a plan and we are not going to comment on any plan. The point is use, not design. Our intention is not to talk about the color of the bricks and to wait until the application for the zoning is filed before we make any comment."
However, some spoke in favor of the potential construction. Sam Roper, an Athens resident and Sigma Chi alumnus, said fraternity members were excited about the potential move.
"I was born here in 1953," Roper said. "I’m a Five Points boy and I’ve been here all my life and raised my family here. We’re excited about joining the neighborhood here and moving to this location. Particularly some of our older alumni are excited about it."
Commission members denied Cobbham representatives' proposal to postpone design reviews, saying their review was not dependent on any planning requirements.
During the review, commission members contested the proposed size and scale of the house, saying that some factors, such as the gables on either side of the house, could loom over passersby.
"One thing that I would envision, going south on Milledge is that you would catch a lot of that gable sticking out," said Commission Chair Alexander Sams. "Coming that far forward, it’s going to be like a hand grabbing you."
Other members expressed concerns about the placement of the parking lot and the direction of the building. The commission recommended planners consider scaling back some of the outside design in such a way that the house could be smaller and planned interior space could be affected as little as possible. Sams said the commission had made similar recommendations to Chi Phi when the fraternity was still planning their location near Five Points.
"We made them move it in some, move it together," he said. "It didn't do that much to the interior."